November 2021 Game Pass Review – Forza and 17 more interesting titles

I’m Kinglink and it’s sort of the middle of November, so it’s the Xbox Game Pass November 2021 Review. 

Xbox has released eighteen games for PC over this span which is quite a lot, luckily it’s not so much that I had to split this video up, but I’m still having a great time with this selection and there have been some massive games this month as well.  I’m sure some of you have heard of them.  

But the thing is it’s the week before Thanksgiving and you know I always made these videos about the entire offering to see what I’m thankful for.  It’s really easy to just say “Forza, Age of Empires” and call it a day.  It certainly would make this process shorter, but the fact is I enjoy looking at the entire library, especially the indies.  So let’s look at everything that came out for the PC on Xbox Game Pass for the past 30 days or so.  Starting with…

Outriders. A looter shooter that tries to tell a story. 

Outriders starts with players landing on an alien world and exploring it for the first time in a locked-down story segment.  You meet several characters, see amazing sights, and get the chance to feel the excitement of the exploration of a new planet.   Too bad Outriders decided to try to focus the early story on what happened back on Earth while on a brand new world.  It should have focused on the moment.  It also should have continued to focus on those characters, instead of killing off all but two and then jumping forward 30 years. 

Outriders becomes a “typical looter shooter” where players just fight a bunch of human enemies in a never-ending search for loot.   The fact that there wasn’t an interesting new enemy, but rather a game that could have been done on Earth is disappointing.   Supposedly there are non-human enemies, but I didn’t see any yet.  I also had some connectivity issues.  The matchmaking seemed to almost roll the dice when deciding where to place me in the story.  That was especially frustrating because I kept getting disconnected when getting back to the place I was in the story.

Pick this up if you want to play a looter shooter.  I have issues with the story, but it worked well as a looter shooter, and if you have two friends that also want to play this together, you’ll have a pretty good time, as this only has a three-player co-op setup.  Overall the experience is a bit rough.

Into The Pit.  An FPS Rogue-lite, well that’s different. 

Yes, it’s a rogue-lite, but this time it’s a twitch FPS giving me nostalgia for Quake 3, and just zipping around an arena.  Players have to go deep into the pit to rescue citizens in this town, but at the same time, they fight through chambers and kill demons while collecting tokens.   It’s a fast-paced action game and works well. 

Into the Pit had some issues at launch, there were a few glitches but the studio was proactive about resolving them, so kudos for there.  I’ve also heard the game just gets a different set of paint and the same dungeons, but I wasn’t ever able to beat the first dungeon, due to a few glitches, so I can’t give you an official statement on that.  Still it seemed fun.

Pick this up if you like rogue-lites or FPSes.  Honestly, I like the fast-paced combat and the more I played this, the better it was.  There’s also a thumping beat the whole game, and it got me pumped.  I’ll still probably try to pick this up and complete it at some point. 

Echo Generation. A Mario-style RPG with some major flaws. 

I wanted to like Echo Generation.  The writing is very good, the art is excellent, the animations are great, and even the combat is a bit simple but still fun.  It was on the way to impressing me.  There’s a bit of a trading system to the quests like the Bigeron sword in Legend of Zelda.  You get item X and almost immediately should know who to give it to. 

There are a couple of big flaws for me here.  First, Echo Generation is stingy with experience and cash.  If you want a lot of either, you’re going to have to grind a lot, like more than normal in a turn-based RPG.  Worse, if you use consumables in battle and die, you’ll respawn injured, and those consumables are gone.  There’s no manual save, so you’re stuck with a single save.   You can level up your characters wrong, and there was a point where I had around 15 HP on each character, and a boss was slamming with 9 points of damage to each character and that was when I correctly defended a major attack.    Honestly, the game design here has major problems. 

PIck thi… you know don’t pick this one up.  It’s an annoying and overly frustrating RPG.  I wanted to like this but Echo Generation seemed to take everything good about it and squander it as hard as it could.   This is just a solid miss. Damn. 

Bassmaster Fishing.  It’s fishing! 

Bassmaster Fishing is exactly that.  You fish and try to catch bass, and honestly, I wouldn’t expect anything different.  However, I do have some issues with it.  The tutorial only teaches you how to catch fish in the broadest terms, there’s no discussion of locating fish, finding the right species, or even where to go at the end of the tournament because that’s not even marked. 

I played this for four hours and became relatively good at catching fish.  That’s true if I could get them on the line, and if I could locate them and all.  I also caught the wrong type so I wasn’t getting credit for it.  There were no guides online to help at launch, but I imagine someone will write some.  And while I can fish in the game, I still ended up last place because again, there are elements the game doesn’t teach the player.  

