Xbox Game Pass October 2021 Review Part 2 – All the major titles

I’m back, Kinglink here, and I’m doing Part 2 of the Xbox Game Pass October 2021 Review. 

Part 1 is already on my channel, but don’t worry you don’t have to watch these videos in order.  What happened was Xbox released 25 titles over the last month, and I’m showing both announcements on screen.  We’ve covered the entire first image, but we’re going to have to power through the second because there are even more games not listed there.  I’ve already reviewed 13 titles, so let’s look at the last 12 and talk about the best of the month.  We have some of the heaviest hitters this month here as well.    Let’s start with… 

Scarlett Nexus.  A Tales of game, without being called Tales of. 

Scarlett Nexus is a very anime-inspired game with a large cast of characters and a huge story to tell.  There are two protagonists with what appears to be two different stories, and fans will have to play both to learn everything.  The gameplay is done like an action-based RPG, and it’s well done with a focus on special abilities and mixing telekinesis with lightning attacks or such.

There’s a lot here, but the story, characters, and combat are all solid.  There’s even a dating system that makes you build bonds with different characters to enhance your abilities.  The one concern I have is replaying the entire game a second time might be going through the same areas, but just going through this game once will be substantial for most players. 

Pick this up if you like the Tales of Series or Action RPGs.  The game looks great, has interesting characters and a story I want to know more about.  Just more of a question of whether I’ll have the time for it 

Astria Ascending.  A textbook example of a turn-based RPG. 

Astria Ascending is a strange game.  It starts with players taking control of a group of 8 demi-gods who are about to die in three months but use their time and power to defeat enemies known as the Noise.  You’re just thrust in the middle of a story here and will have to connect the dots on some things.  There’s voice acting for each character, and the story tries hard with longer cutscenes where each character gets a little development. 

But Astria Ascending’s combat is where it’s going to shine.  There’s a large skill tree for each character, 8 different and unique characters that all have a purpose, and an overwhelming number of systems here that will likely please JRPG fans, including a card-based minigame which reminds me a bit of Triple Triad, where you get the cards from defeated enemies.  The one issue is nothing here really stands out as an amazing game.  It’s just what a JRPG tends to be.  

Pick this up if you’re a JRPG fan and just want a good game in the genre.  There’s nothing that bad here, but it’s an average story and an average combat system.  If you’re not a huge fan of turn-based JRPGs, I’d probably check out Scarlett Nexus or something else instead. 

AI:  The Somnium Files  Another tale from Spike Chunsoft, a dark twisted story. 

AI: The Somnium Files is an odd story involving robotic eyeballs that can pop out of your head, exploring dreams with your AI, and solving rather gruesome murders.  The game starts with a special detective who is called in because an acquaintance of his is brutally murdered.   Apparently, conflict of interest doesn’t exist in this universe.  Players are dropped into the story here as well, but will eventually learn a lot of the world through the story, and it’s quite interesting. 

I’m a sucker for games that talk about delving into others’ consciousness.  Where Psychonauts 2 did it with platforming last month, AI: The Somnium Files does it with a point-and-click adventure, and it’s just as interesting, though this one is far darker from what I’ve seen.  There are meaningful choices in the game, but that’s because this uses a system where players have to explore all branches of each possible choice, to get the real ending. 

Pick this up if you enjoy Spike Chunsoft games.  This is far more Zero Escape than Danganronpa but I think fans of either franchise will like this.  It’s a dark visual novel but it’s well-told, well-acted, and is intriguing.  I’m actively playing more of this one. 

Marvel Avengers. Finally a chance to check out the world’s greatest heroes.

I played this game for two and a half hours and found it to be quite impressive.  The gameplay is good, the story is interesting, and while there are issues with the narrative, and QTEs, which aren’t great, I enjoyed myself, I like Kamala Khan as the main character, and was having fun discovering the world.  But that two and half hours was playing the single-player campaign. 

Switching to the online section for an hour and a half and yeah I saw all the problems.  The repetitive enemies, there are no interesting battles, it’s just spammy attacks, the gear system sucks.  I hate the fact there’s a battle card because it provides nothing of value.  The daily challenges aren’t a good way to do that, and there are microtransactions for any costume worth wearing.  I understand every negative review there. 

