Game Pass July 2022 Review – A lot of variety, but what about quality?

I’m Kinglink And it’s time for the Game Pass July 2022 Review. 

There are 19 titles this month to talk about, and I’ll cover most of them, you’ll understand when we get there.  However, this is a month that has some titles in unique categories, and some titles for the younger gamers.  Yeah, there’s Peppa Pig that the internet is making jokes about.

At the same time, I actually found some unique games, including the one on the screen, and this is absolutely a month for people who want something different than the typical big-budget shooter that is laden with microtransactions, though don’t worry though, we have one of those as well. 

Like always, I played each game for a night and now I’m here to tell you what worked, and what you can skip.    Let’s get started with… 

Omori. A horror version of Undertale.

Omori is a hard game to describe, it’s not like many games, and while there’s a decent amount of RPG-style combat, it’s the plot and the overwhelming sense of dread that the game evokes that is most memorable.  Omori isn’t a happy game, and in the first couple of hours, it’s not exactly a scary game, though there are a couple of blink-and-you’ll-miss-it jump scares.  But it’s more the dark storylines that will reach the player.

Ultimately though players of Omori should be fans of psychological horror, and it’s a style of game I tend not to get too deep in, but I think that’s more of a praise for a game that can unsettle me this much with these graphics. 

Pick this up if you like psychological horror.  This will be more cerebral than typical horror games and does a good job of it, but ultimately I would only recommend this to people who play most of the horror genre. 

Total War: Three Kingdoms.  Total War, with a Dynasty Warriors flavor. 

Total War is a large expansive franchise that has tackled multiple time periods, areas, generals, and even fantasy universes like Total War: Warhammer 3.  Now it tackles something I like a lot.  Romance of the Three Kingdoms is a great series of books from China, it’s also the basis of the Dynasty Warrior games.  I’ve read the books and played almost every Dynasty Warrior game except 9, so this should be right up my alley.   

In some ways it is.  The characters are here, the style of writing, and the intrigue all fit together.  I just wish the developers gave us more.  14 starting characters are unlocked, however, 29 are DLC only.  You only have one Campaign start point with 4 others behind DLC.  Hope your favorite character is one of the main leaders or a minor leader at the right time, because Lu Bu, Sun Ce, Meng Huo, and more, are again DLC.   So much of this game is asking for more money, which leaves a bad taste in the mouth. 

Pick this up if you love Total War.  At the end of the day, this is yet another Total War game, and that’s what I expected.  You have lovely large battles, huge groups, and famous characters, each with a story that they can follow.  I just wish it didn’t feel so obvious that the developer had their hand out for more money from the get-go. 

Naraka: Bladepoint.  It’s a Battle Royale that has done quite well. 

Naraka is a battle royale that normally runs for 20 bucks, and players can battle against 60 other players in a variety of modes in teams of one, two, or three.  The combat is melee with some ranged weapons, and players will get different weapons with different movesets as they explore the large massive map.  Naraka has epic grappling moves that look fantastic.   There are also bots early on so players can get a hold of the game. 

On the other hand, this is a Battle Royale game, so everything positive and negative is there.   If you enjoy the genre it’s fine, but also microtransactions pop up.  There doesn’t appear to be anything that affects the player, but it is still a company demanding more money.   If you’re paying twenty dollars for a game I disagree with additional microtransactions being a part of the deal.  Also, there are tons of FOMO-inducing daily quests, which don’t enhance the experience much.   And I won two rounds.  My only issue is, that I’m not that good, but I question how many humans I beat, or was I just in rounds of 59 easy bots because I’m going to assume it was that. 

Pick this up if you like Battle Royale games.  This game is pretty good, the user base is still there, and there are almost 100,000 players on steam charts at peak each day still, and that’s not counting other platforms.  So if you like Battle Royale there’s nothing truly wrong here… though I do ask that people consider if microtransactions belong in a game you pay for, this isn’t the worst example of that.

Fifa 22.  The worst example of microtransactions in a 60-dollar game.