Pick this up if you like fishing.  As a pure fishing game, this can be enjoyable, I think if someone spent the time and understood all the functionality here, this would simulate fishing well,  but this is so simulation heavy, it’s not fun for non-fishers.  There is another fishing game this month, hopefully, that’s better. 

Moonglow Bay. The other fishing game on the service. 

So Moonglow Bay is like the polar opposite of Bassmaster Fishing here.  This feels almost like a Stardew Valley game, you run a shop, go get fish, cook the fish in small mini-games, and then assist people around the town, befriending them, and more.  The art takes a moment to get used to, but the game is very laid back and charming.

The story is way more serious than I thought and your character is a mother or father, again not what I was expecting.  This is far more story-based than Stardew, though the story is pretty good from what I’ve seen.  I do have some small issues, but it seems like the team is very actively working on this. Hopefully, this game improves, but there does seem to be a lot of content in here already. 

Pick this up if you like laid-back games.  This is a hyper-focused version of Stardew, the main mechanic will be fishing, and cooking, rather than a variety of activities, but it’s also very similar in that you can just do what you want with very little rushing you towards major goals.  It’s simplistic but it also has a very chill and relaxed atmosphere. 

Age of Empires IV.  Now this is what I’m talking about. 

I’ve talked a bit about the modernization of games, a perfect example of this done right is Age of Empires IV.  This is an RTS that feels true to the original series but also feels like something comfortable being released in 2021.  This is extremely well done.  Age of Empires IV has great visuals, feeling, and gameplay that make this stand out.  The writing brings history to life with its story, and the missions are so good. 

The game is pretty newbie-friendly as well, while there’s going to be some challenge, playing at the intermediate difficulty gave me time to amass large armies and charge the enemy, and it’s so much fun watching your horde of at least one hundred units lay waste to the enemy  I wish there was a higher unit limit, but I think that’s it.  There are also a couple of clever little additions to the campaign, such as buying troops for tributes during one level. 

Pick this up if you like classic RTSes, or even Relic’s other games, those being Company of Heroes or Dawn of War.  You also should check this out if you’re curious about the genre, this feels like a perfect entry point into the world of RTSes.  There’s still life in this genre in 2021, I’m so amazed. 

The Forgotten City. A classic adventure game. 

The Forgotten City is like a modernization of the classic point-and-click formula.  Much of the game revolves around exploring a large hidden city, talking to everyone, understanding and figuring out rather large puzzles, and it’s great. The writing is good, and the game looks great, though it does feel like it stutters a bit too much for what it is on the highest settings. 

There’s one major rule in the Forgotten City, you can’t sin or the entire town turns to gold. But of course, five seconds after you hear that, you can steal something, and… yeah that is a rule.  That triggers statues to come to life to kill everyone and all you can do is run to a portal to try it again, this creates a time loop system, and Forgotten City is great there too.  There’s no repetition found here.  You start the game having to do three or four things or conversations.  On the second loop, the first conversation you have is different and the entire game is streamlined to avoid repetition… Kudos to the team, it’s well designed in that regard.

Pick this up if you like classic point-and-click adventure games.  While this isn’t exactly that, it’s in the same vein.  Also, pick this up if you like strong and interesting stories.  This is good, four hours in and I wanted to play more.  I’ve continued the story since then and I’m glad I did, after finishing it, I heavily recommend it. 

Nongunz: Doppelganger Edition.  A little too minimalist rogue-lite.

Nongunz looks relatively simple.  Players control a little skeleton-looking character, running around a level shooting different enemies and earning points.  It’s a minimalistic game that takes the idea too far.  Rather than give you items that you can understand, or the developers taking the time to explain much of the iconography of the UI, just parsing the information appears to be a major part of the gameplay.  Just as the worst example, just to QUIT the game is a puzzle.  Not a deep one but this feels like a UI artist got too clever.

Add in designs such as needing to grind for better items, not in deaths, but leaving the dungeon and returning, losing health for getting items, and you find a frustrating game.  Now, you can consume your items for health back, which is an interesting mechanic, but in general, Nongunz seems to have added too much to the formula and creates an annoyance rather than something I can enjoy.

Pick this up if you like obtuse games that make you struggle just to understand it. There is an audience for this game, but at the same time, it just wasn’t an enjoyable experience, and with so many other options in the rogue-lite genre and more, this is easy to just bypass.  

Alan Wake’s American Nightmare.  The sophomore slump.

