8 Interesting Xbox Game Pass Games You Probably Haven't Checked Out
Hidden Gems Of Game Pass
Xbox Game Pass subscribers are spoiled for choice, with huge first-party titles like Gears 5 and Sea of Thieves, AAA masterpieces like Devil May Cry V and Yakuza 0, and a glut of well-regarded indies like Two Point Hospital and Subnautica to play through. Even Grand Theft Auto V is available on there now, which could easily consume hundreds of hours (if you haven't already jumped in).
With so many huge titles grabbing your attention, though, plenty of great smaller games slip through the cracks. We're not just interested in the absolute best games on Xbox Game Pass--we went searching for the undiscovered gems, the Game Pass gold that you skipped over while scrolling down the list, not realizing what you were missing out on. Here are just a few of the hidden gems tucked away in the subscription service.
Sea Salt (Xbox One, PC)
Much like the upcoming Carrion, Sea Salt has been described as a "reverse horror game," although in this one you play as a swarming horde of beasts rather than a single monster. The controls are simple--you move an on-screen cursor to direct your swarm, and hold down RT when you want to start attacking anything within range, moving through each 2D level and destroying anyone who has the misfortune of crossing your path. It's a fairly brutal game as your swarm (which can be upgraded with new units as you go) overwhelms enemies and tears them asunder, and each level ends in a fun boss fight that offers a more strategic take on the game's combat, asking you to learn the enemy's patterns and target their moments of weakness. It's simple but satisfying, and seeing your enemies give up and start fleeing as you approach is distressingly satisfying. This is the sort of short, unique, and strange game that will stick with you, but it's also the kind of game that many people would have skipped over at full price--which means that it's a great fit for Game Pass.
Rise & Shine (Xbox One)
Adult Swim's puzzle-shooter is right at home on Xbox Game Pass. It's definitely not without its faults, but when it's included within a subscription service, it's much easier to focus on what this short-and-sharp action game does right and forgive its terrible dialog and occasional gameplay stumbles. It looks fantastic, with a cartoon art style full of great environments and excellent enemy designs, and the mix of cover-heavy scrolling shooter gameplay and light puzzle-solving mixes together well. The shooting is frantic and exciting, especially when things get a bit more hectic. It can be tricky, but generous checkpointing means that Rise & Shine doesn't grow frustrating--and even if it does, hey, step away. The great thing about Xbox Game Pass is that if you didn't buy a game, you don't have to feel compelled to finish it.
Wandersong (Xbox One, PC)
Wandersong is the sort of bright, colorful, slightly goofy game we all need right now. You play as a wandering singer looking to save the world from being destroyed, and most of your interactions with the world are powered by your voice, which is controlled with the right control stick. It's a surprisingly deep adventure full of funny moments, with a fully fleshed-out narrative to back up the simple controls. You might be turned off by Wandersong's incredibly simple visuals at first, but stick with it--there's a lot more to Wondersong than you might think, and it'll leave you with a song in your heart long after you finish.
Wizard of Legend (Xbox One, PC)
Wizard of Legend is the sort of game that feels like it was designed for a lazy day--it's one that you could pick away at with your brain switched most of the way off. You play as a participant in the "Chaos Trials," which consists of a procedurally generated series of rooms that must be overcome with a variety of magic abilities. It's a roguelike dungeon crawler--like Children of Morta (which is also on Game Pass and absolutely worth playing), but simplified--and testing out different character builds as you try and move through each level can be a lot of fun, especially since the 100-plus spells allow for tons of possibilities. The game controls well, and because of this, it's enjoyable zipping around enemy hordes, releasing whichever spells you've equipped for that run. Wizard of Legend is a scrappy underdog with a lot of heart and great mechanics--it's hard not like it.
World of Horror (PC)
This 1-bit horror game is a "Game Preview" release, meaning that it's not yet complete, but for fans of Japanese horror, it's absolutely essential to play it as soon as possible. World of Horror is a highly customizable, ultra-retro RPG about hauntings in a small Japanese fishing village that owes more than a little to Junji Ito's manga masterpiece Uzumaki. Through a simple command interface, you explore a town that has been gripped by the denizens of the underworld, who have ascended as the New Gods reawaken--it's heady stuff, but the important thing to know is that there are weird monsters everywhere. You spend most of your time solving mysteries and battling a bunch of nasty ghouls with a surprisingly deep combat system. The presentation is far from a gimmick, and, at times, World of Horror genuinely feels like a cursed object from a different world. It's a game that rewards patience, diligence, and repetition, and it could become your new obsession if you let it.
Death's Gambit (PC)
It's only slightly reductive to say that there are two kinds of Dark Souls players--those who have absolutely eaten up every Souls-like game out there, and those who cannot make headway on the genre. For those in the latter camp, Death's Gambit, a 2D pixel-art take on the genre, could be your way in. It's got a gentler opening that eases you in before eventually throwing more difficult bosses at you, and with Ashen having left Game Pass, it's probably the best introduction to this style of game on the service, thanks in no small part to its strong sense of visual style and foreboding aesthetic. You need to be careful and plan your attacks out well, and once you start to butt your head up against the difficulty wall, you can step away for a moment--there are over 100 other games on this service, after all, and a little time away will let you plan how you'll tackle whichever boss just kicked your ass.
Gonner (Xbox One, PC)
I played Gonner for 10 minutes before exiting back out to the Xbox store page to try and figure out what it was exactly, but within that 10 minutes, I was already in love. Gonner is a roguelike shooter/platformer game with weird visual design, a nearly non-existent plot, and mechanics that take some time to make sense. But wow, does it have a strong, and immediately compelling, sense of style. The game is a bit like Spelunky, but far more abstract. You move between levels by letting worms swallow you, collect glyphs to revive upon any unexpected deaths, and overcome challenges by jumping on and shooting various red, blobby enemies with whatever guns you find. You're encouraged to visit Death for supplies between runs, and you can upgrade your character (a strange little green dude who is apparently doing all of this to please his only friend, who is a whale) as you go. Gonner is a definite hidden gem with a distinct charm that's hard to explain--which makes Xbox Game Pass the perfect place for it, because you need to try it for yourself.
The Turing Test (Xbox One, PC)
The Turing Test is one of many games from the last 12 years that owes a very obvious debt to Portal, and while it's not the immediate classic Valve's game was, it does do enough to stand out in its own right. It's a five-odd hour experience where you explore a facility orbiting Europa, solving puzzles at the behest of Tom, the facility's AI. There are narrative hooks that emerge immediately (your crew is apparently in danger and needs you to get through the training modules to reach them), and the puzzles--while never quite bending your brain--are engaging and fun to solve. You're armed with a special gun that can suck up orbs and fire them into slots around the station, powering objects and opening doors, which serves as the focus for most of the game's puzzles. It's an enjoyable experience, and while there are better games in the genre, it's definitely worth a look on Game Pass if you want to keep your brain sharp during self-isolation.