We here at Xbox Era are excited about the potential of the Indie developers this generation. We believe Independent developers are vital to the industry in that they are able to push new ideas and take risks in story, art, music and game design that the bigger studios often cannot afford to. As their tools will be much more capable this generation than last and subscription services like Game Pass expose more gamers to their creativity, we’re optimistic for the emergence of many developers who are not yet on the tips of tongues for the vast majority of the gaming community. With this in mind, some of us at Xbox Era were able to tune into the ID@Xbox Twitch showcase on March 26th in an attempt to be among the first to discover new hidden gems yet to have released. While our opinions of the pacing and format of the Twitch show were mixed, our growing wish lists of future games was the unanimous takeaway.
The following list is everything shown during the Twitch event with extra attention given to the Xbox Era staff’s favorites. Let’s start with…
Xbox Era’s Most Anticipated Games of Show
The Ascent – Game Pass
The Ascent first caught our eye during Microsoft’s show in May of last year. This year’s updated trailer was even more impressive making it one of only two games to make all of our lists. Looking like a cyberpunk Diablo with guns, the Ascent is a solo and co-op action RPG allowing up to 4 players. “The mega-corporation that owns you and everyone, The Ascent Group, has just collapsed. Confusion and chaos ensue, security and order are in disarray, and without protection, everyone is left to fend for themselves. Stop gangs and hostile corporations from taking over and discover what really happened.” The showing at the Twitch event put more focus on loot and RPG elements to show us there are layers of depth in addition to those flashy explosions. The Ascent is expected to launch into Game Pass this year however we didn’t learn of a specific month yet.
Twelve Minutes first captivated us when it was revealed at E3 2019. In Twelve Minutes, taking place from a top-down perspective, you play as a man coming home for what should be a romantic evening with your wife. A police officer arrives at the apartment, accuses the wife of murdering his father several years ago, knocks out the husband, and kills your wife. Every time twelve minutes elapses or the man dies, the loop restarts and pops the man right back to the start of the evening. Your goal is to change the outcome of the time loop. Annapurna was able to land some big names to the voice cast which include James McAvoy, Daisy Ridley, and Willem Dafoe. When we think about Indie games taking risks or doing new things, few set a better example than 12 Minutes. This is the other game that made all of our most anticipated Indie lists. We should finally have the opportunity to get our hands on 12 Minutes this year.
Song of Iron was first caught our eyes a few months ago with its stunning high-quality visuals and stylish combat uncommon for a 2D side-scrolling action game. You will make use of a bow, axe, and shield to fight your enemies, but take care, weapons can be lost, arrows will run out and shields will be broken. “Behind you lies a trail of broken helms, shattered shields. You hold the axe of a fallen foe. Worn and dented, it will suit its purpose. What lies ahead is still a mystery, your goal is not. To save your people you must find the Great Temple of the Gods, but do not expect a warm welcome.” Set to release in 2021, we can’t wait to see if it plays as well as it looks.
Nobody Saves the World – Game Pass
The newest title from Guacamelee developers, DrinkBox Studios, Nobody Saves the World is a humorous top-down Action-RPG painted with colorful stylistic graphics. You’ll unlock the ability to transform into a host of different character classes ranging from a rat to a magician. “You begin your adventure as Nobody, a pale androgynous humanoid who wakes up without any memories (or pants). Soon after you find a powerful magic wand, allowing you to change into many different fantastic Forms!” Drinkbox says that, unlike other RPGs, you won’t have any grinding. Instead, you unlock abilities by completing quests in procedurally generated dungeons. Launching in 2021 into Game Pass, Nobody Saves the World is currently an Xbox console exclusive.
Death’s Door, a fantasy action-adventure is set in a world where Crows are in charge of reaping the souls of the dead. One of the Crows gets sent on assignment to a twisted place where nothing has died for several centuries. The game is a top-down action RPG in which you’ll be able to customize your character while using melee weapons, arrows, and magic to overcome an array of beasts and demigods. From the reveal video, we saw fluid action mixed with impressively diverse and detailed enemies. Currently publisher Devolver Digital has Death’s Door slated for a Summer 2021 release.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 – Game Pass
S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 was first revealed to us during the Xbox 2020 July show and set a new bar in terms of technical capabilities from an un-established Indie developer. Sequel to what is considered a PC cult classic, S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 2 is an open-world first-person shooter which blends immersive sim and horror elements. The game takes place in a world where a second explosion took place at Chernobyl in 2006, creating an irradiated place dubbed The Zone where mutated creatures live and that bounty hunters explore. It is based on the world of the Russian novel Roadside Picnic and the film Stalker. The developers claim this will be one of the biggest open-worlds to date, providing a non-linear story with multiple branching endings. During the Indie showcase, the developers took time to show off highly detailed models however the lack of gameplay or release date has us believing this one is unlikely to come out this year. Whenever it does release, expect it to be console exclusive and launch on Game Pass for PC and Xbox players.
