Game Pass March 2022 Review – Smaller selection, bigger titles

I’m Kinglink and it’s the second week of March so here’s the March 2022 Game Pass Review. 

This month we have a smaller selection, but there are a couple of massive titles here which are worthy of your attention, at the same time, there is some variety between the Xbox and PC, as well as some cloud-only titles.  There were also a couple of surprise releases not on these lists. 

I’ve already reviewed the Mass Effect Legendary Edition, not once but twice this year already, and it’s only March, it’s the best way to play that series.  However, it’s not radically new, so if you have played previously, it’s just the standard game.    Lawn Mowing Simulator has been delayed for the Xbox One so that is incorrect, but I reviewed it recently, and I enjoyed it as a simulator.  Finally, I don’t have anything to say about Super Mega Baseball 3, it was released 2 years ago already, but I did work on a competitor to it, and haven’t played it so we’ll leave that there. 

But as normal I play all the titles on PC, and I’ll tell you what I think after a few hours of each, how the game is, who is it for, and who will enjoy them.  I’m also going to add in a little audio from the games to give you a flavor of them, it’s an experiment so let’s see how it goes.

Let’s just get started so you can see how it works, and we’ll start with what I thought was the biggest game this month… 

Total War: Warhammer 3  An in-depth large scale strategy game 

Total War: Warhammer 3 is another attempt to adapt the Total War franchise with the Warhammer franchise, and so far it seems good.  But I say that having barely played either the Total War Series or the Warhammer franchise.  The tutorial is once again very long, as is the game.  Total War: Warhammer 3 is one of those games you can play hundreds of hours of and still have even more to do after that.    

The tutorial was really solid giving players a lot of information and slowly rolling out details.  This is a time sink game, there’s a lot to do, tons of information, multiple factions, and likely a lot of expansions planned if this is anything like the previous two.  If I had infinite time though I could see myself playing a lot more of this.   The size of the armies here is amazing, and I love the lore of this universe even if I haven’t made it that far into the games.

Pick this up if you liked Warhammer 2, I’ve heard complaints from fans that the UI is weaker, and they made a lot of changes, but I don’t think anything will turn off fans, and even if they do, mods and future patches will probably be good.  Honestly, I’m not the guy for this game.  Check out Mandalore, I adore his review and he’s worthy of getting his opinion heard more.  He is a fantastic source on this game, genre, and universe, so I will defer to his knowledge on this one.

Madden NFL22: It’s like fantasy football, but you actually have to play. 

When I was young Madden was the standard in realistic football simulations.  Madden got the feeling of the sport as well as the presentation.  Maybe I was naive, maybe the game was better, but I don’t see that game anymore in this one.  Madden has turned into a number heavy game with a small amount of probability thrown in and you can almost feel the gears turning on every play. 

But the game itself has a bigger issue, there’s been a growing sound of resentment on Madden, and after playing for less than an hour I understand the sentiment.  After four hours it was even worse.  I kept seeing the exact same animations, the characters barely look like their real counterparts, some are unrecognizable.  There are still glitches after the entire season is over.  I split my time between fun online challenges and Franchise mode where Tom Brady and Gronkowski came back to the Patriots for one more run at the Super Bowl. Go Pats.  It’s football, but you can feel the stats. 

Pick this up if you want a Football game and while Mutant League Football exists, it’s really clear this is the only game in town for true football fences, which is also why this game has become so weak.  With no competition Madden just prints money, and while I don’t know how different it is in each version, this feels very lackluster, like they aren’t even trying anymore.    There is a big push for Ultimate Team as well and that’s just even more stat-based gameplay than anything as well as microtransaction which, you probably know how I feel, but if you don’t, I’m heavily against it. Surprise. 

Hollow Knight: Voidheart Edition   Hollow Knight game of the year edition, pretty much. 

I’m not sure if this counts as a truly new game but it’s always good to talk about Hollow Knight, this is one of the best Metroidvania style games, that takes ultra-hard gameplay and combines it with the map exploration of the Metroidvania genre.  Se I didn’t have to say Dark Souls.   This is pretty brutally hard at times, I always get stuck on the Watcher Knights boss encounter late in the game, but I still have a great time getting up to them. 

I believe this is just an updated version of the normal game on PC only, but the update allows cross-platform cloud saves, which is a nice touch.  My Steam save games got copied over as well, though I am going to show just the first area as that’s my normal policy.   Everything here works well, the controls are still tight, the atmosphere is amazing, and the challenge will push players to their limits. 

Pick this up if you want a challenging game or like Metroidvanias.  I have never beat this game but I still respect the hell out of it for just the quality.  Replaying this game was a joy, and it’s just such a great title, that it’s worth checking out by almost everyone, though I will say that difficulty can be pretty steep, but it is rewarding once you beat each boss. 

