During a special [email protected] showcase, Microsoft gave a handful of developers the opportunity to showcase updates on some incredible-looking indie games. The indie games in the lineup included the likes of Planet of Lana from Wishfully, Everspace 2 from Rockfish Games, The Last Case of Benedict Fox by Plot Twist and (my favourite) Lightyear Frontier by Frame Break.
Each of these indie games is currently in development for Xbox and PC. All four are also scheduled to launch this year on Xbox Game Pass. After watching some gameplay of them all, I wanted to share my thoughts on what you can expect from the games.
The Last Case of Benedict Fox
This side-scrolling detective game looks to be more than just your average Sherlock Holmes. In fact, The Last Case of Benedict Fox sees players explore a dark and twisted fantasy world filled with ghosts and other unworldly creatures. The team at Plot Twist have not only tried to deliver an authentic detective game but at the same time, platforming and combat take centre stage too.
The main character, Benedict Fox is accompanied on his journey by a demon companion. This companion allows him to plunge into the memories and feelings of characters throughout the game. The gameplay demo I watched saw Benedict explore twisted memories entangled in what is known as limbo.
While Benedict explored these metrovania-styled environments, he found clues to the underlying story and characters while also fighting off cool-looking demons. Most of Benedict’s abilities come from his demon companion. This companion can then be upgraded by getting tattoos done by an artist.
The demon enhances attacks, can block incoming damage and help Benedict navigate through the game. When Benedict isn’t fighting, he is exploring and solving puzzles. At times, players will have to focus on items and information in the real world in order to solve puzzles in limbo.
The gameplay demo also showed off a boss called The Librarian. This giant fish had long tentacles in which Benedict had to dodge attacks and wait for an opening to in order to melee attack it. After a while, the boss summoned more tentacles and the gameplay went from simple to intense. Benedict was dodging attacks, blocking rocks, slicing the tentacles and shooting his gun all at once.
The Last Case of Benedict Fox looks to be a mixture of metrovania gameplay with detective work. Its focus on limbo and entering the memories of people is an interesting take and I look forward to seeing where it goes. The game is set to launch on 27 April 2023 for Xbox and PC. It will also be available on Game Pass.
Next up is Everspace 2. This isn’t a particularly hidden game as it has been in early access for some time now. For those who don’t know, Everspace 2 is a single-player space shooter with open-world mechanics. Players will explore space, gather loot through combat and exploration and slowly grow their fleet into powerful ships.
Unlike the first Everspace, which was a roguelike game, Everyspace 2 is a grand open-world RPG. There’s also a heavy emphasis on its story due to its single-player approach. Given that the game is in space, Everspace delivered massive open-world hubs to explore which are all carefully handcrafted by the team at Rockfish Games.
Your ship is your character in Everspace 2 which means the loot you find develops its capabilities. Better ships mean you can take on more challenging combat encounters with the diverse alien species across the game.
Combat also revolves around flying carefully through the dangers while also shooting and looting everything that stands in your way. Everspace 2 also prides itself on its fluid movement and flying systems meaning it feels great to get around. The loot system then makes every trip worthwhile.
Everspace 2 is now out in early access on Steam. The game will release on 6 April for PC with a PS5 and Xbox Series X/S release planned for later this year.
Planet of Lana
If you’re looking to play Planet of Lana, today is the day. There is a free demo available on Steam starting tonight. This game has been inspired by the likes of Limbo and Inside and follows Lana and her animal companion Mui through a mysterious planet.
Lana and Mui combine their efforts together in order to overcome puzzles around the world. Mui can hypnotise other creatures around the world and even control some of the strange substance that inhabits the world around them. For example, a sleeping creature in a swamp is filled with water. Mui can then exhaust the water out of it so it fills up a lake and Lana can cross it.
Lana can also instruct Mui to perform certain actions. Be it jumping to a higher spot or pushing down a rope for Lana to climb up. Mui is also afraid of water so where puzzles are involved, Lana also needs to help Mui out wherever possible. The companionship isn’t a one-sided affair here.
Planet of Lana has been inspired by a lot of source material. Studio Ghibli films were one of these. The soundtrack is also created by The Last Guardian composer Takeshi Furukawa. The entire Planet of Lana story is also told without words. Lana and Mui have a language they understand but this has been created just for the game. The player will have to determine what the duo are talking about throughout the adventure. In a way, this will help them bond with the relationship that forms too.
Planet of Lana is set to launch soon on Xbox and PC. Also available through Game Pass.
Lightyear Frontier is likely one of my most anticipated games of the year. Mainly because I love a good farming game. This game, however, aims to mix sci-fi planet exploration with farming… and giant mechs. Instead of players wandering around on foot, players will explore a strange planet in a mech and farm their way to glory.
You’ll start your life on a distant planet by building a home. As you explore the wilderness, you’ll farm and harvest goods which will keep your farm alive. You can also jump into the game with up to two friends and discover alien crops with others.
Using your mech as a tool you can explore lots of exciting subzones, from lush fields of crops to hidden caverns brimming with rocks and stones. Forage for new plants with special properties or collect resources for upgrades, and bring them back to the base to build up your homestead.
Lightyear Frontier is set to launch soon on Xbox and PC. Also available through Game Pass.