2020 is shaping up to be a massive year for games. There is a ridiculously large number of titles slated for release just between the months of January and May. Not only that, but the next generation of consoles, including the Xbox Series X, will launch during the holiday season. With all of these new developments on the way, many gamers are having a hard time deciding what they’re most excited for. Not me, though. I haven’t had the time to think about what games or consoles are coming out – I’ve been having way too much fun with Xbox Game Pass. Have you heard of Game Pass? Do you have it? If not, are you absolutely crazy? It’s such an incredible amount of value for only $9.99 a month – $14.99 if you want Xbox Live Gold thrown in as well. Don’t believe me quite yet? Well, here are ten of the most wonderful games you can currently play on Xbox Game Pass.
10. Hollow Knight
Hollow Knight is the premiere game from the very talented studio Team Cherry. This exciting and action-packed metroidvania came out in 2017 and has since taken the indie world by storm.
Not a thing in Hollow Knight feels like it was thrown in without a great deal of thought. Its meticulous level design is beautifully complemented by the large amount of enemy variety and razor sharp combat. Not to mention all of this is wrapped up in an adorable and gothic art style.
If you haven’t already tried Hollow Knight, now is definitely the time due to its sequel Hollow Knight: Silksong being slated for a 2020 release.
9. Snake Pass
I played this game to absolute death in 2018. I had just barely subscribed to Xbox Game Pass, and I downloaded the first game that caught my eye. That game happened to be this ultra charming and ultra unique platformer – Snake Pass.
You know platformers, dontcha? A game where you jump around levels and collect things. That’s only partly true of Snake Pass. You still collect things, but it’s a platformer where you don’t jump. Rather, using a great set of controls, you slither, slide and coil your way around colorful and inventive levels as the game’s snakey protagonist Noodle. His interesting way of moving around definitely has a learning curve, but once you get the hang of it snaking your way through Snake Pass is a great time.
Now, I haven’t finished Minit quite yet, but I have spent more than a minute playing it (cue obnoxious laugh at my own pun).
Minit is a game that revolves around a time loop. This is not entirely new ground as far as video games are concerned, but Minit spins that idea on its head by making the time loop only a minute long. Its game design is incredibly smart with each portion being carefully laid out as clever puzzles that allow you to advance further and further within the same minute time limit.
Its world and characters are dripping with charm, and I cannot wait to see what else the game has in store.
Oh boy. This one is a tricky thing for me to recommend.
Do I like Subnautica? Definitely. Have I played a lot of it? Oh yes. Do I fear it? Oh for sure.
Subnautica takes place on an alien, ocean world shortly after a disastrous crash landing of your spaceship. You launch from the ship in an escape pod and, luckily(?), survive the crash. That escape pod becomes your primary shelter as you attempt to craft your way to survival and find a way off the planet. However, I haven’t gone more than 100 feet away from my escape pod. I have more than 20 hours logged into the game, but every time I see a potentially hostile fish I scream, throw my controller at a wall, and have to buy a whole new one. The ocean is a horrifying place to me, but the game keeps drawing me in.
There is an alluring beauty to the dangerous world of Subnautica, and its one I am determined to conquer… once my new controller arrives.
6. Darksiders III
I’m an enormous Darksiders fan. I loved the first two, and I wept with the rest of the Darksiders fans when THQ went out of business in 2013. What would happen to our beloved horsemen? Would the remaining two horsemen ever see the light of day?
Thankfully THQ Nordic seized the rights to Darksiders and assembled the studio Gunfire Games with developers that worked on the first two games. They went on to create the third installment to the Darksiders story which features the female member of the four horsemen, Fury.
Darksiders III wears its inspirations on its sleeve with “souls-like” level design and upgrades. The combat dances between quick, punchy attacks and patient, thoughtful dodging. The game is a wonderful continuation of the series, and I’m eagerly awaiting the next chapter in the Darksiders story.
5. Battle Chasers: Nightwar
Speaking of the crew behind the first two Darksiders games, several that didn’t go on to join Gunfire Games went on to create the studio Airship Syndicate. Their first game is also on Game Pass, and it is known as Battle Chasers: Nightwar.
I’m not always the biggest fan of turn-based combat, but, wow, the combat in this game is incredible. Its satisfying, strategic and deep without being inaccessible. The game has a great sense of fun in its world design, characters and writing. I purchased it before its arrival on Game Pass, and was more than eager to repeatedly recommend it to all of my friends with Game Pass until they finally caved, played it and loved it as well.
4. Creature in the Well
This game is one of the more recent entries on Game Pass and it, like several games on this list, is delightfully unique. The development team at Flight School Studio affectionately calls the game a “pinbrawler” – a genre name that entirely makes sense once you’ve played the game.
Creature in the Well blends the bouncing and chaotic action of a pinball game with some simple but fluid hack and slash controls to make several wonderful levels of puzzling encounters. Though it is a bit on the short side, the action and pleasing art style make this game very easy to recommend.
3. Monster Hunter: World
My friends and family had to file a missing persons report when I started playing Monster Hunter: World. When they found me, my hands had melded with my controller, and my eyes had almost dissolved from how dry they’d become. On the plus side, I had some sick endgame armors and weapons from my hours of work I’d proudly logged into the game.
If I had to say why I love Monster Hunter: World, it would easily be the endless charm and wonder of the world. The animations of your character and others, the kitty-cat companions known as Palicos and, of course, the monsters are some of the finest examples of functional and beautiful game animation I’ve ever seen.
Though the game’s expansion which came out a few months back, Monster Hunter World: Iceborne, isn’t included with Xbox Game Pass, after you’ve sunk your teeth into the mountains of content available within the main game I’m sure you’ll be hungry for more.
2. Outer Wilds
Not to be confused with The Outer Worlds which is also available on Xbox Game Pass, Outer Wilds is a breath of fresh air when it comes to science-fiction games. The game’s story and exploration are driven entirely by an enigmatic sense of discovery and wonder.
The gameplay revolves entirely around flying your ramshackle spaceship and spacesuit from planet to planet as you piece together the mystery of the ancient alien race that disappeared from your solar system. I don’t want to say too much, but this game is truly something special. It was nominated for several awards at this year’s Game Awards too, so you don’t have to take just my word for it.
Wandersong was added to Xbox Game Pass just recently. I downloaded it, started playing and, before I knew it, 3 hours had passed.
This game is made out of pure, concentrated charm. The writing is smart, interesting and funny. Like, actually funny. As in – I haven’t laughed this much at a video game since Portal 2 – levels of funny. I was having a great time laughing and enjoying the game’s clever subversions of the hero’s journey type of tale, when suddenly, WHAM! It hit me over the head with an anvil of emotion.
If there is any little indie game you try on Game Pass, make sure its this one. It’s the type of game that only comes by once in a while and revitalized my love for this wonderful, digital hobby.
What do you think of this list? Are there better Xbox Game Pass titles to check out? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.