Game News Xbox Game Pass: 10 games to crack your brain in surprising ways
Are you an Xbox Game Pass subscriber and love all kinds of puzzle or research games? But it is difficult to navigate with the large catalog of the Microsoft subscription that everyone knows by now. That’s why today we offer you a selection of games that will test your brain in an original way. And since the interest here is to discover new games, we’ll focus on the independent scene.
Console or PC?
The titles below are available on Xbox Game Pass Console and Xbox Game Pass PC.
- 10 indie games with original puzzles
- Chinatown detective agency
- Donut County
- Genesis Black
- super liminal
- Telling lies
- The pedestrian
10 indie games with original puzzles
Chinatown detective agency
We are in 2032. The world is in bad shape. The global economy has collapsed, creating unprecedented misery that translates into more and more violence on the streets. It is in this infamous world that Amira Dharma, rising star of INTERPOL, decides to change career and become a detective. In order to fulfill the requests of her various clients, she will have to use a great mind of deduction and collect the correct clues. Of course, if some are presented to you in the game, you will have to explore the real world to find others. Chinatown Detective Agency offers you indeed a hunt for information that mixes the virtual and the real. Between innovative and old-fashioned play, the title pays tribute to the Carmen Sandiego games, a timeless classic of the research genre. Nevertheless, in view of the mixed reviews (68 on Metacritic), he seems unable to match his model.
Do you know What’s left of Edith Finch and The Unfinished Swan † A priori, these two narrative experiences have little to do with our subject, except one man: Ben Esposito. Designer of these two games, the man tried a completely different genre in 2018 with a jigsaw puzzle crazy and colorful: Donut County. In the latter you play as BK, a raccoon that can control a hole that swallows everything around it. If the gameplay is generally about taking all the surrounding objects, there are still some crazy little puzzles to solve. By linking certain objects or spitting out others, you can make your way to other properties, to swallow the whole world in your endless hole. If Donut County is a short title it’s no less refreshing and had it harvested for it the beautiful score of 75 on Metacritic.
In Genesis Noir you are Nobody. It is indeed the funny name of your protagonist, a watch dealer trapped in the heart of a very special love triangle. The stakes of this seemingly banal romance are high: prevent the big bang and the destruction of the universe. To do this, Nobody will have to go on an enigmatic adventure in black and white, between narration and reflection. Far from the classics jigsaw puzzleGenesis Noir is more of an interactive graphic novel. Nevertheless, it hides behind its long stages of exploration à la walking simulator tactile puzzles that, while far from difficult, allow themselves to play with the codes of the genre. Still, it didn’t stand out at this point during our test, after which we allowed it a small 13 out of 20.
In 2017, a little unpretentious independent play came to the routine of jigsaw puzzle : Gorogoa. Published by Annapurna Interactive, one of the kings of indie games, this is a title with a rather special concept in which you have to move thumbnails to get a new view of the world and solve the riddles. Unique in its kind, Gorogoa does not content itself with presenting handmade and particularly well-made tiles. It’s also an ingenious game that is both intuitive and surprising. For all these reasons we have it a nice 17 out of 20, recognition of the work done. A work all the more remarkable than that of one man: Jason Roberts. After six years of thinking, the developer conceived the game and designed all the visuals. As for the music, we find a composer quite well known in the industry, having worked on The Unfinished Swan in particular: Joel Corelitz. The two have teamed up to provide us a dreamlike experience apart, which we can only recommend.
In 2020, Cyan surprised us by releasing a classic from the genre of jigsaw puzzle : Myst. Since the original game dates back to 1993, chances are some of you missed it. And yet Myst is a reference in the matter, so much so that he was entitled to a nice 19 in our categories. As a reminder, in Myst, through a book, the player is immersed in an unknown world that he must learn to tame and understand. Combining exploration and research, Myst laid the foundation for many games after him by appreciating research and note-taking to move forward. The only problem was that the game had gotten quite old. But since the 2020 version offers us an overhaul of the base game with new graphics, redesigned interactions and a reworked sound design, this barrier is now obsolete. The title is even compatible with VR to enhance the sense of immersion. If there’s one title you should try, it’s this one.
Pikuniku is one of those titles with a name that fits it perfectly. The game published by Devolver is at least as crazy and cute as the title. Very colorful, Pikuniku might as well have come from an inventive little kid’s mind, as it’s out of the question. Full of humor, the title clearly stands out because of its absurd character and its spirited artistic direction. But that doesn’t stop it from being a good game in terms of gameplay. Skillfully combining platform and puzzle game with a hefty pinch of Metroidvania, the game had drawn a lot of players. The difficulty was certainly not quite there, but still Pikuniku a jigsaw puzzle interesting and accessible for the whole family. That’s why we gave it a decent 14 out of 20.
Announced at E3 2019, Superliminal could intrigue with its somewhat unusual concept. The Pillow Castle Games game indeed offered us perspective based puzzles. If the structure (one room, one puzzle) was quite classic, it was therefore the gameplay that stood out from the others jigsaw puzzle† Unfortunately, the short duration and the sometimes risky technique had prompted us to allow it a small 13 out of 20. This did not stop us from welcoming a refreshing and thoughtful concept, coupled with a working atmosphere. Superliminal is therefore one of those games full of good ideas that nevertheless struggle to provide a convincing experience. But playing with the genre’s (and perspective) codes earned him a place in this small roster.
We pass on a genre that has long accustomed us to all kinds of investigations: FMV games. Long forgotten, sometimes even considered old-fashioned, they are gradually starting to get their letters of nobility back. And this is mainly thanks to a man who managed to reinvent the genre: Sam Barlow. In 2015, this English developer caused a surprise with the unveiling Her storyan innovative FMV where you have to use interrogation sequences to find clues and, one thing leads to another, to resolve the matter before us. Unfortunately, Her Story is not included in Game Pass. But this is the case with another Sam Barlow game: Telling Lies. Still in FMV, this title invites us to dive into the videos on a hard drive to understand what made the NSA the four main characters we discover there and eavesdrop on your link to them. With ongoing viewings and keywords to spot, Telling Lies has plenty to warm your brain up for a few hours.
We return to slightly more classic puzzles with The Pedestrian. Nevertheless, the latter does not lack originality, as you embody a small character that moves from panel to panel. To continue on your way, you will have to arrange the different panels in the right way, otherwise you will get stuck. Ingenious and easy to learn, The Pedestrian isn’t stingy with challenges and risks that create knots in your brain. Add to that the very successful visuals and you get a fun little independent game to explore. So that the title had obtained a score of 83 on Metacritic. If we hadn’t tested the game when it was released, you can still find it a Live Gaming produced by Carnbee and Indee.
It’s not impossible that you’ve heard of this latest game, and yet, leaving aside the masterful artistic direction, Unpacking wasn’t a priori destined to become an event. And despite the minimalist concept and niche gaming aspect, the Witch Beam and Humble Games title just exploded, especially from a critical standpoint. It must be said that the title deserves the reception. Because behind the “storage simulator” aspect, Unpacking hides a life lesson. Through sequential movements, this little independent game invites us to follow our protagonist’s life changes, from studies to painful divorces. If the gameplay consists of finding the right place for each object (hence the aspect jigsaw puzzle), The unpacking does not stop there and offers us a surprisingly moving and pleasantly relaxing experience. This is a must if you like games of this genre. He also collected a nice 84 on Metacritic.
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