Hidden Gems of Xbox Game Pass

I put a lot of time into Graveyard Keeper, it's like a morbid Stardew Valley. I hit a bug that caused me to halt but it was patched since then I just got distracted by other stuff. If the stress of trying to bury bodies and make the graves pretty gets too much you can rush in the tech tree to get crematoriums and then just burn the corpses as they come in and return back to farming and building and what-not.

Sheltered is something I played a lot on PC but I checked it out last weekend on XB1 to see how the port is and it's very well done. It's an Ant-hill type of sim game, sort've similar to fallout shelter, but more in depth in that you're building beds, toilets, showers, air/water filters, managing a generator, foraging for supplies and food out in the world and interacting with weird post-apocalyptic people.

The Final Station is side scrolling 'end of the world' sort've thing where you're driving a train from station to station, exploring that area for weapons, gear, and sometimes people all in an effort to try to get to the end of the line. I played it over 2 nights so it's not terribly long, but I enjoyed it quite a bit.

Those Kefling games are an interesting take on town simulation. You're this giant god-thing(you look like the 360 Avatar of your choice) and you walk around picking up villagers and walking them over to their designated job. It's pretty neat and the second one "World of" has co-op which my wife and I enjoyed a lot just walking around working together to make this weird little village function.

Ya'll heard about Snake Pass? Most realistic snake physics I've ever felt in a game. No joke. It's a good game.

b12n11w00t wrote:

Ya'll heard about Snake Pass? Most realistic snake physics I've ever felt in a game. No joke. It's a good game.

it IS! It has a real Viva Pinata art style, which I love. Controls are easy to learn, hard to master, and an irresistible "one more try" factor.

I was a big fan of the Kefling games. Pretty simple town builders, but enough to keep me hooked for a few hours each. My wife and I also played co-op in the second one. Thumbs up all around.

Ashen launched last night on PC and Xbox, and in a surprise, it's available on Game Pass today.

Also, Below, from Capybara Games, will be on Game Pass on the 14th.

Other upcoming games:

  • Mortal Kombat X (today)
  • Kingdom: Two Crowns (12/11)
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 19 (12/13)
  • Spintires Mudrunner (12/13)
  • Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (12/17)
  • Ori and the Blind Forest (12/20)
  • Shadow Warrior 2 (12/20)
ClockworkHouse wrote:

Ashen launched last night on PC and Xbox, and in a surprise, it's available on Game Pass today.

Its out on PC today? I can't find it.
Edit: It's only in the epic store so far.

I just want to say Game Pass is really hitting its stride. So many good/interesting games, what a great value!

ClockworkHouse wrote:

Also, Below, from Capybara Games, will be on Game Pass on the 14th.

Other upcoming games:

  • Mortal Kombat X (today)
  • Kingdom: Two Crowns (12/11)
  • Pro Evolution Soccer 19 (12/13)
  • Spintires Mudrunner (12/13)
  • Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice (12/17)
  • Ori and the Blind Forest (12/20)
  • Shadow Warrior 2 (12/20)

Hmmm... with Ashen out, Below launching soon, and Hellblade on the way, it's probably time for me to give this Game Pass thing a whirl.

Are there still any $1 for first month deals going on anywhere?

I started Mutant Year Zero and Gardens Between last night. Both were really interesting.

MYZ is harder than I expected, especially playing on the lowest difficulty and in the first few missions--I thought I'd at least get a few easy ones to learn. But I never fully died and have kept exploring and have liked what I've seen. The story and the tone are a bit odd. With its pig and duck characters, it seems like it's supposed to be a little silly and whimsical. But the story and the narration all seem quite grim. I'm not sure the contrast works for me. Also, the menus and interface are pretty bad. I'm never a fan of the sort of mouse cursor interface on a console game, and this is a bad implementation of that. Despite all that, the gameplay is challenging and interesting, an unusual take on a tactics game. I'm interested to play more.

