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Xbox showcases four indie games backed by ID@Xbox

Microsoft recently held a virtual press showcase to flaunt four intriguing indie games coming to Xbox (and in several cases, other platforms too) in the near future, including Still Wakes the Deep, the long-awaited next project from Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture developer The Chinese Room.

It was a little unclear whether the showcase would ultimately be made public – apparently not! – but hopefully this short list can still serve as an aide-mémoire for some interesting titles due in the near-ish future.

First up was Nightscape from Mezan Studios, a side-scrolling 2.5D platformer coming “soon” to PC, PlayStation, Xbox. You play as reluctant hero Layla, aided by cute animal sidekick Goat Kid, in a tale inspired by ancient Arabic astronomy.

Nightscape. | Image credit: Microsoft

What if the stars fell to Earth, rendering the night sky completely dark? Layla’s progress through levels with simple environmental puzzles is meant to show her adventuring to return the heavens to life. I liked seeing Goat Kid nudge Layla across water, on top of a floating branch she’d shot down using her bow and arrow. There are also more godly powers inspired by the constellations you’ve returned, such as the Arabian variation of Orion which grants Layla wind powers to manipulate her environement.

Next was Botany Manor from Balloon Studios, due to launch on PC, PlayStation, Switch and Xbox, including on Game Pass upon its arrival on 9th April. This cosy puzzle game tasks you with filling a log book of rare plants, grown within the grounds of a stately home in Victorian Somerset.

Cover image for YouTube videoBotany Manor Release Date | Nintendo Switch, Xbox, PC | Whitethorn Winter

Botany Manor, coming to Game Pass this month.

You must deduce clues to grow different species, uncover potting tips, and in the section of gameplay I saw, fertilise one plant species by feeding it the correct variety of cider apples. Yum! Botany Manor creative director Laure de Mey said the game’s setting was inspired by Croft Manor in Tomb Raider games, and the desire to linger longer in there, solving puzzles.

We got a look at Jump Ship from Keepsake Games next, an upcoming mission-based co-op space adventure for solo or up to four players. It’s an ambitious-looking project, with spaceship piloting sections and on-planet exploration, and first-person combat against drones and space pirates.

Jumpship screenshot showing a frenetic gun battle with drones from first-person view.
Jump Ship. | Image credit: Microsoft

Keepsake Games describe Jump Ship as “if Sea of Thieves and FTL had a baby”. I liked the variety of things on offer, from deep space dogfighting to on-foot fire extinguishing on your ship.

Lastly, we got a look at Still Wakes the Deep, the narrative horror game from The Chinese Room, due to launch for PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox on 18th June. Gameplay we saw showed its claustrophobic oil rig surroundings and glorious Scottish accents, as characters were picked off by a mysterious force and those who remained attempted to form a plan to survive.

An orange lifeboat seen in this screenshot from Still Wakes The Deep.
Still Wakes the Deep. | Image credit: The Chinese Room

Scottish protagonist Caz attempts to make his way down to a lifeboat, but soon finds his route blocked by what looks like an other-worldly tentacle. Scary stuff, but The Chinese Room has confirmed the game will feature a Story Mode where players can “worry less” about dying.

For more on the game, I visited The Chinese Room late last year to delve deep-er into Still Wakes the Deep and its origins.

So, any of those four take your fancy?

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