Game Pass Good Stuff – October Spooktacular

Column – Oct. 2020 Notable Game Pass Games

Microsoft has been making big strides into digital gaming lately with their Xbox Game Pass subscription service. For anyone wanting constant access to games like Halo and Gears of War, it’s pretty much a no-brainer. What’s especially worth noting, though, is that it’s actually chock full of indie games, too.

With Halloween fast approaching, here are a few festively spooky games you should take the time to check out if you’re already a subscriber!

Carrion

by Phobia Game Studio

A self-described “reverse horror game,” Carrion takes the “monster loose in a research facility” schtick and flips it on its head. Instead of controlling a hapless researcher trying to survive, you’re actually the monster. You’ve been captured and experimented on, and turns out you’re pretty pissed off about it.

The result is a horror game that’s less Resident Evil and more an evil Super Metroid. As the creature, you navigate your way through the facility by finding powerups that open up new paths. Oh, and all while devouring everything in your path too. This is all accentuated by excellent background art and sprite work that manages to be equal parts beautiful and gruesome.

In terms of faults, the game’s a bit on the easy side, and I’d be lying if I said some of the backtracking didn’t get tedious after a while. That said, if, like me, you enjoy playing the bad guy in games, you’ll be grinning too much to care.

Sea Salt

by YCJY Games

Maybe Carrion caught your eye, but you’d like your “reverse horror” less on the body horror side and more akin to something Lovecraftian? Well, you’re in luck, because Sea Salt casts you as Dagon himself.

Your mission? Summon your denizens of the deep to wreak havoc on the world of humanity.

Sea Salt plays like a light real-time strategy game. You summon hordes of different monsters, guide them with your cursor, and use their different abilities to fight the humans you encounter. There’s a fun variety in the creatures you have access to, and the game does an excellent job of slowly upping the difficulty as it gives you new, disgusting toys to play with.

The level and boss designs are all unique and enjoyable, too, and much like Carrion, it also boasts stunning 2D visuals and music.

The only real hiccup comes from how imprecise commanding your units is. I ran into a few frustrating moments where the limited commands available left my horde more vulnerable than they should have been. It wasn’t too often, though, and again, the overall package here is too fun to ignore.

World of Horror (Early Access)

by panstasz

Alright, enough with the reverse horror, let’s get into something truly terrifying. World of Horror describes itself as a love letter to the works of horror manga legend Junji Ito and H.P. Lovecraft, and it wears those influences on its sleeve. In this game, you control one of several people investigating a foreboding seaside town as dark, otherworldly forces begin to reawaken. Your mission? Solve as many mysteries as you can, and see if you can survive the events to come.

World of Horror plays like a love letter not just to the aforementioned horror legends, but to old, atmospheric Apple II games like The Uninvited. You navigate the world with a point-and-click interface, whether it’s for exploration, combat or puzzle-solving.

The mysteries are randomly-generated, and no two times you play the game will ever be quite alike. It’s challenging, and you’re guaranteed to die more than a few times, but it never feels impossible either.

The real star of the show, though, is the game’s visual design. Apparently drawn entirely in MS Paint, World of Horror is chock full of haunting, disturbing imagery the likes of which you won’t forget anytime soon. It drags you kicking and screaming into the Uncanny Valley, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll love every second of it.

The game is still in Early Access, with more content planned for the final release, but there’s no reason not to dive into it immediately. Unless, of course, you’re too afraid…

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