There are so many games out there that don't get published by the mega-corporations that put out AAA titles on the regular, and some of them are so good you'll barely believe how few people worked on them.
We play tonnes of indie games each year, from short little jaunts to more in-depth experiences, and have rounded up the very best options that you can play on the Xbox One, One X or One S - check them out!
If you're looking for a different genre of game, check out our dedicated lists in the table below.
|Our Xbox One game buyer's guides|
|• Best games overall|
|• Best platforming games|
|• Best shooters|
|• Best role-playing games (RPGs)|
What are the best indie games on Xbox One?
- Disco Elysium
- Hollow Knight
- What Remains of Edith Finch
- Stardew Valley
- Untitled Goose Game
- Death's Door
The most audacious and stunning RPG we've played for ages just happens to also be an independent game. Disco Elysium places you in the shoes (once you find them) of a failing detective who's on a huge bender and needs to turn things around by solving a crime.
Whether you go about doing just that or waste your time searching for booze and drugs is up to you, with countless other options that are all equally enticing, and the degree to which you're free to shape your own narrative is amazing. It's a joy to play and needs as wide an audience as possible.
This beautiful game is the product of a tiny team and has a distinctive and memorable tone. It's melancholy and wondrous, with hand-drawn art that draws you into an underworld populated by bugs and critters, some friendly and most out to kill you.
You'll slowly find your way through an extensive map, tackling challenging boss encounters and figuring out how to stop corruption at the heart of the underworld. Hollow Knight is a treasure that takes notes from classics like Super Metroid and Dark Souls.
What Remains of Edith Finch
Storytelling is often something that even high-budget games can struggle to tackle properly, but What Remains of Edith Finch manages to absolutely nail it. You'll explore a huge house, recounting the stories of unlucky members of the Finch family and their untimely demises.
Each is its own vignette that has a unique style and gameplay hook, and most are heartbreakingly sad. They come together into a collaged quilt of stories to make a gorgeous point about the nature of family and mythology, and all in just a few short hours.
A superb roguelike, Hades makes the genre incredibly welcoming by enveloping it in a brilliant swathe of story - each time you return to the start of your runs you'll encounter some characters who'll give you a few new lines, some of them with major revelations.
This means that no run feels like a waste, since you're always rewarded with something. On top of that, it's got excellent combat with a set of randomised abilities that you gather over time, each making your attempt to escape the underworld different from the last.
A game so beautiful we could just walk around in it forever, Firewatch tells the story of a lonely soul who's gone out to spend a season in a fire tower, watching for sparks that could threaten huge forests. With companionship only available over your radio, the pace is gentle.
Each area you explore is just unbelievably gorgeous, with a masterly appreciation for colour and landscape, and the story that unfolds as you move about is a lovely one, too. An ideal pick for someone seeking a more relaxing time.
A side-scroller that's pretty simple mechanically and pretty short to play through, but will live for a hugely long time in the memory thanks to a second half that gets more and more deranged as it goes on. To say much more would be to spoil its superb twists.
The visuals are at just the right level for the story it tells, though, and the whole mood of the game is incredibly well-observed. Trust us, you'll want to play this without knowing much more than we've said right here.
When a game is crafted entirely by a single creator you know that it's likely to be interesting, but Stardew Valley is more than just a curio. It's a wonderful little portal to sink into, letting you move to the country and start a farm to get away from it all.
You'll meet a whole town of characters, fish, harvest, mine and sow crops through the seasons, and it's open-ended enough to support hundreds of hours of play if you really hit it off with the laid-back pace and chilled-out vibe it's got going on.
Sometimes a platformer comes along with controls so finely tuned that it feels like a revelation to just move around in it. Celeste nails that fundamental so thoroughly that it immediately merits trying out if you're into running and jumping.
It also tells a touching story and has a difficulty ramp that's expertly tuned - to the point where you'll be pulling off movement mechanics in its latter stages that will have you pausing to work out whether you could make it as a pro speedrunner.
Untitled Goose Game
A game so charming we still recommend it to people who claim not to like games in the first place, Untitled Goose Game has you take on the role of a very naughty goose tearing up a quintessentially English village in search of a bell to steal.
It's got a great art style and a dynamic soundtrack that makes for comedic moments of brilliance as you pull off switcheroos on hapless residents. It's short and sweet, but fun both to play and to watch, such is its cartoonish loveliness.
A beautiful little Dark Souls-inspired Zelda-like, Death's Door might have influences but it feels like its own thing. You're a crow tasked with ushering the souls of the dead from the world, which is a pretty heavy task that gets more challenging when they don't want to go anywhere.
Its visual style is excellent, its bosses are fun and the dungeon design is classic and rewarding to explore, as are the many secrets it offers up to more dedicated players. Add in a really good soundtrack and you've got an indie game that ticks all the right boxes.