The Best Xbox One Indie games of all time

The Xbox 360 did a lot to push indie games into the limelight. While PC gamers had been enjoying the often wonderful creations of smaller developers, console players generally had to make do with games released by big publishers. That all changed with Xbox Live Arcade, a kind of indie label on the original Xbox that the Xbox 360 expanded on to great effect. While the Xbox One lost its way towards the start of the generation, and in turn gave up some of its indie cred to the PS4, there are still plenty of excellent indie games available for the Xbox One. These come in all shapes and sizes, so take a look at our list and add those you don't own to your wish list.

Oxenfree

Gorgeous, gripping, and well-paced, Oxenfree cuts a new path for adventure games, and is an excellent debut from Night School Studio. Do yourself a favor: Skip movie night and play this one alongside a friend.

What Remains of Edith Finch

By the end of What Remains of Edith Finch, I felt close to the Finch family. I felt close in a way that only games could articulate with their unique interactive language. I was a kid on a swing, trying to get as high as he can. I was a baby in a bathtub. I was a curious, hungry kid. What Remains of Edith Finch doesn't just tell you about the tragic history of the Finch family, it allows you to embody it.

The Witness

It's easy to fall in love with The Witness, and even easier to have your heart broken by the callous indifference of Jonathan Blow's beautiful island. A healthy challenge is good for any game, but the puzzles on display here offer few inroads to understanding for those who can't think exactly like their creator.

Thumper

Rocket League

Rocket League is simple in concept - it's basically soccer with cars - yet it works brilliantly as a multiplayer game. It's incredibly easy to pick up as a beginner, but learning the intricacies of its controls takes many, many hours. And doing so is a thoroughly enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Inside

Combine a highly compelling visual narrative with superb puzzles and brilliant platforming, and you have Inside, one of the most intriguing, addictive, and beautiful-looking games of this generation. Its only downside is that it's quite short, but while it lasts, it's absolutely glorious.

Gone Home

Gone Home's non-violent, narrative-heavy experience won't be to everyone's taste, but engage with it -- preferably in a single sitting -- and you'll find yourself drawn deeply into an incredibly immersive experience.

Forgotton Anne

You may think it's impossible to feel empathetic over an inanimate blanket, and yet, in Forgotton Anne it feels like second nature. And not just for blankets—for all long forgotten things brought to life in the magical Forgotten Lands. While the platforming is often frustrating, the game's captivating world, art direction, and meaningful choices more than make up for it.

Firewatch

Firewatch doesn't provide the same emotional heights or satisfying conclusion you'd expect from such a story-heavy game, but Campo Santo definitely shows promise with their debut project. Even if it won't have you reaching for the tissues by the end, this woodland walking simulator still provides a pretty great way to burn through an otherwise unoccupied afternoon.

Dead Cells

The field of indie roguelike Metroidvanias is littered with competition, but Dead Cells stands out by focusing on movement and combat. None of its peers feel as good in their moment-to-moment play. The controls are tight, the movement is fluid, and the combat has a real weight to it. Once you get into it, Dead Cells is about this unique state of combat flow, where you're moving, dodging, and killing your way to the end at high-speed. The progression system causes the game to stumble a little, since it's less than satisfying to upgrade a chance at better items dropping. But Dead Cells is a winner overall, especially if you're a player who's all about technique and execution.

Cuphead

Celeste

Platformers, especially those with a retro flair, come along often. But so rarely do they work as well as Celeste does. Celeste is an exercise of excellence in the well-trodden platforming genre. Whether it's the score that kicks up just as busily just as heroine Madeleine does, the mechanics that build and build with each new room you uncover, or its lushly pixelated landscapes: there's a lot to love in Celeste. It's the sort of game that makes you feel strong while playing it; if you can dash-jump through impossible holes between narrow icy spikes to climb that goddamn mountain, you can probably do anything.

That is quite the list of games. Whether you're after adventure, retro platforming, rhythm, or something a little puzzley, there's something here for pretty much everyone. We haven't ordered the list as the variety here is so great that it feels odd to claim one game is better than another. Although we've labeled these "indie" games, in truth these are straight up some of the best games you can buy for the Xbox One.