If you own an Xbox One and don't have a subscription to Xbox Game Pass you are, no offense, kind of dumb. It's only $9.99 a month and it gets you access to over 100 games, including all first party Xbox One games the day they release. No streaming, either - just download them and play.
If you do have a subscription, well, to begin with, well done, sir or madam. You clearly have an eye for value, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise. Secondly, my guess is you probably have a lot of the usual games downloaded already. The Halo games. Forza Horizon 4. Maybe even Sea of Thieves, for some reason. Which is fine, of course (especially Forza Horizon 4 - that game is the bomb). Those are (mostly) all fun games and worthy of your time.
Even Crackdown 3 turned out to be better than I expected, although, to be fair, I was more or less expecting a turd sandwich with that one. These games that finally come out after having been in Development Hell for a billion or so years are pretty hit-and-miss, if I'm being kind.
For every Kingdom Hearts III, it seems like we get a Duke Nukem Forever. At this point, if Starcraft: Ghost ever comes out, it'll probably destroy the Spacetime Continuum.
Sorry.... where was I? Oh yeah...
But, you're also possibly missing out on a plethora of other great games that you might be overlooking. So, we went through all the games available as of this writing and picked ten of them. Ten games you should really give a shot.
Obviously, the Game Pass lineup changes from time to time and, by the time you're reading this, they might not be on the service anymore. Which is why we also picked games that are worth playing anyway. If it's on here, it's a game worth picking up, free or not.
So, let's get going...
#10 Kingdom: Two Crowns
Not to be confused with Kingdom Come: Deliverance, Kingdom: Two Crowns is a 2D pixel-art strategy game loaded with atmosphere. It's a sequel to 2016's Kingdom: New Lands (also on Game Pass and itself a sequel of sorts to the original Kingdom from 2015) and involves a king (or a queen, it could be either) attempting to build a... you know... kingdom, basically from scratch.
By collecting coins, your royal highnesses recruit wandering villagers and turn them into builders, farmers, soldiers, and the like. During the day, you can build until your heart's content - or, at least, until you run out of coins, that is. At night, however, nightmarish creatures will attack your compound, meaning your defenses and soldiers are drastically important.
It's such a simple concept and it can get tedious from time to time. However, every time I play it, I end up just getting lost it in, discovering more and more things, moving from one island to another, and trying to build my kingdom as much as possible.
Two Crowns has a campaign mode of sorts, where you're attempting to destroy a malevolent force known as The Greed, but it's nowhere near as deep as the gameplay. There's also a co-op mode, both online and off, that's pretty fun. It also gives you the option of building a medieval Europen style fifedom or one more like Feudal Japan. Which, of course, means ninjas.
As I said, you can get both Kingdom games on Game Pass, but this is really the only one you need.
#9 We Happy Few
We Happy Few is what happens when you put Terry Gilliam's Brazil, Kurt Wimmer's Equilibrium, A Hard Day's Night, and BioShock into a blender and then made a video game out of the slop. It's dark, trippy, unsettling, and a lot of fun.
Wellington Wells is a small village in 1960s England, and everybody in the town is required by law to take a mood enhancing drug called Joy. The drug suppresses bad memories and causes euphoria, but also has a number of icky side effects as well. The game follows the stories of three different individuals who have come off the drug, and their attempts to recover their memories and escape the town.
Like the Bioshock games, We Happy Few is a first-person action game with plenty to explore and collect, as well as visceral combat and witty writing.
It's a deep, time consuming game, but if you don't have anything else on your plate, and want to get invested in some dark alternate history, this is a great bet.
#8 Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden
While calling Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden an X-Com clone (in fact, the description in the Microsoft Store basically says exactly this) with anthropomorphic, talking animals is technically correct, it doesn't really do it justice. It's also the best game with a talking pig to come along since Beyond Good & Evil, and that's saying something. Probably.
