I’m Kinglink and it’s time to talk about What’s New on Game Pass for August 2022.
I’ll talk about the name change at the end but don’t worry this is still the same coverage you have come to love.
If you’re new, I cover the PC version of Gamepass which is everything you see in these images except for Torment: Tides of Elysium, but I will say that’s a fantastic RPG with a text-heavy design. I think Disco Elysium does that style of the game better, but that’s not to say Torment isn’t worth checking out as well.
Oh, I guess I’m going to cover all of them. I’ve played every game this month for a night, whatever that means, and now I’ll tell you how they play, who will like them, and if you should check them out. Let’s get started with this game on the screen.
As Dusk Falls. A slide show visual novel.
As Dusk Falls reminds me a lot of David Cage’s work. There are extremely intricate choice patterns where a decent amount of changes to the story can happen. The characters are well written and interesting, the voice acting is extremely good, and the situations that players find themselves in are intense. If you like story-driven games you might like this one.
I’m a huge fan of this genre, and I can’t stand As Dusk Falls. I played this for three hours and struggled the whole time, it’s the art. Everything else was clicking on all cylinders, but the art felt extremely lazy, where it’s mostly a slide show. This is how the entire game looks, and this is not a tiny team from the credits. I don’t know why they chose to make the game look like this, but I can say it bothered me, and if you don’t like the look here, you might not get into this game.
Pick this up if you want a David Cage-style game and can deal with how the scenes are presented as you’re seeing here. I feel like Road 96 was a better experience, and while I do like the story told here, I was unable to get past the art even though I gave it a decent amount of time.
Watch Dogs 2. Ubisoft but you’re a hacker.
Oh Ubisoft, we’re going to do this dance again. Watch Dogs 2 is a sort of sequel to the first Watch Dogs game. You’re a different person, with a different form of Dedsec, with different characters, and a different location, so it’s strange to call this a direct sequel, but that’s what Ubisoft did. The game plays well, using the same push-button approach to hacking that worked in the first game.
This time around though I didn’t enjoy the characters or the story. The writing feels a bit juvenile at times, with the characters swearing excessively, and I normally like swearing. The team talks about being non-violent but lets you create pistols and ignores the number of people you kill. It’s a sandbox game, but also one that lets you violate the thematic elements often. The core element of the side missions is a need to gain followers so you can be bigger influencers and get more main missions… Ugh.
Pick this up if you like Watch Dogs 1 and want to see what the sequel looks like. It’s not a bad game, I gave it a 3/5 when I originally reviewed it, and while technical problems appear to be fixed, it’s just not a very strong title. If you’re in love with the idea of a weak hacking game, or Ubisoft’s formula, you’ll still have fun.
Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion. An extremely complex RTS complete with a large tech tree and lacking tutorial
Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion is an old title, the game originally came out in 2012, and if you look up any information on this game you’ll see a lot of old posts. This is a complex Real Time Strategy game where you’ll take over parts of the galaxy, fight against enemies, work to control precious resources, and defend against pirate raids. This is a very tactical-based game that is played out in real-time.
Sins of a Solar Empire though has a common problem with this genre. There’s a lot to take in. I don’t know if I could give a full review of this game without playing potentially a hundred hours or more. The issue I have is that I don’t want to play that long. So much of the game isn’t well explained in the tutorial, but more importantly, a lot of information has changed. Even the concepts of Starbases were added post-launch, and there’s a lot to understand. By the time I was done I had enough with a game I had played for four hours, I didn’t want to start another run to struggle with a different race.
Pick this up if you’re willing to devote an extreme amount of time to understanding and watching tutorial videos, reading a lot of internet pages and posts, and picking out what information is still valid in 2022 because things have changed over the years. This is also a ten-year-old title, which doesn’t exactly scream fresh.
MotoGP 22. Vroom Vroom on a Motorcycle.
It’s a sports game, this time. It’s a Motorcycle racing game. MotoGP 22 is an extremely realistic motorcycle racing game where you take corners at extreme speed, and race against a large field of other motorcycles. You’ll also battle it out for a position on extremely dangerous vehicles. The sense of speed and graphics are impressive in MotoGP 22.
Yet, it’s also extremely unfriendly to new players. Diving into it, it seems the consensus is that the move from MotoGP 20 to 22 increased the difficulty significantly. Turning down the difficulty all the way, and trying to tackle the tutorial or even a race is insanely hard, and I was unable to even place in a reasonable position after a couple of hours.
