Four promising indie games coming to Xbox Game Pass this

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It’s been 10 years since ID@Xbox began, supporting the development of indie games on Xbox and PC.

This year is no exception. I recently got a chance to check out four forthcoming games coming to Xbox and PC via Game Pass this year that will ensure you get the most out of your subscription.

Planet of Lana

Planet of Lana’s Day of the Devs 2022 gameplay reveal.

Already spotted at previous showcase events, Planet of Lana is a game I’m very excited to see more of. I’m a big fan of Fumito Ueda’s work, and Planet of Lana – from Swedish developer Wishfully – is clearly inspired by those titles. It even has a score from The Last Guardian composer Takeshi Furukawa.

Then there’s the companion-based puzzle gameplay, which sees the titular Lana exploring a strange planet alongside her cat-like companion. The segment I saw involved the more nimble Lana creating pathways for her companion who’s afraid of water, but has the ability to hypnotise other creatures to control them – here raising and lowering the water levels. More complex puzzles await as the pair explore further and discover the mystery of an army of machines that invaded the tranquil fishing village Lana once resided in.

The visuals, too, are arresting. Hand painted and beautifully animated, there’s more than a hint of Studio Ghibli – indeed, Spirited Away is a touchstone of tonality, as well as games like Limbo and Inside. The animation of the cat-companion is particularly adorable: the way it curiously dipped a toe into water before shuffling away was very cute. The swamp area explored in this slice of gameplay also featured creaking and immersive sound design that gave way to that sumptuous orchestrated score.

There’s plenty of mystery left to uncover in Planet of Lana but I absolutely cannot wait to find out more. It’s due out on Xbox and PC this spring.

Planet of Lana exploring swamp Planet of Lana jumping over water

The Last Case of Benedict Fox

The Last Case of Benedict Fox’s gameplay trailer.

Metroidvanias are ten a penny these days, as are Lovecraftian adventures, but The Last Case of Benedict Fox has the potential to rise above those overly-familiar influences. The Sherlock-esque Mr Fox is possessed by a demon, allowing him to traverse a limbo world based on the memories of others. What’s more, he can jump back and forth between that world and the grand mansion that forms his base of operations. That allows him to collect new tools like a conundrum machine to unlock passages by lining up ritualistic symbols, or get a tattoo in mystical ink to provide ability buffs. Puzzle solving looks to shift between the real world and the limbo world with some fascinating possibilities.

Benedict’s demon, besides providing a rather creepy narration, also aids him in combat – abilities like a double jump, stoneskin for defence, and more, with melee hits powering up gunshots. A giant tentacle boss was also shown that looked to put dodging and parrying abilities to the test too, although developer Plot Twist promises a balance between platforming, combat and puzzle solving.

What’s striking is the unsettling atmosphere of it all: strange demons, a world in eerie purples, satanic rituals to perform, locked doors smothered in sharp-toothed creatures, and an engrossing mystery at its heart. There’s even a monochromatic Twilight Zone that looks terrifying. Yet there’s beauty here too in the slick animations and impressive sense of depth to the 2D environments. The Last Case of Benedict Fox will launch on Xbox Series S/X and PC from 27th April.

The Last Case of Benjamin Fox shooting enemy screenshot The Last Case of Benjamin Fox exploring screenshot

Everspace 2

Everspace 2’s ancient rifts release trailer.

The follow up 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 that’s far more expansive than its predecessor.

There’s a change in gameplay too. Everspace 2 is an open world space-action RPG with plenty of planets (and space) to explore, procedurally generated loot to collect, and dizzying combat that dazzles. This is the game the team always wanted to make; now they have the budget to achieve it.

Players choose from nine different ships with capabilities loosely relating to typical RPG classes. Environments are highly detailed, with players able to explore underground and underwater. And ship customisation has plenty of depth through add-ons and personalisation, not to mention the crafting system from collected resources and loot to improve gear. There’s also the ability to play in either third-person or first-person cockpit view for a more immersive experience – flight sticks are compatible. A look at the late-game showed Ancient Rift challenges, with players selecting different portals with varying modifiers as they explore deeper into the dungeon-like areas.

It’s clear this is an incredibly ambitious game stuffed with detail that’s gradually come together over its five years of development. It’s set for release on PC on 6th April, with an Xbox (and PS5!) release to follow in the summer.

Everspace 2 explosion in space Everspace 2 ship exploring space

Lightyear Frontier

Lightyear Frontier – A Fresh Start

Lastly, I got to see first-person mech farming game Lightyear Frontier from developer Frame Break. Of course, farming and life sim games are everywhere these days, but this one feels a little different.

rFor starters, you’re in a mech suit on a lush and vibrant alien planet. That means instead of carrots and aubergines you’ll be planting seeds for more bizarre flora and gathering peculiar resources in the world, which in turn will provide the likes of electricity, stone, and bioluminescence with which to power up your mech suit. With new abilities, players will be able to explore further and uncover more of the game’s mysterious plot.

There’s also a homestead to build and personalise, with a wealth of cosmetics, and the whole game can be played with up to three friends. It’s been designed with solo play in mind, but more players means faster gathering and building. There’s no central town, but NPCs act as shopkeepers and the like with stories to tell – I was particularly fond of botanist Olf with an impressive beard full of flowers.

Despite the sci-fi trappings, this is a peaceful game without combat players can enjoy at their own pace. The relaxing atmosphere is only heightened by a score of gently plucked guitars. Lightyear Frontier will release in Early Access this spring across Xbox and PC, with a planned full release coming day one to Game Pass.

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