(Also, you can get Beyond Good & Evil on the Microsoft Store on your Xbox One right now and, if you've never played it before, you need to rectify that immediately)
The story behind Mutant Year Zero is weird - weird enough that I'm not going to go into here, but not so weird that it's off-putting. When you have a weird story, however, it helps to have relatable characters to guide you through it and, thankfully, Bormin (the pig) and Dux (the, uh... duck) are wonderfully well written and performed. They're your conduits through this post-apocalyptic weirdness, and they're very good ones at that.
There's plenty to do here, and a lot of it is slow paced, so if you're looking for run and gun action, go somewhere else. But if you like a little thoughtfulness and tension in your games or, hell, if you're just a fan of pigs and ducks, give this one a shot.
(I've also been informed that it's also based on a table-top RPG, as well. I'm not familiar with it, so I have no opinion on it, but I figure I better mention it before someone gets mad at me).
#7 Ori and the Blind Forest: Definitive Edition
Have you ever seen a Don Bluth movie? Movies like The Secret of N.I.M.H., or An American Tail, or even Titan A.E? Those movies. They're animated "kids" movies, but they also have a bit of a dark edge to them - especially at the time they were originally released. Ori and the Blind Forest isn't based on any of those movies, but it certainly has the spirit of them.
When it comes to gameplay, at it's core, Ori is a Metroidvania game through-and-through. It's a 2D platformer - one of those stunningly beautiful ones that this genre tends to generate. The lighting effects, the overall design of the world and its characters - everything is just a joy to look at.
Ori, the cute little squirrel/bunny thing you play as, is adorable, and easy to control, as well. As a Metroidvania style game (that's fun to type and I'll never get tired of it), there's not a lot of new stuff here, but that's not the point. It's a familiar style of gameplay that you use to interact with this beautiful, charming, and often very dark world.
The game's sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, is scheduled to release as an Xbox One exclusive... some day, I guess. I highly recommend playing this gem before then.
#6 Westerado: Double Barreled
Adult Swim, the sardonic and arguably more successful spin-off of the Cartoon Network, has been putting some exceptionally good games in recent years. Like, not just exceptionally-good-for-a-TV-network-getting-into-the-games-business-for-some-reason good, but actually legitimately good.
Not only have they published games on their many TV properties (such as Aqua Teen Hunger Force or Rick and Morty), but some exceptional stand-alone titles, as well. They've even collaborated with industry icons like Tim Schafer and his Double Fine Studios (for Headlander, which is also available on Game Pass).
Westerado: Double Barreled has you in the shoes.... boots?... of a rancher in the Old West, looking for the varmint that done killed his family (that's how everybody talked back then, by the way). The simple graphics (it's that enhanced pixel-style art again) and easy to understand gameplay leads directly into the game's best feature: you have the option of accusing anyone you want of being the killer... literally anybody in the game.
If you watch the trailer above, you'll notice that during one of the dialogue scenes, there's a menu option to "draw gun". You can do this during any conversation, and you have the ability to send the game's story into the weirdest directions.
Do you help the local sheriff take care of some hooligans in hopes that he'll help you in return? Or do you become so consumed by grief that you just murder everyone in a saloon?
You can do that.
The reason I selected this over Headlander, which is itself also a great game, is that Westerado is also an Xbox One console exclusive. But, both are worth checking out, either way.
#5 Thomas Was Alone
I'll be the first to admit that I'm a sucker for games that have dry, sarcastic British dudes (who may or may not be Stephen Fry) narrating them. Thomas Was Alone has that, and it adds an element of accessibility to what turns out to be kind of a pretty dark narrative. There's a lot of deep - sometimes depressing - science fiction concepts going on here for a game where you're basically playing as a bouncing rectangle (and other shapes, too... I don't want anyone to think I'm prejudiced against other shapes.)
(Would that make me a shapist? I should probably move on...)