Pick this up if you’re a fan of MotoGP 20 and want a more challenging game. This game is so difficult that I don’t think I’d recommend this to anyone new to the franchise or simulation motorcycle racing. If you do want to try this out, be ready for an extreme challenge. It’s not impossible, but it’s wont welcome you with open arms.
Inside. Limbo’s sequel for better or worse.
We need a little history lesson, Limbo was a smash hit in the second Summer of Arcade back in 2010. You played a boy in a black and white world where you had to keep away from unknown horror and keep moving to the right, and in a lot of ways, that’s also Inside. Move to the right, avoid these dangers, and keep moving forward.
But this is also a sequel to Limbo and replaying it six years after its original release in 2016, I’m still not a fan of this title. It feels like its predecessor but oftentimes not done as well. The vague dangers are now well detailed and visible . There’s a lack of interesting and deep puzzles that Limbo had, and the story isn’t as good, but there’s more of it.
Pick this up if you want something that’s a little more style than substance. But Inside just comes off as a dreary and boring game to me, while I enjoyed Limbo. The biggest problem is the game goes for more thematic feelings, rather than interesting challenges or puzzles, and that holds back my enjoyment here. It’s a six-year-old title that most people who were interested in this probably have played, but if you’re interested, give it a shot.
Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands. Ubi. Soft.
Shoot enemies, bang bang, ride around areas, capture points, do that again and again. I’m so over Ubisoft games and trying to talk about them because they all feel so similar, and even when they are different, which there are some differences here, they’re just large sandboxes filled with large checklists of boring activities to do over and over.
And yet… I don’t hate Ghost Recon Wildlands, which surprised me after the lukewarm reception the game got. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a great game, but this would have been a fun title to buy for twenty to thirty dollars. They originally charged 60 for it, which is a problem, but getting it on Game Pass, I had fun with this and probably would have more fun if I played with a friend. There were some problems with the online service, but hopefully, they will eventually get fixed if it’s not done so already.
Pick this up if you want to play with a friend, or want to just haul ass around a non-descript jungle and kill everyone you meet. There’s a decent amount of fun to be had with this title, and just playing through it will be enjoyable. Though I will say the lack of achievement in Ubisoft games bothers me a lot more than it should.
Turbo Golf Racing. Rocket League minus Soccer plus Golf.
Turbo Golf Racing is going for a recognizable style. Eight players will face off, with each player given their own ball, and the goal of the game is to sink your ball into the hole as fast as possible, not in strokes but in time. You can only hit your ball, and while there are weapons to use against each other the focus is more on ball control and mastering the courses.
There’s a small solo mode where you can practice the courses that will appear online, and attempt to earn up to three stars based on time, but the game is focused on multiplayer and works well there.
There are daily missions and more, but there’s no sign of microtransactions yet, though it does feel like that could change at some point, possibly when it leaves early access. The biggest problem though is after two to three hours, I found myself having my fill for the day. I could return in the future but it’s lacking the addictive element at the core of Rocket League that keeps players coming back.
Pick this up if you enjoy Rocket League, but want to play Golf. It’s a very similar game even if the sport it’s emulating is different, and it’s quite enjoyable. However, if you are getting this outside of Game Pass, be aware it might not hold your attention that long, and while it’s great to pick up and play as a quote-free-unquote offering from Microsoft, it’s a bit expensive for what it is.
Shenzhen I/O. Zachtronics, once again.
Last month we had Last Call BBS, which is a great new Zachtronics game, and Shenzhen I/O is here this month, as a programming game for those who want to write some code. Shenzhen I/O is focused on building circuits, which take in inputs from sources and output signals based on those inputs. It is an extremely nerdy programming game but with a solid manual, great style, and a fantastic set of puzzles this is a perfect example of Zachtronics at their best.
There are a lot of different challenges, but most of them involve players laying out processors, and then writing code to control what the objects do. While this is a puzzle game, it’s a puzzle game that’s fully focused on writing assembly code and that will only appeal to some people. This is also a bit of a draining process. I can usually only play through a handful of these puzzles in one sitting before I feel physically tired. Maybe that’s me, but this will challenge even professional programmers.
