10 ID@Xbox Games Worth Getting Excited About in 2019

By Mark Delaney, 6 days ago
Last weekend, we previewed the first quarter of major video game releases. Today, we're focusing on some of the promising indie titles that you may have missed. These ID@Xbox games don't get the pre-release fanfare of a Resident Evil 2 or Kingdom Hearts III, but for certain audiences, they are even more special. With hundreds of games coming through the platform over the next twelve months, many of which we don't even know about yet, we scoured our upcoming games list and picked out 10 can't-miss indies coming soon to the digital store. In no specific order, here they are — and as always, if we missed your favorite, let us know!

The Church in the Darkness

Developed by Paranoid ProductionsDeveloped by Paranoid Productions

Without looking, I believe this one made our list last year too, but we're still waiting on the console release. Having played it at several gaming events along with the ongoing PC alpha, it's an easy recommendation as "Metal Gear Jonestown." With a top-down look, players are meant to infiltrate a cult, whose motives and tactics change with every playthrough, and extract your family member who got swept up in the leaders' rhetoric. Sometimes they're a non-violent community, other times not so much, but never do they welcome outsiders such as you sneaking around and asking questions. We're ready to drink the Kool-Aid in 2019.

FAR: Lone Sails

Developed by Mr. Whale's Game ServiceDeveloped by Mr. Whale's Game Service

This one was a surprise hit on many gaming sites and podcasts in 2018, because it's available on some other platforms already. The Xbox release date is currently undetermined, but we expect it should arrive before 2020. Its central mechanic of running around a vehicle toying with different buttons and keeping your transport moving safely and swiftly will remind some players of Lovers in a Dangerous Spacetime, but the tone and themes are lightyears apart. Atmospheric and possessing an often eerie quiet, it's bound to turn more heads when it releases via ID@Xbox.

Black Desert

Developed by PearlAbyssDeveloped by PearlAbyss

The only game on here with a confirmed release date, Black Desert is the highly anticipated fantasy MMO debuting first on Xbox consoles in just a few weeks. We first saw it at E3 a few years back and since then genre fans have been dying to jump into the elaborate and striking world. March 4th marks its digital launch, which will be day one of a hundreds of hours grind that many players will be happy to find themselves in.

Session

Developed by crea-ture StudiosDeveloped by crea-ture Studios

Speaking of grinding, when Session first came on screen at E3 2018, many viewers understandably yelled, "Skate 4!" It's not Skate 4, but it should do well to scratch that itch. Skateboarding games have all but disappeared over the last few years, at least on consoles, but thankfully Session is one of the best-rated genre titles and it's coming to Xbox One. There's no release date yet, but we expect it'll hit the digital store this year.

My Time at Portia

Developed by Pathea GamesDeveloped by Pathea Games

Regular readers of TA would be forgiven if they have Portia fatigue by now, as I've made a point to praise this game two or three times during last year's expo season. The short version of my praise is it's a colorful, charming, Nintendo-like farm life sim in a vein similar to Stardew Valley or Harvest Moon. Deceptively deep, the cutesy world of Portia also offers tons of crafting, upgrades, combat, and resource scavenging, so it goes a lot deeper than something like Animal Crossing without losing the appeal of such a game. Speaking personally, after playing it for almost two hours between E3 and PAX, it's maybe my most anticipated game in the whole ID@Xbox program.

The Blackout Club

Developed by QuestionDeveloped by Question

If you like Stranger Things, you really can't afford to overlook The Blackout Club. It's a four-player co-op game that plays just a bit like Left 4 Dead but stands on its own proudly with unique and disturbing enemy design, an everpresent monster hunting you, and upgradeable, customizable characters. Players take on the roles of several teenagers out to prove their small town is not okay but stuck in a National Radio Quiet Zone — a real-life occurrence that leaves some towns with extremely limited outside communication. The game plays like you and your friends are going through a haunted house attraction at Halloween. We played it at PAX West and can't wait to see more.

Generation Zero

Developed by Avalanche StudiosDeveloped by Avalanche Studios

Another one with a little bit of Left 4 Dead DNA, Generation Zero stands out due to its open-world structure that pits four players in the roles of Swedes in the 1980s against mechanical robots that have run amok. Meant to play on the era's Cold War fears while flipping Avalanche's enemy AI from theHunter: Call of the Wild on its head, we played this one at PAX and during the closed beta period last season and came away very impressed. The map is huge but can often be unnervingly quiet, making those moments of attacking and defending against robots of all sizes that much more impressive.

Afterparty

Developed by Night School StudioDeveloped by Night School Studio

Here's all some of you need to know about Afterparty. It comes from the team behind OXENFREE. If you missed that wonderful game and need more before you buy in, it's about a pub crawl through Hell, literally. Taking on a lighter tone than the eventually very dark debut from Night School Studio, Afterparty also reimagines Hell, removing the tired scare tactics read about in the Bible and transforming it into a neon-lit landing for ne'er-do-wells. It's exactly the type of game major publishers just can't afford to support, which is why we're so thankful for a strong indie scene like ID@Xbox.

Tunic

Developed by Andrew ShouldiceDeveloped by Andrew Shouldice

Tunic stole the show for some viewers at E3 last summer. It's a bit like a mashup of early Zelda and Dark Souls, offering an isometric world where an adventuring fox battles tough enemies, makes corpse runs, and loops the world back onto itself as you advance. Billed as being developed by just one person, Andrew Shouldice, the developer corrected the record when we met him at E3 and told us he has one partner helping with the sound and music, while Finji, the close-knit publisher behind Night in the Woods, is helping promote the game. As you can see from the screen above, however, Tunic does well to promote itself too.

Family Man

Developed by Broken Bear GamesDeveloped by Broken Bear Games

Apologies if we've made too many that thing + that thing = this thing statements, but we think they help when dealing with relative unknowns such as indie games — and thus we're going to make one more. The Sims + Breaking Bad = Family Man. Managing a day/night cycle, balancing work and life, and oh yeah, owing a bunch of money to the mob, one mustn't be fooled by Family Man's colorful aesthetic. It's not nearly as cheerful as it looks, and the opening scene makes that abundantly clear. Faced with difficult choices every in-game day, you'll have to juggle making ends meet for your family while keeping your kneecaps intact with the mobsters always looming, waiting for their next payment.
Mark Delaney
Written by Mark Delaney
Mark is a Boston native now living in Portland, Oregon. He's the Editorial Manager on TA, loves story-first games, and is the host of the community game club TA Playlist. Outside of games he likes biking, sci-fi, the NFL, and spending time with his family. He almost never writes in the third person.