I’m Kinglink and it’s April, so it’s time to look at the Game Pass April 2022 Review.
Let me start by saying these images are a bit of a lie, or at the very least incomplete. These are the official list of games coming out from Microsoft. The problem is it doesn’t show the full number of games we’re going to be talking about, since they don’t appear on the images. Which includes the first title that’s going to be shown.
I’m torn on this. Getting more games is of course better, but the games that appear as a surprise make it hard to track what’s out on the service and what’s coming up. Though the fact that it means you have more of a reason to check out this video and the rest of my catalog is good for me at least. Still, the choices are great this month, though they do seem to focus on a certain type of game.
The response last month was positive so we’ll be continuing with a nice audio selection at the beginning of every game, hope you enjoy it.
Finally, the rules, I spend an evening with every game on this list, sometimes more than one, and now I’m here to tell you what I think of them, and who should check them out. Let’s get started with the game on the screen and a surprise release.
Tunic. Just an exceptional experience.
Tunic is a combination of Zelda and Souls-like games, and I really tried to think about that. Souls-like tends to evoke difficulty comparisons, but in this case, it is more about the same usage of bonfires, a lack of direct story, and an amazing map with the slightest hints of a Metroidvania. There are also a lot of Zelda references, I meant the game is called Tunic, and the guy is wearing a green tunic. Tunic also has similar combat, with the addition of a roll. The shield is a large blue shield with a cross on it, and a number of these enemies come straight out of Zelda. And the combination of these two very famous styles is excellent.
The gameplay here is great, the combat is tight with a flavor of both franchises, the encounters are well-paced, and the addition of the bonfire is exceptional, but I think my favorite piece of this game is how it adds in a foreign language that allows the game to hint but offers exploration. There’s also a fantastic instruction booklet with tons of hints and tricks, but it’s mostly written in that foreign language and done as a collectible.
Pick this up if you like classic Zelda or Souls-like games. The mixing of these two genres sound obvious but what is here, is so much better than I expected. I haven’t even mentioned this was the work of a single developer named Andrew Shouldice, probably got that wrong, but that’s incredible. Kudos
I want to mention there is a no-fail mode, so even if it’s too hard for some people, the developer allows anyone to experience it. Seems like a good idea that other souls-like could consider.
Shredders. Evoking memories of SSX and Amped.
Shredders is a new snowboarding game by a small team, but with an ambitious large mountain and gameplay. Most of the time Shredders an amazing snowboarding game where you’re riding down the mountain, and other times it’s a little janky with a lot of b-tier quality at times. A perfect example is the cameos. This game has famous snowboarders who voiced characters. But every character is completely covered up and a few of the line reads are exceptionally flat.
Yet at the core of Shredders is the snowboarding and in that area Shredders is amazing, it might have issues with the presentation, and explaining its concepts but when you pull off an amazing trick, you feel so accomplished. Almost every mission has at least one or two solid goals you’ll be challenged by, and even when you cheese the system, you still feel a huge sense of accomplishment from your lines and the moves you’ve pulled off.
Pick this up if you’re interested in extreme sports. This heavily reminds me of that feeling of SSX early on but it is far more realistic than that series, but I kind of want to see what this pair of teams who worked on this can do with a second title. I still heavily enjoyed myself with this one, and love the experience of exploring the mountain and tackling all the different challenges. I will also say this game did make me laugh a few times, which is a great sign that they’re not taking themselves too seriously.
Paradise Killer. An excellent detective story wrapped in a strange world.
Paradise Killer starts on an odd foot with the main character having been exiled for 3 million days, and talk of ritual sacrifices and birthing new islands along with very colorful characters like a red skeleton. The opening is a little hard to get through, but eventually, the main character finds out about a mass murder that happened on the island, and she’s being brought in as the investigator. From there she is tasked with solving multiple crimes and finding out what happened the previous day.
But don’t be misled, at the core Paradise Killer is a great detective story. After a couple of hours, the player will just be piecing together a rather straightforward mystery, even though there are discussions of demons and gods. I was surprised at how good the story was here. The only real complaint I have is there is a true ending, but there’s also the ability to change the ending and the game doesn’t reward the full “truth”, but rather charges the player with the requirement to construct a correct narrative at the end, even if it’s not the real one.
Pick this up if you like detective stories, or enjoy Danganronpa from January or AI: The Somnium Files from last year. This is a very solid mystery and I spent around ten hours playing this entire game and enjoyed it. I do want to talk more about my thoughts on this but unfortunately, all of them are heavy spoiler territory. I’d give this around an 8/10 though, and recommend it if you like what you’re seeing.