Gardens Between has a very strong "chill indie puzzle game" vibe. It has been years since I played it and I can remember much about it, but I want to say Monument Valley is a close point of comparison? At a minimum I think they share an approach where you're sort of moving around by rotating a kinda snow globe diorama. Anyway, four or five "worlds" in, the puzzles are challenging enough that I have to think but never for more than like 3 minutes. I really like it.

Dyni wrote:

Are there still any $1 for first month deals going on anywhere?

It's still $1 on Xbox.com.

So anyone try Ashen yet? I’m not very far into it but so far I am really liking it. The mood and aesthetic are pretty great. Gameplay seems very Dark Soulsish which means I am sucking. One huge thing I appreciate is that it has a map which was a deal breaker for me with Dark Souls. I have a terrible sense of direction and getting lost playing a game is just not enjoyable for me. Some may view the map as a negative but big plus on my book.

You get an AI companion and I agree he/she is too aggressive. Would probably be more fun in co-op.

I thought all the companions in Ashen were other players, Journey-style.

Docjoe wrote:

So anyone try Ashen yet? I’m not very far into it but so far I am really liking it. The mood and aesthetic are pretty great. Gameplay seems very Dark Soulsish which means I am sucking. One huge thing I appreciate is that it has a map which was a deal breaker for me with Dark Souls. I have a terrible sense of direction and getting lost playing a game is just not enjoyable for me. Some may view the map as a negative but big plus on my book.

You get an AI companion and I agree he/she is too aggressive. Would probably be more fun in co-op.

Wow, really dig the art style. Queued this up for download!

ClockworkHouse wrote:

I thought all the companions in Ashen were other players, Journey-style.

It's both! If there are other players nearby, the game will pair you up with them. If not, you'll get an AI companion. Players and AI both appear to you as the same character. If you want, you can turn off the AI companion.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

I thought all the companions in Ashen were other players, Journey-style.

It's both! If there are other players nearby, the game will pair you up with them. If not, you'll get an AI companion. Players and AI both appear to you as the same character. If you want, you can turn off the AI companion.

Wow...that's incredibly flexible. And thoughtful about the interests of the player. What the hell is this world coming to??

Let's Play Ashen - PC Gameplay Part 1 - Mustache Friendos Vs The Forces Of Darkness!
*Have no idea if it will be good but I am watching

ClockworkHouse wrote:
ClockworkHouse wrote:

I thought all the companions in Ashen were other players, Journey-style.

It's both! If there are other players nearby, the game will pair you up with them. If not, you'll get an AI companion. Players and AI both appear to you as the same character. If you want, you can turn off the AI companion.

Huh, I bet I was with a player then, wondered why the AI kept running off. Also explains why he was kicking so much butt.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
Dyni wrote:

Are there still any $1 for first month deals going on anywhere?

It's still $1 on Xbox.com.

Oh, great. Looks like it's good until the end of December. I'll probably hop on after Below releases next week then.

Docjoe wrote:

Huh, I bet I was with a player then, wondered why the AI kept running off. Also explains why he was kicking so much butt.

Not surprisingly, there's a huge gap in how the AI behaves versus how players behave. The AI can be pretty aggressive, but it'll always stick right next to you. Players, naturally, will just aggro mobs and leave you to die.

Really enjoying Ashen. So when your companion is another player rather than AI, do they see themselves as the main character and you as the companion? I realized when playing last night that I was definitely playing with a human, based on the way he moved, but I was a little puzzled by how that happened, not having seen any way to opt to jump into another player's game. Really interesting implementation.

I completed Gardens Between last night, it's an easy 1000 achievement points if you just look up which parts of the game have achievements--basically, in the each of the little constellation scenes there will be a moment where an object shimmers if you hold on it, leading to a little animation and an unlock; a handful of mostly required moments in the individual puzzles trigger the rest. It's a perfect Game Pass game--not the sort of thing I would have spent money on, but something I'm really glad I gave a shot.

mrlogical wrote:

Really enjoying Ashen. So when your companion is another player rather than AI, do they see themselves as the main character and you as the companion? I realized when playing last night that I was definitely playing with a human, based on the way he moved, but I was a little puzzled by how that happened, not having seen any way to opt to jump into another player's game. Really interesting implementation.

