Four promising indie games are coming to Xbox Game Pass this year
It’s been 10 years since ID@Xbox started supporting indie game development on Xbox and PC.
This year is no exception. I recently had the opportunity to try out four upcoming games coming to Xbox and PC via Game Pass this year, ensuring you get the most out of your subscription.
Planet of Lana
Planet of Lana has been spotted at previous showcase events and is a game I’m very excited to see more of. I’m a huge fan of Fumito Ueda’s work and Planet of Lana – from Swedish developer Wishfully – is clearly inspired by those titles. It even includes a score by The Last Guardian composer Takeshi Furukawa.
Then there’s the companion-based puzzle gameplay, which sees the titular Lana exploring an alien planet alongside her feline companion. The segment I saw involved the more nimble Lana creating paths for her companion who is afraid of water but has the ability to hypnotize other creatures to control them – here the raising and lowering of the water level. More complex mysteries await as they continue to explore and uncover the secret of an army of machines that have invaded the tranquil fishing village of Lana, where it once resided.
The optics are also impressive. Hand-painted and beautifully animated, there’s more than a touch of Studio Ghibli to it – in fact, Spirited Away is a touchstone of tonality, as are games like Limbo and Inside. The animation of the cat companion is particularly cute: the way he curiously dipped a toe in the water before scuffling away was very cute. The swampland explored in this part of the gameplay also featured a creaky and haunting sound design that gave way to this gorgeously orchestrated score.
There are still many mysteries to be uncovered in Planet of Lana, but I can’t wait to learn more. It’s slated for release this spring for Xbox and PC.
The Last Case of Benedict Fox
Metroidvanias are a dime a dozen these days, as are Lovecraftian adventures, but The Last Case of Benedict Fox has the potential to rise above those all-too-familiar influences. The Sherlock-like Mr. Fox is possessed by a demon that allows him to traverse a floating world based on the memories of others. In addition, he can jump back and forth between this world and the grand mansion that forms his base of operations. This allows him to collect new tools like a puzzle machine to unlock passages by stringing together ritual symbols, or get a tattoo inked in mystical ink to grant ability buffs. Puzzle solving seems to switch between the real world and the limbo world with some intriguing possibilities.
Benedict’s demon not only assists him with some pretty spooky narration, but also aids him in combat – abilities like double jump, stone skin for defense, and more, with melee hits boosting shots. A giant tentacled boss was also shown, who also wanted to test dodging and parrying skills, though developer Plot Twist promises a balance of platforming, combat, and puzzle-solving.
What is striking is the unsettling atmosphere of it all: strange demons, a world painted in eerie crimson hues, satanic rituals to be performed, locked doors being smothered by sharp-toothed creatures, and an intriguing mystery at heart. There’s even a monochromatic Twilight Zone that looks terrifying. But again, there’s beauty in the slick animations and impressive sense of depth in the 2D environments. The Last Case of Benedict Fox is coming to Xbox Series S/X and PC on April 27th.
ever space 2
The sequel to spaceship roguelike Everspace (obviously), Everspace 2 has been in Early Access since January 2021 – a decision seen as a positive move by developer Rockfish Games. It provided the team with plenty of player feedback, and the result is a game far more expansive than its predecessor.
There is also a change in gameplay. Everspace 2 is an open-world space action RPG with lots of planets (and space) to explore, procedurally generated loot to collect, and dizzying combat that’s mind-blowing. This is the game the team has always wanted to make; Now they have the budget to make it happen.
Players choose from nine different ships with abilities loosely related to typical RPG classes. The environments are highly detailed and players can explore the underground and underwater world. And there’s plenty of depth to ship customization through add-ons and personalization, not to mention the crafting system of gathered resources and loot to upgrade gear. There’s also the option to play in either third-person or first-person cockpit view for an even more immersive experience – Flight Sticks are compatible. A late-game look revealed Ancient Rift challenges, where players choose different portals with different modifiers as they progress deeper into the dungeon-like areas.
It’s clear that this is an incredibly ambitious game, full of details that have gradually come together over the course of five years of development. It’s slated for release on April 6th on PC, with an Xbox (and PS5!) release to follow this summer.
Last I saw was the first-person mech farming game Lightyear Frontier from developer Frame Break. Of course, farming and life simulation games are everywhere these days, but this one feels a little different.
For starters, you’re in a mech suit on a lush and vibrant alien planet. That means instead of carrots and eggplants, you’ll be planting seeds for a bizarre flora, and gathering weird resources from the world, which in turn will provide electricity, rocks, and bioluminescence, which you can use to power your mech suit. With new abilities, players will be able to further explore and uncover the game’s mysterious plot.
There’s also a homestead to build and personalize with a plethora of cosmetics, and the entire game can be played with up to three friends. It was designed for solo play, but more players means faster collecting and building. There is no central city, but NPCs act as shopkeepers and such who have stories to tell – I especially liked the botanist Olf with an impressive beard full of flowers.
Despite the sci-fi trappings, this is a peaceful non-combat game that players can enjoy at their own pace. The relaxing atmosphere is only enhanced by a score of gently plucked guitars. Lightyear Frontier will release in Early Access for Xbox and PC this spring, with a full release planned for day one of Game Pass.
https://www.eurogamer.net/four-promising-indie-games-coming-to-xbox-game-pass-this-year Four promising indie games are coming to Xbox Game Pass this year