Zero Escape: The Nonary Games. Two exceptional visual novels of a unique style.
Zero Escape: The Nonary Games includes Nine Hours, Nine Persons, Nine Doors, sometimes known as 999, and Virtue’s Last Reward. These are two of the three games in the Zero Escape Trilogy. And yeah this is a bit confusing. What you should know about these titles is they’re great visual novels, and if you enjoyed Danganronpa from earlier this year, Ai: The Somnium Files from last year, or even Paradise Killer, from a minute ago. You probably will enjoy this.
This is all set up like another mystery game with 9 people trapped in a dangerous situation. The story has branching pathways, but to finish the game you’ll have to see everything in the game. The writing is well done with a lot of dialogue here, perhaps too much. The experience though will keep players wrapped up and the small puzzle rooms the player will have to solve throughout the game are good, though they sometimes are a little obtuse.
Pick this up if you like AI: The Somnium Files. While there are other similar games, both this and The Somnium files were created by the same guy, and so they have the most similarity. This is worth checking out if you like story-based games. I bought this game on Steam, but I’ve never had the time for this game. I want to go back and play through this, but you’re probably looking at close to 30 hours of content just for a straight playthrough which is quite a lot for a visual novel. Still, it seems worth the investment.
Kraken Academy. Three-day tIme loops, that seem very Zelda-Esque.
Kraken Academy involves the player joining a prestigious academy and meeting with the Kraken who lives there and no one seems to make a big deal about. From there, the player is taken as the Kraken’s new assistant and has to try to solve various secrets and recover spirits. Players then have to figure out how to help each of the people in the game, befriend people, and figure out how to stop the world from ending. And to do so they’ll have to rewind time every three days to avoid it.
That’s at least the idea of the game, the time loop mechanic is interesting but it does feel like most of the time players can just play through the game straight. There’s not a lot of time management from what I’ve seen so far. The two quests pretty much detail the exact time and place you’ll have to be to advance the story each day. The art here is also a little weak at times. The character images are great, but the standard character sprites are a little underwhelming. However, the writing here makes up for it.
Pick this up if any of this sounds interesting. There’s a Majora’s Mask feeling here at times. However, there’s no combat, and it’s mostly a game where you’ll talk to people and do small Quick Time Events. It’s also a bit short, supposedly around six to eight hours, but after about four hours I think I was only a fourth of the way through the game. Still, this game had me laughing quite a bit, so even there, it’s worth checking out.
Norco. A Dystopian future that lacks an interesting angle.
Norco is trying to be something special. It’s written in a style that is almost unrecognizable from normal games. It tries to use a lot of flowery language and evokes the main experience just from the text on the screens and images. It’s a similar style to Disco Elysium or Kentucky Route Zero. However, where Disco Elysium is like a strange and unique trip, and Kentucky Route Zero just lives off the beaten path, Norco just writes overly involved descriptions while being a rather limited point and click adventure.
I couldn’t get into the writing. It didn’t help that Norco seems to fall back on the mundane when it could go outlandish. There are combat systems for no reason, and skill tests that feel like they don’t matter. Even when the game does introduce an interesting mechanic like an Alternate Reality Game, it’s still mostly about figuring out the right location to see specific sites then actually experiencing something different from the rest of the game.
Pick this up if you want a boring Dystopian future. I know there’s a decent amount of people who enjoy this game, but the writing just never felt interesting or unique. I loved Disco Elysium, I understood why people might like Kentucky Route Zero, but Norco just wasn’t as good and isn’t something I’d probably recommend, but maybe I’m just missing something. It is at least unique in the style presented instead of being like every other game out there.
A Memoir Blue. An emotional journey.
Hopefully, I can play that song without issue because I think the music in A Memoir Blue is a good sign. If that song can make you feel something, no matter what it is, this might be the game for you. This is a game fully driven by visuals and music, with no dialogue at all. You play an award-winning swimmer, who hears a song on the radio and enters a surreal dream. Or maybe it’s just a person who has magic abilities to fly off the couch and her room falls apart. That’s the problem with no dialogue.
A Memoir Blue though is a dive into this character’s life through multiple point-and-click scenes, and it’s a journey that connected with me. There is a very cathartic release by the end. It’s also a game that doesn’t overstay its welcome, running about forty minutes long, and ending on the perfect note.
