Game Pass December 2022 Review – Looking at the end of the year’s offerings

I’m Kinglink and once more into the breach… this is the December 2022 Game Pass Review. 

As always, I take a look at everything that came out over the past month.  We have sixteen titles this month, and that’s a good amount.  There’s been some major releases, exciting additions, and a couple of great games.   Since this series is focused on PC, that means we won’t be talking about Norco or Metal: Hellsinger but I have reviewed previously and console fans should check out Metal: Hellsinger, it’s a great musical FPS. 

The rules are the same as always, a single night with each game, playing as much as I want and seeing how they are.  The truth is this month I think the average time played was between two and three hours. I just wasn’t feeling as many of the games as in the past, but there still are some that I’m itching to get back to. 

With that said, let’s start talking about the entries. 

Ghostlore.  A Diablo-clone that’s still pretty rough. 

Ghostlore is in early access and maybe that’s the problem.  The roots here are inspired by Diablo, and coming from a Singapore company there’s a decent amount of Eastern Asian-inspired monsters.  There are multiple character classes, the ability to multi-class eventually, and a good Tetris grid system for configuring abilities shows the game has interesting ideas. 

The problem is this feels like Diablo 1, a good game, but needs a sequel to get the polish it needs.  The Loot system just floods your inventory and within an hour it stops being fun.  Even limiting the loot to rare items only doesn’t have the excitement when finding a new item because there are too many drops.  Inventory management as well just takes far too long, and that’s what you focus on from a loot grinder. 

Pick this up if you want a Diablo game, not made by Blizzard, but this is rough, and maybe some of this can be fixed before it leaves Early Access, but I don’t think it will.  This could be more fun with friends, but after playing it for two hours, just looking at loot felt tedious, whereas Borderlands, or Destiny has better pacing and more interesting items. 

Lapin.  Perfect platforming with a cute story.

Lapin is about a group of rabbits who have to leave their home to explore a large world with numerous randomly placed dangers and platforms.  There’s a good story focused on following another expedition team’s footprints with numerous good scenes that help define interesting characters, and the controls are extremely tight, even when a level looks frustrating.

The one problem is that there’s not a lot of challenge here.  I hope this gets an alternate difficulty or even two like Celeste or Super Meat Boy.  However, with it not out of Early Access, I could only see a part of the story, and I’m not sure where the final chapters will take it either.  Finally, some of the early pacing is bad with a lot of dialogue and story at the beginning of each chapter, but once you get into the main levels, you’ll have a good time. 

Pick this up if you like Celeste or puzzle platforming.  This feels like a solid game, but it is a bit too easy to fully judge at this point, and while the game might be aimed at a younger audience, there’s still room for a solid challenge.  However I did play this entire game, and it is in Early Access, so I’m going to hope the developers will deliver even more than they’re talking about now, or at least the final product will be at the same quality bar the current version is. 

Dune: Spice Wars.  An interesting RTS though an unfinished one. 

Dune: Spice Wars is an attempt to take the Dune universe and adapt a strategy 4x type game to it.  Players take over different areas of the planet Arrakis and try to harvest spice gaining power, dominance, and winning the game in one of many ways.  A lot of the early combat is exploration-based, but you can go to war with other factions the minute you see them. 

There are two problems with Dune: Spice Wars and probably related.  The tutorial is heavily lacking, you’ll have to learn about this game online or through trial and error.  The second issue is that many of the game’s systems such as diplomacy feel shallow when diplomacy is the heart of the books.  Also, the UI is a bit of a problem child, but hopefully, all of that can get fixed before this leaves Early Access.

Pick this up if you like Real Time Strategy games and want to put in some real hours to learn them.  I probably would skip this until it launches officially, but I’m sure once someone learns all the systems, it’s a better experience.  That just will take an obscenely long time as the game is now. 

Gungrave G.O.R.E.  They don’t make games like this any more… for a reason.

As I started to play Gungrave G.O.R.E. I found myself surprised.  This is a throwback to a style of shooter that isn’t too common anymore.  Levels with a large number of enemies to kill, tons of actions, and big powerful anime attacks.  It’s a wild gun battle that makes you feel quite powerful.

But after about four levels, I was already bored with the game and found out that I was only ten percent done.  The bosses were interesting, but the normal enemies were dull battles, and the level layout was extremely lacking.  There was some variety, but the levels went on too long and while there were tons of enemies, it was a slog through them rather than an interesting combat. 

Pick this up if you just want a huge action game, with those massive attacks, but I’m a fan of the original Dynasty Warrior games. This one just isn’t as fun or interesting to wade through the massive number of enemies after a few levels and a couple of hours. 

