10 XBOX Live Indie Games of 2013 You Need to Download

Do you agree or disagree with any of the games on my list? If you know of games that deserve a little pub and just aren’t getting it, please let me know in the comments or for crying out loud speak up on Twitter or Facebook!


A sun sets.

Twilight is upon the XBOX Live Indie Games (XBLIG) Marketplace. The emergence of the XBOX One and PS4 will likely all but destroy the XBLIG marketplace on the XBOX 360. Since the summer announcement of the new XBOX console, the development cycle of decent titles on XBLIG has been flickering away like a candle in a drafty mansion.

Savvy independent developers are already looking ahead to the new platforms and trying to figure out where they fit into the new generation of console gaming (and one reason why we here at Gigaloth are adding tabletop games).

This means the overall quality of games on the XBLIG marketplace this year have been, um, questionable at best. As I mentioned last year in my top XBLIG games of 2012, finding a good game on the indie marketplace is about as likely as finding all the flags in Assassin’s Creed. Coupled with dwindling interest from developers, this year was a challenge to find any games on XBLIG that weren’t awful.

I’m here to help with that.

Even though the XBLIG marketplace looks like a scene from Mad Max, there are still some pretty good games that came out this year on XBLIG. Some of you may have missed these great games on XBLIG, so go back and give them a look. Be responsible and supportive of indie developers and download these games for the mere pence it will cost you. Every one of them is WAY MORE than worth it.

Note: this is not a “TOP 10” list, but merely a list of games that I played and just felt obligated to let the world know about.

The list is ordered by release date:

box_bleedBleed by Bootdisk Revolution/Ianthraxx (released 12/12/2012)

Wait a minute…that release date is in 2012!

Yeah, well like I told you last year, this is my list and I’m able to do what I want with it. And because Bleed was released so late in 2012, I’m going to lump it in with the 2013 games because it really is THAT GOOD.

It’s so good in fact, that it released on Steam this summer.

Bleed is an insanely fun platformer that blends smooth gameplay with player skill, and seamlessly blends a variety of gameplay mechanics into one neat package. Most notably of which is the ability to slow down time for short intervals to make that clutch shot, or simply stay alive (you’re going to use it to stay alive 99% of the time).

The retro-style graphics of Bleed reminded my somewhat of Contra III: The Alien Wars, and the game is somewhat similar except that the controls are so much more fluid than you would expect. Even some of the bosses reminded me of the old Contra bosses.

All in all, a solid platformer with rocketfuls of character and quirkiness makes Bleed a must have.

box_arcadecraftArcadecraft by Firebase (released 01/13/2013)

I was never crazy about tycoon games.

That being said, Arcadecraft is really quite fun, yet never got much traction on XBLIG and even sputtered on Steam Greenlight. It’s actually a little disappointing, because Arcadecraft is a REALLY fun game. The quality of graphics, UI, presentation, and gameplay are far and away beyond anything you find on XBLIG.

Tycoon games don’t come out very often from the indie community, and even less often are they worth a damn. This game was every bit as fun as Smooth Operators (if not better) and had the very unique premise of building a successful arcade in the 80’s (c’mon…that’s pretty excellent dude).

The Achilles heel for Arcadecraft is that the game was priced at $2.99. By any measure of the gaming industry, this would be a steal for a game of this quality. Unfortunately, XBLIG doesn’t follow the same rules that every other marketplace does. Because of the “high” price tag, not many people noticed Arcadecraft for what it is: a truly fun, unique, and challenging sim game.

box_badcaterpillarBad Caterpillar by Fun Infused Games (released 02/14/2013)

Haven’t we seen this game before? It’s literally a remake of the classic Centipede arcade game. So why is it on this list?

Because Fun Infused Games actually took this retro hit and made it cooler. A whole array of new power-ups actually freshens up this classic game more than Wes Welker in an Old Spice commercial. Freeze, reverse, spread shot, and more? Count me in.

