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5 hidden gems you absolutely have to try on Xbox Game Pass

Looking for some new games to play? Start here.

journey to the savage planet on microsoft xbox one
Image: Typhoon Studios

Look, we all know Microsoft has made a couple of mistakes throughout this generation with the Xbox One, but they’re genuinely starting to impress now. Take Game Pass for example. Launched in June 2017, it allows subscribers to download and play more than 100 games at any time. There’s no streaming, no lag, just download, enjoy, and delete when you’re done.

It’s not all about the blockbusters either. Sure, there are plenty of Halo and Gears of War titles to choose from, and anyone looking for a racing fix can binge on Forza Horizon 4. But there are also some hidden gems to be found. Those unique titles that normally wouldn’t get a look in. And luckily enough, I have a few to suggest that are well worth giving a go.


There are plenty of games where you play as a hero. Rescue the princess, save the world/galaxy/universe, you know the drill. Not many games allow you to be a bad guy. Carrion doesn’t just allow you to be the bad guy, it straight up revels in the idea of you being an unstoppable evil force.

It’s a Metroidvania at heart, so you’ll be spending the vast majority of the game exploring a science facility and upgrading your character. Which just so happens to be an amorphous red blob, complete with tentacles, several sets of teeth, and a truly disturbing, slithering, sliding feel to its motion. The art style has an early-16-bit quality, with a sci-fi look that could have been lifted from Alien 3 on SNES.

And it’s so brutally violent. From ripping lab doors off the hinges to picking up poor, innocent scientists and slamming their head against the nearest wall before dragging them in to bite their head off, it’s all designed to be incredibly visceral. Carrion is an outstanding game to play on your Xbox after a crappy day. Shame there’s no mini-map though.

Journey to the Savage Planet

As an employee for Kindred Aerospace, the 4th Best Interstellar Exploration Company, you’ve been tasked with surveying ARY-26 – an as of yet uncharted planet which is inhabited by various alien lifeforms. Well, I suppose technically YOU are the alien lifeform, they’re indigenous…

Anyway, played in first-person, you stroll about the planet exploring the different areas, scanning all the different flora and fauna, and getting into firefights with the more aggressive species. Don’t worry if these creatures get the best of you – you’ll regenerate as a clone back at your ship, ready to set out and recover your belongings.

Full of humor and with a bold, vibrant visual style that offers plenty of charm, Journey to the Savage Planet is a great title that anyone with a love for sci-fi should enjoy.

Tell Me Why

Tell Me Why is a three-episode story-based game that follows Alyson and her trans twin brother Tyler Ronan as they return to their childhood home in Alaska so that they can come to terms with the events they experienced. If you’ve played Life is Strange you should know what to expect from the gameplay – exploration, investigation, and lots of conversation. Your decisions and actions will affect the story and provide different outcomes depending on your answers.

A heavy emphasis on Tlingit culture runs throughout, so you’ll explore themes based on family and kinship as you progress, as well as plenty of spirituality.

Tyler is the first transgender playable character from a major studio, and the developers, Dontnod Entertainment worked closely with GLAAD to ensure an authentic experience when playing his story. He’s also been voiced by August Aiden Black, who identifies as a trans man.

And unlike a lot of episodic games, Tell Me Why has a very quick release schedule – in fact, the third and final part has a release date of September 10th.

Two Point Hospital

Remember Theme Hospital? That awesome game from the ‘90s where you got to build and manage a hospital? Ok, it sounds boring when I put it like that, but stay with me here.

Two Point Hospital is basically that idea brought into the modern-day on the Xbox One. You build and upgrade your hospital, along with hiring and firing all your employees, while also curing various ailments. Keep an eye out for Mock Star, where the patient becomes a homage to Freddie Mercury, and Light Headed – a mostly harmless illness where anyone who’s afflicted has their head replaced by a lightbulb.

Managing your staff and patient needs, keeping on top of money, and making a profit mean it’s a tense balancing act as you try to figure out the best ways to make enough cash while also working your way up the corporate ladder.

And considering everything is done on the Xbox pad, it’s actually a pretty intuitive control system. This is a great pick for anyone who wants a blast of nostalgia, or anyone who enjoys a little bit of strategy from time to time.

West of Dead

I skipped past this at first. The description on the Microsoft Store didn’t sell it to me for some reason. Recently though, I gave it another chance, and I’m glad I did.

It’s full of charm, with a cool, gravelly narrator like Bastion had, an isometric viewpoint and dark theme borrowed from Diablo, and a destructible cover system that leads to some really intense gameplay. Oh, and you play as a dead cowboy called William Mason. Who has a flaming skull for a head. And is voiced by Ron Perlman.

The setting of Purgatory means there’s plenty of room to descend into supernatural fun, with witches to wendigos to waste, and more than enough zombies to go around. Twin-stick controls, a choice of weapons and that clever cover system mentioned earlier mean it’s really made an impression on me – even if I am terrible at it.

There are honestly loads of games I could have recommended on this list. Game Pass has tons of third-and-first person shooters, some great fighters, a few outstanding JRPGs, and even a couple of MMOs, so it’s fantastic value for money considering Game Pass Ultimate (which also includes Xbox Live access for online play) is $14.99/£10.99 per month.

It’s well worth digging through the service to find something new and unique, but I’d definitely recommend starting with the five above if you’re looking to try something a little different.

What do you think? What are some of your favorite titles available through Microsoft’s Game Pass on Xbox One? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

Editors’ Recommendations:

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A gamer since I've been able to hold a controller, I can usually be found with a PlayStation, Xbox or Switch controller in my hand.

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