Alan Wake was an interesting and well-written game that evoked a real sense of mystery and darkness while teasing the player with interesting ideas and narrative elements.   When its sequel came out it was planned as an Xbox Live Arcade game which gave a smaller story, however much of what was beloved in the original game, mostly the storytelling, is lacking here.  A similar trope tries to take its place but limited level selection hurts this game. 

The biggest problem here is that this game takes place over three areas, but players are forced to repeat the three locations three times doing very similar actions.  It also doesn’t help how forgettable Alan Wake’s American Nightmare is.  I played through this entire game previously maybe even twice and I didn’t remember any of it. 

Pick this up if you loved the original Alan Wake, but prepare yourself, this is a far weaker experience, which is unfortunate because Alan Wake deserved an amazing sequel.  Rumors are that Alan Wake 2 is in the works again.  If it’s true I hope they can deliver something special, because this one was just a bite-size experience, but was too repetitive to live up to the original. 

Unpacking.  Storytelling through a unique concept. 

Unpacking is a unique game, players will unpack across eight moves, and that’s pretty much it.   Open a box, take everything out, find appropriate places for all the items, and then correct any incorrectly placed choices, and you finish a move.  It’s not a puzzle game, but more an interesting way to tell a life story.   I found myself taking each item out of the box and thinking about it.  By the time I reached the third house, I was noticing a few of the same familiar items and I felt nostalgic for a few things

At the same time, there’s a limit to how much players will be able to interact with the game.  One of the big issues is that not every item is obvious.  If you’ve never seen something in real life, it might be hard to tell what it is or where it goes, and every once in a while an item was almost foreign to me.  Also, sometimes the game will say an item is in the wrong place, when it’s in the place I would usually keep it.  Is it wrong for me to put a sandwich press on the counter?  Apparently, it is here.   Telling players what items are and where they could go would have been nice, but the game takes a minimalist approach.  Truthfully it’s only a minor frustration. 

Pick this up if you like unique storytelling.  This is here for the story. It’s a short game, lasting me only four hours while getting all the achievements and I took my time here.  An interesting concept but a game that makes me glad I have Xbox Game Pass, I doubt I would pay more than a few dollars for this one. 

Minecraft.   If you haven’t played this… what have you been doing? 

This is Minecraft, perhaps a game that needs no introduction.  You mine stuff, craft things, chase down end game bosses, survive the adventure…  or maybe instead you just play it like Legos, jumping in creative mode, build what you want, and enjoy the experience.  There are tons of possibilities and it’s an incredible game.

Minecraft Bedrock Edition, the version I tried this time around, has a few problems.  There’s a LOT of monetization here, and a ton of ways to ask for more money.  A few things didn’t work as I would expect either.  I’m a purist, I still own my Minecraft Alpha Edition, and I found this to be kind of excessive.  But also not having played the game in almost half a decade, I was blown away at how much had changed and the amount of stuff in Minecraft now.   It certainly was fun to take a look at how that game is doing today. 

Pick this up if you never played Minecraft, this is like Super Mario Brothers, it’s an essential game that everyone should have at least checked out at some point and probably has.  It’s also an excellent game to play with children or to set children up with because it rewards creative thinking and crafting, this is the video game equivalent of a box of random lego pieces.   Though all those requests for more money do make me hesitate to recommend it for young children. 

Minecraft Dungeons.  A Hack and Slash with a thin layer of Minecraft over it. 

Minecraft Dungeons tries to take the extremely popular Minecraft game, and create an adventure mode to it, giving players a large expansive journey to go on.  This sounds like a concept many players would have asked for and did back when Minecraft came out.  However, Minecraft Dungeons fails on almost every level. 

Minecraft is popular for many aspects, but it’s strongly recognized with both mining and crafting, I mean that’s in the name.  The building is a huge part of the popularity of the game.  Minecraft Dungeon is a pure hack and slashes with no building and a rather dull selection of enemies.  You’re attacking Zombies, Ranged Skeletons, and Creepers, and while they all act like the characters from the game, they also act as they could be in any game.   There’s also no difficulty, and a rather unimaginative story or set of actions to do. 

Pick this up if you have a young child who wants to play an action-based Minecraft game.  The looting and combat are very underwhelming but for a child’s first looter it will satisfy the kids, and while there’s DLC there’s no monetization like most looter shooters.  As an adult, any other hack and slash or looter shooter does this better.  It’s just the one that has the Minecraft name on it. 

Kill It With Fire.  Burn it down, burn it all down. 