Robo Quest.  An FPS rogue-lite

Robo Quest seems interesting.  It’s an FPS rogue-lite in Early Access, or I’m sorry Game Preview.  Right Microsoft?   Which means it’s going to be very hard to judge.  The gunplay here is fast-paced and solid.  But while playing it, it felt like something was missing, probably a little more balance. It’s a game that screams that it’s unfinished, because it is, though that’s a bit noticeable. 

The real problem is it just feels like a First Person Shooter with no saves or checkpoints.  There’s not much you do when you come back to the base, and while there are upgrades there, it just gives you more choice to the point where you end up having too much.  You find a gun you want to use, and you’ll find item upgrades that let you choose between types of guns to improve but you can always find a stat upgrade for your current gun, and with you only keeping three upgrades, there’s a fast turnover.  There are even perks that ignore the gun style and just take the largest boost.  It’s hard to explain how flawed this is without a deeper dive.   The bosses however are really good.

Pick this up if you want an Early Access game.  I like the concept here, but FPS rogue-lites are already out there, and this feels like more of an FPS game, which the creators fully admit and are working to combat, so assume this will have some major changes over time.   This is why I hate covering these game previews. I fully believe in the developers when they say they will change this game, but that means everything I say may be invalid by the time this video comes out.  Still, its art style is working, so I’m hopeful. 

Galactic Civilization III.  Civilization IN SPACEEEEEE.

Galactic Civilization III feels like a 4x game, but after about half an hour I realized, this is just a version of Civilization that has a strong sci-fi theme on it.  And yet, that’s not a bad thing.  The concept works, the gameplay is interesting and I prefer talking to aliens versus talking to humans over and over.  There’s a chance to get something that feels fresh, and this succeeds. 

There’s an interesting mechanic here where you have to grow out your base on tiles on a board so you can’t just have infinite growth and a lot of deep mechanics which will take a long time to understand.   The tutorial is quick and solid and will prepare you for the larger game here, but make no mistake, this is one of those games you’re going to be playing for hours, essentially like Civilization itself. 

Pick this up if you enjoy the 4x genre, this is a solid title and one that is worth your time.  This is similar in some ways to Endless Space 2 and Stellaris, but if you already know those games, I’m going to guess you’re familiar with this one.  Still, I would recommend this one pretty strongly. 

Dragon Ball FighterZ.   An approachable fighting game for a massive anime franchise. 

Dragon Ball FighterZ reminds me quite a bit of Marvel Vs. Capcom in more than one way.  The fighting controls are pretty easy to get a handle on and there is a large cast of characters from a beloved franchise.  And while Marvel Vs. Capcom fell off a cliff when Infinite came out, Dragon Ball FighterZ was there to pick up the flag just a few months later and carry it.  Dragon Ball also adds in an interesting overworld map and a large story mode, and more, which only helps create a better experience. 

That being said, this game does get called out because it is so friendly to beginners, with systems like auto-combo, though this is intended to allow people to have fun with their favorite characters, rather than worrying about the heights of the fighting game tier list.  Considering it’s still played at EVO, the massive fighting game tournament, it still earns at least a decent amount of credibility. Still, the point of the game is to have fun with the Dragon Ball franchise and in that, it’s certainly successful. 

Pick this up if you’re a Dragon Ball fan, obviously, or if you like a more casual fighter.  This is a solid title that has a decent amount of offline content, but before long you’ll have to venture online for new things to do and even there it’s a pretty active community. 

Alice: Madness Returns. I think the book did this better.

Alice: Madness Returns is a sequel to American Mcgee’s Alice.  It tries to tell a dark, twisted tale with the Alice motif.   Honestly, this game came out in 2011, and you can tell that , from the game’s grimdark twisted storyline, which was a popular style in games at that time.  Alice in Wonderland was ripe for exploitation as an innocent children’s book beloved by many.  There’s also the ever-popular dodge-based combat that also was popular in that time frame.   

Except, Alice wasn’t an innocent children’s book but rather a beautiful subversive piece of literature whether intentional or not.  What’s odd is Alice: Madness Returns goes darker with the art, but it becomes average in everything else.  The enemies look good but are repeated ad nauseum, the platforming is what you would expect from a 3d platformer,   You’re given a pepper grinder which is just a gun because, of course you are.   This is just a very average game with a slightly dark motif.  

Pick this up if you like Alice in Wonderland and want to see someone’s riff on it.  There is some great art design but not great gameplay.   At the same time, I do have to say this game still looks pretty impressive for a ten-year-old game, and in that way, it holds up.  I just wish they could have done something more interesting with the gameplay or story.

FAR: Changing Tides. This game is chasing something. 

