Thanks to subscription services like Xbox Game Pass, the offer of video games available at a very affordable price has grown dramatically. The B-side of this situation is that the possibilities are so many that lesser-known games run the risk of going unnoticed. We review some (just a few) of the games currently available for the Microsoft service that may have passed under your radar in the morass of possibilities offered by the platform.
Knights and Bikes
If you like the ‘Stranger Things’ style, this proposal of the almost infallible Double Fine is a proposal to approach the nostalgia of the Netflix series that ends up being much more interesting than its own official games. This mix of adventure, puzzle and RPG with tight but affordable mechanics is a visual delight, with that graphic style between collage and illustrated book of the eighties. A wonder brimming with old-time emotions to play alone or in company.
Call of the Sea
A magnificent Spanish indie by eExploration and puzzles openly inspired by the worlds of Lovecraft, although no specific story is adapted. A desert island full of mysteries provides the perfect setting for the atmospheric story of a woman searching for her husband, an explorer who has left clues after her disappearance. Calm rhythm, with a meticulous setting and aesthetics, full of surprises.
Although it got well deserved praise, The latest from Remedy Entertainment, creators of ‘Max Payne’ and ‘Alan Wake’, something went unnoticed between Triples A louder and with more commercial equipment. But it’s worth delving into this indie-spirited blockbuster in which a government agent with mental powers faces off against a fearsome unchained entity. The combat mechanics and how they impact the story are wonderful.
‘Hades’ has returned to fashion and has presented to a wide audience the mechanics of the roguelikes action and adventure. If this infernal adventure has left you wanting more, come to ‘Dead Cells’, a delicious and colorful indie finished with a pixel stroke in which you’ll control a failed alchemical experiment that travels an island that undergoes constant changes and movements, preventing its linear exploration. Tough fighting, perfect controls and action on the edge.
Don’t be fooled by its friendly appearance, with characters and enemies that seem to have come out of a medieval edition of Hello Kitty. ‘Hollow Knight’ is an indie platform title of considerable difficulty and that tests the memory, skill and patience of even the most hardened players, stepping into a decaying underground world teeming with slimy creatures. A perfect delight for those looking for a good challenge.
An authentic wonder that has passed practically all radars, possibly because it is exclusive to PC and X / S Series, and in addition, an adventure for two players. The protagonists try to escape from an overwhelming and terrifying environment typical of a Lovecraftian nightmare by pushing a sphere of light, and knowing that they cannot enter the darkness, but that sometimes they have to distance themselves from the light to solve the convoluted puzzles found in his path. Challenging and atmospheric.
A sensational and unclassifiable indie game, with a starting point that is unlike anything: you are in charge of a warehouse that has to organize the various products it receives and then deliver them to customers. How you organize the items is up to you: the object is to do it in such a way that it is easy to memorize their position and then find them against the clock. A curious mixture of video game and analog memory game, with a spectacular design and that will teach you a lot about yourself and how your brain works.
Before revolutionizing the driving arcade with ‘Burnout’, Criterion was doing essentially the same thing – turning up the intensity to 11 and minimizing leftover elements to the point of abstraction – with ‘Black’, its only foray into FPS. Although as an Xbox game from 2006 it is obviously out of date by today’s standards, remains a true monument to the arms fetishism of the genre and how to advance the levels through pure action.
Remnant: From the Ashes
There are countless games that have started from the mechanical foundations of From Software’s ‘Souls’. This is one of those who have done it with more intelligence, and something went unnoticed at the time: with a very peculiar narrative and an overwhelming catalog of bosses, its secret is in its great cooperative format for up to three people, and in its focus on firearms before melee combat. All this gives it a unique personality despite the fact that the model is obvious.
As ‘Supraland’ points out in a trailer with quite bad grape, its appeal is not in the extent of its mapping, unable to compete with a ‘Fortnite’ or a ‘GTA’, but precisely in its design, a mini-open world where, however, not all spaces are accessible. A metroidvania philosophy will take us back and forth in search of new path-breaking abilities, in a mix of sandbox, adventure and puzzles very particular.
Visually it will certainly remind you of the precious and memorable ‘Rayman Legends’, but this time the mechanics are of beat’em-up in 2D with platform elements. Its plot and aesthetic is based on the mythical ‘Journey to the West’ of Chinese legends that inspired ‘Dragon Ball’ And, of course, it is advisable to play it in cooperative mode between loud voices and threats.
The always reliable Annapurna boys bring this unclassifiable indie in which you bring to life a hole in the ground of progressively larger size and you have to find objects of the appropriate size to be swallowed. Such a starting point gives rise to some of the most ingenious and surreal puzzles of recent times, in a gentle and relaxed game, perfect for relaxing games.
Not exactly an unfamiliar game, of course, but its exclusivity on PC and this generation’s consoles (and initially, Xbox only) hasn’t earned it all the fame it deserves. The Polish Bloober Team develop here a tremendously atmospheric adventure that is not afraid to experiment with the possibilities of the medium by splitting the screen in two, showing the real world on one side and the spirits on the other, and making them evolve in real time, in a decision as effective as it is original and unexpected.
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