Arachnophobes beware, this is a game where the player fights spiders and can kill them with no mercy.   If you fear our cute arachnid friends, this is going to be hard to play, my first time playing this I got freaked out, and turned on some arachnophobia assists.  Small problem though with the Xbox Game Pass version, it doesn’t have those options.  In fact, it doesn’t even have the holiday updates the Steam version has.  Those updates came out a year ago. I’m not sure I fully understand why?  The Steam version is superior, and I feel like those arachnophobia assists are important to the game. 

Kill It With Fire is a mission-based game where you have to complete different objectives in different locations which range from finding certain objects, killing specific types of spiders, or just exploring the level.  Once enough spiders are killed players go on to the next level.  It’s a solid progression though the idea is a bit simple at times.  I enjoyed going through each level and have had a good time playing with it, though the game can be a little obtuse with knowledge.

Pick this up if you like mission-based games.  Once you get over the initial fear of the enemies, which have no way to damage the player, Kill It With Fire is a mixture of fun and minor frustration.  It will affect some people far more than others, and this is one I struggle to recommend strongly, though I like the progression here. 

Forza Horizon 5.   Possibly the best arcade racer that’s ever been made. 

I think that subtitle kind of gives it away.  Forza Horizon 5 is incredible, I played it for seven hours on the first night, I have since played it close to 20 hours, and I still want to play more.  This is extremely well made.  If you like exploration, there’s a lot to find.  If you like single-player races, there’s a wealth of content.  Multiplayer is fantastic both competitive and cooperative, and while I normally don’t like competitive racing, I’m loving it here.  There’s even a Battle Royale that somehow works.  And if you run out of content, there are still seasonal events that will keep you coming back. 

However, this is more on the Arcade side of racing. Forza Motorsports is a great sim, but Forza Horizon is all about a more casual racing style that works well with the open-world atmospheres on display here.   There is also a great feeling of progression which was my one big complaint about Forza Horizon 4, I’m glad they improved that. 

Pick this up if you like racing games at all.  As long as you can live with the less sim racing feeling, you’ll find something to like.  This is very much a spiritual successor to Burnout Paradise with less rewarding crashing, but it feels so good, I’m thinking about just playing it again and again.  Great Job, Playground Games.  You hit this one out of the park. 

Football Manager 2022.  Something something American Football?  Awww. 

Football Manager is what it says.  You take over the less interesting parts of running a football or soccer team.  You hire players, create tactics, work with the trainers, and then watch the matches.  You can’t control too much of the actual football matches, but I’ll also confess, I don’t know too much about the sport. 

There’s a lot to get over here.  This game is completely silent except for crowd sounds, there’s literally no sound in the menus at all, not even a generic song or button presses. The game also seems to assume you have a huge passion for football and understand the contract system of the sport already.  There’s not a lot of tutorials here other than functional ones.   

Pick this up… honestly, if you already know what Football Manager is.  I’m not sure who this will appeal to outside of that.  If you like Football, I would assume you’d prefer FIFA or PES because you want to play the sport.  I’m sure there’s a fanbase for Football Manager, but if you already need my opinion, I would probably skip this one.

It Takes Two.  A perfect two-player co-op platformer, but only two players.  No more, no less.

It Takes Two looks great.  In this game, you play as a father and mother of a child who are going through a divorce but are magically transported into the child’s dolls, and from there have to learn to work together to get through a large range of interesting and unique locations.   There’s a huge amount of creativity on display for both the levels, locations, and enemies.  

But as I said, you must have a second player to play this.  It’s great that It Takes Two gives a friend pass, so someone else can download a game to join your game, without another player it would be almost impossible to play this.  Also, the game is made for a single playthrough of the entire journey. 

Pick this up if you have a friend that you want to play with through an inventive game.  This is excellent in Co-op.  It reminds me of great times I had in the past like playing Gears of War with a buddy.  The story is good, and the game is so inventive.   This game would work great to play through with a partner who doesn’t play very many games or an older child though the story might be a bit rough if they’re young, seeing as it starts with the parents almost already divorced. 

One Step From Eden. A very fast paced rogue-lite that will keep you on your toes.

One Step From Eden takes the idea of Mega Man Battle Network, but rather than selecting your chips in that game, it quickly shuffles and throws a ton of spells at the player that they’ll have to use to take on enemies.  The action, combat, and gameplay feel like it moves at a record place and you’ll have to be quick-witted to tackle this game. 

Though I do think One Step from Eden is just a little too fast-paced.  Outside of selecting what new spells or cards get added to your deck, major decisions in the heat of battle are usually so fast there’s no chance to think about much.  It’s a fun and inventive game, but man it moves WAY too fast.   I often forget to use my normal attack which is what happened in some of this video. 