Exomecha – Free to Play
ExoMecha was first shown to us during the Xbox pre-show in July of 2020. An updated trailer during the Indie showcase revealed the addition of a grappling hook and fire-breathing robot dinosaurs. Exomecha is a free-to-play online competitive first-person shooter that takes place on a planet called Omecha. The game provides players an immersive experience with its high-quality visuals, flexible gameplay, giant mechs, unique gadgets and abilities, and boss battles. The developers confirmed there will be a battle royal mode. Look for this to launch as a console exclusive in August of this year.
Loot River is a top-down Roguelike hack-and-slash with RPG elements taking place in procedurally generated dungeons. The aesthetic for this dark fantasy feels like what I’d expect a top-down FromSoftware game to look like. What makes it unique compared to other isometric Roguelikes is that the gameplay will test your spatial awareness as the piece of land you’re standing on can be moved at will. This appears to offer both combat solutions and present puzzles you must solve. Currently, no release date has been given.
Omno – Game Pass
Omno is a third-person adventure that the developer describes as a game that “will take you through lush forests, across a sun-blasted desert, over a frigid tundra, and the power of a lost civilization will even carry you to the clouds.On the way you will meet strange creatures, encounter many surprises and maybe make a friend.” Besides offering an interactive world, Omno challenges you with puzzles, hidden secrets, and obstacles to overcome in 3D puzzle platformer style. From the reveal trailer there appears to be a nice variety of environments to explore. There aren’t many 3D platforming games these days so we hope Omno can scratch that itch when it comes to Game Pass during this summer.
Narita Boy – Game Pass
“Narita Boy is a heartfelt love story to the 1980s, featuring a narrative-driven adventure that takes players to a game inside a game, battling powerful bosses and overcoming puzzles in order to uncover the secrets of the Digital Kingdom and – ultimately – its creator.” This 2D side-scrolling action platformer caught our eyes with its flashy techno aesthetic. The developers say to expect analog synthesizers to pay homage to the 80s. Fortunately, we won’t have to wait long to find out how it plays as Narita Boy launches this month in Game Pass.
Astria Ascending – Game Pass
Astria Ascending from Artisan Studios caught our attention due to the fact that it’s being made with the help of Final Fantasy veterans and displayed stunning colorful hand-drawn 2D art. Explore a vast world on the brink of chaos in a mature, emotional JRPG. Astria Ascending features turn-based combat, a focus on story, and expansive customization. It is set to launch in 2021 on Game Pass.
Voidtrain was one of those games shown where while watching its reveal trailer, I struggled to tell what was going on or what I was intended to do…but I knew I wanted to experience it. This game is described as taking an adventure on an interdimensional express. You play as mechanics who have fallen into a new world for them with their own rules and laws. The player will be able to play alone or online multiplayer for up to 4 people. On the way you will meet outlandish creatures, many secrets, puzzles and challenges. Currently, this looks to be a 2022 game.
Second Extinction Game Pass
Second Extinction is an intense 3 player cooperative shooter, where your goal is to wipe out the mutated dinosaurs that have taken over the planet. Fight through a maelstrom of bullets, bombs, teeth, claws, and gore, to reclaim Earth! If you like Left for Dead, this may be the game for you as long as you don’t mind replacing zombies with exploding dinosaurs. You and your friends will be able to experience it on Game Pass towards the end of April.
Chivalry 2 is a multiplayer first-person slasher inspired by epic medieval movie battles. Players are thrust into the action of every iconic moment of the era – from clashing swords to storms of flaming arrows, to sprawling castle sieges and more. The game features 64 player battlefields and is currently set to launch on June 8th this year.
Echo Generation is a turn-based adventure game about a gang of kids investigating supernatural occurrences while battling monsters and mechs to save their small town. The game uses sprite-based pixelated visuals to effectively create a world that looks like it could be a cousin of Stranger Things. Echo Generation is set to release in 2021.
Way to the Woods – Game Pass
Two deers in a strange, abandoned world without humans must find their way home. They are tasked with finding food, shelter, safety, and answers on their way to the woods. This is a third-person adventure game being made by one person who was only 16 years of age when revealed in 2019. No release date has been hinted at yet, but it will launch into Game Pass when it’s ready.