Thomas, the titular hero of the game, is an A.I. construct that has recently become self aware, and is trying to make his way through a program (what constitutes this game's world) and figure out who he is. Despite the title, Thomas does actually end up meeting other A.I.s, each of which have their own special abilities. There's lots of puzzle solving involved, with some of them getting hair-tearing-out frustrating at times, but they're all fun.
As I said, the story takes some weird, dark turns and it's worth solving all those puzzles to find out what happens. Also, the music is fantastic. This is just a great game all around.
#4 Comic Jumper: The Adventures of Captain Smiley
Comic Jumper has, quite possibly, the most obnoxious title character on this whole list. Captain Smiley is that type of superhero that, like Captain Amazing in the film Mystery Men, is supposed to satirize the Superman-like heroes of the comics.
The entire game itself, as a matter of fact, is supposed to be a send-up of comic books which, admittedly, isn't something that's been done in the video game medium all that often.
Captain Smiley's comic has been cancelled due to the fact that, well, he's kind of a crappy superhero. He's been relegated to "guest appearances" in other comics, an opportunity he takes in an effort to find a way to get back into his own series before he's forgotten altogether. It gets really meta in places, and not always for the best.
So, you're probably wondering why I have it on this list at all, right? For two very simple reasons. One, when the story and the rest of the game's presentation gets it right, it gets it amazingly right. If you're a comic book geek, the hits do outnumber the misses and there's a lot to like here.
Secondly, it's also just a lot of fun. The controls are tight, the different comic book settings help add a lot of variety to the gameplay, and there's enough challenge to make it engaging without it getting overly frustrating.
If you're looking for some fun 16-bit era-style action, this is a pretty good way to go.
Abzu is an experience. I know, I know. That sounds as pretentious as anything, but in this case, it's really true. Yes, Abzu has a story, and that narrative has a conclusion, but getting there isn't really the point. The point is to swim around and look at the amazing stuff found in this undersea kingdom.
I've been playing this game on and off since it was first released and, I'll be honest with you, I'm still not entirely certain what the story is. It's such a beautiful world to explore, and there are so many fish and other animals to interact with that I honestly didn't care.
It's not a particularly challenging game, but it's not exactly a cakewalk, either. There's plenty of puzzles and things to discover to keep you busy when you're not distracted by trying to find out what that fish over there is.
If Akira, Blade Runner, or Alien From L.A. are your favorite types of dystopian sci-fi urban settings (and shut up, that last movie is awesome), Ruiner should pretty much do it for you.
Everything about this games just screams "cyberpunk" - and if you're anxiously awaiting Cyberpunk 2077, this might be just the thing to tide you over until then. The controls are intuitive, so once you start playing, there's not a whole lot of wasting time and trying to get used to things. And nobody wants to deal with that - not when there's future anime-style carnage to unleash.
You really need to just experience this game for yourself to see what I mean. Is this just a lazy way to keep from having to describe it in more detail? Well... yeah. But, I'm not wrong, either.
Just try it out and see what I mean and get off my case, all right?
#1 Costume Quest 2
Let's get something out of the way, right away, just so there's no confusion.
No, you don't have to have played the original Costume Quest to get the most out of Costume Quest 2. Besides, if necessary, you can always watch the animated Amazon Prime series based on the game once it releases. I don't know exactly how much fidelity it has towards the game itself, so maybe that's not the best advice. Anyway, moving on...
Costume Quest 2 is a classic-style, turn-based combat RPG from, once again, Tim Schafer and the folks at Double Fine. You have to make the world safe to celebrate Halloween once again (from the clutches of, appropriately, an evil dentist). Different Halloween costumes give your party members different abilities, and those abilities are affected by each character's different stats. You know, like an RPG or something.
To top it all off, there's the great writing that Schafer is known for - this game is hilarious.
If you're looking for a surprisingly deep RPG that doesn't take itself too seriously, well, for one thing, that's an oddly specific request and two, this game is it,