Battlefield 2042.  Just the worst. 

I’m not going to sugarcoat it.  I’m sure there’s something that people like Battlefield 2042 for, or at least are continuing to play it for.  It’s probably the same Battlefield that has the massive franchise, but after playing this for an hour I was already bored.  There are two main modes, both revolving around capturing or holding points.  A Battle Royale which is fine I guess, a rotating mode, which if I told you about now wouldn’t matter because it’s already gone, and gameplay that’s just not that much fun. 

If you want large epic battles, this might have it, but it doesn’t have any other reason to keep playing it.   Raining down hell on enemies can be fun, and working as a team can work, but there are so many better games.  I question if the current fanbase loves this game, or just paid a certain amount of money and now play it out of obligation.   The fans deserve much better, everyone does. 

Don’t pick this up.  It’s fine to try because it’s “Free” on Game Pass, but it feels like minimal effort was put in.  What’s sad is this is a better game than it launched with.  It’s patched, fixed up, and must be improved.  But I still saw pop-in, and the game overall as it is today is still not that great.  This makes me wonder what the original Battlefield 2042 release was like… and I know, it was far worse. 

Soccer Story.  A sports RPG that does the RPG elements better.

Soccer Story is in the same vein as Golf Story.  Take a popular sport, add an RPG mode to it, and let players explore a world at their own pace.  In Soccer Story’s case, this feels extremely good.  Exploring the world while using soccer moves, and talking to various people is entertaining.  I spent at least 90 minutes or more before even coming to my first match and that time was filled with discovery and interesting moments around the map.

The problem is once you get to the match, Soccer Story is still a soccer game.  I lost my first match and thought I was expected to lose to the kindergarten class since they were that overpowering and that could be funny.  It wasn’t a scripted failure and the second time I destroyed them with no clue why I did so well.  The matches are a bit random, and there are skill points and upgrades but it’s not as natural as a normal RPG.  Also, the story is a bit silly, which works, but might be too silly for people.  It was pushing the limits for me with “Soccer” killed people. 

Pick this up if you enjoy Soccer and want to play an RPG based on it.  I rarely play soccer games, but this is one that I probably would consider playing more of, just to see what else it has up its sleeves, and likely will turn down the match difficulty because that’s the one part that wasn’t as fun. 

Also, I’m using the term soccer because it’s in the title of the game. 

Walking Dead: The Final Season.  One more time. 

Alright, quickly, another walking dead, you’re Clementine again, stuff happened, I don’t care, animations look awkward, the gameplay is the same as always, meh.  If you already played Seasons 1, 2, and the rest of the series, play this, otherwise, don’t start here.  Nothing else to say at this point. 

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide.  A co-op game but in a rough state.

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide is a game that should be in Early Access.  There are missing features like the crafting system, content that just doesn’t mesh together yet, a weapon system that feels uninspired, and there’s a lot of issues running the game.  It’s a half-baked product and this will improve but this isn’t a preview, it’s supposed to be the final game. 

And yet, there’s something I like here.  I played the big brute and felt slow, and after trying a different class, it’s clear that it is because I’m twice the size of other characters, which feels awesome.  Running around levels and taking on hordes of enemies is fun when it works, sadly everything is online.  This feels similar to Deep Rock Galactic but has more of a progression to the story of each level, so there’s always a focused goal.

Pick this up if you have some friends for the co-op action.  You have to play online, but. … I’d say give this three to six months to get the content and patches fixed.  I hate saying that, but it’s the best I can do. If I was to review it as I played, I wouldn’t recommend it but there’s already been at least one patch, and hopefully there’s some improvement. 

Totally Reliable Delivery Service.  I think I hired these guys before. 

Totally Reliable Delivery Service is yet another physics-based game that is supposed to be so random it’s funny, and, I think they succeeded.  The base game is you take on missions to transport packages from point A to B, and are graded on speed, or damage.  But the physics, vehicles, and controls are just realistic enough to make this both fun and interesting.  You are placed in a large world and can explore it, and complete missions at your own pace. 

At the same time, the amount of content is worrisome, after an hour I felt like I was just doing the same thing over and over, even though there were some interesting twists.  The main progression is just unlocking new areas.  The physics can be annoying at times or trying to figure out how to grab an object, or where the place it on a vehicle can be a pain, and I think this game was designed to be viewed on stream, or played with a friend.  There’s an online co-op mode and couch co-op but I would recommend playing with the same people as you progress in the game.