FAR: Changing Tides evokes feelings of Limbo and Inside early.  You might not think it when looking at this bright and colorful world, but it’s there.  You are a solo character, exploring a large, vast, and mostly lifeless world.   You travel on your watercraft and find different locales each seem to have an upgrade for your craft.  This sounds like a fantastic journey, and it seems paced well at first glance.  Long sailing times interspersed with puzzles.

But after a couple of hours, I had enough. FAR: Changing Tides is slow, and while the idea of taking a moment to reflect on the journey and enjoy the experience is nothing new, there’s not much here outside of that.   In the book Lord of the Rings, there are large moments of just travel, and it’s put there to break up the story and give readers moments of reflection.  Those moments are in FAR: Changing Tides, but there’s almost nothing for the player to reflect on, just large empty sailing sections with minor actions to keep the craft moving, and while the puzzles are good, this is a game that is much more filler than anything. 

Pick this up if you want a very casual sailing experience.  There are more features and functions but they never really grow beyond just actions to do.  The Puzzles are fantastic, but the gaps between them are most of the game, the puzzles are probably around a fourth of the experience.  It may sound like I hate this game, but I don’t, it’s just not a game that stands out. 

Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. It’s more Final Fantasy 13

There are two types of people, the people who were able to play through all of Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2, and those who haven’t. If you somehow have gotten through both of those titles, there’s a third game in that universe, called Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.  This comes with a brand new combat system, where players move their character.   That’s right there’s only one playable character, Lightning, this time around. 

The story though is just as off the wall as the previous games, and worse, it doesn’t feel like it connects, maybe if you beat all of Final Fantasy XIII-2, but it feels like the game once again kicks the feet out from under you to force you to relearn entirely too much about the world.   There’s also some kind of issue that requires a specific configuration on the Game Pass version.  I could only make this game work if I turned off advanced graphics in the launcher and Full-Screen mode, and then reboot my computer before each session, booting the game up twice without a reboot didn’t work.  Steam has a different launcher and I ended up playing this on steam.  That’s a bad bug, but I also haven’t heard anyone else report it so maybe it’s just me. 

Pick this up if you already beat Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2, seriously, there’s no reason otherwise, and if you’ve already beat those two, you probably already know if you want more.   Personally, if I’m bored one day I might try to replay this whole trilogy, but it’s admittedly very low on my list, below almost every other Final Fantasy Game.. except 8.

And I swear, Square, if you freaking claim this section…  Just don’t. Just don’t. 

Kentucky Route Zero.  A story about getting lost. 

Kentucky Route Zero is a different game.  In the opening scene of the game, the player is trying to make a delivery to 5 Dogwood Drive, and the main character, Conway finds that he has to take the mysterious Route Zero.  This may sound like a simple task, and that’s how it’s presented, but Kentucky Route Zero instead spends much of its time exploring a strange world and works in surrealist ideas.   The on-ramp to Route Zero becomes a mine, that leads to meeting a new character, who goes on a journey into the mines, which leads to a cave-in, which leads to trying to exit the mines, which somehow exits exactly where the player began.   But the entire game does it in a fascinating way. 

Kentucky Route Zero is a journey about the journey.  The goal of the game is to make that delivery, but it’s really the journey and writing that’s on full display here, and players are along for the ride.  The writing is solid enough that eventually players will forgo the direct line to their destination and instead see where Kentucky Route Zero will take them.   Or players will bounce early.  This isn’t going to be for everyone, but it’s also extremely unique and one of the few video games that show how unique a video game can be. 

Pick this up if you want a unique experience and a well-told story.  However normally when I say that, it’s usually for a game I enjoy.  I value storytelling over gameplay for video games.  The fact is, I’m not that interested in Kentucky Route Zero, maybe it’s just that I prefer a more objective-based story, or just something wasn’t clicking that day.  I know I enjoyed the Artful Escape, which did something like this, but I am not a huge fan of this title.   I still can appreciate it for what it does right.  And I recommend it for people who normally agree with me on story over gameplay.

Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.   A reimagining of the Guardians of the Galaxy, though not a complete one. 

Marvel’s Avengers which I reviewed last year went poorly.  It was a good start to a single-player story, but an awful cash grab that felt gross, and just overall disgusting.  So we’ll give Square a second shot here, and shockingly Marvel’s Guardians of The Galaxy is what Marvel’s Avengers should have been.  This is a single-player only story, with no monetizations, and focused onlooking at famous characters.  While they don’t have the likeness rights of the movie characters, after a few minutes you won’t notice it.  I think I prefer these designs to the movie’s, This isn’t a game of spot-the-famous-actor, but a chance to enjoy the characters. 