I could go far deeper into both sides, but let’s leave it there.

Pick this up if you’re a marvel fan and want to only play through the campaign, it’s good.  I don’t think gear really should be part of the single-player experience, but it is.  And it’s not amazing but it’s ok…. The problem though is this is the Avengers, it shouldn’t JUST be ok.  As for the online, that’s just everything bad about a looter shooter, without any of the positives.  It’s worth checking out but man, I’m disappointed in what this could or should have been. 

Visage.  It’s Halloween time, and Xbox Game Pass is ready for it. 

I spend between 2 and 4 hours on games for my coverage… I spent 17 minutes in Visage.  Well technically I think there might have been a glitch on my first run, but I restarted and got 17 minutes in according to my save. I can’t play this… I was terrified and stopped myself and that in itself is a very strong recommendation. 

Visage is a horror game that according to most people I’ve seen has a great horror atmosphere, and I agree with it, this was effective.  Sadly though, this is the first and hopefully only game I’m going to have to fail to give a solid review because… I know in my heart I shouldn’t play this. I had to turn it off. 

Pick this up if you like horror, there’s a sanity system that I didn’t see in use, there’s some excellent tension building, and there was no jump scare during the beginning, there was no single reason I couldn’t go on.  I played Delores’ chapter which is supposed to be the best atmospheric one… but if you do like this type of thing… It’s extremely good at what it does, I just am a scaredy-cat.   Enjoy. 

The Procession to Calvary.  Monty Python in game form. 

The Procession to Calvary takes the classic Monty Python art style, and layers a point and click adventure on it.  It attempts to contain the same outlandish style of writing.  It’s an odd game, and to start with, while it looks like it could have come out of a Monty Python sketch, the humor isn’t as good.  Yet I also will say I laughed quite a few times and enjoyed the experience here.  There are a couple of good jokes and clever puzzles. 

There’s also a lot of moon logic, pixel hunting, and the game is rather short.  I finished my first run of the game in under an hour, though I did take the violent method which is fast.  Even with the slower puzzle-based style of the game, I still lasted only a little more than an hour before I reached the ending.  This could be a long time if you don’t use any type of walkthrough, and that moon logic and pixel hunting aren’t fun, and overall the length here is still short.

Pick this up if you like point-and-click adventures.  It is ten bucks to purchase as well, but it doesn’t have a huge run time, however, if you have Xbox Game Pass and like the art style, check it out.  It’s not a great game, but it’s still rather fun to play through and experience. 

Totally Accurate Battle Simulator.  Finally a wacky Physics game I enjoy.

Totally Accurate Battle Simulator is obvious tongue in cheek.  It’s a wacky physics game surrounding an interesting battle simulator.  The campaign is about seeing the opponent’s units and then deploying your force.  The first three levels are almost puzzles with the player needing to counter certain attacks, but before long the game feels more about just putting together interesting and unique combinations from all the tiers of characters.

You can also take over control of units and try to optimize their fighting. It’s a fun system, though there’s only a handful of really challenging levels, it feels like the player gets enough points to just have fun with the system, which honestly is perfectly fine.

Pick this up if you like large battles, as the game goes on you will start fighting armies of 20 enemies and the number grows, however, it seems like the best use of your money becomes bigger units that can just demolish the enemy forces, it’s still fun to try out different combinations. 

Ring of Pain.  Something new.

Ring of pain is a card-based rogue-lite focused on exploring levels rather than deckbuilding.  It has a simple rule set, and a large number of different enemies and everything looks great.  There’s an amazing look to every monster and it’s so addictive, I couldn’t put it down.    After playing it for four hours straight, I almost just kept playing because this game is the epitome of “just one more run.”

Not everything is perfect.  Some runs are going to be easier than others.  I got an item that turned the game into easy mode for the run where I beat the game, but on other runs, I struggled to survive the first room.  There just are times you will fail with potentially no chance.  But part of that is why people love rogue-lites, you never know what you’ll find and will have to make do with the items you get. 