Pick this up if you liked Gorogoa, Unpacking, or just want to play a short point and click game. This game is fantastic and worth a playthrough, at least on Xbox Game Pass. Even if you go for all the achievements you’ll probably burn through this game in a couple of hours, but it’s also a game that is worth a quick playthrough because it will reach you. I’d probably put this title above Unpacking and I know people went crazy for that one, I just think this one is better.
Crusader Kings III. Another Paradox Interactive game.
Paradox Interactive games are unique, whether the title is Heart of Iron, Europa Universalis, or Crusader Kings. They’re large dense games with many systems. And usually requires players to spend a decent amount of time on each move, action, and choice. At least that’s how I’ve experienced them. They’re not necessarily a game with a goal, but rather a simulator of a time period.
Crusader Kings seems to be more about making up a story about your rule and does so by providing you with randomized events. There are storylines, but after playing the same character three times for at least an hour each playthrough I never got the same experience, and that’s kind of the point.
Pick this up if you like strategy but want to avoid strict objectives. There are different achievements and goals you can aim for, but ultimately this is a game about the experience rather than trying to achieve specific goals. I’m still not a fan of this game, but I also get why people spend hours here just experiencing something different every time.
Super Mega Baseball 3. An arcade baseball game.
Super Mega Baseball 3 is on EA Play, and it’s on the release list of the PC Xbox App so let’s cover it. This is a simple but fun baseball game focused far more on the arcade-style of baseball made popular by Ken Griffy baseball. You have various teams and can choose one, there’s a solid difficulty system and if you want to dominate your opponents you definitely can.
But there are a few big problems here. First, this is a bit old coming out in 2020. It also doesn’t have any license, so you aren’t even playing with famous baseball teams, let alone players. Also, some characters are women which, considering nothing else conforms to the MLB, is fine, but does also feels rather strange.
Pick this up if you want an arcade baseball game. This is fun to pick up and play and win, I think that’s one of the best features of it. The experience here is solid but I also have to be honest, playing without the major league license does feel very off. Still, on Pc, this is the only game available… except… not.
I’m going to break my rule…. It’s been four years… let’s do it.
MLB The Show 2022. THE MLB simulator.
Technically this isn’t on PC, but I’m going to play it on the cloud because I want to make a counterpoint to Super Mega Baseball 3. If you want to play REAL baseball and have real experience… MLB The Show is the way to go, it’s been the standard for a couple of decades at least and is worth checking out…
At the same time, this is definitely for a true baseball fan, it’s here to present a simulation experience rather than focused purely on the fun and it does that, but it also will challenge most players. There are experts at this game, but it’s still a challenging experience for me depending on which setting I choose in the game.
Pick this up if you want a real MLB simulator with real teams. Though… honestly don’t trust my opinion on this one. Listen, I worked on this game for at least six years, Sony paid me a great salary to work on the game, so I have a bias here, but at the same time, this is still the standard for a reason and worth a look. I think it’s also the only video game with the MLB license currently.
Though I will say playing it on the cloud is not the best way to experience it. Unfortunately, it is currently the only way to play it on PC. You know Sony, and Microsoft… you could change that… it’s on every other platform. And I know it’s probably a concern about hacking but if it’s that worrisome just divide the user base. Seriously, it’s a Sony game releasing the same day on Nintendo Switch and Microsoft Xbox… I still don’t believe that.
Weird West. A bit too boring for me.
Weird West asks “What if the Wild West has monsters” and that’s a good question, but before you run with the idea, Weird West also stumbles with it. Yes, monsters exist in the Weird West and you will eventually get to fight or even play as a couple of them. That is an interesting concept. The problem though is so much of the game isn’t weird. The first couple hours are purely fighting human enemies, not humanoid, but human.
The Wild West always evokes ideas of big gunfights and shootouts and while those do occur in Weird West here, it’s usually better to use stealth, at least early on. Unfortunately, the stealth here feels a bit overpowered to the point that it’s foolish to have those big awesome gunfights. I’ve also heard the areas and enemies do get repetitive, and there’s not a lot of change in the gameplay over time. Which is a shame. This could have been something unique.
Pick this up if you just gotta have a Wild West game. But after playing this for a couple of hours, I wasn’t even that interested in going on. The game also grinds to a halt after a couple of areas because you are forced to farm money instead of going on and encountering your first monster. That’s exactly what people wanted. Ugh.
