Most Played – August 2022

With the exception of Rich, who has been busy playing Blade Runner on Switch while traveling, the team’s plan to beat the summer heat seemingly involved staying indoors while playing console games. With a freezer full of choc ices nearby, it’s a plan that’s hard to fault.  

Games with Gold freebies – Matt

I’m in the minority that not only downloads Xbox Games with Gold freebies but plays them also. Two titles, in particular, have recently helped fill the downtime between penning reviews.

While it’s fair to say that GwG has gone downhill considerably this year, Calico and Beasts of Maravilla Island piqued my interest when they launched, so I was pleased to see them added to the service. Again, I was likely in the minority.

I ended up being more than pleased, in fact – although not for the best of reasons. Neither is particularly great, so If I had spent cash on either, I may have felt hard done.

Calico gives you the chance to run your own cat café that’s situated on a magical island. While this may sound enticing, it essentially amounts to a long list of fetch quests and little more – the number of minutes I spent customising the café, one of the more unique aspects, can probably be counted on one hand. Visually it’s scrappy, and the game engine is rather crude. It did, at least, kill four hours on a wet Sunday afternoon.

Beasts of Maravilla Island was shorter still, taking just shy of two hours. It’s a photography adventure that sounds similar to Pokémon Snap initially but lacks Snap’s replay value, finesse, and hidden depths. In many of the same ways as Calico, it’s considerably rough in places – it’s easy to become snagged on objects, and one boss battle required a restart.

So, yeah, I was pretty glad that both of these ended up being free.

Blade Runner: Enhanced Edition – Rich

This month I have mostly traveled a lot while playing the Switch’s Blade Runner: Definitive Edition on move.

I love the original film and this point-and-click adventure gets the tone pretty much spot on. It has also been remastered nicely, with well-thought-out controls. I, however, lack the patience for point-and-click games. There are lots of quintessentially ’90s design choices embedded here, such as having to scrub over pictures to find clues. A lot of wandering around trying to find the person to talk to trigger a new location unlocking, too.

I found myself wishing I had internet access to find a guide. If you love Blade Runner, or 90s point-and-click games, though I still recommend giving it a go.

What Remains of Edith Finch – Jake

I’ve had What Remains of Edith Finch knocking around various wishlists for what seems like years – and given that it came out in 2017, it’s probably about five years. Turns out I just needed the threat of it leaving Game Pass at the end of August to make me find a couple of hours to finally play it.

I don’t have any great new insight to offer half a decade after the game’s first release, but as many have said before me it’s curious and strange and compelling. Certainly, I felt all of those things when I found myself getting into a really nice rhythm beheading fish. And actually, although the game is primarily narrative-driven, telling the stories of the deaths of Finch family members, the varied gameplay elements in each of the tales are surprisingly satisfying – as is exploring the warren of a family home.

Incidentally, I did the same thing last month with Omno, which left Game Pass at the end of July. What to play next then… Well, what’s leaving Game Pass in September?