Pick this up if you like rogue-lites and think most of them are too slow.  I tried the assist mode, called angel mode, which is supposed to slow down the game to make it a bit easier, and while that seems to work half the time, the other half the game still seems entirely too fast with over 35 percent slow down.  

Dicey Dungeons.  Rolling the dice on yet another rogue-lite 

Dicey Dungeons takes a gameshow motif and wraps it around a rogue-lite completely based on dice rolls.  Players will get abilities that will use those rolls in different ways.  Changing values, only working with certain numbers, or even creating a special spell book depending on what’s rolled.  With seven different characters with different abilities and unique levels, players will have a lot to work through. 

Though with it being dice-based, there’s a lot of randomness with it.  The levels are predetermined, though they have unique setups, and there is a good difficulty here, though that might be the randomness.   This is a very fresh take on the Roguelite genre, which is what I expect from Terry Cavanagh.

Pick this up if you like rogue-lites or dice-based board games or video games.  Something is exciting when you don’t know what you might roll next and it will make a difference between a good run and complete failure.  At the same time, the high level of randomness will probably frustrate a lot of people, and I understand that one. 

And that’s what I have for this month.  I’m not sure if you noticed, but this was a pretty polarizing month.  While there are some amazing games this month, some of these games are puzzling.  Bassmaster Fishing, Football Manager, and Nongunz don’t feel as appealing as others.  Again there is an audience for all three of those games, I am going to assume the people who would enjoy them already own them. 

On the other hand, holy crap, while last month had massive titles like Marvel Avenger, Back 4 Blood, and Destiny 2, this month has two of Microsoft’s newest titles and they delivered.    I’ve had some of the most fun I’ve had covering these games this month and the fact is I have had to force myself to write because I’ve wanted to play more.

I’m going to pop up a quick list of games leaving soon.  I’ll try to include this as long as Xbox provides this information, important to note Football Manager is in that list, but like I mentioned I don’t know if people are really going to miss that one. 

With that said, let’s just get into the best of the month.  We’ll talk about the five top titles.  These are just my recommendations and I do want to make a small mention of Moonglow Bay, it is basically 5.5, but unfortunately just missed the best list. 

The fifth best title of the month is Dicey Dungeon.  I played this at E3 the last time E3 was a real thing and ended up buying it myself.  I fell head over heels for it and love the art, design, and gameplay. I highly recommend people check it out.  There’s even some Halloween-themed bonus content as well. 

The fourth best title of the month is The Forgotten City.  I finished this title and loved the storytelling.  There’s so much here that you should check it out and it does a great job with its narrative.  It’s only between five and eight hours, depending on how easily you figure stuff out, but it’ll keep you guessing. 

The third best title of the month is It Takes Two. Technically this is an EA title, but I’ve been interested enough that I want to cover it.  While I dislike having to plan out sessions to keep playing this game, the art and design of this game are top-notch and I have to call out a game that’s so well designed. 

The second best title of the month is Age of Empires IV.  This is a top-notch title, from a major studio, but also it is a throwback to a different time.  The RTS genre has been lacking for a long time, and Age of Empires effortlessly reminds people why the RTS genre was popular, as well as giving players something special. 

The best title of the month is Forza Horizon 5.  No question, this is a serious contender for a game of the year.  While it’s could have been limited to the racing game niche, it instead expands that niche quite a bit and creates one of the best open-world experiences ever made.  This is a serious achievement and worthy of checking out.

And that’s what we’re going to end on.  Forza Horizon is truly deserving of all the praise it’s gotten.  I’ll be honest, I joined Xbox Game Pass to check out some games, and get to try games for cheaper.  But the game I looked forward to this year is Forza Horizon 5, and now that we’re here, it demolished all my expectations, but so has the Game Pass. 

With that being said, I need to take this to a personal level.  Making this video takes a lot of time, like close to a hundred hours to cover the games, write up the reviews, record, create the videos, and more for about 20 minutes of content.  It’s inefficient for sure. 

I hope you’ve enjoyed this video, I make it for all the viewers.  If you haven’t yet, consider subscribing to the channel and ringing the bell.  Like the video if you enjoyed it, feel free to dislike it if you didn’t.   For me I’d like to see these videos getting a few more views.  I see three hundred as a worthy accomplishment, but more is always better.   If you can help out, share the video with other or get more people interested, I appreciate it, if nothing else, leave a comment and hope the algorithm still considers that an important contribution to a video.   

No matter what, I appreciate you watching the video and I hope you enjoyed the content.  If you missed these, I’ll be popping up both of the October Xbox Game Pass videos.  I’m proud of that work as well, and if you want to check out more games, that’s a perfect way.

See you next time, I’m off to go race in Forza Horizon 5.

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