ID@Xbox has been responsible for some of the most memorable gaming experiences on Xbox One over the past couple years, from The Swapper and Rogue Legacy to Threes! and Shovel Knight. With Windows 10 right around the corner, some of that ID@Xbox love is coming to even more gamers: From deep role-playing games to pulse-pounding brawlers, we’re taking a closer look at a few of our favorites, coming to Windows 10 (and Xbox One!) in the coming months.
Aurora44’s Ashen is set in a world without s sun, where natural light comes from spontaneous eruptions that cover the land in ash. The game is about forging relationships with other characters in this harsh, open world. Players will be able to guide others they trust to their camp in an effort to survive together. The game’s stylized aesthetic is a stand-out: The characters are visually deconstructed in a similar manner to lo-fi pixel art, but with a sharp, fully 3D “low-poly” look. Characters have no facial features to speak of (or with, for that matter), and there’s a clear emphasis on bringing the characters to life via their body movements thought fantastic 3D animation. This was one of the indie showstoppers at E3 2015.
Cuphead has you playing as a teacup that can shoot enemies by clicking his fingers to release drops of water. You’ll take on a series of platformer-style challenges (including boss battles) in environments ranging from vegetable gardens to beaches and pirate ships, and it won’t be easy: Cuphead is designed to be old-school challenging. The game’s visuals are a real treat: Inspired by early hand-drawn cartoons such as “Steamboat Willie” and “Popeye the Sailor,” Cuphead uses subdued tones and a grainy, flickering film style to achieve a look never before seen in a video game. The soundtrack and effects reinforce the early-cartoon-era vibes for what already looks like one of 2016’s indie gems.
Developer The Behemoth created one of the earliest (and best) downloadable Xbox games, in the form of the classic co-op beat-‘em-up Castle Crashers. Now, the developer is back at it with Pit People (formerly codenamed Game 4), a turn-based strategy game that streamlines the genre into a game of positioning and efficiency. Pit People’s world is full of the recognizable Behemoth style, and there are plenty of things in the game that aren’t pit “people” per se, like cyclopes, walking cupcakes, and other weirdos. Pit People is a single-player adventure, but it also features two-player co-op, both locally and online. There’s also a versus mode to round things out, not to mention a hilarious narrator – the disembodied voice of a mysterious, gigantic space bear, who crash-lands on a planet and cracks it into hexagons – that keeps players abreast of the action.
Developed by Frogshark, Swordy is a single-screen brawler where players find medieval melee weapons – think swords, axes, ball-and-chains – and try to kill one another with them. Players spawn on the map as unarmed knights and go bolting for their weapon of choice. Swordy is physics-based, so each weapon type has its own weight and feel, and momentum from swinging differs based on a given weapon’s mass. To help you keep track of who’s getting stabbing amidst the four-player chaos, gorgeous splotches of color (which match each knight) splatter across the ground every time a successful strike lands. It’s simple, fun, and incredibly addictive: Whether you’ve got a dagger or a giant hammer in your hand, your goal is to swing fast enough and long enough to overpower your opponents.
InXile Entertainment’s post-apocalyptic RPG Wasteland 2 took gamers by storm in its initial incarnation, whereby players control a squad of Desert Rangers, a militia that protects whatever humanity has survived after the apocalypse. It’s an affair filled with turn-based combat and significant choices: You’ll choose between some survivors at the expense of others, for instance, and you can move, attack, reload, unjam weapons, and perform surgery on a wounded squad mate on any turn. The game will soon be coming to Windows 10, with the same accoutrements as the upcoming Xbox One game. These include a new “quirks and perks” system, as well as a new precision strike system. Wasteland 2’s engine has received an upgrade as well, which brings with it a full overhaul of the game’s art and lighting, updated character models, and new voice-over work. Old- and new-school adventurers alike need look no further than this particular Wasteland.