During my time with Undermine – I’ve had early access to PC since 2019 but got a full version for PC and Xbox last month where it’s part of the Game Pass library. – I’ve seen a lot of good miners-miners die.
Bryeb has been trampled by a bobo, a large primate that randomly attacks anything on its path. Luphie fell into a pit. Cassman was killed by spiders. Tybylor did not see it coming; He’s been impaled by something called a lurker, a snake-like creature that burrows underground and appears elsewhere in the room without warning. Caran stepped on a trap switch and was shot by an arrow. Quincher was also impaled by a lurker. Sades too. (Lurkers are the worst.) Oliby was sacrificed. Emley was overrun by Glomps ̵
Like many of his colleagues Undermine features beautiful pixel art and compelling top-down dungeon crawling, and if the fun continues I wouldn’t be surprised if Undermine secures a place in my personal roguelite pantheon.
Undermine is just the newest little gem that I found on Xbox Game Pass. Yes, Microsoft’s Games-on-Demand service is great for capturing big blockbusters such as Gears 5, Halo 5and other games that are not5“(Ex: The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt). But I took a lot more benefit – and enjoyment – from the service by using it to test various smaller games. Sometimes I came across a new favorite.
Appendix B: Wizard of legend, a game that I would have missed otherwise. Wizard of legend is by and large a top-down creeping roguelite. Before each run, adjust a workload of four spells. The more you play, the bigger your spellbook will get and you will quickly reach a point where your potential load combinations are 900 million according to my math. It’s very cool, but the real draw is the seamless local co-op that gives both players access to the entire suite of unlocked spells.
To date, I’ve clocked more than 50 hours.
I finally gave up too Enter the Gungeon a shot. (Yeah, yeah, I’m four years late for the party. I know.) It turns out everyone was right: it’s a great game. My only criticism is that the co-op banishes the second player to a lower performing character. Otherwise no notes. Shooting animated bullets with bullets is an absolute blast.
I didn’t just use Game Pass to sink hours into various roguelites, though. After my colleague Mike Fahey sang the praises of CrossCode (and sang her again for this year’s console release) it whirled around. There’s a lot to like – the puzzle platform, the tricky 2D verticality, but not exactly the adorable art – but it wasn’t for me. (Don’t tell Mike.) Still, I’m glad I tried.
And then there is the shining star: Spiritfarer, a “cozy management game about dying”. Unlike other management games – let’s say Frostpunk, also on Game Pass, and also something I tried just because of the service – Spiritfarer is as relaxed as it gets. Yes, you have to cater to the whims of anthropomorphic animals as they approach the great afterlife, but you can do so on your own terms without worrying about screwing up and killing your animal friends. You are already dead! In the midst of all the murderous games of summer Spiritfarer is a welcome, charming delight.
Push Lambos to 200 mph Forza Horizon 4 is undoubtedly fantastic. Cowboy play in Red Dead Redemption 2when it was briefly available it was too. But it’s the smaller gems on Game Pass that sing. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ll have to see what fate will happen to the next miner in my queue.
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