Listen, Fifa 22 is the last Fifa game ever, EA is going to rename it next year, but it’s going to be the same old formula.  I can’t deny Fifa is one of the best football or soccer games ever, it has EA money, EA talent, and EA effort, which also means EA forcing their developers to crunch.  But at the end of the day, this is probably the soccer game most people will swear by. 

But it’s well known that many annual sports games have bad monetization practices, and they get that wrap because of two specific franchises, FIFA and Madden, both by EA, and it’s the Ultimate Team section that does that.  Is the game bad?  No.  FIFA 22 has great tutorials and training, a solid career mode, and a great representation of Soccer, but if you want to play online or competitively you will have to deal with the idea that people can simply outspend you.

Pick this up if you want Football or Soccer.  As I said, this is the soccer game people swear by, but if you do buy this, please don’t fall into the trap of playing Ultimate Team and spending money, EA doesn’t deserve it for making these casinos and treadmills for people to run on.   The fact they almost make it required shouldn’t be rewarded by consumers, I can’t blame the fans, but I can blame EA. 

And yeah I’ve been calling it Soccer, not Football, I’m American, but hey, the biggest American Football game out there is Madden, and it has all the same problems.

House Flipper.  Ahh, the American dream, owning a house and making money on it. 

House Flipper starts with the player doing minor jobs to learn different functions on how to buy and improve people’s houses.  Players will learn how to paint walls, fix electrical outlets, knock down walls and clean up… a lot of cleaning up if I’m honest.  This is a simulation game so you’ll do mundane tasks and earn money for it, enough to buy houses, fix them up and sell them. 

But sadly House Flipper falls apart in that second phase.  You can buy a house, make it your dream house and people will pay you a small amount of money based on your improvements.  The game is more designed for you to buy houses, choose one of the potential buyers and design their perfect house.  You’ll want to only buy what’s necessary because even if you buy amazing additions, the buyer won’t care much about it.  It’s more mundane on flipping houses than a game where players can feel a sense of artistic pride in the final result. 

Pick this up if you want to play some fun mini-activities.  Breaking down a wall or even building one is extremely fun.  Repairing electrical sockets is monotonous but still entertaining.  I just wish once players started buying houses, the game had some other goal other than maximizing profits in a soulless cycle, and one of the best ways to make a ton of money is getting the gardening DLC which isn’t included here.   This isn’t a bad experience, but as a fan of the simulator genre, I got bored earlier than I expected here. 

Far Cry 5. Fighting a cult in Middle America. 

Far Cry 5 starts with the player attempting to arrest a cult leader, and when that goes wrong, players are stuck in a large open world map trying to figure out what to do next. Rather than have levels or even missions, Far Cry 5 digs into the open-world formula that Ubisoft was trying to capitalize on.  There are three distinct areas with three unique bosses, and large spaces to explore.

But that open world doesn’t feel interesting.  There are locations with scripted events but for the most part, it’s just a wide open area that the player has to trudge through.  There’s a lot to do, but none of it feels interesting to do.  This has become Ubisoft’s formula, cram games packed with content, and hope some fans will just be pleased by how much there is in the game, and ignore that none of it stands out.  

Pick this up if you want an open-world shooter.  I can’t deny there are moments when the open world feels interesting to discover what might be around the next bend, the problems with the game pop up once you start noticing how unimportant each of the stops feels.  If you want to run around and kill others, this will work, but I feel that on a service that has games like Doom 2016 and Doom Eternal, the bar should be a lot higher than this. 

Last Call BBS. The end of Zachtronics.  I’m going to need a moment. 

I love Zachtronics games.  Everything from Spacechem to Exopunks, so it’s no surprise I’m very happy with Last Call BBS, even if it’s different.  Instead of a standard game with a primary focus, Last Call BBS has the player dialing into a BBS and downloading various games.  There’s everything from the squelch of the modem, to waiting for files to download, and a timer before players can download the next file.  

Last Call BBS has nine apps that players can try out, one of them is an entertaining model builder, but the other 8 are puzzle games in style fans of Zachtronics might recognize, there are two games of solitaire, of course, but there are a solid logic puzzle game, an automation builder, and a circuit diagram game.  These are extremely nerdy games, but each of the modules here brought me some joy.