Pick this up if you want to program or you like Zachtronics. There are a lot of reasons to check out Zachtronics games, and I just did a video detailing most of them, but they’re a special type of puzzle game that is always unique. Here it’s all about coding up the processes running on the chips and then potentially optimizing if you want to challenge the leaderboards. If this looks like fun and you want to learn some assembly check it out.
Two Point Campus. Running a campus your way.
Two Point Campus is in the Two Point Hospital franchise, though this time you’re running a college campus. The idea is to meet the needs and desires of your students and run a successful school focused on yearly curriculums and bring in that sweet sweet cheddar that lets you grow your schools. Many different campuses make up the level structure here and each campus has three different goals to challenge players.
The downside of this game though is it’s not too challenging early on and I doubt it will ever get that hard. I love Two Point Hospital but I cruised through it quickly, and I already see Two Point Campus will either have to invent artificial challenges or ask for ridiculous goals. The game is a lot of min-maxing at times, but also could easily be beaten by waiting to gain more money, or just building a bigger room to maximize the level. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing.
Pick this up if you like management simulators. This is based on Two Point Hospital, but it’s a similar style to Planet Coaster or Planet Zoo, and a distant cousin of Cities Skyline. Plop down some stuff, watch your NPCs use it, and rake in some fat loot. I haven’t found it as funny as Two Point Hospital, but I’ve fully engaged with this game,yet again, and looking to play more.
Offworld Trading Company. An interesting and unique take on running a space corporation.
Offworld Trading Company reminds me of Civilization a bit, which makes sense as one of the lead designers of Civilization IV worked on this title and it shows. You play a space corporation, putting down your base, building different outposts, across the map, and trying to maximize your profits so you can buy out your opponents and that’s it. The game features limitations in the number of buildings players can create, which will challenge players to maximize what they use to gather resources and process them. Those claims add a lot of strategy to the game.
However, I’m not sure how this game is for longevity. The end of a game involves buying out the majority ownership of all the other companies, which appears to be the only victory condition. So you need to rake in a ton of profit, there’s only a handful of ways to do this. The end game feels interesting, but also like something would become monotonous because it’s mostly a waiting game to maximize profits. The idea though is fresh, and each of the corporations has unique benefits.
Pick this up if you like the Galactic Civilizations III from a couple of months ago, HumanKind from the beginning of this year, or really any Civilization-based game. It does feel more like a board game than those titles, but the smaller scale and more direct competition makes players focus more on interaction.
Expeditions: Rome. An RPG with a tactical battle system.
Expeditions: Rome takes players and throws them into Roman times, while you flee from enemies who kill your father, and look to make a name for yourself. You meet a lot of interesting characters, many of which are based on real people like this member of my party Gaius Julius Caesar. I wonder if he’s known for anything. Now, I probably mispronounced it, but the game does an amazing job pronouncing each character’s name, and shows a love of the time period, even if it’s not always fully accurate.
While the opening had several interesting battles that all felt different, this is a game that feels like it’ll eventually devolve into the typical “kill everyone you see” or fail to create interesting locations. The dialogue works well but does seem to fall into the binary moral systems just with more categories represented at times. The movement outside of combat requires the player to wait until their entire party does some action like climbing a ladder.
Pick this up if you’re a fan of Roman times, or want to play an RPG. Expeditions: Rome is good, and the writing and characters are interesting, however it switches between RPG sections with heavy dialogue and combat sections with minimal dialogue often. Still, I’m interested to see where this game goes and what happens to the characters in it.
Cooking Simulator. Run your own kitchen and make food your way.
I’m a fan of cooking and I am always interested in seeing how video games emulate it. Cooking Simulator has players running around a kitchen and cooking food that is ordered by faceless Patrons that will complain about almost anything you do wrong. The goal is to prepare food exactly as the recipes require and in the time required, though you can customize your experience and play in a relaxed mode with minimal time pressure.
Cooking Simulator though has a couple of odd issues. I played and filmed myself on the Steam version and it’s mostly the same experience, however, the steam version has an achievement to get 5 stars on every dish, which is a challenging goal and that’s like 200 dishes. Microsoft doesn’t have that. Microsoft’s store lacks most of the DLC as well.
The one specific thing about Cooking Simulator is it’s a simulator game that’s trying to be whacky, and I’m not fully sure why. I enjoyed this game playing normally and trying to master each dish is challenging and that’s what I found interesting, but it often feels like the game is trying more for overreactions than skilled play. Feedback on what you have done wrong is sometimes hard to understand, and there are a lot of moments where it feels like the physics engine is random, like smashing a plate you’re holding for some unknown reason.