Sable – Game Pass
Sable is an open-world exploration video game in which the player, as the young girl Sable, searches for a fitting rite-of-passage mask such that she can return to her nomadic clan. The game has no combat or set storyline. It emphasizes simple puzzle-solving and discovery, traversing sand dunes and ruins. Sable is scheduled to launch into Game Pass in 2021.
Moonglow Bay – Game Pass
“Moonglow Bay is set along the Eastern Canadian coastline during the 1980s and offers players a diverse and emotionally charged story, complemented by a relaxing, slice-of-life fishing RPG. You play as a rookie angler, struggling to fulfill your partner’s final wish by keeping a business afloat in the face of impending bankruptcy. Whether playing solo or with a friend in drop-in-drop-out local co-op, you’ll need to cook your catch of the day, then sell a variety of recipes to upgrade your shop, gear, and fishing boat.” Moonglow Bay is currently set to launch into Game Pass this year.
Lost Eidolons is a single-player, tactical turn-based strategy RPG set in a western fantasy world called Artemesia. Cycle between the tactical turn-based grid combat and an out-game unit management system to prepare, outwit, and prevail in each of the sequences and discover the outcome of the revolution. If you found yourself enjoying Xcom or Gears Tactics and like western fantasy, keep an eye on Lost Eidolons. Lost Eidolons is currently set to release in 2022.
Iron Corbo: Kung Fu Janitor is “a light-hearted, high flying, fighting, action-adventure. Our hero, Corbo, is a bit past his prime and in dire straits. Will players be able to help mend strained ties while earning the trust back from his masters?” Few details have been provided about the game however the unique 2D art style caught our eye. No release windows at this time.
The world of Dungeons & Dragons comes to life in an explosive action RPG filled with real-time combat and dynamic co-op. Choose your hero and join up to three other friends to battle legendary monsters, earn powerful gear, and unlock new abilities to take on even bigger challenges. If you and your friends enjoyed Warhammer Vermintide, Dark Alliance is worth a look. Dark Alliance is set to launch in June 2021.
Edge of Eternity – Game Pass
Edge of Eternity is a JRPG Adventure game featuring Strategic Combat. “The world of Heryon is torn apart. Years ago, the arrival of a mysterious alien force ultimately plunged the planet into an endless cataclysmic war where both magic and technology were unleashed to their worst and darkest extremes. Now an even greater threat has emerged: in a despicable act of war, the invaders released the Corrosion, a fatal disease turning living forms of all kinds into misshapen abominations.” This trailer shows off diverse 3D environments and a soundtrack by Yasunori Mitsuda, composer for Chrono Trigger and Xenoblade Chronicles. Currently, Edge of Eternity is set to launch on Game Pass this year.
Craftopia Game Pass
Craftopia is the brand new multiplayer open-world survival crafting action game made in Japan. The developers combined many features they found enjoyable, such as hunting, farming, hack-and-slash, building, and automation. Craftopia will launch into Game Pass however there’s no release date at this time.
Dead Static Drive Game Pass
Dead Static Drive is an indie, top-down driving meets survival horror video game developed by Team Fanclub. The game has a “retro Americana” graphical style and involves a road trip that takes a turn into Lovecraftian horror. The game will launch into Game Pass however there was no update to its release date.
Lake is a narrative adventure where you play Meredith Weiss on a career break in 1986 while she returns to her hometown and ends up delivering the mail. The game loops around delivering mail, navigating, and talking to people as you drop off their packages. This is punctuated with exploration around different locations. How you play the game and make choices about interactions, affects your character. But there’s no one path that is better than the others.
Cloud Gardens is a game about using plants to overgrow abandoned wasteland dioramas. The developers describe it as “an experimental project, somewhere on the line between a game and an interactive toy. Some players might enjoy the linear ‘campaign’, some will have more fun in the sandbox mode, building dioramas and taking photos.” Cloud Gardens is expected to release this year.
Chikon Club’s next venture, Soup Pot, is a cooking game with a focus on creativity. The trailer showcased Soup Pot’s gameplay, where players will be able to use stylized 3D renders of different ingredients to create over 100 dishes. It will be up to players to create dishes as beautiful or messy as they want. According to the developers, their goal is to “inspire players to extend that playfulness, improvisation, and experimentation into their real kitchens.” Soup Pot is scheduled to release on Xbox in
Hustle through the 90s in THE BIG CON, an adventure game where you’re an awkward teen hustling to save her family video store from gangsters. Play as Ali, a high school junior gone AWOL from band camp to seek revenge on the loan sharks that threaten her mom’s video store. The Big Con is a narrative adventure game with puzzles and open exploration. There is no current release date.