Pick this up if you like rogue-lites, or want a very solid fresh take on it.  I have to say, this is fantastic, mostly because I can’t think of another game that’s even close to the style here, and that’s what stands out.  For an overdone genre, this is a breath of fresh air. 

Back 4 Blood.  The Left 4 Dead Sequel that fans always wanted.

Turtle Rock Studios were the studio that created Left 4 Dead and the sequel under Valve, that was an incredible pair of games, but I didn’t recognize that same studio’s skill when making Evolve, the studios’ last big game.  Back 4 Blood is Turtle Rock returning to that original form and showing their talent.  This is Left 4 Dead 3 in everything but the name due to Valve owning the IP.

This is zombie-killing action at its best. A great multiplayer campaign that you can hang out with friends and just slaughter zombies through a huge number of progressive levels.  Not everything is perfect yet.  The Solo campaign just gives you everything, there’s no progression if you don’t play online.  Easy, called recruit, is unchallenging until hours have passed, Medium, veteran, is pretty brutal from the get-go.  Some of that may be a need for progression, but some of it just feels like there’s a missing difficulty between the two options for new players.  It doesn’t ruin the game, but it does feel like there are some important flaws here. 

Pick this up if you want Left 4 Dead 3, I can’t imagine anyone else doing better, and they both modernized the gameplay and returned to that original amazing formula once again.  If you’re on Game Pass there’s no reason to skip this.  If you’re not, there’s a decent amount of bugs, but I do feel like in maybe a month or two they might be ironed out.  Of course, this is absolutely a game that’s better with friends, Hmm I wonder if I ever made a video about that.

The Riftbreaker.  RTS and Action RPGs rolled into one. 

The Riftbreaker starts simply, players will travel to another planet and then need to create a rift device to return to Earth.  I’d just stay on Earth but then there wouldn’t be much of a game.   Much of Riftbreaker is about resource farming and building fortifications and bases.  You are on a hostile planet and enemies will come for you so you need to protect your base. 

But Riftbreaker gets going once the player is forced to abandon that turtle strategy.  Instead of staying in one location, the game pushes the player to explore the rest of the world, make outposts, collect resources, and build a network.  It’s a large complicated game where players will learn from their mistakes, but also create sprawling locations, and constantly fight back the alien residents on the planet.

Pick this up if you enjoy defensive fortification building in RTSes a lot, or love the idea of huge hordes of enemies.  Resource farming is important, but this is a tower defense game or a base builder.  I couldn’t help but think of Factorio, but it’s more Total Annihilation or They are Billions, maybe even a bit of Diablo without the class system thrown in there as well. 

Destiny 2.  There’s loot everywhere. 

Destiny was one of the original looter shooters and spawned Destiny 2 the sequel, but you see, that’s not what we’re talking about today.  Destiny 2 that was released 4 years ago is gone.  The base game and the first two expansions were wiped out last year, the next two will be wiped out next year.  The fact that the entire original story being vaulted as they call it is significant.  What’s left is a looter shooter distilled into its purest essence.  You go out, you collect loot, and you hope to get some good stuff. 

The thing is, Destiny 2 doesn’t attempt to be anything but that.  It feels clear that the major story is no longer important to them.  When you’re spouting story elements in mid-battle when it’s hard to hear?  Is anyone going to notice what’s being said?  Do they intend for players to follow this content?.  New content has come multiple times, but ultimately what’s here is just new reasons to go shoot stuff. 

Pick this up, honestly if you have someone who wants to play Destiny 2 with you. This has a AAA quality, but it wears out its welcome.  Personal opinion, I think Warframe is a more enjoyable game than this.  As bad as Avengers is, it’s at least more interesting, and Borderlands is always fun to play.  Even Outriders, which I’m reviewing next month, is a better game for players starting from scratch.  Destiny 2 may have helped create the genre, but in 2021, unless someone specifically wants to play Destiny 2 with you, I’d skip it. But that’s just my opinion. 

And if it matters, the next expansion will not be free on Xbox Game Pass, so ultimately if you want to continue with the series it’s going to cost some serious cash to get all of that. 

The Good Life.  A bizarre amalgam of almost every genre. 