Pick this up if you like the Simulator genre or cooking. I’m working on becoming a better chef over the last year and have made some huge strides towards that. Cooking here is quite fun. However, if you’re new to the simulator genre, definitely start with PowerWash Simulator. That game was phenomenal and quite a bit better than this one, even though I do enjoy this title. I also think the difference in achievements between Steam and Microsoft might be a deal breaker. I’d rather play this on Steam, though the game itself is fun.
And that’s what I have for this month. 12 Games is pretty sparse, and August is early for the releases to pick up with fall being a time for major releases but I feel like this list could have been better.
What strikes me though is the age of these games. I’m sure some of these games are releasing for the first time on the consoles or in the Microsoft Store, but I need to throw some numbers at you.
First, Turbo Golf Racing, Two Point Campus, Moto GP 22, and As Dusk Falls all came out in the last month, so of course those are fresh, and Expeditions: Rome came out last year, so still good. But the other seven games. all predate 2020 on PC, and just to be clear I’m using the dates on the Steam Store, which seem pretty accurate.
2019 was the year Cooking simulator came out, not bad. In 2017, Ghost Recon Wildlands Came out. 2016, Shenzhen I/O., Offworld Trading Company, and Inside were all released. Finally way way back in 2012, Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion was released. That’s ten years old.
Even if these games have just come to the Microsoft store, or consoles, almost half these games were made five years or more ago. That’s pretty bad.
I think this month is just a sign that Microsoft can’t get the newest titles every single month, but I don’t know if all these games were needed. It’s not the best month by far. Looking at the August video last year, it was a far different experience.
So let’s talk about five games you should check out, the five recommendations of the month.
Let’s start with the fifth strongest game this month, and that’s Shenzhen I/O. I’m a huge Zachtronics fan and so if you liked Last Call BBS and want something nerdier check this one out, but I also can’t ignore that this is extremely technical and will appeal more to programmers. It’s still worth giving a shot if you want to try something different.
The fourth strongest game this month is Cooking Simulator. While it’s hardly a perfect game and not the best cooking title, it’s still a lot of fun. I returned to play even more of the title because making various dishes was interesting and enjoyable and I wanted to see what else I could make.
The third strongest game of the month is for the Ubisoft formula, represented by Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon Wildlands, but also could be Watchdogs 2. These are rather fun to play, while I might not have been excited to pay full price for them, jumping on this in Game Pass, or for 20 bucks would be a good deal. Just don’t expect too much, and you’ll have a good time. I’m just not willing to give up two recommendation slots for the same type of game and lack of Achievements does count against these titles.
The second strongest game of the month is Expeditions: Rome. This is a meaty RPG with a tactical battle system. There’s solid writing and combat that feels interesting. With people reporting that this will take at least 40 hours there’s quite a lot here, and probably even more if players want to approach the game differently. That’s a lot of gameplay for a single title.
This leaves my top recommendation this month and it was the game I was the most excited for, Two Point Campus. Two Point Campus just feels like a game I’ll throw hours into as I build up various campuses, achieve a variety of goals, and experience what it is like to run a college. There’s always something to do in these titles and I love the style here. My wife however says there’s not enough paperwork to simulate running a college, and… well that’s why it’s a game. Check this one out.
And that’s what I have for the games this month.
So about the title of this video. I used to call these videos “Game Pass Reviews” and I liked it, but I realized, it’s a bit misleading, my goal has never been to review Game Pass as a service in these videos. I focus on reviewing the games themselves, so there’s got to be a better name for this video and I figure I might as well try to find it. If you have suggestions feel free to leave them in the comments.
If this new title has worked and you’re new to my channel, consider subscribing. This video meant something to you and I try to cover everything coming to Game Pass. I’ll also be popping up my Game Pass Reviews, which now you know what they are, you might want to check out to see if there are any other titles you missed on the service and should check out.
As always liking, commenting, and sharing are great ways to help the channel and I appreciate every single one of them.
Finally in regards to Zachtronics and Shenzhen I/O if you want to know more about that company or the game, check this video out, it’s my farewell to Zachtronics and if anything is going to make you try out one of their titles, maybe it’ll be this.
See you next time.