You won’t find any revolutionary mechanics or awesome graphics, but you will find a great value at only $1.

box_dlcquestfreemiumDLC Quest: Live Freemium or Die by Going Loud Studios (released 03/18/2013)

If you haven’t played the original DLC Quest, go ahead and add that to this list.

The DLC Quest games are almost less game and more satire. It’s kind of like going to the dinner theatre…but on your XBOX…and without the dinner.

Live Freemium or Die actually brings in some new mechanics that weren’t in the first game. For example, you can actually die in the game. Of course, you have to purchase the “Checkpoint Pack” to restart at the nearest checkpoint, and the “Loading” between zones is purely to piss the player off. But fear not! You can reduce loading times by purchasing the “Day 1 Patch”. I don’t want to give away too many of “jokes” here, so I’ll just say that there’s quite a few good ones (Shepherd?!?! Noooooooooo!).

Again, you’re buying the DLC Quest games for the social commentary on failure of big gaming add-ons, accessories, and patches. A commentary that almost ANY gamer will understand, appreciate, and enjoy.

box_mountyourfriendsMount Your Friends by Stegersaurus Games (released 06/06/2013)

Support this game now on Steam Greenlight!

At first, I saw the cover of the game (and the obvious innuendo of the title), and my first reaction was “typical XBLIG garbage”. Wanting to play this game on the cover and title alone would be like wanting to see “Watchmen” because you saw a picture of the legendary blue dong.

Then I saw that the game was made by Daniel Steger of Stegersaurus Games, and that alone was enough for me to give it a chance (remember, I featured Steger’s “Lots of Guns” in last year’s article).

As ridiculous as the premise for this game is, the gameplay immediately caught my attention – and it’s rather clever. You use the A, B, X, Y buttons to grapple your wrestler on top of other objects, defying gravity and physics. It was very difficult to get used to at first, but once you learn the controls it leads this triumphant feeling which makes you forget you’re playing with mostly naked men hung like Clydesdales.

Overall it’s a great game for a dollar, albeit a little silly.

box_gatewaysGateways by Smudged Cat Games (released 09/13/2012 AND 06/19/2013)

Wait a minute. Wait just a damn minute.

Gateways was one of the games featured in the Indie Games Uprising on XBLIG in 2012. That’s right, this game actually released in 2012 and inadvertently re-released in the summer of 2013 due to what can only be described as a glitch (thank you to Smudged Cat Games for correcting me!)

Conveniently, this allows me to put Gateways on this list.

Since everyone already beats the “2D version of Portal” angle to death here, I’ll try to add something new. I enjoyed the Metroid-style unlocks, where new areas of the map open up as you find new guns and items.

The puzzles in Gateways are extremely clever, and Smudged Cat Games delivers a platformer that actually forces you to use critical thinking skills in addition to player skill to complete. To be honest, not many platformers in the indie market offer that. In the words of Indie Gamer Chick, Gateways “will…eat your ass for lunch”, but I didn’t think the game was too incredibly difficult that it wasn’t fun.

box_onefingerOne Finger Death Punch by Silver Dollar Games (released 06/24/2013)

Support this game now on Steam Greenlight!

In the first post ever on Gigaloth, I recoiled in horror as I discovered some of the offerings that Silver Dollar Games has on XBLIG.

I’m far removed from that, and now actually genuinely addicted to One Finger Death Punch. Throw everything you think you know about Silver Dollar Games out the window here. This is a fast-paced slash ‘em hack em’ slice ‘em kick ‘em tiger ‘em simple fighter game with outstanding particle effects, sound effects, music, and really cool backgrounds (not that you’re looking at those…but I did). The HUGE variety of weapons made me feel like the Final Fantasy version of Gilgamesh.

I’m also a self-proclaimed ninja enthusiast, so this game was right up my alley.

The one drawback most people see in the game is that the characters are all stick figures, and stand out noticeably when compared to the rest of the game. Silver Dollar has said that they are fans of the Xiao Xiao stick fighting animations, and that they are here to stay.