Chinatown Detective Agency. A fresh take on the idea of Carmen Sandiego.
Chinatown Detective Agency is unlike anything else. Most games keep you in their world, and try to keep you playing while making it so you don’t need to turn to google, Chinatown Detective Agency flat out tells you to go search the web. Each mission in this game seems to have the player have to do online research, not of the game world but the real world, and I can’t think of another game that uses this idea.
Unfortunately, the video here should show you why that’s problematic. Twice I searched phrases that took me directly to a walkthrough of Chinatown Detective Agency. Immersion was immediately broken and I’m disappointed both that this wasn’t considered, but also that’s what this game will be eventually. There is a potential solution to put a minus Chinatown at the beginning or end of every search, but even that kind of sucks.
Pick this up if you want a very interesting and unique concept, but do realize that it’s a concept that has a rather big flaw because it’s a game that will constantly tell you to search the internet, and there are people on the internet that are going to try to abuse that, unfortunately. Still, I might give this another shot once I forget how annoying it was to keep running into spoilers.
Life is Strange: True Colors. A slow burn but then wow.
Life is Strange is a series I’ve fallen for. I think the first game and the prequel are some of the best stories I’ve ever experienced. They’re amazing. Life is Strange 2 has glimpses of greatness but is also a little too on the nose on a specific topic. However, True Colors starts slow. The first chapter out of the five here has the main character returning to society after leaving foster care.
From there Alex. the main character, meets her brother, who introduces her around town and you find out that Alex has the special ability to feel others’ emotions and read their minds. Everything in this game is done through a visual novel with the player making some choices, and while some of those choices will matter, it’s much more about the journey.
Pick this up if you like a good story and solid characters. There’s something about how Life is Strange crafts the characters in its narrative that compels you to keep playing them and care about what happens to each character. Life is Strange True Colors has hints of that, but I wasn’t hooked during that first chapter at least during it….But then the ending of that chapter… Wow, Not going to spoil it, but give this game a full chapter to establish itself and see if you want to go on with the story after that point. I definitely will be finishing this game soon because that chapter ending was impressive enough to remind me why I’m hooked on this franchise.
The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk: The Amulet of Chaos. A strategy RPG with humor… ugh that humor.
They only mention the name of this game once so far so I probably got this wrong. Anyway the Dungeon of hard name to pronounce is here, and it’s a rather solid Strategy RPG where players have to fight their way through encounters for the story. It’s far more story than random encounters. I think every encounter here is scripted. After the tutorial section, where you keep gaining your initial party after they were split up, the story switches to a point where a random character joins your party, replacing an established character, then you get into a fight which you win, and that character who joined leaves. Then you find another character and rinse and repeat.
The other side of the experience is there’s a lot of writing here. It’s written in a style fans of D&D might recognize from when they’re hanging around and playing D&D and telling stupid jokes or making fun of a campaign. It works with friends because it’s the in-jokes and humor you’re used to. Honestly though, the writing here doesn’t work for me. The jokes are usually weak, but it also has a large party, and almost every conversation has to go around and every character has to say something, usually trying to be funny, but again falling flat.
Pick this up if you like Strategy RPGs if you like this humor that’s fine but after a couple of hours I was finding it to be torturous and without the writing, the fights lacked a purpose. If you like jokes about D&D Tropes and pop culture references, this might work. It’s based on a French podcast but I struggled with this writing. The thing is some people love the style of the writing, so maybe it’s me.
Panzer Corps 2. A tactical look at World War 2.
Panzer Corps as the name implies is a World War 2 game focused on tank combat where the players will recreate battles in the war and use their military might to try to crush enemies. This is kind of like Advance Wars or Wargroove, you can buy units, deploy them, and everything is done in simplistic attacks, though with a lot more factors that go into the damage calculation. Also, you have a core group of units that evolve over the long campaign. It’s a solid idea. But there’s one problem.
Are we the baddies? No seriously, this is made by a British company, and yet the entire campaign is all German, there’s one UK scenario and one Russian, but… you’re the Axis for most of the game. The game does come with all the DLC so far but… it’s strange. Granted I am happy to be able to play as the Axis since it is rare to see. Though I always assumed that would imply being able to control both sides. Just a strange choice.
Pick this up if you like Advance Wars, or want to recreate history. It’s a pretty good game for history buffs or people who like tanks or turn-based strategy games. Just … you know, try not to think about what the country you’re representing stood for or the awful things they were doing at the same time. Again, I do applaud them for allowing players to play as the Axis because that’s usually not even an option, but it’s more strange for that to be the only choice available. Weird.
