Cuphead headlined Microsoft’s ID@Xbox indie game segment today at its media event ahead of the Electronic Entertainment Expo tradeshow, and Super Lucky’s Tale (which Microsoft Studios is handling) also got some attention outside this group of indie games.
Launched in 2013, ID@Xbox is a way for independent developers to self-publish on Xbox One and Windows 10. Today, Microsoft featured four games from folks like Annapurna and Playful, along with a sizzle reel that promises more to come.
The Last Night by Odd Tales
The Last Night is a cinematic platformer with a retro pixel art style. The trailer doesn’t reveal too much, only that the game has a cyberpunk aesthetic, like Bladerunner. In a neon-streaked city, the lone protagonist hides from the police (who drive hovercar vehicles) and dodges gunfire. The game is published by Raw Fury and studio Odd Tales cites games like Another World as inspiration.
The Artful Escape by Annapurna
Annapurna has been on a hot streak lately with games like What Remains of Edith Finch and the upcoming Gorogoa. The Artful Escape is a narrative-driven rhythm action platformer with psychedelic visuals, as it revolves around its hero Francis Vendetti’s imagination. Its trailer shows its Francis first on a quiet street, then as he runs, he suddenly dons a space suit and bursts into a magical forest, wielding a glowing guitar.
Super Lucky’s Tales by Playful
Playful Corp’s platformer Super Lucky’s Tale has a cartoony, eye-catching aesthetic, and is coming out on November 7. The original Lucky’s Tale was a virtual reality platformer. The eponymous Lucky is a fox who, hopping into a book, ends up in a storybook kingdom. Collecting coins and running from enemies — like an anthropomorphic flame — he meets other fanciful characters, including a talking garlic bulb and floating ghosts.
Correction, 1:27 p.m. Pacific on Monday: Super Lucky’s Tale is not an ID@Xbox game. It’s publisher is Microsoft Studios. We apologize for the error.
Cuphead by Studio MDHR
First-time developers Chad and Jared Moldenhauer first announced Cuphead at the 2014 E3, and it’s been hotly anticipated ever since. It’s a run-and-gun game that looks like no other, sporting a 1930s cartoon aesthetic that colors everything from its endless boss battles to its jaunty soundtrack. And now, we finally have a release date: September 29.
Triple-A studios started seeing an indie brain drain a few years ago and has been trying to court independent talent with programs like ID@Xbox, Electronic Arts’ EA Originals, and Sony’s PlayStation Pub Fund program, which enables developers to self-publish and also offers advance royalties.
Indie games have become industry drivers, such as Compulsion Games’ We Happy Few, which garnered the most search engine queries at last year’s E3 over Santa Monica Studio’s God of War. And of course, there’s a little game called Minecraft, which started as a one-man project before being acquired by Microsoft for $2.5 billion.