The truth is Last Call BBS is probably what’s left over from Zachtronics, this is going to be the studio’s final new game, they’ll be releasing all their solitaire variants in one more title at the end of the year and the studio is closing and going their own way.  But each of the 8 mini-games here feels substantial enough that it’ll give fans of Zachtronics enough for one last hurrah and I bought this on day one on Steam because I’m a die-hard fan of the studio and I wanted to complete my collection, and I don’t regret it at all. 

Pick this up if you like logic games, or enjoyed Zachtronics titles before.  I’ve always thought of Zachtronics as a studio that makes games for programmers.  The games here are puzzle games with a lot of clever bells and whistles, and they also will push the player to try to optimize their solutions, but ultimately, it’s a great experience.  As I said, It’s a very nerdy game, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Yakuza.   Listen, this is the opening of Yakuza 0, I’m not going to talk about all three titles individually, they are Yakuza 0, Yakuza Kiwami, and Yakuza Kiwami 2.  I’ll just make this simple. I’ve made 5 videos exclusively on this series and talked about them even more.  I have a review of each of these games on their own and an entire series retrospective, and these games have been on Game Pass before, and are just returning now.  I love this franchise and the fact they’ve returned these titles to the service pleases me, not for my satisfaction, I own every title in the series on PC.  Rather, I’m thrilled new players will get a chance to check this incredible series out.  

They’re games with an excellent story, a packed world with tons to do, great characters, and satisfying gameplay.  Trust me when I say, you’ll be hooked from the first moment. 

If you haven’t tried this franchise before, Start with Yakuza 0, and give it a shot.  I guarantee you’ll have an amazing time. 

DJ MAX Respect V.  A fun rhythm game with a lot of style. 

DJ MAX Respect V is a typical rhythm game where notes come down from the top of the screen and players have to play the notes in time with the music, being scored on how well they match the notes and timing.  This is typical gameplay in the genre, with the music here being a mixture but mostly in the electronica style of music, with vibrant backgrounds.   The gameplay reminds me heavily of Beatmania which was designed for a musical keyboard, but in this title’s case, I don’t believe there is an official musical keyboard controller support, but I’m pretty sure this is more intended for a computer keyboard than a controller. 

But what’s this, I said it’s a rhythm game, so why is there chatting on the screen?  Well, my favorite feature of this game is a radio station so if you just want to sit back and play music, you can hang out with a bunch of people in a lobby and play the songs, chatting as you want, and just enjoying the experience.  I do have some minor qualms, I would love to see a leaderboard of all the people who played the song, and I’m not sure if you get credit for full combos in Air Mode, but I love this idea 

There are also a lot of unlockables to chase down as well, and there’s a decent number of songs in this title.  There’s a lot to do here for completionists.

Pick this up if you like Rhythm games or just want to chill with other people.  It’s a pretty unique game in the Rhythm Genre.  I made a video once about how Fuser overindulges in recognizable songs and must pay through the nose.  DJ MAX Respect V has 150 songs here, but it’s less well-known songs, and produces a far better experience where players can discover something new to groove out to. 

Matchpoint: Tennis Championships.  It’s tennis.  

Ok, I still want to review games like this because some games push the limit of what’s acceptable, but in Matchpoint: Tennis Championship’s case it’s a good version of tennis.  The training minigames are fun, and they will teach you a lot about the controls, but at the end of the day, tennis as a sport can get a bit dull over the length of a good size match. 

That’s ultimately good and bad. It’s a great tennis title, but it’s for fans of the sport, and I’m glad Game Pass gets a selection of these games but this one is probably not for me or most people.  It’s a touch difficult at first, though you probably can win on the easiest matches, it just will take time to master the game. 

Pick this up if you like tennis and don’t if you don’t.  I mean it’s a simple game and it’s intended for tennis fans.  I wish I could say more but that’s it.

Road 96.  A weird blending of a storytelling adventure with randomized events. 

Road 96 is like nothing else, well kind of.  As you play Road 96, you’ll probably think it’s an interesting visual novel with a choose-your-own-adventure style where the player is trying to escape a totalitarian government, and it is that.  It gives whiffs of a Telltale-style game where you go through an adventure as the developer dictates, and tells a good story as you do. 