Though, this still sits on the shoulders of the movies.  Once again the Guardians are arguing among themselves, and while this is a different universe, I wish this team v could tell a different story.  However, they are once again trying to turn a profit and I enjoyed the pieces here.  There are some organic conversations as well, and certain voice lines were written to respond to the player’s actions rather than just delivering a narrative, which is cool.   The combat feels solid though not completely in-depth, and there are choices in the story that reminds of choice systems in Telltale games, but those are handled far better here. 

Pick this up if you enjoyed the Marvel Movies, especially Guardians of the Galaxy, while there’s a quick introduction here of these characters, there’s an implied feeling that players should already know who everyone is, and their archetypes.  However, it is a fun romp and well worth checking out.  I know I’ll return to play more of this.   Hopefully, after I finish this video. 

Young Souls. Why is this called Souls?

I’m just going to start with the title.  Young Souls doesn’t have anything to do with Dark Souls or Demon Souls. Period, and that’s actually refreshing.  Instead, we have a side-scrolling beat-’em-up that includes an inventory and leveling system and a focus on parrying attacks, but the entire experience feels like a breath of fresh air in the beat-’em-up genre.  Young Souls involves the main characters chasing after their foster parent who has been taken to a different universe that’s filled with goblins.  

The map in Young Souls allows players to explore in different directions and with the inventory system, players will loot different weaponry to mix and match.  Everything here seems to work together, and while there is likely some grinding, there are also multiple different locations to work through, and an interesting tag system for the main characters that keeps it fresh.  

Pick this up if you miss old side scrollers.  This brings me back to the days of playing through Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Final Fight, but I’d honestly say the inventory system here really makes this feel far better than the classics, and for that reason is worth checking out.  

And that’s what I have for this month.  As I said at the beginning this was a light month, with only 12 games, but again there are some massive games this month, and there are quite a few worthy of accolades here. 

I only ran into one technical issue, and that was better than last month but I’m still keeping an eye on this.  Honestly, I’m a little peeved, but I’m not even sure why Lightning Returns is different on Steam versus Microsoft Store.  

I’ve said quite a bit about how good the selection was this month.  The previous months have had a quantity over quality approach, but here there are some of the biggest titles and this is a month that shows how good the service can be even if there’s not a ton of games.

I’m just going to move on to the top five of the month but there was a lot of competition. An honorable mention should be made here for Galactic Civilizations 3 which just missed this list.  Anyways, here’s the real list…

The fifth strongest of the month is Dragon Ball FighterZ.  This is an accessible fighting game, with a colorful style, but I also think you kind of have to be into Dragon Ball to enjoy it.   It’s a great game though and something anyone can pick up and have a good time with.   

The fourth strongest of the month is Young Souls. I’ve wanted to rate this higher, but it can’t compete with the rest of this list, however, Young Souls is a promising game that I want to see more of.  It’s a breath of fresh air in a genre that doesn’t change too much.   Worth a look. 

The third strongest of the month is Total War Warhammer 3.  This is a huge game, but I also think this is a very focused game as well.  If you’re not a fan of Warhammer or these massive strategy games, it’s going to take a bit to get into this.  However, I love the size and scale of this series and wouldn’t mind playing some more of this to understand all the mechanics.   

The second strongest of the month is Hollow Knight.  Hollow Knight is fantastic and there’s just one thing keeping it from the top spot.  The base game is five years old.  It’s still amazing as it is, but It’s also been all over the place in those five years, and I believe most of the potential audience has already played this title yet.  If you haven’t though, give this one a shot.  

The strongest of March 2022 is Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy. This was a major title last year and while it was a bit delayed in reaching Game Pass, it’s still a major title, and worthy of your attention.  The writing is good, the gameplay is solid, and even though this is a game based on characters who have already been in two movies, there’s enough here to keep it fresh, which is perfect.  Check this one out if you haven’t already. 

And that’s what I have for this month, now if you’ve been listening closely, you may have noticed I added audio tracks in, I tried to give you about five seconds of audio of the game.  I’d love to hear what you all think about that.  I’ve had a few issues in the past with claims, and audio mixing, but I figured if I gave you a taste of what the game sounds like, let me know what you think.

Thanks to Christian Graser for the suggestion, if you hate it blame him.  Just kidding, of course.  It was my decision but I really appreciate the suggestion

Normally I like to look at what’s coming up but I am getting this video out before the 15th, so Microsoft hasn’t revealed what’s coming up yet, and unsurprisingly they aren’t giving me a sneak peek yet.  

Also, the games leaving should be gone the day I release this video, but goodbye to Phogs, Torchlight 3, The Surge 2, and Nier Automata, hope I said that one right. 

If you enjoyed this, consider subscribing and ringing the bell, that’s always good.  If you want to do even more, liking, commenting, and sharing are always helpful to the channel.   I have a discord server with a link in the description as a place you can hang out and talk games.  Finally, if you want to check out more from me, check one of the videos on the screen, or take a look at what else is on my channel. 

See you next time. 

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