Lost in Random. A unique adventure game but one that has a few issues.
Lost in Random has an interesting premise. Players will draw cards when getting card power from enemies. Then our hero can roll a friendly dice which gives them the power to use the cards and summon their abilities. The whole package is a pretty fun concept that mixes deck building and games of chance, and while playing the game I found myself enjoying both ideas quite a bit. The actual combat is also heavily dodge-based and focuses on a familiar adventure style as well. It takes almost an hour to get to that point but once it does, the game starts to sparkle.
The concepts for the world are equally good. It is similar to Hunger games with a multi caste system, where ones are the worst off and sixes are the best, but also it’s a heavy dystopian world here. Yet the pacing is all over the place. Your character is often just thrown into a different view or position after a cutscene for no reason but it’s done noticeably. The dialogue constantly seems to try to talk over itself. You either have to sit and wait for each voice line to finish or likely miss something.
Pick this up if you want an interesting combat mechanism. I might come back just to play more of the card and dice game, but the pacing issues happen far too frequently to be ignored. I’ve also heard that the opening chapters are the better part of the game, which if so, I’m kind of worried about how this will finish.
And that’s what I have for this month. Fifteen or sixteen titles, depending on how you count MLB the Show. I’m not going to start covering the Cloud games for now or rank MLB The Show because of bias. I just thought that was a special treat, even if it’s breaking one of my biggest rules, which is not reviewing games I’ve worked on or from developers I’ve worked with. Though for the Cloud games, definitely check out Star Wars Squadrons. That was a great title.
As for the rest of the games, seven of them, almost half were visual novels or heavy story-based games, and that’s a category I like. But all of them back to back is a bit much here. There are always better games and worst games but something like Norco may have done better another month. Having it in this month may have made it struggle since it was up against many games of the same genre.
The second half of this month was a bit weaker but still, I am happy to be playing this month. So let’s talk about the games you definitely should be checking out.
The fifth strongest of the month is Lost in Random. I like the combat here, and I dislike the stuff outside of the combat here. So I’m torn but I think this is something special and worth checking out just because of how solid the action is.
‘The fourth strongest is Paradise Killer, this is the title I sat down and finished in a weekend and I’m glad I did. The writing was solid and I like the characters so much I almost wish there was a sequel with the same characters. I’m interested in whatever the developer, Kaizen Game Studio, does next.
The third strongest of this month is Zero Escape: The Nonary Games. I’m a sucker for dark stories in video games, and the Nonary Games fulfills that. It’s a good concept and intriguing idea. The puzzle rooms are just enough gameplay to keep fans interested. It is a very long story though so be prepared to sit and listen to people talk for potentially many hours at a time.
The second strongest of the month is Tunic, and for some people, it might be the best. The combat is solid, the world is interesting, and the experience here was great. I want to see more, I want to explore the bonfires, meet the different bosses and keep progressing in Tunic, but it does get decently hard, which is also a good thing. This is an exceptional game.
The strongest of the month is Life is Strange. It’s a combination of well-written characters with the main character getting a superpower, but in each of the Life is Strange games, that superpower isn’t the focus but just an attribute. Instead, the character and their personalities are what matters, and like the previous games, I’m ready to sit down and discover the rest of the story here.
Truthfully I think the difference between Tunic and Life is Strange for me is very thin, and there’s one major difference. I played a lot more of Tunic early on in the month where I got a good chunk of the game done, and with Life is Strange I, unfortunately, have only started to play it so I’m probably a little more eager to play more. It is however a slightly more expensive game but if you’re not as interested in story-based games, then feel free to consider Tunic over the rest.
So that’s what I have for the PC Game pass of April 2020 It seems like Microsoft will be releasing the next list the day I release this so I can’t talk much about what’s upcoming however Bugnax is coming to both Steam and Microsoft on April 28th, so I’m looking forward to checking that one out and seeing if it lives up to the hype.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this video, and I’m curious why people enjoy these videos, are you just checking out games you might buy outside of Game Pass, looking for a roundup of what’s available on the service, or just love my takes on all these titles. Let me know. If you are new here, consider subscribing so you can get more from me. I try to put out a monthly video just like this and I hope you look forward to it. Ringing the bell helps you get notified when they come out as well.
I’ll pop up a couple of videos for you to check out if you want to see more now.
I’ll see you next time.