Happy Post-E3! Xbox had so many big, exciting announcements that it’s easy to forget that the [email protected] Summer Game Fest started as well. There are currently a whopping 40 different indie game demos to download and give a try until the 21st of June. If that doesn’t sound like enough time for you to parse the enormous collection and find the real winners, then worry not! I’ve done that for you, and these are seven of the most interesting demos for upcoming indies that you can download right now from the Xbox Store.
Let’s start with a game that was originally revealed all the way back in 2018. Tunic is the labour of a single developer’s love, and it’s shaping up to be an interesting little title.
Clearly inspired by the early, dungeon crawling, tunic-clad adventures of Link, there’s also a lot of From Software DNA here. Bonfire checkpoints that refill health and respawn enemies, shield-blocking and dodgeroll-focused combat, and you play as an adorable fox.
Okay, that last one isn’t very Dark Souls, but the game’s artstyle really is lovely. If any part of you enjoys hunting for treasure, this is definitely one to check out.
If someone tried to tell me that they wanted to play a video game about delivering mail in a small, lakeside town, I’d probably roll my eyes at them and get back to shooting guns or swinging swords. Now that I’ve played Lake, however, I want the full game to be released as soon as possible.
It’s incredible how quickly I became absorbed by the simple, beautiful gameplay loop of this relaxing game. I credit this to not only thoughtful design and the picturesque setting, but some refreshingly enjoyable writing.
If you take the time to deliver a bit of mail in Providence Oaks, you may find it hard to leave.
The Tale of Bistun
I’m not a frequent user of audiobooks, but on more than one occasion I’ve thought games could learn from them.
The Tale of Bistun really has, because it combines some great exploration and simple-but-slashy combat with a captivating story. All of the story is communicated to the player through a single, omniscient voice that describes the events much like a well-written audiobook.
It’s a voiceover/narrative approach that I’ve never seen before, but it works to great effect. Of course the pleasant, painted, Persian-inspired artstyle is a lovely backdrop for everything as well.
The Eternal Cylinder
Now, if you’ve seen anything on this next game before, you might be thinking I’m crazy. “Okay. You’ve already said delivering mail is fun, but now you think this acid-trip in space is too?” Yes. I. Am.
Is The Eternal Cylinder an acid-trip in space? It certainly does feel like it. Is it incredibly weird? Oh, absolutely. Yet, those are part of the reasons it’s so great. When other games go left, The Eternal Cylinder has you eat a fish in order to transform your feet so that you can swim and roll away from horrifying monsters that are 90% mouth.
Gameplay is interesting, wandering around to find the next bizarre creature is a blast, and running from the enormous, sweeping destruction of the titular cylinder is a chaotic joy. This is easily one of my most anticipated indies for the year.
While The Eternal Cylinder will have you questioning your sanity, Teacup will bring you back to Earth, wrap you up in a warm blanket, and serve you a relaxing cup of tea.
If you can find the ingredients, of course. You’ll join the tea-loving frog named Teacup as she journeys to resupply herself with all the tea-related paraphernalia required for throwing a tea party.
Along the way, you’ll solve puzzles, complete minigames, enjoy the adorable dialogue and visuals, and maybe you’ll smile because it’s all just too damn cute to resist.
This game has some radical stuff going on. Imagine an RTS where you control only a single unit, but that unit is the strongest, coolest, bad-ass…est, mech ever. Oh, and it talks and is named Mr. Riggs.
You’ll still build a base, put up defenses, and purchase an enormous amount of upgrades, but it will all feed into making yourself the most destructive force in the entire galaxy. Mowing through enormous hordes of enemies is incredibly satisfying, and it looks beautiful too.
Hopefully you’ve already heard of Sable, because it’s another of the indies I’m really looking forward to this year.
Inspired by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Sable is seeking to offer that same vast sense of wonder and exploration, but in a unique sci-fi world.
Instead of a horse, you’ll have an upgradeable hover bike. Instead of rolling, grassy hills, you’ll see one of the most beautiful digital deserts ever imagined, and instead of ancient castles you’ll find forgotten vessels from beyond the stars.
What are you waiting for? The [email protected] Summer Game Fest doesn’t last all summer long! These are just a handful of the enormous amount of demos you can install and play right now, so if none struck your fancy you should still give the full list a look on the Xbox Store. If any of them did catch your eye, let us know in the comments below or tell us what demos you’ve tried so far that you can’t wait to hear more about.