Kyle’s Good Stuff Gamepass List

A list of Good Stuff you can get on Microsofts Gamepass Service.

Ah, Gamepass. If you haven’t heard of it, Gamepass is Microsoft’s “Netflix for games” service. After some jackass gave me shit for pre-ordering Back 4 Blood, saying that it would come out on Gamepass, and I could play the whole thing for like $10 instead of $80, I decided to see if there was anything else on the service I’d care about. And there is! In fact, my opinion is if you play more than 3 AAA games per year, it probably makes sense to subscribe Gamepass for a few months of the year.

So anyway, that’s what today’s thing is. A list of the good games on Gamepass that I’ve been playing recently, what each game is, what I think of it, and why you should play it. Some of these you’ve probably heard of, and some you probably haven’t. But anyway, let’s get into the list.

Ikenfell is a turn-based tactical RPG with quick time event-style minigames for attacking and blocking. (Think the Super Mario RPG sorta stuff.) Plotwise, the hook is that you go to a magic forest that has a wizard school in it to try to find your missing sister who was attending said wizard school.

Storywise, I thought it was amazing. The music was almost all really good. There was one boss battle where the music sort of took me out of the moment, but that was it.

With that said, the game is a little grindy. Unless you like the grind, I suggest turning on the game’s accessibility options or cheat mode to farm EXP, and then turning them back off for the boss fights, where the combat is the most interesting. The puzzles are also pretty good.

I love Psychonauts 2. It’s the best platformer of the year in my opinion. Psychonauts 2 is a puzzle platformer that requires a lot of outside the box thinking and trickery.

While it frontloads a lot of mechanics, I got used to them pretty quickly. The side quests feel amazing even when they’re just fetch quests. The Art style was mildly off-putting, but I got used to it after a bit. The story is also really good, and better then the first game in my opinion. While a lot of the gameplay returns from the first game, there are a few new abilities, including a time stop. There are also lots of new minigames. Finally, the pacing of new enemies is much better than its predecessor: there’s a new enemy each area, and a fairly good variety of foes.

If you do decide to pick up Psychonauts 2, I highly suggest you get the “Deal Double Damage, Take Double Damage” ability as soon as you can, because without it enemies can feel a bit tanky. Like trying to break a brick with a pool noodle.

Clustertruck is a fast paced 3d platformer. Unlike what the splash image might imply, you do not spend it smashing trucks into each other. Instead, you play a high-speed highway version of the floor is lava, except the only part of the floor you can stand on is trucks being launched at incredible speeds.

While I think Clustertruck has the best movement of anything in this list, I really don’t like how the abilities you use get unlocked. You have a trick meter that you fill by doing tricks and stuff. Except by the time I got to the final level, I had unlocked maybe half.

On that subject, I did not like the final level. It breaks a bunch of the conventions that the rest of the game set up, and not in a fun way.

Ed Note: We already have a full writeup on Hades that you can read here. As I don’t feel like retyping out 90% of that review, I’m just going to put two or three choice quotes from that article below, and call it good enough. Frankly, I think all the game of the year awards from…. everyone really do a good enough job.

“I have no criticisms.”

“The only roguelite that has ever made me want to keep playing just because of the strength of the story.”

“The characters and their relationships offer unique takes on the characters that you may already be familiar with, but will still be presented in a new light.”

So yeah, everyone loves it, and everyone but me has played it.

Sunset Overdrive is a action adventure game, with both third person shooter elements, and little bit of Tony Hawk movement. Its tone feels a bit like Borderlands.

This game came out in 2014, and it does sorta show. Character creation was limited, and all the characters look ugly IMO. But that’s the aesthetic. Graphics quality is fine for its time. The guns feel good, there’s a huge map to explore, and the characters are memorable and odd. There was one annoying child I wanted to run over a with bus, but after a bit, I didn’t want to run him over as much. So. Character development.

I do have two problems with it, but I have only played 5 hours so far, so perhaps these get alleviated? Anyway, here they are.

  1. It can be hard to find where resources you need for an upgrade are. There’s no radar or anything.
  2. I really don’t like the holdout missions where you have to protect some payload from zombies. In every other game with this sort of mission, you want to hold a position and mow them down. Since Sunset Overdrive instead wants to constantly be moving around to keep up your combo meter, the end result is the two systems clashing, and these missions feeling kind of junky to play.

