Kotaku’s Pick Of Indie Titles To Play On Xbox Game Pass

Kotaku’s Pick Of Indie Titles To Play On Xbox Game Pass

The Xbox Game Pass is packed with great AAA titles, but also has a solid indie library to boot.

Xbox’s Game Pass has been a great way for gamers to jump into games new and old, with a subscription fee allowing for access to hundreds of titles. Much like the Nintendo Wii’s motion controls guiding the Playstation and Xbox’s foray into motion controls in the past, the rise of Xbox Game Pass has led to Sony and Nintendo dipping their toes in as well. Kind of. While Playstation plans to have a Game Pass-like service available in 2022 by combining the cloud-based gaming service Playstation Now with the monthly free game offerings of Playstation Plus, Nintendo has access only to older games through their online subscription service (with an additional fee for the slightly newer older games).

With the gaming subscription service offering plenty to fill your time with, there’s sometimes so much to choose from that it can feel exhausting. However, if you’re looking for some neat indie games to jump into on the Game Pass, we’ve got you covered.

Hades

Image: Hades / Supergiant Games.

Of course Hades is here. The rogue-lite action dungeon crawler has absolutely smashed it in terms of praise and awards, winning Game of the Year awards across multiple gaming awards ceremonies as well as being the first video game to win a Hugo Award.

You play Zagreus, son of Hades, as you attempt to escape your home and mean dad by hacking and slashing your way through the layers of the underworld. You will die, a lot, but that’s alright! Dying over and over again only makes you stronger, as the building of relationships with characters of the underworld and Mount Olympus help you grow.

The story is engaging, the gameplay is fast-paced and rewarding, the art design is detailed and gorgeous, and the voice acting isn’t cringe. What more could you want?

Donut County

Image: Donut County / Ben Esposito

If you’ve got an hour or two to fill, Donut County has you covered. The story-based physics adventure game is a light treat that doesn’t take too long to get through, and is perfect for anybody who just wants to be a little bit chaotic.

Donut County, plain and simple, is a game where you control a hole in the ground. With every little thing that you catch in the hole, it grows larger meaning you are able to make larger things fall into the hole. The story revolves around a small town that has a large hole-making corporation run by raccoons move in and of course, create holes. You mainly play as one of these raccoons, BK, as well as BK’s best friend Mira.

While the play time is short and there’s not much wiggle room in terms of what you can do other than what’s expected of you, Donut County is a fun and chill Katamari-like game for anyone wanting to simply make things fall into holes.

Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition

Image: Hollow Knight / Team Cherry

We’ve got an Aussie game on here, and it’s a goodie. This Metroidvania action-adventure game has long received acclaim since it’s release, with reviews being largely positive, ratings ranging between a high 8 and a perfect 10, and a generous lot of award nominations.

The game takes place in Hallownest, and the player controls a silent protagonist exploring the underground world. The game has multiple endings, so there’s plenty to get through. Similarly to Dark Souls, the game is challenging to a point where it can be described as ruthless yet the difficult of fights in the game make you feel a strong sense of accomplishment once you get through them.

The Voidheart Edition available on Game Pass means that players have access to the game as well as 4 huge content packs that give the game more quests, more boss fights, and more abilities. If you’re going to play the game, you might as well play the edition that comes with it all.

Darkest Dungeon

Image: Darkest Dungeon / Red Hook Studios.

Nothing like an incredibly dark and grim title to keep you entertained. Darkest Dungeon is a side-scrolling gothic role-playing game that uses a turn-based combat system. The game has been out for about 6 years now and is available on pretty much every platform including mobile (however the text is a little hard to read unless your phone is the size of an iPad), but it’s a good pick for those that like a challenge.

You control a four-hero team while exploring dark and dank dungeons, with the heroes you accrue while playing the game consisting of 15 different classes. You face off against some truly grotesque-looking enemies, with the light of your torch growing dimmer as you traverse through the dungeons and the enemies becoming stronger as the light fades. The game puts levelling up aside and replaces it with “resolve”, with aspects of the game testing the hero’s “resolve” leaving it up to the player to address any afflictions developed by the heroes.

It’s a tough game with a lot to take care of, but once you get into the groove of proper preparations and planning out your next journey, it becomes almost addictive.