Yeah, you show up in their game as Jockell, or whatever the companion character is, and vice versa.

Have you played Journey? Multiplayer is handled a lot like in that game. You're matched up with other players anonymously and seamlessly, so they'll flow in and out of your game and you in and out of theirs. There aren't any of the structures for invasions, or even PvP at all, like you see in the Dark Souls series.

Yeah, I did play Journey, though I am one of the very few people who didn't really like it. The whole thing felt a little too abstract to me. But I liked the idea of its multiplayer, and it seems like a neat new wrinkle to make other players appear as specific NPC helpers when there's a player around. In the Souls games, I have particularly enjoyed offering my services to help other players, so it's interesting to know that, in Ashen, I may be doing so really just any time I'm exploring in the world.

Noticed Game Pass is $1 for a month until Jan 4

If 1990 me could see what the cost of 4 arcade games would buy in 2018, I'd have saved my quarters.

I was excited to try out Below, but just read in the catch-all that it's a roguelike. I love the look of it, but I'll probably uninstall it. I'm not really feeling the current vogue for inscrutable randomized death gauntlets.

Edit: Left an important word out.

Ashen is so far really good.. digging the Dark Souls with unique art style and friendly quest markers. If Game Pass gets one or two of these quality level games a year then its worth an annual subscription to me.

I played 2 or 3 hours of Sniper Elite 4 over the weekend via Game Pass, basically enough time to complete the first mission. It reminded me so much of the older Hitman games in ways both good and bad. Like Hitman, it is a sort of murder sandbox, with targets you need to eliminate and some optional exploration/sabotage objectives as well. You're meant to try to clear your objectives stealthily and sneakily, but you can probably race through it like a bull in a china shop and get the job done too. You can always sneak around and find good vantage points to snipe your targets, but there are also a handful of more creative ways to take your targets out (sniping a pulley that's holding a pile of bricks just as the target walks under it, shooting a barrel of oil as your targets stands near it, etc.). And there was an interesting mechanic in the first level where a loud noise was periodically recurring as a plane flew by, and if you're patient you can snipe targets while the noise is happening and people won't hear your shot and detect where you're shooting from.

Unfortunately there's a reason I compare this more to older Hitman games: the systems are a little clunky, it feels like there's way too many people around to get in your way, sometimes I felt like I drew attention of enemies for arbitrary reasons, and I often got the sense there was really just one good way I was supposed to approach a situation that the game punished me for not finding. It's not as flexible or forgiving in the ways the more recent Hitman games feel to me. I imagine it's the right thing to scratch a certain type of itch some gamers have, and were it not for all the other games I'm meaning to play, I might go through a few more missions.

Hellblade is now available.

Can they slow their roll with these releases a bit? They're putting out interesting games faster than I can even sample them.

I’m a former skeptic and confirmed convert of gamepass.

Mutant Year Zero is really fascinating. I’ve made my peace with the “fail and reload” cycle of the game. I’m not sure if I’ve found an exploit or just an imbalance in the play mechanics. I use my team to isolate and sneak up on an enemy, then use the boar’s run and bash special ability. This knocks the enemy out for the next turn. Then just keep shooting it with silenced weapons.

On Agents of Mayhem:

I think the reason that most people don’t like it is that it’s not very good. It looks good, so you get your hopes up, but it doesn’t deliver on the gameplay. On top of that, it’s by the dev of Saint’s Row 3 and 4, which had the most buttery smooth controls combined with a super fun, tongue in cheek story.

Saint’s Row 4 has got to be the best “non-superhero” superhero game ever. By the end of the game you end up in this flow state of great controls and super powers while saving the world with pure G-Funk style. Gaming perfection.

So fans of the SR series had high expectations of AoM, and for good reason. Sadly, AoM didn’t even come close to capturing the magic of SR4.

I barely finished the first mission of Agents of Mayhem, and was so ridiculously angry it was even a vaguely spiritual successor to Saints Row that I closed it and uninstalled it. It's got some glitz and it's like it's trying for a hip and self-aware attitude, but the gameplay is just godawful and clunky. Really awful.