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The best indie games on Xbox One

The Xbox One era was a great time for indie games: Microsoft proved increasingly willing to support smaller developers, and Game Pass alone made it far easier for players to access a whole library of fascinating indie titles they hadn’t known about before.

Plus, the popular indie games on Xbox have plenty of other advantages, too — they’re usually shorter than larger titles, they can be incredibly ambitious in design or premise, and if you’re buying them, they’re significantly more affordable purchases. Here are some of the best available to help you get started!

Hollow Knight

Hollow Knight
92%
E10
Platforms
Linux, PC (Microsoft Windows), Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre
Platform, Hack and slash/Beat 'em up, Adventure, Indie
Developer
Team Cherry
Publisher
Team Cherry
Release
February 24, 2017
Hollow Knight is so packed with ideas that gamers of all kinds can find something to appreciate here, from those who enjoy challenging metroidvanias to those who love hand-drawn games packed with characters both cute and horrifying. The different worlds are unique and beautiful, and the music reliably follows suit. The story is a little vague, but your goals are to explore an ancient underground kingdom, learn new abilities, uncover secret areas, and fight challenging bosses. Don’t worry, there are plenty of ways to upgrade as you go — and once you get started, you’ll be pulled to the very end.
Hollow Knight Trailer

Hades

Hades
93%
T
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S
Genre
Role-playing (RPG), Hack and slash/Beat 'em up, Adventure, Indie
Developer
Supergiant Games
Publisher
Supergiant Games
Release
September 17, 2020
Despite multiple awards and a huge amount of buzz, Supergiant’s Hades still qualifies as an indie game, and a classic example of just how good a game can be when everything lines up right. Here, you play the defiant son of Hades trying to escape the underworld. Your adventures are roguelike, spanning a variety of dungeon sections across several kingdoms, and if you die you have to start over…but don’t expect to get bored. There are numerous ways to level up, collect different weapons, unlock abilities, or change how you fight (especially when it comes to boons from friendly gods). Add the near-perfect level design, and it’s no surprise so many players were captured by the game.
Hades - Early Access Trailer

Castle Crashers Remastered

Castle Crashers Remastered
88%
E10
Platforms
PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre
Role-playing (RPG), Adventure
Developer
The Behemoth
Publisher
The Behemoth
Release
September 09, 2015
Castle Crashers, by The Behemoth, was one of the early examples of just how good indie games on Xbox could be, especially with friends. It’s a brawler that’s packed with as many upgrades and unlockable characters as it is with irreverent humor. The premise is simple: Pick a knight with the elemental powers you like, and hack your way through maps of enemies to earn currency that allows you to buy new weapons as you level up. But the fun (and mayhem) really begins when you add in a couple of friends — and the remastered version on Xbox One makes it even better.
Castle Crashers - Launch Trailer - Nintendo Switch

Ori and the Blind Forest

Ori and the Blind Forest
88%
E
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre
Platform, Puzzle, Adventure, Indie
Developer
Moon Studios
Publisher
Microsoft Studios
Release
March 11, 2015
Ori is another metroidvania, a particularly gorgeous title with a handpainted, melancholic style covering an ancient forest that has been beset by malevolent forces, and young little Ori is the only one up to the task. But the game isn’t just about beauty: The metroidvania aspects here take center stage, providing true challenges that will resonate with those who have found mainstream options a litte too easy. And if you fall in love, there’s a sequel to download when you’re done!
Ori and the Blind Forest Trailer

Oxenfree

Oxenfree
76%
T
Platforms
Linux, PC (Microsoft Windows), Mac, iOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre
Role-playing (RPG), Adventure, Indie
Developer
Night School Studio
Publisher
Night School Studio
Release
January 14, 2016
Oxenfree is a classic example of a game that’s hard to describe unless you play it: You follow a group of teen friends exploring a forbidden island, who find a strange radio signal and quickly unlock a terrifying paranormal maze made from both the past and other dimensions. Players are encouraged to actively participate in every conversation and puzzle, as choosing how — and when — to answer will affect your relationships, decisions, and even who survives. You’ve probably never played anything like it, but it’s sure to suck you in.
Oxenfree - Announcement Trailer

INSIDE

INSIDE
87%
M
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), Mac, iOS, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre
Platform, Puzzle, Adventure, Indie
Developer
Playdead
Publisher
Playdead
Release
June 29, 2016
Inside’s puzzle/platformer gameplay will be familiar to those who played Playdead’s Limbo, but this title expands on the gameplay and worldbuilding in numerous, fascinating ways. You play as a young boy attempting to outrun a host of macabre enemies that appear to have taken over the world. Every new setting or mechanic does more than introduce new, challenging gameplay mechanics: They hint at larger, ever-unapproachable secrets about the story that will have you captured until the very end — and beyond.
INSIDE Trailer E3 2014

Deep Rock Galactic

Deep Rock Galactic
83%
T
Platforms
PC (Microsoft Windows), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 5
Genre
Shooter, Adventure, Indie
Developer
Ghost Ship Games
Publisher
Coffee Stain Publishing
Release
May 13, 2020
The indie genre is a perfect match for a game about space dwarves finding valuable minerals while beating back hordes of alien insects. The title achieved incredible popularity thanks to how much fun it is to play with friends, using each mission to work out how best to reach rare resources and then how to repel angered aliens as you escape. There’s also a rigorous RPG system for each dwarf class so you can level up your favorite.
Deep Rock Galactic - Pre-alpha Teaser Trailer (Official)

Stardew Valley

Stardew Valley
87%
E10
Platforms
Linux, PC (Microsoft Windows), Mac, Android, iOS, PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre
Role-playing (RPG), Simulator, Indie
Developer
ConcernedApe
Publisher
ConcernedApe, Chucklefish Games
Release
February 26, 2016
There are few “town simulator” games as famous as Stardew Valley, and for good reason. It’s both incredibly expansive and very relaxing to play, as you work to meet townspeople, hazard the wilderness to find rare resources, and eventually build your farm into the stunning home you always knew it could be. Play at your own pace, set your own goals, and feel the stress melt away.
Stardew Valley Trailer

SUPERHOT

SUPERHOT
77%
T
Platforms
Linux, PC (Microsoft Windows), Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Google Stadia
Genre
Shooter, Puzzle, Tactical, Indie
Developer
SUPERHOT Team
Publisher
IMGN.PRO, SUPERHOT Team
Release
February 25, 2016
At first glance, Superhot is a game built around a single feature: Stand still, and time freezes. Start moving, and time resumes. But the FPS title does some excellent things with this mechanic, encouraging both careful planning and creativity as you navigate a variety of short missions in an effort to survive and find out why you’re here.
SUPERHOT Greenlight Trailer

Firewatch

Firewatch
80%
M
Platforms
Linux, PC (Microsoft Windows), Mac, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Genre
Adventure, Indie
Developer
Campo Santo
Publisher
Panic
Release
February 09, 2016
Firewatch technically belongs to the “walking simulator” genre of indie games, but this adventure game offers plenty for players to enjoy. At the heart of it is a mature story about a man who takes on a firewatch position in remote Wyoming. Much of your time is spent exploring the landscape, piecing together some basic storylines, and reflecting on how the scenery harmonizes with the internal journey you are also making. Take as long as you want to enjoy this relatively short title, but don’t worry — it’s sure to stick with you long afterward.
Firewatch - August 2014 Reveal Trailer
Tyler Lacoma
Former Digital Trends Contributor
If it can be streamed, voice-activated, made better with an app, or beaten by mashing buttons, Tyler's into it. When he's not…
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