So yeah, if any of these strike your fancy, you may want to check out Gamepass for PC.

Note: These were all played through Gamepass for PC. The editor to too lazy to check if they’re on all Gamepass for Xbox, because he doesn’t own one.

What is… Deep Rock Galactic?

Rock and Stone, Brother!

Deep Rock Galactic is a cooperative PvE first-person shooter. You and your friends are a team of space dwarves, mining ore among the stars. The core game is about you and your team of up to four other players trying to complete whatever dig you’ve signed up for this time. While the game does have procedurally generated maps and a variety of mission objects, the thing that sets it apart is how it handles its classes.

Deep Rock Galactic breaks away from the Holy Trinity of Heals, DPS, and Tank. Instead, any player can play any role when needed. The added spice is that each class also excels uniquely via pure utility by environment interaction.

The game’s four classes are the Engineer, Scout, Gunner, and Driller. Each of the four classes can do great damage, great support, and some form of escape or defensive mitigation for the team. For example, the Engineer has a platform gun that can create platforms in the environment. You can use these platforms to build choke points to funnel glyphids (the game’s bug enemies), or as a safe pad to land on in an emergency escape, or to make a bridge across great divides.

The Scout’s specialty is to provide vision to the team via his flare gun. Without his flare gun you could get surrounded by unseen glyphids in the dark at a moment’s notice. He is the most mobile role of the squad, best for filling in any gaps of defenses or daring rescues. Gunner has the highest sustained firepower, and also the best defensive ability in the game: the bubble shield which blocks projectiles as well as regenerates allied shields. Driller’s specialty is obliterating wide hordes of small glyphids through bombs or fire, or freezing boss enemies, making them stunned and vulnerable for the team to destroy. Driller’s drill gauntlets allows him to make tunnels straight to evac, or shape the terrain to his advantage as well.

There are also general character perks that you can earn that apply to all classes. These upgrades are generally straight increases to damage, survivability or cool new ability that’s always good. When choosing between upgrades of the same tier they are mainly trade offs or side-grades. Deciding which upgrades you want allows you to tailor your dwarf to play your way—which is really fun. If you are a min-maxer, you can look up guides for best upgrade paths to unlock first, but I’d recommend against it. Overall, experimenting with all of the upgrades and discovering what works for you is the most fun for getting longevity from Deep Rock Galactic. It’s a slow burn of a journey and not about getting max power ASAP.   

The game can be played in single player mode but I wouldn’t recommend it. Thankfully, the game enjoys a large player base where you can always find a lobby for whatever mission you want to do.

That said, I found the end game raid missions difficult to do with just random players. These missions are called “Deep Dives” and give out unique loot that can change your class by modifying what your guns do. Some modifications just swap the elemental damage type of the weapon, but others fundamentally alter your gadgets to do something entirely weird and new. For example, one piece of loot makes it so when you shoot your shotgun at the ground, you jump higher. This is just one of tons of possible changes you can apply to your gear, although the limit is one per gear piece so you can’t stack a bunch of modifications on one gun.

Deep Rock Galactic has limitless stuff to unlock, and I imagine it’d take hundreds of hours to unlock all the talents, gear, and cosmetics the game has to offer. The available missions are rather diverse, but you’ll probably find some you like more than others. The game has consistent updates, and is currently in the process of adding a 3rd weapon choice for all classes, as well as doing balance revisions to all current weapons and talents, with an estimated patch release in quarter 3 2021 (sometime between July and end of September).

If this sort of thing sounds exciting to you, here are some my tips for starting off:

  1. Feel free to mix up team compositions. For the most balanced gameplay, 1 of each class seems best, but for some mission types you may feel like more than one of a class might suit it better.
  2. Nothing wrong with taking it slow. When starting out I’d recommend a hazard level 2 or 3 mission at most (hazard levels are just difficulty level: 1 is easy, 2 is normal and so on). Then when you feel like you can handle it, increase hazard levels for better rewards. I’ve played about 90 hours since the launch and promoted each class about once. Personally I wouldn’t recommend trying hazard 5 or higher till you’ve promoted a class… but hey, you do you.
  3. Take advantage of those credits! Deep Rock Galactic has a deep character progression system where the credits and materials you earn from missions can buy tons of upgrades to specialize your class a lot.