But that will change once you escape the nation or die.  Instead of telling you that you’ve won, the game starts again and lets you choose a different character.  From there you’re again escaping the country, the stories continue and you’ll get more great storytelling.  But the one piece that Road 96 didn’t make fully clear, is that this is a randomized game.  My first scene of driving a car while a hacker sits next to me working on a game, probably won’t be yours.  There is a progression to some of the scenes, but the order is random, and you’ll earn abilities as you go along that will open up new options which will make a replay a little more interesting at times. 

Pick this up if you like storytelling.  The central idea of a choices matter game with a totalitarian government is something that’s seen entirely too many times, but the writing of the individual scenes and characters, as well as how they play out at times makes this a must-play.  It’s an excellently told story that feels unique, and that’s a great reason to check this one out. 

Garden Story.  Town building through doing tasks on a bulletin board.

Garden Story starts with you taking care of a farm, but quickly makes you the guardian of a small town that needs help, a lot of help.  Each day two or three tasks get put on the bulletin board, and players are expected to help out around town which will help level up the town and progress the story.  The quests are procedurally generated, so you’ll often get the same ones, such as asking to repair a bridge you already fixed twice. 

Garden Story does have a story that seems interesting, but there’s a lot of busy work and resource gathering that’s going to be required before you can make progress on the narrative.  The biggest thing that holds Garden Story back is several annoying UI issues and front-loading a lot of slow unskippable conversations.   

Pick this up if you want to do more of the random quests from Stardew Valley, than the farming.  Some of the gameplay is good here, but Garden Story comes off as more of an OK experience than a fun adventure.  The art though is pretty good. 

Escape Academy. The perfect game for Puzzle fans.

Escape Academy has the player go to a magic Hogwarts-style school where every class is learning how to solve escape rooms and become a Master Escapist, and no that’s seriously the story here.  The levels do have some variety, rather than a standard Escape room, you might be trying to assist someone on a video feed who is breaking someone out of jail, but in the end, it’s all about solving puzzles and exploring the space you’re in and it’s consistently solid in that.

This brings the bad, and there’s one issue here, there are only a little over 10 levels, and the game takes about three hours.  This is such a good game that it’s criminal how long it is.  There’s not even a way to extend the length here.  Maybe if you struggle, you can replay a level but there is a pretty bad problem, the solution to the puzzles is always the same.  That’s understandable but man I want more because every single puzzle here is well designed. 

Pick this up if you love puzzle games.  Each level here is well designed, giving an intense feeling, and a clock that is ever counting down, but it has reasonable puzzles, and you’ll consistently find revelations as you play.  This is an easy recommendation for Game Pass, however, I’m not sure if you’re considering buying the game yourself.  I want to support the developers but I beat the entire game in 3 hours, and they’re asking 20 dollars for it, which feels a bit high.  Still, I had a great time so maybe grab this one on sale. 

Overwhelm. A challenging horror pixel art game.

Overwhelm is an interesting concept, a horror pixel art game where rather than getting upgrades, the game gets harder as you take out bosses.  With only 5 bosses and a small map, it’s the difficulty that will keep you coming back because this game is damn hard.  Players will get three lives, and each boss adds new dangerous enemies to the overworld.

Some of the game involves annoyances like the flashing, or a loud annoying noise when you’re on your last life.  The game also might be a touch too hard in my opinion, but what’s nice is there’s a good difficulty system that changes the speed of the game, but not the gameplay.  In addition, there are assist modes with infinite life and bullets, and while the game was frustrating me to the point I was about to give up, turning on Assist mode with infinite lives made it easy to play 

Pick up this game if you want a very challenging game, or if you want some easy gamerscore and are willing to use the Assist mode to get it.   This is supposed to be a horror game, and while some elements might make you jump, it’s more frustrating than a very scary game.  Still, the experience is good, and the controls are tight.

My Friend Peppa Pig.  It’s Peppa Pig… no really. Yes, I played it.