Hypnospace Outlaw

Image: Hypnospace Outlaw / ThatWhichIs Media / Michael Lasch / Tendershoot

Hey guys, remember the ’90s? Do you remember the period between 1989 and 2000? Are you a “90s kid”? Whether you remember the internet of the ’90s fondly or not, Hypnospace Outlaw captures it incredibly well while being a weird and wacky ride.

The ’90s internet simulator is a point-and-click adventure where you act as an Enforcer, which is basically a volunteer mod that goes through the kooky network of Hypnospace to hunt down internet nasties. The game also includes looking at your inbox, avoiding viruses, and using useful or pointless apps. While the game isn’t as full-on as the previous games listed, it is a fascinating experience with great satire and early-internet nostalgia that harkens back to the GeoCities phase of the world wide web.

This one is perfect if you’re into investigative gameplays and point-and-click stories, but you might get a bit bored if these kinds of games aren’t your thing.

The Wild At Heart

Image: The Wild At Heart / Moonlight Kids.

You might see The Wild At Heart pop up on my favourite games of this year, and it deserves that spot. This whimsical adventure game takes the game mechanics of “little guys helping you out” that we know from Pikmin and weaves it into a story of childhood fantasy accompanied by gorgeous art design that’s reminiscent of Over The Garden Wall meets Night In The Woods.

Playing as both Wake and Kirby, two kids that have run away from home, you explore the Deep Woods and find yourself getting entangled in the work of an interesting order of guardians tasked with protecting the realm. You also collect and control a range of different elemental beings called Spritelings (hence the Pikmin association), who help you make stuff, break stuff, fight stuff and more.

The art style of this game is really rich, and the story and gameplay is immersive enough to keep you entertained for hours on end. Any fans of indie adventure/puzzle games will have a great time with this one.

Deep Rock Galactic

Image: Deep Rock Galactic / Ghost Ship Games.

Loved by many even before it’s official launch, Deep Rock Galactic is a four-player co-op shooter that’s a delight to play with your buddies. In an interview with GameRant, the game’s director Mikkel Pedersen notes that the game is made to be accessible to both newbies and veterans of the genre. We love to see a shooter that’s fun for everyone.

The first-person sci-fi shooter puts you and up to three friends in the roles of four dwarves of different classes. The caves that you mine through are all procedurally generated and exist for you to explore, mine, and explode your way through.

With explosive and exciting gameplay in very intense environments that are always giving you something new, this game is an awesome mix of Left 4 Dead, Minecraft and Starship Troopers that is heaps of fun for gamers of any level. You may have noticed that I mentioned friends and buddies a lot, and that’s because Deep Rock Galactic is best played with others.

Pikuniku

Image: Pikuniku / Sectordub.

Pikuniku is goofy as hell and that’s why we love it. You never really know what to expect with this puzzle-platformed as there’s more than meets the eye as you play. It’s a game that doesn’t take itself too seriously without making the player feel stupid.

You play the game as a red blob with very flexible legs that are great for kicking. You wake up in a cave with a ghost and as you find your way out of said cave, you come into a world that does not trust you. You bounce through the game meeting all sorts of funny little fellas and soon learn that not everything is as it seems in this colourful land. There’s also a co-op mode where you and a friend can get through puzzles together, a really quick bit of fun.

I’m not entirely sure who this game was made for or why but it’s entertaining as hell and the writing is simple yet witty. It’s a fun little puzzle game with a neat story that you can get through in about three or four hours.

The Artful Escape

Image: The Artful Escape / Beethoven & Dinosaur.

We’ve got another fantastic Aussie game on here, and it’s a stunning debut too. The Artful Escape is a 2D adventure platformer and a psychedelic and wonderful audio-visual experience. It’s no surprise that publisher Annapurna Interactive picked this one up considering their history of unique bangers.

You play as Francis Vendetti, the teenage nephew of a country music legend, as you go on a journey of self-discovery while battling with the legacy of your uncle and your own imagination. It’s a short game that stays fresh with the pure spectacle of its art design and the sheer musical power behind it. Truly a sweet treat for the eyes and ears.

If you’re looking for a challenge, this probably isn’t the game for you. However, if you’re looking for a game to remember, I’d say give this one a red hot go.

Notable mentions

  • Aragami 2
  • Unpacking
  • What Remains Of Edith Finch
  • Subnautica
  • Spiritfarer
  • Dead Cells

These are some of our favourites available, what are some of yours? Let us know!

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