Pick this up if you like wacky physics games, or have someone to play with.  This is a fun game, but it’s also a bit limited in scope and length.  Still, I had more fun playing this than a lot of games this year for how unique the idea is and how well executed it was. 

Eastward. A bit of Zelda, dragged down by the story. 

When Eastward gets going like you’re seeing on the screen, Eastward is fantastic.  The animation and art design are incredible, the gameplay flows fluidly, the battles and bosses are all interesting, and the game works.  This is inspired by classic Zelda games and Earthbound, and it’s worthy of that praise.  I want to like this. 

The problem is I just didn’t want to keep playing this game, it’s the story and narrative that makes this feel like a waste of time. In the first two hours, there were huge spans of time that were just pointlessly walking around or talking to people in long segments, and while the action was good, the pacing and narrative is pretty bad.  People have said it gets better, but that’s one of those things that triggers me, because why not make the whole game good, instead of putting the best segments after potentially eight hours of a weak experience? 

Pick this up if you’re willing to suffer through some bad pacing.  I’d say just hammer through dialogue as there’s no way to skip it, but then you also sometimes need to know where to go next, this is sadly one of those games that I want to love, but I probably won’t return to.  Maybe I will come back in the future and push through, but even with the great gameplay and combat, I don’t think I have it in me. 

Hello Neighbor 2.  Why is this still a thing? 

I’ve played Hello Neighbor, Hide and Seek, Secret Neighbor and now Hello Neighbor 2, which ok I guess works in some new math fashion.  I’ve not had a lot of nice things to say about the Hello Neighbor franchise, and I still am not a fan. 

What I can say is Hello Neighbor 2 is the best out of all the games in the franchise.  There’s some excellent exploration, good puzzles, interesting design… The game starts with a mystery house and a police officer looking for you rather than the Neighbor, and at first, I avoided him, but as you solve puzzles he moves to new locations to inconvenience you. 

The more I think about Hello Neighbor 2, I just wish there wasn’t anyone chasing you because rather than being a scary experience it’s more inconvenient than anything, since the puzzles reset every time you’re caught.  I would love to explore the house, solve the puzzles and see what weird and interesting things the game has, but the focus of the game relies on trying to be scary, and that ruins the experience yet again.  

I heard a good retrospective on how Hello Neighbor’s alpha became the final game, and the part children and twitch streamers had on it, as well as the overfocus on lore, rather than gameplay.  I was interested in the original game’s concept, but after playing this, I think I’m just going to conclude I will never enjoy this series and I’m going to stop trying.

Pick this up if you like the previous games, as much as I hate this game and franchise, this is still the best one of the series and has everything that fans probably enjoy. I just question why people enjoy this franchise.  Also, just as a heads up I’ve heard this is extremely short like people can beat it in four hours, which is disappointing as well. 

Chained Echoes. A perfect love letter to the SNES RPG era.

Chained Echoes is great.  This is inspired by the RPGs that were on the Super Nintendo.  The style, art, and design here feel like the entire move to the third dimension didn’t happen.  Beyond just imitating what was on the Super Nintendo, it feels like the developer evolved the formula to modernize it without ruining it.  

This is a solid experience. There’s an excellent Overdrive system, which means you can’t just use the same attack every turn. Your characters fully heal between battles, which means you can use any ability you want.  Even leveling has changed, where the focus is on skill points and leveling is based on how many bosses you have beaten.

Pick this up if you like turn-based RPGs, or like these graphics.  This is a title that shouldn’t be missed.  It’s a twenty-plus hour experience, and the only reason I stopped is I’m planning on playing through the entire game soon, and I didn’t want to leave it half-finished.  I also picked this up on Steam as well to both support the dev and have it in my collection. 

LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.  Returning the LEGO series to where it should be. 

I’ve played almost every LEGO game, and the more recent entries haven’t been as good, especially adding voice lines from the movies, or adhering a bit too much to the existing media.  LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga breaks with that trend and delivers an incredible game.   This is almost a full circle, bringing the series back to what started the modern LEGO Franchise games with Star Wars once again, and yet delivering an excellent experience for fans. 

Levels here focus on more than the original movies, like seeing parts of the original battle in New Hope ship from Leia and Captain Antilles’ view.  There are 23 worlds you can free roam around including multiple locations.  There are mini-levels, open-world segments, tons of collectibles, and 300 characters from the games.  The amount of effort that went into this game is incredible.  I also appreciate that there’s still some good humor in the game even though it’s following the original stories, which is something the series has lacked for a bit.

Though I am going to be just a touch negative. As good as everything is, a decent amount of the open world of the game is not LEGO, and that is why it looks great, but it also feels like cheating when it’s an environment almost any other game could be set in.  The majority of the game is like the previous LEGO titles, though there’s also a feeling like it’s a third-person shooter at times which is an odd change at first. 

