Octodad: Dadliest Catch
Console: Xbox One | Developer: Young Horses Inc. | Release Date: 2015
It’s when games like this come out that we offer our high praise to the gods of ID@Xbox, because it’s so outrageously brilliant in idea and execution that it’s hard to fault. You are a loving father and dedicated husband, who also just happens to secretly be an octopus. As you desperately try to keep your secret identity hidden from your family and friends, you must also keep Octodad’s life in order. That means doing the family shop, taking the kids to the aquarium and clearing up the garden. The controls are unique, and the game is brilliantly self-aware.
Console: Xbox One | Developer: Yacht Club Games | Release Date: 2015
Great 2D platformers are few and far between on Xbox One (a tip of the X-ONE hat to you, Rayman Legends, you beautiful game, you) but Shovel Knight, without a doubt, is up there with the best of them. The retro adventure wouldn’t be out of place on a console from the Eighties, but the hardcore action and brilliant level design made this an instant classic. Without a doubt this is one of the best games on the Xbox One right now, which sounds like a big statement but it really just goes to show what ID@Xbox games can do, even when they’re up against big, triple-A titles.
Lovers In A Dangerous Spacetime
Console: Xbox One | Developer: Asteroid Base | Release Date: 2015
The cute design may make you think that this is an airy-fairy romp for one or two players. The truth is that, even on the standard difficulty level, the game is genuinely challenging – especially alone. This game is designed to be played with co-op, and with a real-world pal sitting by your side it quickly becomes more about communication than skill. The spaceship is cleverly designed, so you’ve got plenty of things to do, and the action definitely leans towards ‘frantic’ on the excitement scale.
Console: Xbox One | Developer: DrinkBox Studios | Release Date: 2014
You don’t often get Mexican-themed titles on any console, so for Guacamelee! to hit Xbox One – and to be so damn fun – was quite surprising. The 2D side-scroller is part fighter, part platformer, and it does both things very well. The design is absolutely beautiful, too, with bright colours, lovely scenery and oodles of character. The Xbox One version was actually a port of the Xbox 360 version, but adds extra story levels, new locations to explore, and new abilities to use as you play. It won’t last you all year, but for a brief, fun distraction this is well worth your time.
Console: Xbox One | Developer: Jackbox Games | Release Date: 2014
There are a couple of party games on this list, but none are as accessible as Fibbage, which allows you and your friends to use phones or tablets as controllers. You’re all given a phrase on the TV screen that has a single word missing. Your job is to type in an answer on your smartphone or tablet – if you get it right, you’ll get points. If you don’t know it, you’ll need to make up something clever, convincing… or just a bit rude. The more players you convince of the truth, the more points you get, and the results are often so face-achingly hilarious that you’ll have to take a break to stop the pain.
Volgarr The Viking
Console: Xbox One | Developer: Crazy Viking Studios | Release Date: 2014
Volgarr The Viking is hard. We’re talking kick-you-in-the-balls-then-try-to-rip-them-off hard. The game makes Dark Souls with its tame save points and health potions feel like a cool glass of water on a hot day. In this analogy, Volgarr The Viking is a shot glass full of extra hot Nando’s sauce. But you know what? That’s kind of why we love it. The game feels like a classic 16-bit action adventure title, with all the skill, clever design and beautiful sprites we miss. Fancy torturing yourself? This is the game to choose.
Console: Xbox One | Developer: Other Ocean | Release Date: 2015
We’ll never forget the moment we scored a last-second goal against our friend after a long and hard-fought match in #IDARB. We turned to him, his face just a few inches from ours, and roared right at him. In our minds we tensed our muscles and our shirt tore from our shoulders. We grew three feet. The controller in our hands shone like a mystical idol. In reality we’d just popped the ball into the scoring zone on this ridiculously fun 2D sports title, but that’s the joy of #IDARB. The game is incredibly simple, but with weird rules, great physics and 8-player local play, this is essential for any party.
Console: Xbox One | Developer: Mouldy Toof Studios | Release Date: 2015
Don’t let the simple art style of this top-down escape-’em-up put you off – the title is fun, challenging, and gives you all kinds of creative options for your play. You’re an inmate in prison and your task, as the title suggests, is to escape. There are dozens of ways to do it – will you dig a tunnel? Find a hidden exit? Steal a guard’s uniform and walk out the front door? It’s entirely up to you, and you’ll have to adapt your chosen escape plan and make the most of opportunities that present themselves. It’s a great example of unique gaming.
Console: Xbox One | Developer: Facepalm Games | Release Date: 2015
This puzzle platformer is one of our favourite Xbox One titles – and we were really surprised by how much fun we had with it. When an astronaut crash lands on an alien planet, she finds a weapon that allows her to create clones of herself, and switch consciousness between these clones at any time. You must use this ability to solve puzzles and escape the planet. The premise is excellent, and the execution is even better, with a stunning art style bringing the alien planet to life. It’s slow, brain-teasing, and will really grab your attention. Well worth a go.
Console: Xbox One | Developer: Playdead | Release Date: 2014
If you haven’t heard of Limbo then you might be reading the wrong magazine, but even 18 months after it landed on Xbox One – and a full five years after its first release – there are still some people who haven’t sampled its brilliance. It’s incredibly atmospheric, with dark shadows chasing a small boy through a moody, scary world, and the game feels almost claustrophobic because of it. From the story of the boy who is looking for his sister to the physics-based puzzles that will test your skills as much as they test your brainpower, there’s so much to love.