I wanted to stream Deathloop the day it unlocked on Xbox Game Pass, but someone at Bethesda apparently forgot to flip the switch that allows direct streaming without an external device (I ended up streaming Hardspace: Shipbreaker instead).

I noticed today that they had fixed it. Fortunately, I hadn't gotten too far so it pretty much started over when I booted up. I finished the first level, which is largely prologue and tutorial.

So far I don't love it, but I can't decide whether I like it or not. Guess I'll have to keep playing to find out:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

I was hoping Hardspace: Shipbreaker would be something like the most excellent PowerWash Simulator, a mindless low stakes cleanup game to help me clear my mind. Alas, despite a lovely Firefly TV series vibe, navigating in space, laser-cutting salvage, and aiming materials to the correct bay (furnace or storage) is a much less zen.

It is funny in places, a little dark, and then just downright confusing:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

I didn't know what to expect from Going Under, billed as a satire of workplace politics, but I didn't think I would be spending my time bashing goblin-type employees from other companies in the basement. And dying, a lot. This is a rogue-like dungeon crawler masquerading as a corporate comedy RPG.

It's OK, but probably not something I'll finish:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

We're not Disney superfans, but we're fans enough that we thoroughly enjoyed Disneyland Adventures despite its obvious cloying goal to coax you into booking your next vacation at their theme parks. So I had relatively high hopes for Disney Dreamlight Valley, which just released into Xbox Game Pass.

It's a hot mess. First, there is a ton of exposition and most of it is read, not spoken. The game mechanics and quests are super dull - you basically start by zapping Night Thorns which mostly look like piles of poo with vines. When you open the mailbox to claim a prize, it takes you OUT OF THE GAME to enable cloud saves by creating a login. Uh, cloud saves already exist for all games on Xbox - so this is clearly some sort of account linking ploy.

Finally, right at the end of my run, I ran out of energy. Really, that's a thing here? No, you don't have to buy energy boosters with real cash, I don't think, just eat some berries or rest in your home. Still, feels unnecessary. Oh, and there are no starter achievements - expect to play for a long, long time before you earn any.

All in all I'm very unimpressed so far, but judge for yourself:

 

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I've been meaning to try The Artful Escape for a long time, and today I noticed it was leaving Xbox Game Pass in mid-September. It's... a lot. In the pro column, there's a solid voice acting cast with names like Jason Schwartzman, Lena Headey, Mark Strong, and Carl Weathers.

The story is meandering at first, and there's no real music playing until past the half hour mark. So far it feels like a mildly interactive story that's intriguing, but not fascinating.

Watch to the end to see the first major twist, which promises to drive the story in a new direction:

 

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I'm not a sports fan, but I love a good sports movie and the occasional sports game - and for some reason golf is one of my favorite genres in the games space. Cursed to Golf was a bit of an impulse buy, but it looked like fun with odd little power-ups and game-changing objects to aim for. Sort of a dungeon-based RPG but with... golf. In actuality, it's a roguelike with a reportedly steep difficulty curve, but I rather enjoyed the prologue and practice hole.

Not sure how far I'll get in the actual game, but I feel like I'll get my money's worth:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

I picked up the Stubbs the Zombie remaster expecting great things, as this was a favorite from the early 2000s. The gameplay is fine and does have its moments, such as when you blast enemies while driving the Sod-O-Mobile hovercraft. But the real disappointment is the missing soundtrack. The original game featured one of the best videogame soundtracks of all time with alt rock updates to '50s tunes, such as Ben Kweller doing "Lollipop" and Cake performing "Strangers in the Night." Alas, apparently this was lost in the remake.

Still, not bad - just sad:

 

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I played some Subnautica a couple years back and actually started to get into it. Since there's a heat wave happening, the chill of Subnautica: Below Zero (combined with a box fan) seemed appealing. I should have chosen the option to skip the need for food and water. As I was relearning the collecting resources and crafting mechanics, I nearly died of thirst. Hint: Once you craft some drinkable water, look for it in your inventory. And never skip the chance to collect a bladderfish, necessary for filtered water.

I know once I craft more tools like an O2 tank, survival knife, flashlight, and swimfins, the game will get fun and permit deeper exploration - which is my jam. Until then, it's kind of a grind:

 

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I've loved Supermassive Games since 2015's Until Dawn, and continue to pick up every game they release in The Dark Pictures Anthology. I was on the fence about The Quarry, but decided to bite down on it thanks to their stellar cast and creepy summer camp killer vibe.

I went a little long to clear the full prologue:

 

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As photography games go, Beasts of Maravilla Island isn't bad. It's just not particularly great, either. Your photography captures wildlife, but also can unlock new areas as your flash activates certain plants (ignoring the fact that a flash isn't really necessary with so much natural light). You'll climb giant vines and whistle to attract shy creatures.

The story is pretty weak, and it's no Pokemon Snap, but it'll do as a fun distraction:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Beyond a Steel Sky looked like a Fallout/BioShock-type sci-fi dystopia game, but it plays more like a comic book story with adventure-style mechanics. Which isn't the worst thing, maybe, but so far it falls well below the bar of my expectations.

The opening cinematic goes on FOREVER, and then there's one brief interaction before the achievement pops indicating you've completed the tutorial. So far the game is mostly talking, examining, and using items in your inventory. Not much exploration, and combat may be non-existent.

