Originally posted February 7, 2022
It’s outrageous, when you really think about it. Access to more than 400 games including brand new releases? Game Pass is a seriously good deal. In fact, there’s so much on offer that it’s easy to miss out on many of the best games the subscription service is packing. Whether you’ve just signed up for Game Pass or have been enjoying its library for months, make sure you don’t skip over these unmissable Xbox games.
10. It Takes Two
Co-op has never gone out of fashion, but few studios have done it as well as Hazelight Studios. It Takes Two’s marriage-rescuing adventure will have you defying gravity in space one minute, then racing on the backs of frogs the next. The genre-flipping structure is nothing short of joyous.
Every ability you have is entirely reliant upon that of your partner, forcing you to work together in a huge variety of entertaining fights and puzzles. And if your buddy keeps getting you killed? Optional competitive minigames spread throughout the story grant plenty of opportunities for revenge.
9. The Forgotten City
There were many time loop games released in 2021 that you’d be forgiven for having missed out on The Forgotten City. Consider this a chance to rectify that mistake. A mystery adventure game that began as a Skyrim mod, The Forgotten City sees you attempting to find out what went wrong in an Ancient Roman paradise. And, if possible, it’s your job to fix it.
The Forgotten City's inhabitants are all bound by a golden rule: they cannot harm or steal from another. Should one falter, guardian statues will turn every single person to gold. With the ability to reset to the start of each day, you must discover who is planning to break the rule and avert the disaster before it leaves the city resplendent in lifelessness.
8. Forza Horizon 5
Even if you think racing games aren’t for you, we dare you to load up Forza Horizon 5 and not come away with a grin on your face. Set in a stunningly beautiful rendition of Mexico, this is a racer that puts fun before all else. There’s so much to do as you tear across deserts, cruise by coastlines, and thunder through the jungles that you’ll likely forget about races altogether.
And if you are into motorsports? Forza Horizon 5 is nothing short of glorious. The catalog is packed with enough classic cars and modern monsters to make enthusiasts weep. Head to the start line, and freeform tracks built from the open world mean you get to explore as you outpace your rivals. Just try not to get distracted by the staggeringly pretty vistas as you approach each bend.
It’s time to break out of hell. The only problem? Every layer of the afterlife stands between you and the surface. The good news is that, as the son of Hades and Persephone, you’ll be getting a little help from the Greek gods above. A roguelike dungeon crawler, Hades will have you battling through shades and spirits to claim new powers and forge a path to the mighty bosses which guard each level of your (admittedly beautiful) prison.
The real secret to Hades’ success, however, lies in its characters. You’ll get to know the denizens of the underworld well, even befriending some of the bosses you face. Zagreus’ story is a compelling one, and you’ll find yourself eager to succeed not just for completion’s sake, but also to finally win one over on his brooding father, Lord Hades himself.
6. Psychonauts 2
You never really know what’s going on inside someone else’s head. Unless you’re a psychonaut, that is. These psychic spies are capable of diving into the bizarre lands which reside in the minds of others. A platforming master, protagonist Razputin is capable of acrobating hops, lifting objects with telekinesis, and firing mind lasers as he navigates the obstacles holding his mental world hosts back.
Like It Takes Two, Psychonauts 2 isn’t afraid to shake the conventional structure, flipping you into new and unusual activities with each and every chapter. The psychedelic world and story will have you laughing, all while Psychonauts 2 delivers a tale that handles mental health issues with a surprising degree of tact. And don’t worry, you don’t need to have played the original to enjoy it!
5. Slay The Spire (alternatively monster train)
Deck-building board games are great, but spending ages shuffling cards isn't. Slay the Spire whisks away every tedious aspect of real life card stacks and leaves the immense satisfaction of unleashing combos you’ve created. Your task is to ascend the titular Spire, battling through encounters and adding to your deck as you build a machine capable of besting the mighty bosses which lurk at the end of each chapter.
Will you succeed? Probably not. But in a roguelike this finely honed, repetition is part of the fun. Slay the Spire is the best digital deck-building game out there, and one that everyone should try. If you’ve already faced its challenges, though, the similarly styled Monster Train is also included in Game Pass and well worth a look.
The hustle of Moonlighter’s protagonist is real. By day, they run a small shop in their fantasy village, selling goods to the town’s inhabitants and anyone stopping by for a visit. By night? It’s time to stock those shelves by heading out into the monster-packed dungeons resting just beyond the town’s border.
Moonlighter is half classic Zelda and half shopkeeping sim. The deeper you delve, the more valuable wares you can obtain. But as you put your wares out for display, you’ll need to estimate their prices. Judging their value means adjusting to the reactions of your patrons, shimmying costs up and down to keep customers happy. Upgrade your gear, expand your shop, and, most important of all, enjoy the phenomenal soundtrack as you play.
3. Overcooked 2
Shouting at your friends isn’t usually fun, but Overcooked manages to make it a fundamental part of success. In this top-down, co-op cooking rush, you’ll be working together to churn through orders in environments less orderly than an episode of Kitchen Nightmares. Simple controls mean almost anyone can play, but winning is going to test your synergy like never before.
Vegetables need to be chopped, burgers fried, and plates washed—but don’t expect dividing the tasks to be simple. You’ll be contending with hot air balloons, minecarts, river rafts, and more as you race to meet each quota. Oh, and the ravenous unbread hordes are also coming, but it’s best not to think too much about them.
The Oldest House is a strange place, filled with the unsettling and the out of place. That includes you, the new director. Our lead, Jesse Faden, is on the hunt for her missing brother, but the Federal Bureau of Control has other ideas in mind. This unknown governmental department has been overrun by a menacing entity known as the Hiss. Threatening to corrupt everything it comes into contact with, the Hiss must be pushed back and purged from each sector of the building.
Fortunately, Faden is more than up to the task. As well as acquiring a service weapon that can shift between gun forms, our lead uncovers a suite of powerful supernatural abilities. The first? Telekinesis that’ll literally tear chunks from the scenery for you to hurl around. Control is an engaging Twin Peaks mystery wrapped around undeniably stylish 3D Metroidvania exploration and combat.
1. Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Speaking of Metroidvanias, anyone with a Game Pass subscription owes it to themself to give Ori’s outings a try. These stunningly gorgeous 2D adventures will test your platforming talents while taking a hefty tug on your heart strings. Exploration is the series’ core, but you’ll also need to tangle with a range of menacing creatures as you find a path through the forest.
Both 2015’s Ori and the Blind Forest and its 2020 sequel, Ori and the Will of the Wisps, are included in the Game Pass catalog. Each game is a beautiful, heartfelt experience that genre fans should absolutely play. If you’ve only got time for one, however, the sequel offers a more expanded experience with a wider range of combat and traversal powers to play with.