A few weeks ago, I managed to trade my way to a ‘free’ Xbox One X. Covering the cost with trading in or selling previous purchases is generally what I do for any console I end up getting, seeing as I’ve never been able to afford a console new at full price – it’s been the same for every console the SNES for me, which I bought from a friend at a cheap price a year or so after it released in the UK. The only exception I can think of is the Atari Jaguar, which I bought for £30 new from Rumbelows (remember them?) when they went under in 1995.
This time was weird though, because I ended up acquiring the console and no physical games at all. The reason for this is that my interest had been well and truly piqued by Game Pass; seeing the selection and knowing that Microsoft Studios games were added on the day of release was such a huge selling point that I couldn’t ignore the Xbox One any longer.
And what a few weeks it’s been! I’ve discovered new games, rediscovered old ones and only have one game on disc even now (Man of Medan, in case you were wondering!).
It was my discoveries on Game Pass this weekend that made me want to write about what I’d found. In posting a number of videos to Twitter, it seems that there’s still an awful lot of games that have been flying under the radar; many of which deserve a bit more attention. So, a bit of a different article today as I take a look at a number of games that I’ve played for the first time this weekend, courtesy of Game Pass.
Creature in the Well
What’s this? A non-Microsoft title being added on day one of release? This is the perfect example of how great Game Pass can be. Nestled alongside incredibly huge blockbusters like Gears 5, we have this little indie gem. Creature from the Well is an Unreal Engine-powered delight; a post-apocalyptic Metroidvania set in a world beset by an all-encompassing storm, in which your newly awakened worker robot must make its way through an ancient facility, restoring power to the building via the power of pinball (in a manner of speaking).
It can be a little difficult to work out how to progress at first – there’s very little hand-holding – but there’s a real charm to the visual design and the game feels pretty unique, with its action RPG/pinball mashup. Well worth trying.
Another Metroidvania for Game Pass, but this one, hailing from the often quirky Double Fine Studios, adds some really bizarre touches to shake up the usual run/gun/upgrade formula – not least the fact that your character is a disembodied human head that can possess other bodies and objects.
Excellent voice acting, colourful visuals and cut scenes add to the quirky charm; look out for the obviously phallic escape pods early on too – it seems that the designers really wanted to get those head references in the game as much as possible, subtly and otherwise.
Quite a popular title, this one – going by the reaction I received to my clips posted on Twitter. I’d previously tried to play RiME on PC but for some reason, just didn’t get on with it. Having given it another chance – thank you, Game Pass – it’s now hooked me and I’m glad to have had the chance to rediscover it.
RiME has a wonderful visual style and an absolutely beautiful soundtrack; the island your character washes ashore on is a joy to explore and the environmental puzzles I’ve encountered so far are incredibly clever – but not too taxing. It remains to be seen whether or not this changes, but hopefully the puzzling stays on the right side of challenge without veering into frustration, as I’m very much looking forward to exploring more of the island.
Slay the Spire
Another game I’ve heard many good things about, Slay the Spire is a card game roguelike with deck building elements and a nicely simple ruleset. The card game mechanics are easy to grasp and your attempt to make your way through the campaign soon becomes incredibly addictive.
One of those games that sees you wanting just one more go – and then you find yourself still playing a few hours later. Great stuff!
There’s more to come, of course – and lots more for me to discover. I’ve always had a soft spot for lesser known games and the indie scene has been in incredibly good shape over the last few years – so who knows? I may be posting this type of article on a more regular basis. If you try any of the games above, on Game Pass or otherwise, let me know your thoughts in the comments below!
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