The Rest of Show
While the following didn’t make our crowded lists, for now, the great thing about Indie games is that they have unique identities and therefore appeal to vastly different tastes. Which ones do you think we missed? Join us in the Xbox Era forums and let us know.
Among Us – Game Pass
Among Us is an online multiplayer social deduction game where between four to 10 players are dropped onto an alien spaceship. Each player must run around the ship and try to complete a set of tasks while trying to root out and avoid getting killed by one of several imposters. Among Us will feature cross-play and will launch onto Xbox Game Pass in 2021.
Art of Rally – Game Pass
Art of Rally is a stylized experience inspired by the golden era of rally from the creator of Absolute Drift. Race across the world through colorful and stylized environments in a top-down view. Compete for first place in the leaderboards with daily and weekly challenges. Art of Rally should be coming to Xbox Game Pass this summer.
Backbone 2021 – Game Pass
Backbone is a noir-inspired detective adventure. As raccoon private eye Howard Lotor, sniff out clues, collect evidence, interrogate witnesses, and explore beautiful pixel art version of dystopian Vancouver, BC. Backbone is scheduled to launch on Game Pass in 2021.
Boyfriend Dungeon – Game Pass
Boyfriend Dungeon is an action-RPG dungeon crawler in which the weapons you use transform into humans — take them on dates to level them up and become more powerful together. Boyfriend Dungeon is set to release on Game Pass in 2021.
Hello Neighbor 2 – Game Pass
Hello Neighbor 2 is a stealth horror game where you’re being stalked by a mysterious creature as you try to track down Mr. Peterson (The Neighbor) who has disappeared after the events of the first game. Play against an advanced, self-learning AI that tracks and adapts to your every move. Hello Neighbor 2’s alpha will launch on Xbox in 2021 and its final release will be on Game Pass.
Library of Ruina – Game Pass
Library of Ruina is a game that uses the concept of a “Library Battle Simulation”. You will invite guests to the Library and engage in combat with them to gain ‘Books’ with their stories. Battles are played with the ‘Librarians’ and the ‘Guests’ using cards and dice. Library of Ruina launched early access on Steam in 2020 however no date has been given for the Xbox final release yet. Library of Ruina will launch on Game Pass when it’s complete.
Little Witch in the Woods – Game Pass
Little Witch in the Woods is a pixel art-fantasy role-playing-game created by the South Korean Studio “Sunny Side Up”. Players will play as Ellie, a young witch coming to a town and joining a witch’s house to study magical creatures, brew potions and to learn more witchcraft. Little Witch in the Woods will launch into Game Pass some time in 2021.
Recompile – Game Pass
Combining traditional Metroidvania mechanics with a dynamic branching narrative system, Recompile challenges players to explore, fight, hack and survive. Discover the many secrets beneath the ancient digital landscape, and prepare for system-wide reconfiguration. We currently don’t know when the Xbox version of Recompile will launch onto Game Pass.
She Dreams Elsewhere – Game Pass
She Dreams Elsewhere is a surreal adventure RPG about dreams and the extent to which they mirror reality. You play as Thalia, an anxiety-ridden, comatose woman on a journey to defeat the nightmares preventing her from awakening, while also finding out how exactly this mess happened in the first place. Gameplay is turn-based. Currently, She Dreams Elsewhere is expected to launch onto Game Pass in 2021.
The Wild at Heart – Game Pass
The Wild at Heart is an action-adventure game that invites players to take command of a magical swarm of curious creatures to battle precarious wildlife and supernatural foes, construct and craft new pathways, and discover the secrets of a forgotten world. Developed by Moonlight Kids in partnership with Humble Games, The Wild at Heart is expected to launch on Game Pass May of this year.
A pig farmer decides he no longer wants to dispose of bodies for the mob. What follows is a discussion between him and his would-be killer. Aidos is currently available.
Aerial_Knight’s Never Yield is a 3D side-scroller that plays much like a classic endless runner. The game has an interesting story that keeps players always in motion. Run, Jump, Slide or “Dash” for acrobatic variants leading to dope combinations and avoid the challenges that await.
An Airport for Aliens Currently Run by Dogs is a first-person open-world comedy adventure game with a very long name. You and your fiancée are the last two human beings left in the universe. Dogs run airports, along with the rest of society.
Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is an open-world adventure game developed by Ustwo Games. The game focuses on exploring the world and conserving wildlife. Alba is set to release Spring of 2021.
Alchemic Cutie (is a wholesome relaxing RPG set on colorful Wimba Island. While taming wild jellies, you’ll meet villagers, enter jelly competitions and uncover the secrets of the island. Alchemic Cutie should launch in July of this year.