Ok, listen.  My Friend Peppa Pig isn’t for me, and if you’re watching this video it might not be for you.  It’s a kids’ game for fans of the tv show, and that’s perfectly fine. I like that Microsoft is including games for the whole family. It seems relatively faithful to the show and if you have a young kid, they’re probably going to love hanging out with Peppa Pig for quite a while. 

There’s not much else to say other than you can get a lot of gamerscore fast.  In about 90 minutes you can get all 1000gs… But then you’ll be known as someone who played Peppa Pig just for gamerscore.  Trust me when I say there are better things to do with your life, go earn achievements you can be proud of instead of caring about just the number.  Ugh, whatever. 

Pick this up if you have kids, or like I said if you want fast gamerscore, but I still maintain that while it’s 1000 points, it’s not the same as beating Overwhelm or other games.  Just let the kids have this one.  Though if you do share this with your kids, please let me know how they enjoy it in the comments.  My theory is they’ll have a great time with it. 

PAW Patrol The Movie: Adventure City Calls.  What happened PAW Patrol I used to think you were cool! 

No seriously, I liked PAW Patrol: Mighty Pups Save Adventure Bay, and clearly I’m not the target audience. It was a LEGO-style game where you used different abilities, had interesting levels, and was actually fun, I got 1000 gamerscore on it.    This?  No. Just no.  This is the newer game but it is a far weaker game, with boring repetitive levels, rare uses of ability, and a co-op that made me wonder why it existed, especially when one character just disappeared half the time.

What’s upsetting is that the previous game was good.  I don’t understand how they took such a huge step back here, and I even played co-op with my daughter… She’s 18 so you know, she’s not the target audience either, but it just wasn’t that fun. 

Pick this up if… you already played PAW Patrol: Mighty Pups Save Adventure Bay and must have a new game.  Though since it’s been quite a while, I might just go replay Mighty Pups save Adventure Bay… well if I had to play either of these games, that’s the one I’d choose. 

PowerWash Simulator.  Cleaning the world, one stone at a time. 

PowerWash Simulator is satisfying, that’s the easiest way to describe it.  You’re PowerWashman, and you’re fighting the scum of the earth as you spray down vehicles, and locations to clean grime anywhere you find it.  At least that’s how it feels because you can leap over small vehicles here.  Truthfully you’re just a guy who has a PowerWasher and people will pay a small amount of money for you to clean up stuff. 

Much of the game is just walking around, pinging for dirt, and cleaning, the game is a bit all over the place.  I made 650 dollars for cleaning a playground which took me multiple hours and then made the same amount for cleaning a single house that took me less than a half hour.    Still the act of cleaning and finding dirt everywhere, and the variety of locations makes me happy, and there’s something about this that triggers the pleasure center of my brain.  It’s the same reason I enjoy Incremental games, and watching the progress bar count up or down makes me enjoy the experience. 

Pick this up if you want a laid-back game.  It’s power washing various objects.  It’s not going to be super exciting, at times it’s simple, but the experience and cleaning the world will keep you entertained.  There are enough Quality of Life Improvements here, such as showing what needs to be cleaned, that I’m quite satisfied with this experience and I’m looking forward to finding out what I’ll be cleaning up next. 

And that’s what I have for this month, well almost, looking at this month, I was a bit down on it, I wasn’t sure if there was a good selection of games that I can recommend, but as I thought about it, the list here is pretty varied.  There’s an FPS, a couple of Puzzle games, some story games, strategy games, two simulators, and even a Battle Royale.  

But that list has to ignore that while a lot of categories were explored, most of the games here were not top tier in quality at least in the major genres. 

I’m also damn sick of microtransactions in games people are paying full price for.  I realize we’re talking about Game Pass, but Naraka could have been a Free-to-Play Battle Royale, when they chose to ask for money upfront that should have been it, the same with FIFA, Far Cry, and the way Total War is locked off with DLC is upsetting as well. 

The high point is the return of the original Yakuza trilogy, but that was also added to Game Pass previously , and I’m going to skip those games when ranking the best of the month because honestly, they would take up three spaces, and I’ve talked about them enough previously.  If you haven’t played Yakuza 0, definitely check it out.  I can’t stress that enough.