For me, this certainly doesn’t make or break the game whatsoever (though, the stick figures themselves could use an update to make them more fluid). There are pieces of the UI and presentation that could use an upgrade, but that’s only if you’re being REALLY picky.

One Finger Death Punch is on Steam Greenlight as well. Do everyone a favor and upvote it.

box_vintageheroVintage Hero by Frog the Door Games (released 07/24/2013)

I’m a sucker for Mega Man games, so naturally I was going to be a sucker for Vintage Hero. It’s basically Mega Man, but instead of the blue bomber as your hero, you’re playing a janitor whose dream is to save the world.

Okay, so the story isn’t why you’re going to play Vintage Hero. You’re going to play it because it delivers the retro feel and look of Mega Man while actually having very playable gameplay and challenges. Not only this, but there’s a level up and experience system reminiscent of Zelda II: Link’s Awakening.

The game is actually a lot more fair to you than Mega Man is. The best example of this is that you don’t stagger backwards when hit, making the jumping parts of the game quite a bit easier than most classic Mega Man titles.

I just used a reference to Mega Man five times talking about Vintage Hero, which is pretty much exactly why you should get it for only $1.

box_usefuldeadThe Useful Dead by Bootdisk Revolution/Ianthraxx (released 09/24/2013)

Don’t get me wrong here. I love cute, cuddly animals.

But I also love me some good platforming strategy. And if that involves the kicking, stabbing, maiming, and burning of said cute, cuddly animals? I’m in.

The Useful Dead is kind of like Lemmings using the Castle Crashers animal orbs. Your animals don’t have any special abilities, but the object of the game is to kill your furry friends and use their corpses to solve puzzles. It’s undeniably clever, and it scales difficulty adding new mechanics to the game at a good pace. Not only that, but there are like, a TON of stages.

Frankly, the best part about the game is the animal characters. They are these happy, grumpy, jolly little lizards, giraffes, dogs, and squirrels that you promptly kill to complete your objective. While a majority of the graphics are fun and fit the theme quite well, there could be some improvements to the tilesets, particle effects, and more that could really make this game look polished.

While it’s not nearly as good as Bleed, it’s a second solid title delivered on XBLIG by Bootdisk in 2013.

box_producewarsProduce Wars by Gigaloth Games (released 11/01/2013)

Before you say anything, let me remind you that this is my list, and I make the rules.

And let’s be honest here: if we didn’t believe Produce Wars was one of the best games on Indie this year, then what kind of developers would we be?

The game offers a lot of fun, challenging physics and timing puzzles even for gamers who find no pleasure in throwing a bird from a slingshot. Many stages are highly reminiscent of Donkey Kong Country, blasting from barrel to barrel between baddies and saws to get at the bad guys (which are, of course, the vegetables). There’s 100 total stages with unlockable bonus stages and cheats.

That’s only one cent per stage folks.

The physics in Produce Wars are much more explosive than anything you’ll find in Angry Birds, and some of the stages can be downright difficult if you don’t put some thought into them. The graphics and UI are polished and fit the theme very well, and let’s not forget about the soundtrack by Norwegian composer and Castle Crashers contributor Waterflame.

That’s the end of my shameless pitch for Produce Wars. Try the game for yourself and tell us what you think!

Do you agree or disagree with any of the games on my list? If you know of games that deserve a little pub and just aren’t getting it, please let me know in the comments or for crying out loud speak up on Twitter or Facebook!



6 thoughts on “10 XBOX Live Indie Games of 2013 You Need to Download

    • Thanks! I did try Astralis, which is definitely worth downloading, especially for $1. If there was an “honorable mention” category Astralis is in there.

      I haven’t tried Hurdle Turtle though. I’ll have to give it a look!

  1. One Finger Death Punch is by far my favorite and deserves mention. It’s a rhythm based fighting game with only two buttons, but it’s insanely difficult and always captivating.

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