The Good Life is odd, and it starts with being hard to describe.  It was promoted on Kickstarter as a “Life Simulator”.  When you’re playing it, there are traces of life simulation, survival gameplay, action, and more.  It’s not any single genre but has traces of them all, and the fact is… it kind of works, but also kind of doesn’t. 

The writing also is all over the place, but after an hour, I somehow got over the hill and just loved the bombastic style.  The main character pretty much says every single thing I thought, and I appreciated that direct approach to the game.  At the same time, there’s a lot of roughness.  Animations are awful, art can be a mix from weak to frightful, and the controls take getting used to.  And yet I enjoyed myself after an hour or two.

Pick this up if you don’t mind a rough around the edges game, or enjoyed Swery, the writer and director’s previous title, particularly either Deadly Premonitions or D4: Dark Dreams Don’t Die.  I didn’t like either of those and still enjoyed this, maybe I evolved, maybe this is slightly better, but I do think people should give this one a shot though to repeat, it is a rough opening. 

And that’s the last of the 25 titles.  So what about this month… Honestly, there’s an absolute metric ton of games.  The first 13 were smaller titles, but having to cover Marvel Avengers, Destiny 2, Back 4 Blood and all back to back was pretty crazy.  Last month I was a little underwhelmed, but this month there were some major titles. 

That being said, I wasn’t a huge fan of everything here, There were three rogue-lites and I feel the number of them just growing out of control.  At the same time, I like the selection and getting to check out some major indie titles as well. 

I’m just going to get to the games I recommend.  Honestly, there are six games I am struggling over this month, I could remove any of them but I also could put all of them on the list.  I only really rank five games, but Tainted Grail: Conquest is on the screen.  Don’t know how that happened, but I guess I should say something. 

Tainted Grail: Conquest is a solid rogue-lite.  The graphics are really good, but the blending of Slay The Spire and improvements on the formula make this feel very strong.  It’s got an addictive feel and with 9 different characters, there’s always going to be more to do. 

I am going to call them the strongest games but think of this as more the strongest recommendations. 

With the fifth strongest game being… AI The Somnium Files.  This will probably not appeal to everyone, but the dark gritty story here is well told.  I’ve played ten-hour or so on this and I’m hooked.  I want to know more and while it’s gruesome at times, it’s also really compelling. 

The fourth strongest game is… Superliminal.  This is a very solid puzzle game with excellent writing.  I recommend people go as fresh as they can into the game, which is the reason why I’m trying not to show too much of it. 

The third strongest game is…  Ring of Pain.  This is a surprise, I technically reviewed this for Humble Choice right before these videos, and said I wasn’t sure after an hour.  Four hours later, I fell for this game.  It’s a great fresh rogue-lite that deserves more attention.  If you enjoy rogue-lite it’s worth checking it out. 

The second strongest this month is Scarlet Nexus.  This is a well-designed RPG, with a good story, and interesting characters.   I’m really curious where it will go and am looking forward to finding out one day, but the art and the combat are compelling and worth checking out. 

The strongest of the month is Subnautica: Below Zero.   This is a beautiful sequel with a rich world to explore and there are tons for players to do.   The vast depth, the interesting creatures, and the dangerous environment will keep you entertained. 

Or… at least that’s kind of my list.  Usually, I have very strong opinions on these games.  Even with a large list, I should be able to decide the best but every game on this list has moved around each time I’ve taken a look at the list.  More games probably deserve checking out.  On-screen is Back 4 Blood again, if you have a group of players, check that out.  Visage was perfect for Halloween, and then there’s Sable that has a great atmosphere. 

There was so much variety that it feels like there’s something for everyone.  Multiplayer, FPSes, Base Building, horror, I mean, throw a dart at the list and you’ll probably find something, which is why I still do the individual reviews. 

If you’ve enjoyed this video, thanks for sticking around, if you’re new to the channel consider subscribing and ringing the bell.  Let me know which games you’re most excited about, or enjoyed.  

On the other hand, if you haven’t already seen it, Part 1 of this was 13 solid indie titles, I’ll pop that up on the screen, along with another video.  

I’ll see ya next time. 

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