Just saying, check out this video before you buy and make sure it's what you want:

 

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I honestly thought that Stray would be my new favorite game. It starts out great! You nuzzle other cats, drink from a pool of water, jump everywhere, mewl. It's beautiful, fluid, and endearing.

After the first 20 minutes, all of that changes with a run-and-avoid-enemies puzzle. As far as I can tell, there's no way to throw them off when they are on you (UPDATE: You hit the Circle button!) There are no partial progress checkpoints (as I got pretty far a couple of times). And it takes 20+ seconds to reload following each death. After earning my 9 Lives trophy and then some, I finally gave up. My only advice is to move around a lot (as I did my best dodging this way) and hope you are better and/or luckier than me.

Honestly, if this is the way the game is going to go, I'm regretting the $30 purchase:

 

OK, so maybe I jumped the gun. I don't play PS4 games too often, and I can never remember the icons on the controller buttons (I always press Square when it says X). I also didn't realize the circle within a circle appearing on me meant to hit Circle (maybe if it was the color of the controller icon I'd have gotten it right away). So I gave this another go, streaming the next 30 minutes from the run-and-avoid section. So glad I did! It's got everything: exploration, easy but rewarding puzzles, and great moments in cat-dom.

Would recommend:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

As you probably know, I'm addicted to Forza Horizon 5. In preparation for the Hot Wheels expansion, I went back to Forza Horizon 3 to see what I was in for.

It did not really prepare me for this expansive map in the clouds and brand new game dynamics: magnetic track, ice track, the new "G-Forza" meter, and history of Hot Wheels story challenges - all of which you can sample in the video. The main thing that's similar is the progression system, which starts out with B-class events and unlocks faster vehicles once you reach a target number of medals collected.

If you can't see the video in your country, apparently it's due to the soundtrack (which is intrisically part of the gaming experience) - sorry about that:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

My dentist was short-handed recently and performed my cleaning service personally. She said that she finds teeth cleaning very zen. After 30 minutes with PowerWash Simulator, I think I have some idea of what she means. Cleaning a van and then part of a backyard (including a dog house and Resident Evil-inspired umbrella) was very relaxing, once I got the hang of the controls. It took me awhile to figure out I could use a step stool for a higher angle, and even climb on top of things.

Consider this a first-person scrubber, and you're the grime fighter:

 

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Far: Changing Tides is reminiscent of side-scrolling puzzlers like Limbo and Inside, but, you know, on a boat. Apparently, it's a sequel to Far: Lone Sails. All I know is that it showed up on Xbox Game Pass, sounded like fun, and I tried it.

So far, it's a little dull but makes up for it with game mechanics you need to figure out as you go and that occasionally surprise you. It's also quite beautiful despite its rather drab color palette.

Give it a look and see whether it's right for you:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

I Am Dead is my kind of game. You probably know that I'm addicted to hidden object games, notably those from Artifex Mundi. This is something else, developed by Hollow Ponds and published by Annapurna Interactive (my favorite purveyor of indy gems).

The premise is that you are dead and trying to summon similar spirits by identifying the objects they connected to in life. You plumb the memories of the living and then go on a quest to find the items you revealed by zooming into container objects in search of something lost or hidden. It's pretty cool, once you get past the prologue, and the story is amusing.

If it weren't for COVID, I'd probably have found this at PAX West 20 and made it my game of the show:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Road 96 is not a game for me, at least right now. A little background: our son recently had a breakdown and attempted to run away. He's getting help and doing much better, but the trauma remains and the way this game promotes running away is especially triggering for me at this time.

The story seems OK (there's an oppressive regime, so there's a reason for the run to the border), game mechanics are basic, and the story weakly attempts some wackiness. But it is definitely not the game for me or my family.

What's your take:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

I'm not a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan. I never watched the shows, movies, or played the arcade game. I decided to try this one because it had good buzz and it's free on Xbox Game Pass.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder's Revenge is... fine. I played on easy, so I only died once on the second level. It came in well under 30 minutes, but more often I go over so this can help even things out a bit.

Take a look and see if it's your slice of pizza:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Lost in Random looked like an intriguing premise (a world ruled by dice rolls), and I almost bit down on it when it came out. Instead, I waited and it recently showed up in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (via EA Play).

I'm glad I waited. The game is interesting, but seems pretty rudimentary in terms of actual gameplay. The story is kinda basic too. All in all, it's OK for free but not sure I'll buy it

But, hey, take a look and judge for yourself:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.

Fans of this channel know I'm a Forza Horizon fan from way back, but may not know I'm also a fan of mini-car racers dating back to the Re-Volt public beta for Xbox Live in 2002. Alas, no game to date has scratched that itch (though Mad Tracks came close).

So I decided to bite down on Hot Wheels Unleashed. It tooks some time to figure out which bundle to get but I finally settled on the Collector's Edition for Series X/S as the Ultimate Stunt Edition for Series X/S was omitted from the sale, and I opted not to get the original Xbox One edition (as Smart Delivery is also not an option and DLC is not interchangeable).

I spend some time opening boxes to get new cars, exploring the bonus content, and winning pretty easily most of the time at the Easy skill level (which I'm likely to bump up). That said, I do play as both a Batmobile and a Barbie Dream Camper, and there are some close calls.

Not quite my dream game, but not bad:

 

For more like this, follow my Twitch channel and find archived streams in my YouTube channel.




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