Atrio is a survival game set in a cyberpunk-inspired post-apocalyptic world. Bend nature to your will by capturing and enslaving the creatures and environment to help you survive at all costs.
Blaster Master Zero is an action-exploration game done in an 8-bit top-down & side-view style that hearkens back to the golden age of the NES.
Explore the world alongside your flying pet, collect delicious fruits, and cook tasty meals to look after your cloud daycare in this cute and wholesome farming game.
The 3D platformer with attitude! Join Beebz in her ambitious goal of taking over the Demon Turfs and becoming the Demon Queen herself! Jump, spin, and punch your way across the turfs with unique mechanics like momentum-driven combat and self-placed checkpoints. Face the Demon King head-on!
Despelote is a first-person exploration game about the universal language of soccer and the ways it can bring people together, or push them apart. Run, pass, and play with dozens of charming, hand-drawn characters in a unique world inspired by the street parks of Quito, Ecuador.
Enlisted is a squad-based online first-person shooter game with infantry, ground vehicles, and aircraft fighting together on the same WWII-themed maps. Players control either a squad of 4-7 soldiers of various classes or a tank crew or an aircraft pilot.
EXO ONE is a surreal, exoplanetary exploration game. Drift and flow across enigmatic alien landscapes using a gravity-based movement system. Atmospheric, diffused visuals are merged with otherworldly sound effects and a hypnotic electric guitar soundtrack. Exo One is currently expected to release in 2021.
Griftlands is a deck-building rogue-like where you fight and negotiate your way through a broken-down sci-fi world.
Knight Squad 2 is a chaotic arcade multiplayer game for up to 8 players. Pick an eccentric knight and fight for glory with wacky weaponry. Triumph over your friends in a ridiculous amount of game modes, both offline and online.
Last Oasis is a unique survival game where players have to constantly use a mobile base to avoid the deadly encroaching heat of the sun and interact with other players and the game world. Last Oasis is out now.
Lawn Mowing Simulator, developed by Skyhook Games (the team behind Train Simulator) will take you through the British countryside and let you ride authentic and expensive lawnmowers that exist IRL. You can begin virtually mowing lawns this summer.
Mad Streets is a physics-based, couch co-op, brawler coming out from indie startup Craftshop Arts. Look for us in early summer 2020, and Follow us to get the latest in development news!
Onsen Master is a hot spring customer management game where players must revitalize various hot springs across the fantasy island of Izajima! … Dive into a 1-2 player story mode, or take on others in a competitive couch multiplayer mode where you must each work to manage your customers within the same hot spring.
Princess Farmer is a charming story that meets match-3 gameplay, with a host of adorable characters to befriend, mysteries to solve, and fashion to collect. Smash rocks! Make combos! Win hearts!
This is a multiplayer first-person survival game in which players compete to survive in a hostile environment. Players explore the open-world environment, gather resources, create weapons (e.g., spears, machine guns, explosives), and defend themselves from wild animals and other players. Rust should release for Xbox in May of this year.
Up to 4 players take the roles of flight attendants who must cooperate in order to take weird alien passengers safely to their planets. … Spaceline Crew is the first non-violent, rogue-like party game.
Super Space Club is an arcade-style space shooting game about pilots defending the galaxy. Setting out to be the top-ranked club in the galaxy, the player controls a group of pilots known as the ‘Super Space Club.
The Forest Cathedral
The Forest Cathedral is a first-person psychological thriller set on a remote island. Playing as scientist Rachel Carson, players will slowly uncover the effects of DDT by using advanced environmental technology to solve 2D/3D connected puzzles in this dramatic retelling of Silent Spring.
Set in present-day London, the game centers on three characters, John, Donna, and Meena, whose worlds collide in the midst of a supernatural crisis. An anthology drama, Last Stop is three stories in one. The themes of the game involve a focus on secret lives, the ties that bind, and how magic can be found in the mundane.
The Riftbreaker™ is a base-building, survival game with Action-RPG elements. You are an elite scientist/commando inside an advanced Mecha-Suit capable of dimensional rift travel. Hack & slash countless enemies. … It is capable of traveling through rifts that connect space across vast distances.
UnDungeon is an action/roguelike/RPG game with a dynamic fighting system that comprises a great variety of unusual mechanics, making it extremely engaging to explore its world, charismatic characters with tons of quests, and lovely pixel graphics.
We Are the Caretakers is a sci-fi turn-based tactical RPG set in an afro-futurist world. Arriving from developer Heart Shaped Games, it looks to bring an environmental epic mission. We are the Caretakers should be out this year.