Xbox Game Pass had a monumental 2021 year, you can check out an in-depth review of it here. While adding over 200+ games to the service in 2021 alone, there are MANY games that you may have overlooked, or potentially didn’t even know that it existed. I’m here to share five of my favorite games available on Xbox Game Pass that I think many people may not have given a shot.
Source: Press kit
AI: The Somnium Files
Our first subject is none other than AI: The Somnium Files. It released back in July of 2019 but was only brought to the Xbox Game Pass service a few months ago. In the game you play as Date, a detective for the Metropolitan Police Department’s special Advanced Brain Investigation Squad. Also called a Psyncer, someone able to enter the psyche’s of people who may be withholding information from an investigation. Using a special AI that lives inside of an artificial fake eye, you slowly piece together the puzzle of the Cyclops Murders that have been shaking the city, and people close to you. AI: The Somnium Files is an adventure novel, similar in vain to the Ace Attorney games. The actual gameplay is a second note in comparison to the intense narrative that can unfold before you, should you pursue the true ending.
Source: Press Kit
Hit indie publisher Raw Fury had an immensely impressive 2021 with more games to brag about than you’ve probably heard of. The one game of theirs that by far stood out the most to me was Backbone. A noir styled narrative game similar to a point n click adventure. Set in a dystopian world where certain races of animals rule all of society with almost an Illuminati like fist, you are but a lowly private investigator. As you bluff your way through every hectic event you stumble into, you somehow manage to bring to light the many sins of the so called “elites” and their rampant abuse of those deemed lesser. Unfortunately things never go as planned.
Everything about Backbone drew me in right off the bat. It has an intense art style that utilizes dramatic lighting to really make the scenes carry more weight. It’s also very hard to predict anything that happens. The curveballs are flung at you faster than you keep up and it refuses to let off the gas until you finish. I played the game in one sitting, and was left sitting with my mouth open wide upon watching the credits roll.
Source: press kit
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. Something along the lines of “Really? The shark game?” and all I have to say in response to that is: Fair. I would have had the exact same reaction prior to actually playing Maneater. But let me tell you, this game is bloody brilliant. While the first two games on this list have a particularly high focus on narrative, Maneater is just simply the complete opposite. Did it have a story? Honestly, can’t remember. What I do remember is having an absolutely wild time thrashing my way through all the different biomes offered in the game, rapidly devouring everything in sight, and constantly evolving my shark. There is so much to do and I was so utterly engrossed in the game that I even wound up getting the 100% achievement completion for it. I just didn’t want the game to end. There’s all kinds of missions, challenges, boss fights, collectibles, and more that can easily keep you swimming for hours on end.
Source: press kit
Unsighted is genuinely one of the best games to come out in 2021, let alone just in the indie scene. It combines a deep, painful narrative with a smooth action combat system that often feels like what you would get if The Legend of Zelda forgot to take its anti-depressants and entered a punk phase. I only have the highest of praise for every aspect of Unsighted. It features a unique dust mechanic, where yourself and all the other androids only have so much time to live before death. If you take too long to beat the game, or don’t gift the characters enough of the dust collectible you’ll come across during your travels, then they die. Same goes for you as well. This can impact many aspects of the game as all merchants are potential victims to the ticking of the clock. Fortunately if the pressure is too much for you to bear, there is an explorer mode that offers all characters more than enough time for you to beat the game without worry.
If you’re looking for a wonderful combat system, serious boss fights, a standout narrative of the year, and a cast of characters that made me shed many tears, look no further than Unsighted. It has not received nearly the attention that it is due.
I wanted to include one “older” game to help diversify the selection offered, and at least one game that could be considered AAA. Well, Rage checks both of those boxes. While it was certainly appreciated during its time, that love has slowly dwindled throughout the years. A sequel that failed to live up to expectations or maintain the integrity of the original certainly didn’t help, but far too often are good games slowly forgotten. Rage is a first person post-apocalyptic FPS from id Software, the creators of series like Wolfenstein, Doom, Quake, and many more. Despite releasing around a decade ago, Rage hold up extremely well visually. The gameplay is also crafted with the purpose of lasting the ages. Smooth gunplay, weapons that feel unique and are entertaining to use, all combined with the chaotic intensity that post-apoc games seem to regularly bring to the table. If you have ever craved a Mad Max game (well besides the actual Mad Max) game, Rage certainly scratched that itch for me, but in a slightly more linear way than the true Mad Max game. Everything you love about other id Software games are also baked into Rage. Great combat, a story that keeps you going, a soundtrack that gets your blood pumping, and all the enemies you could ever possibly want to rip & tear.