Still, there are five games I want to highlight as games people should check out.  They are from less popular genres, but they are shining examples of why those genres have so many fans.  Let’s take a look.

The fifth strongest game this month is. DJMAX Respect V.  I thought I may never see a rhythm game I would enjoy like this again, but DJ MAX Respect V reminds me why I love the genre, and discovering new music.  The completionist in me loves the huge list of unlockables, but it’s the AIR mode that surprised me.  It’s something simple but worth checking out. 

The fourth strongest game this month is PowerWash Simulator.  I’m a sucker for the Simulator genre, but something is amazing with this title.  I just love the large complicated levels and hunting for dirt.  Just watching the dirt bleed away as my power washer cuts through it is so enjoyable as well.   This is just good, clean fun.  Sorry, but I had to say that. 

The third strongest game this month is Last Call BBS, and listen I love Zachtronics, I bought this the day it came out and didn’t even try to change my mind knowing it’s on Game Pass.  They’re one of my favorite developers and with this being their last game, I hope a lot of people will take a look.  It’s a great collection of games, 8 different games, and there are at least four or five that I heavily recommend for the puzzles provided.

The second strongest game this month is Escape Academy.  This is a solid series of puzzles and I enjoyed every minute of the title.  It is short, but it’s the brightest candle that burns the fastest.  I want more, but that’s mostly because everything in this game was so good, I want to see what else the developers can do with the concept.  Savor this one, it’s a delight

And finally, the strongest game this month is Road 96.  The storytelling in Road 96 is the reason it’s here, but it’s also the way it feels like it creates a unique adventure for each player.   The characters are interesting and unique, and the writing is well done, though I was a bit jaded on the choices matter concept.  Before a couple of hours were up, I was wrapped in the story and cared far more about what was going on than I should.  Suddenly instead of pushing for everyone to just flee the nation, I was trying to get people to vote in a new regime and hoped to make a difference.  That came organically from the story, and I will admire a game that can break my cynical heart and make me care this much about something so meaningless.

And that’s what I have for this month. Hopefully, you found some games that interested you, and whether you’re playing on Game Pass or on your own you can check something new out.   I’ve made a few changes this month, I’m still working on how best to display my top 5, as well as playing with the idea of adding in some background music behind my voiceovers, so let me know what you think.

I’m going to jump in here while I edit, so I recorded this video on Sunday.  Monday, Microsoft released the next list of games, and it’s not great but I wanted to cover it.  Watch_Dogs 2 is good, but it’s been given away a lot and does have some problems running on PC.  Inside is good, but I loved Limbo, and only like Inside, I’ll talk about both next time, though they are dated titles

It looks like all the titles leaving are some of the first titles I reviewed on the service from a year ago.  If you’re a fan of Super Dodgeball, don’t miss out on Dodgeball Academy, and Katamari Damacy Reroll is unique.

Oh and a small note, yeah Fifa 23 will still carry the name, so a minor point I made in the FIFA section is wrong but honestly, I couldn’t be bothered to re-record it.  Just consider that the EA level of effort. 

I’m also considering doing a bonus video this month on Zachtronics and what they’ve meant to me, I’ve made a couple of mentions of it here, but Last Call is their final game and they are one of the few studios that I will back no matter what they do, I’m thinking about giving them almost a eulogy, but I’m not sure if I’ll have the time to do it, if not, hopefully, this video works as that a bit. 

Finally, you know I have to say it.  If you’re new here, consider subscribing.  Giving this video a like, comment, or sharing it with others is extremely important to continue to help the channel, and I know there are a lot of Game Pass fans, so if you can think of any way to get the word out there, I’d appreciate the help. 

I’ll pop up some extra videos for you all to check out if you want to see more from me, including that video on Fuser and Rhythm games.  You can hear how depressed I was about that genre, and compare it to where I’m hopeful now that we can still see some interesting and unique games there.  At the same time, I’ve heard some people don’t already love Yakuza, and as such, I’ll be posting my Yakuza Retrospective.  If you don’t know why I’m talking about that series, check that video, and then check that series out. 

See You Next Time. 

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