Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now are full of games, and it can be hard to know where to start looking. Sure, you can easily browse Gamereactor, choose our review section and select the format and sort by rating - but unfortunately, we don't have a chance to review everything that's released. Added to this is the fact that you may have forgotten about mediocre older games that through updates have become masterpieces later.
When we published our article Ten Hidden Gems on Xbox Game Pass and PlayStation Now just over a year ago, it was therefore very much appreciated. Many people got in touch and said they had found games they had otherwise never set out to try. Therefore, it feels appropriate to make a sequel to this article because a lot has happened since then. Some games may have disappeared from the services and, above all, others have been added - and of course, there were also hidden gems that we simply did not have time for last time.
So! Having said that, it's now time for ten more hidden gems within Microsoft and Sony's gaming services that I suspect many of you might have missed out on. Maybe it's an article you can come back to when you are looking for something new to play later on. First up is Xbox Game Pass.
• CrossCode - Wrongly used, pixel graphics only make games feel uglier than they are and also old whether they were developed yesterday. But in the right hands, magic can happen. The wonderful role-playing games many of us grew up with in the 16-bit era are games that only get worse when you try to spruce them up with modern technology to smear pixels or worse, replacing the pixels with polygons. CrossCode is a game for all of us who remember role-playing games like Phantasy Star IV, Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger with wonderful pixel graphics and a story that I dare promise will surprise you greatly thanks to a smart script and an interesting theme. The fact that it also has amazing music and is Xbox Series S/X-enhanced doesn't make things any worse either.
• Desperados III - Taste this; real-time strategy, stealth, western and Xbox Series S/X optimisation. I'm guessing you're already licking your lips and want to know more. Don't be fooled by the number three in the title of the game, as this is actually a prologue to the series and is thus excellent to start playing even if you are new to Desperados. Although it is primarily intended as a stealth game, it is flexible enough to also be able to be played as an action game and it's a title I really want to recommend you to try. This applies in particular to all of you who thanked me for my tip on Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun in the last article... this is the same developer and type of game.
• Dungeon of the Endless - If you like co-op and roguelikes or just really good games in general (also great to play alone), then don't miss out on the dungeon defence title Dungeon of the Endless. Here, a prison ship has crashed on a planet and you and a few other survivors will explore the surroundings, drag around a crystal and try to get out of there. Thanks to the fact that the courses are randomised, it is a game that is fun to return to over and over again, and it's basically impossible to get bored with.
• Enter the Gungeon - Another game that offers randomised levels and sheer brilliance, is Enter the Gungeon. This should definitely be played co-op with good friends, and it is clear that the developers have been inspired by greats such as The Binding of Isaac and the Souls-series. It's really challenging, but it's also all the more fun as your group is welded together and gets better at using the different tools you get to be able to fight your way forward in the adventure. An excellent presentation and brilliant humour will make sure to make this something virtually everyone will appreciate.
• GreedFall - Greedfall is one of these games I really find strange to call a hidden gem you may have missed. Because no one who likes Western role-playing games should have missed this. We are talking about a really elaborate adventure that has often been compared to BioWare's finest and earlier works. It's a really deep adventure with a well-written story and a feeling that everything doesn't actually revolve around me. This world is believable and filled with both magic and strange creatures. I can't recommend this gem enough, especially to those who like games like Jade Empire and The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
• Lonely Mountains: Downhill - Are you old enough to remember when you were younger and played games like Excite Bike, Ridge Racer, Tony Hawk's Pro Skater or SSX Tricky in search of the best score possible? Do you remember how incredibly addictive it was and how nerve-wracking it felt as you approached the end and knew you had a potential record coming up? That's exactly the feeling Lonely Mountains: Downhill offers, when you gradually get better at quickly getting down the steep mountains on a bike. The controls are brilliant, intuitive and you will want to do more than one run once you've played just to see if you can beat yourself, and after that you probably need another one. You're going to get hooked, I promise.
• Octopath Traveller - One of the best Japanese role-playing games I've played in recent years is Octopath Traveller. It was originally released as a Switch exclusive game, but later came to PC followed by Stadia. Just last month, it was stealthily launched for Xbox Game Pass without being announced for Xbox at all beforehand, and thus I fear many people missed this. If turn-based Japanese role-playing games in a retro style is something you like, make sure that you, whatever it takes, don't miss this one. If you also appreciate fabulously beautiful graphics, wonderful design and amazing music... well then you have your next favourite game here.
• River City Girls - I really enjoyed both Battletoads and Streets of Rage 4 last year, but the beat 'em up I've had the most fun with in recent years is actually River City Girls. It's a kind of spinoff from the Kunio-kun series (remember the Nintendo World Cup with the blocky soccer players who made super kicks or River City Ransom?) and developed by the retro masters Wayforward. Here we are going to save kidnapped boyfriends instead of vice versa that is otherwise common, and of course, it is best done by punching people in the mouth a lot. The most fun is to play with a friend and beat your way through the colourful and beautiful surroundings, and the game's boss fights are among the most memorable the genre has ever offered.
• Supraland - Most open world games don't utilise their space properly. Most of it is just empty padding and you're still expected to travel around and do things in a certain order. In Supraland we get something as unique as a platformer in a true open world with a lot of variety and a myriad of things to do. Here, several different genres are wildly mixed, and you will recognise parts from Portal and Zelda as well as Metroid and Super Mario. This is the very image of a hidden gem many missed, and everyone that has played it on my recommendation has thanked me afterwards for the nice tip.
• Thumper - I've deliberately tried to cover different genres in this list, and as you can see, a music/rhythm game is missing. Taking this spot is Thumper, a rhythm title where you play as a beetle at a speed that will stun you. You know what it feels like sometimes when you play and barely dare to blink out of fear of missing out? It's exactly in that compartment we find Thumper. The design is fresh, it has an entertaining gameplay, the music is superb and it doesn't take long before you sit completely in trance and time just flies away.
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