With over a hundred titles to choose from, Xbox Game Pass has quickly become the premiere Games Subscription service. With xCloud, Xbox’s Cloud Gaming Service, set to launch next month, Xbox Game Pass is quickly becoming the “Netflix for Games”.
But just like Netflix, filtering through all the titles can be a chore, and finding something great amidst all the mediocrity can be difficult. Especially if you are looking to play something other than a Triple-A, blockbuster game.
Game Pass is inundated with dozens of indie games to choose from, and many of them are fantastic, but which are truly worth your time? No need to fret, dear citizen, for us heroes at TheXboxHub have done the hard, gruelling work for you. Here are the 5 Indies on Xbox Game Pass you simply must play.
Totally Accurate Battle Simulator
Starting off our list is Totally Accurate Battle Simulator – an early access title that is more like a sandbox playground than anything else. The player can build small armies from a huge variety of historically accurate military units, from samurai and musketeers to Leanardo Da Vinci driving a tank and Zeus Olympios, God of Thunder and the Heavens.
While the googly-eyed, cartoon caricatures of soldiers are certainly amusing to look at, and the wacky yet consistent physics can produce some hilarious hijinks, there is more to this game than meets the eye. Each unit is unique, with strengths and weaknesses that reflect both historical truths and also popular imagination. For instance, the samurai can deflect bullets, which we all know is 100% possible through the power of anime.
The game also contains a campaign mode, which will see you given a limited budget and headcount to face off against an opposing army. Unlike most real-time strategy games, there is no micromanagement of units; once you place them, they are out of your control. While it can be frustrating at times, it also means that laying down proper battle lines actually becomes important.
For instance, my winning combo was based off the Spanish Tercio, which consists of a block of muskets surrounded by pikes and skirmishing fencers. It was nigh unbeatable on the battlefield in 1580, and remains so in this delightful game.
Slay the Spire
A roguelike deck-builder is certainly an odd combo. Yet somehow, Slay the Spire makes it work beautifully.
Every death sends you back to the start, with all your favorite cards scattered to the winds. But two things stay with you, your experience and your experience.
Post-mortem, you will receive experience points that allow for a larger variety of cards to appear throughout your run. And every run trains you to think more synergistically, which is for once not just a corporate buzzword. You will find exciting ways to combine effects of cards that compound to obliterate the dozens of monsters you will meet in your travels.
With four classes, that each have completely unique decks, and a procedurally generated path, Slay the Spire is quite simply unlike any other deck-builder that you have ever played.
What Remains of Edith Finch
To call What Remains of Edith Finch a walking simulator is not incorrect, but it fundamentally undersells what a unique experience this game is. You play as a young girl, returning to her ancestral home, who investigates her family’s obsession with death. To say much more could spoil the experience.
It is not a long game; in fact you can easily beat it in one afternoon. But there is not a wasted minute of gameplay. Every note found, every tale spun, every step taken pushes the narrative further in meaningful ways.
Gameplay is varied, with new mechanics being adopted and quickly dropped before you can tire of them. But, it is the story of What Remains of Edith Finch that sticks with you; it is the story that will find you months from now having moments where your mind drifts back to this fever-dream of a game.
If I had to pick one game on this list to recommend to any gamer, no matter how hardcore or casual they may be, that game would have to be Descenders. Descenders is a game all about downhill mountain biking, and also about the importance of wearing a helmet when you are going down a mountain on a dinky bike at 30 miles per hour.
Descenders is high octane – speed and tricks are the name of the game. Every course will push you to go faster, and the optional objectives on each course could ask you to get some “sick” air time or to never use your breaks. There are even courses that switch your perspective from third to first-person.
Perhaps the best thing about all of this is that all courses in Descenders are procedurally generated. You will never play the exact same course, with the exact same objectives, twice.
You get what you put into this game; if you want to push the boundaries and set world records, it will take hours of honing your skills. But if you just want to turn off your brain for a bit and jam out to the game’s soundtrack as you speed towards the finish line, the game can be perfect for that as well.
Outer Wilds is a game that truly stands alone. Not only is it just one of the best indie games on Xbox Game Pass, it is simply one of the best games to come out on Xbox this generation.
The game finds you controlling an unnamed Hearthian – an Alien species whose curiosity far outpaces their technological capabilities. Never one to be put off by some meager issues like sound science and safety, you will launch into space in a ramshackle spaceship that looks like it was cobbled together with bamboo and various kitchen appliances.
You will explore space, discover ancient ruins, and solve riddles as old as the universe. It is a game about the simultaneous wonder and terror of space; even as you gaze upon the brilliance of the galaxy, you know death is only kept at bay by some flimsy glass separating you from the endless void.
Time is the most precious resource in Outer Wilds, and you will always be aware of how little you have left. This is much like real life, which is why if you have Xbox Game Pass and only have time for one game, let it be Outer Wilds.
So there we have it – 5 of the very best indie titles currently available on Xbox Game Pass. What games did we leave out that you think should have made the cut? Break out your inkwell and quill, and send us your response by carrier pigeon!
Or y’know, leave a comment below. Whichever you prefer.