Pick this up if you’ve liked previous LEGO games or Star Wars.  This revived my love for both of those fandoms and I’m happy to see a LEGO game like this, I’m only wondering where are they going to take this next.  I hope they revisit Harry Potter, Marvel, or DC with this style because there’s so much potential for the future with this.  I picked this up on Steam as well after playing a bit, also, Han shot first. Period.

High on Life.  Please just shut up. 

I know there are fans of this stuff.  If you like Rick and Morty or anything this creator Justin Roiland has done, skip to the next chapter and buy this game, this review isn’t for you.  For everyone else, this is one of the most annoying games I’ve played.  There’s a style of comedy that’s grown in popularity where people just shotgun jokes out over and over without letting the audience breathe and everything is supposed to be funny.  It can work, but most of the time almost nothing is funny and the overacting, and desperation to make something work makes it painful. 

High on Life is extremely painful in this respect.  It’s just trying too hard with the humor, it’s trying to constantly tell jokes.  It’s no longer subverting expectations, because everything is a joke, and that desperation is clear when the game just keeps playing voice lines at you so often that they start cutting each other off or the lines get clipped when you move between areas and get another one right away. 

You can mute the non-story-based comments by the enemies and guns, but then you’re left with a rather average shooter because what’s supposed to be fun is stabbing someone and having your knife brag about it…. But it doesn’t work either way.

Remember when I said if you’re a fan of the creator skip to the next chapter and just buy the game… well if you’re still here you didn’t follow instructions, or aren’t a fan of his work.  This is a hard skip.  No freaking thank you.  I want my time back.

Potion Craft: Alchemist Simulator.  An interesting take on alchemy.

Potion Craft is a simple game, you gather ingredients from your garden, grind up potions and then sell them to customers who come with a variety of issues.  The key feature of the game is how you craft potions.  It revolves around moving across a map to decide which effects to add to the potion and each ingredient moves your marker a bit.  Exploring the map and trying different things allows you to discover more of the game.

The downside is that the game is stingy with new features, apparently, the game says a new feature is coming each time you level up, but the game teased me for that for at least thirty minutes straight, and finally, I gave up because I couldn’t find it.  The pacing is pretty bad.  Also, some customers in the game want a potion but don’t make it clear exactly what they want, and there are only so many healing potions you can make or try to make the perfect tier three potion before the game becomes too annoying to go on. 

Pick this up to try something new.  I had to look this up because part of my brain was screaming that it’s from someone like Zachtronics, it’s not, though it fits in that same category.  It’s mostly a simulator, but also an engaging experience, and I probably will return eventually.  This is not the type of game you should sit down and play through straight, it’s probably better if you play in shorter bursts and if I had done so, I would enjoy this more.

Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan.  A colorful game about ships… friendships. 

I hate when narratives come down to the power of friendship being what saves the day.  It usually makes me groan, but Rainbow Billy does it in a charming way.  Throughout the journey here, Billy runs into various creatures each with insecurities and works to befriend them.  Each enemy gathered allows them to be used in a large deck of all the creatures found so far.  This sounds sappy, but actually it’s well done.   The art style as well is gorgeous and shines, plus the way the color of the world is made to be part of the story is a nice touch.

The combat in Rainbow Billy is a bit simple.  Every attack has a mini game to execute like the Mario RPGs.  None of them are that hard.  There’s no direct combat, but more a focus on pattern matching and strategy of using the right characters at the right time.  It’s also a bit of a silly game, but the writing kept it light hearted for the most part. Finally the UI could use a little work, and a way to delete saves would be appreciated or even better multiple profiles so you can start over.

PIck this up if you like unique games.  The odd combat really works, and the designs here are fun, but this is unlike anything else.  The game is a little cutesy and might be too sweet for some people since it’s mostly about really silly problems but I kind of like that. 

Also… honestly I shouldn’t have to say this, but if you’re the type of person who isn’t adult enough to deal with a game called Rainbow Billy, and what type of story that might bring, well this game isn’t for you, and honestly, this channel isn’t for you.  Sorry, my videos are for adults, perhaps you stumbled on it incorrectly. 

To be clear, that doesn’t mean you can’t hate this game, but there are some people leaving negative reviews on this game for the wrong reasons, and it’s ok if this game wasn’t for you, but what I’ve personally seen is too far. 