I think it’s a gem of a game, and if you had to pitch it to a friend in like 10 seconds, I’d say, “It’s like a co-op shooter like Left 4 Dead, fused with looter-shooter talent leveling and survival game terrain manipulation like Minecraft, but you are an awesome high tech space dwarf squad, killing the zerg Glypids.”

4.5/5 Etrodons is my overall rating. And when you do play the game, remember to hit “V” to ROCK AND STONE, BROTHER!

Riddled Corpses EX – A Review

Nothing amazing, but a fun shmup with good co-op.

Riddled Corpses Ex is a twin-stick bullet hell game. You wouldn’t know that from looking at the cover, but there’s nothing lewd within the actual gameplay aside from the title screen. This may or may not be a disappointment for you. If you hate anime and its assorted tropes with extreme prejudice, then pass on this game, but I’d say you are missing out.

Yeah, it’s just a shoot-em up. Yeah, I know, the cover doesn’t make me think that either.

In a nutshell Riddled Corpses Ex is a 10 hour long fun, but grindy up to 2 player roguelike bullet hell. There are six gunners to unlock, with different bullet patterns, and a few different mechanics. While it’s a alright solo, if there was something that was going to make it a must buy, it would be the co-op. 

Overall, the game can be broken down into its four main features: sub-par story, great couch co-op, fun gameplay loop, and decent stage design.

So let’s just go through them shall we?

The Story: It Exists. That’s really the best thing you can say about it.

Story-wise, the game is rather corny and predictable in an endearing way. Nothing earth-shattering, nor deep and complex in this game; there are zombies and all you know is that you must kill them. 

My view for most games is that story is the least important factor in enjoying a game. That isn’t to say it can’t be a differentiating factor. Everybody knows Undertale, Earthbound, and Cave Story precisely for their respective narratives that brought a unique fresh take into their genres. But this isn’t any of those. It’s just sorta there.

Couch Co-op – You can also just play with yourself. (Wait a minute.)

Couch co-op is truly where this game shines. and sets it apart from other bullet hell games as you can call out when to use power ups, from dynamite to deal massive damage to all enemies on screen, to time-slow to dodge mobs/projectiles, to a turret for wave clear over time. Saving each other feels clutch and overall provides a more hectic and rewarding experience due to higher clear speed as the game doesn’t seem to implement multiplayer hp scaling so conversely if you want a harder experience just play solo.

Core Gameplay – 3 Modes. Story, Survival, and Arcade.

The core gameplay loop is simple: shoot, loot and get as far as you can. You’ll start by picking one of the three modes.

Story mode allows persistent progress per stage. (So once you beat stage 1 you can start at stage 2 and so on.) Story mode and Arcade mode both include the cut scenes, but you might find it easier to see the whole thing in Story mode.

Survival mode is a non-stop, wave after wave onslaught of monsters. Even if you don’t love the idea of the pure holdout theme, you might end up playing it anyway. I found it was more efficient for grinding gold than playing through the first two stages over and over.

If you want the true roguelike experience, try out Arcade mode. Here, you’ll always start with your character at level one. You’ll scale faster by collecting power ups and leveling up. There’s also an item shop between stages, but you can only buy consumable power ups like the time stop, or dynamite. Also, in true rouge like fashion, you’ll keep none of the gold or levels earned when you finally do die in Arcade.

Regardless of your skill at the genre, you’ll most likely be able to see the whole game with Story mode. Even if you find yourself unable to push through on Arcade, and you can always grind the first two modes if you need to power, which you might find yourself doing because…

Stage Design – New and interesting mechanics are routinely introduced, but a punishing difficulty spike in the end game feels real bad.

As for stage design, the game progresses at an even pace throughout, layering new mechanics on top of each stage, right up until about stage 3. This is where I ran into one of my bigger issues with the game, as everything suddenly felt way faster, and far more lethal.

The first three stages feel like they’re designed to teach you the general gameplay, but the stages after straight up smack you in mouth right out of the gate. I spent about 70% of my time just grinding gold for upgrades to force my way through stage 4.

To be fair the old adage of “Git Gud” is probably true here but the damage check is real. Creative and complex, but it felt like a bummer, especially if you don’t realize that the first few stages are mostly just tutorials.

Overall – It’s solid, but maybe not worth 10$. If you can pick it up on a sale like I did for $5, you’ll get a few hours out of it, and the co-op and other modes should offer some repeatability.