And sorry to end on that downer, but that’s what I have for Game Pass in December 2022, and perhaps ever.  There was also a  release of Riot’s games with perks or something on Game Pass.  I assume you get some characters or something for free, but you don’t even need to have Game Pass to play them, every game is free to play… I’ll make it simple, I’m not covering them here.  

That being said, I’ve been on a roller coaster. Every other game this month made me think this was going to be the worst month or the best.  I would go from a game that just felt like it wasn’t a lot of effort or lacked something, to something I couldn’t believe was on the service.  While I wish it was all great games, I also appreciate the variety… 

I picked up two of the games on Steam as I mentioned because I wanted to support the developers or add them to my collection so I’m glad to see that. 

On the other hand, the Early Access or Game Preview once again showed up and man… that’s where I struggle with the service, it’s not always a bad thing, but it makes it hard to tell how the final game will be.  Will they completely redo the story, fix the flaws in the tutorial, or … just release the game as is, that makes it hard to judge. 

With that being said, there are some games I can recommend, and a few that I love, so let’s get to the final best of the month.

We’ll start with the bottom of the list, the fifth strongest of the month is Soccer Story.  I love how they took soccer and found ways to make a typical RPG using the sport, rather than trying to adapt fictional changes to the sport.  Everything is done with shooting or passing.  I’m still not a big fan of soccer matches, but as I said, I probably will return to see more of the world and the challenges that are still to come. 

The fourth strongest of the month is Rainbow Billy: The Curse of the Leviathan.  I love the fresh take on the RPG genre, the writing felt comfortable to me, and like I said I hate the “Friendship motif” because it rings hollow, but here that is literally what you’re doing… Hell, I’m even forgiving the fact you’re sailing a boat named Friend-Ship.  Like I said, sickeningly sweet.

The third strongest of the month is Lapin.  This is unfinished which is probably the only negative point about this, but the level design, controls, and overall experience was so good.  I even returned a week later and finished off what was already out.  I wish there was more, but according to the devs this is only about half-done so far, so I’m looking forward to the full release.

The second strongest this month is LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga.  This is a fantastic game and it revived my love of the series, as well as reminded me of why I love Star Wars.  The humor makes playing through or seeing the same stories we already know worth viewing another time.  The game is also bursting with stuff to do.  Also a great choice for Co-op or to play with younger kids.

The strongest game this month is Chained Echoes.  The fact someone took a SNES RPG, and then modernized it and improved on the formula is pretty cool, then I also found out that it’s a solo dev, which easily made this worthy of attention.  But the reason why it’s the strongest is that it deserves a chance, and I’m pretty sure it will grow a big audience if it’s given one. 

And that concludes my reviews of Game Pass.  A few people have asked me what I think of Game Pass now, and what I can tell you is there’s a lot of content on PC.  I think I’ve played close to 300 games just on Game Pass this year, and that’s an insane amount. 

I’ve played a few games that I thought would be good but weren’t, which saves me money.  The upcoming release of Persona 3, as well as the recent release of Persona 5 easily is worth my money, but also A Plague Tale, Psychonauts 2, and man, I loved Hardspace: Shipbreaker.  I’ve gotten my fill of more than enough games to make it worth it, and the ability to try something new is great.  

For young kids, it’s probably a great way to get a large selection of a game library without constantly needing to buy brand new games, and for older gamers think of it like a buffet.  I love going to a restaurant and getting a nice steak, but if there’s a good size buffet with enough variety, I usually am pretty happy filling my plate with different types of food I want to try, even if it’s not as special. 

Of course, if Microsoft releases all the games they plan next year, there’s not going to be a question, it’ll be worth it, but that’s only if Microsoft can execute what they’ve promised.

So what do you guys think, is Microsoft going to be able to deliver, what are you hopeful for in 2023, or just what do you think of Game Pass as a service? 

With that… I’m free, no more game pass reviews, at least for a very long time I think.  I’ve said I’m going to take a break from making videos, and I swear I will one day, but I still have my vanity project.  A year-end look at 2022.  I’m not sure what it will be about, because I didn’t finish that many games due to focusing on the buffet style of Game Pass, but I have a couple of ideas. 

After that, expect a small break, and then… well … My most popular video on this channel has been screaming at me for over two years… maybe it’s time I do something more with that.  Stay tuned. 

If you liked this video and are curious about what I’m doing next, please consider subscribing. It means a lot to me, and I’d appreciate it.  Remember to ring the bell, you know the rest, like, comment, and share this video.  It’s what we always have to ask. 

I’ll pop up two videos for you to check, and once again, thanks for watching.  While the Game Pass series is ending, it’s been interesting for me and I hope you all have enjoyed it as well. 

See you next time. 

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