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What’s on Game Pass? May 2024


What a difference a month makes. Last month I was struggling for games to play, and this month, I’ve been inundated. That said, there are two standout games that I would like to draw your attention to and neither of them are Star Wars Jedi: Survivor. Shock-horror.

Unsurprisingly, after been very excited that it was making its way to Game Pass – as I frequently extol, I take great pleasure in not having to outlay large sums for vapid AAA titles, and whilst I may have a Game Pass subscription (which I buy cheaply through key sites) and that costs, over the course of a year, upward of one hundred pounds, I don’t, would you believe it, have any other subscriptions (Netflix, etc.), so Game Pass more than pays for itself – I was left dumbfounded by the game’s lack of everything. It’s a reskin, a repeat, a sequel, a franchise, a money-making exercise, and it lures with it’s cool sounding pew-pew lasers.

I played for around an hour and my excitement levels dwindled from vast heights to suburban lows. There’s not much else to say about the game. You know what you’re getting: a worthless time-sink. AAA video games are – and I assure you, I’ve lived that life – akin to an addiction. Having gone cold-turkey, albeit unenforced and accidental, whenever I return to ‘the franchises’, I’m left feeling serially underwhelmed. And the bitter aftertaste of waste lingers before I inevitably hit delete.

And anyway, Star Wars is spoken about enough and I wanted to talk at length about Botany Manor and Harold Halibut. Two surprising games that reminded me why I like to play video games in my spare time.

Botany Manor

Botany Manor takes place at a Victorian manor house and you play as the botanist, Arabella Greene, the inheritor of the aforementioned manor.

The story unfolds through the exploration of the manor house and the outlying grounds and gardens and through Arabella’s life experiences, told as the digitalised version of an epistolary novel. Whilst reading the multiple letters lying around throughout her inherited home, you come to learn about who Arabella is, the life she has led and the difficulties she has faced.

Explore, complete puzzles and grow the required plants in preparation for Arabella’s publication of a book about the world’s forgotten flora. This is a wholesome game that emphasises cultivation and relaxation in a spacious environment, similar to how I imagine working with plants in real life to be.

Botany Manor is a fascinating insight into the life of a woman during the Victorian era, making it all the more relevant now. This game will surely inspire both women and men, girls and boys alike and I will tell you why. As I played through the game, I became attached to and fond of Arabella. I found myself becoming embittered by the patriarchal restrictions placed on her life despite her incredible expertise in the field of botany. Playing as a strong, ambitious and resourceful woman is the ideal experience for anyone that wishes to experience life through a different lens.

Botany Manor is rewarding and the ending is the vindicated result of the, at times, slog through passion. The graphics and textures are a joy to walk through. The manor itself, although not an accurate rendition of a typical English manor house, is a true paradise to explore and certainly situates you in a particular lifestyle we have all read in the key texts at school. The likes of Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice spring to mind.

Harold Halibut

The first word I will use to describe Harold Halibut is unexpected. Upon noticing the game in the upcoming section on Game Pass, I was intrigued by its look and description.

Harold Halibut is the story of a group of colonists that have left a dying Earth on a generation starship. Their vessel malfunctions and crashes on a waterworld, sinking beneath the oceans. The vessel, named the Fedora, survives the crash and the inhabitants set about making the most of a bad situation.

The game’s eponymous ‘hero’ Harold Halibut lives in a small room adjacent to a lab, and which is where the story begins. This is a purely narrative experience, with nothing in the way of mechanics. You can walk, talk and interact, that is all.

And in its simplicity lies a wonderful and remarkable, often philosophical, story. A story that forces you to question yourself. It has Bioshock vibes, mainly because of the CEO of the Fedora’s ‘company’, the setting and the green, underworld tint that permeates the Fedora. Though it’s set off-word, it feels more inner-world thanks to the claustrophobic backdrop of the deep sea.

So where does the story lead? Without giving away too much, the story explores Harold’s relationship with everyone else on the Fedora and the eventual revelation that there is a way for them to escape their predicament. How that happens is where the story begins in earnest. Harold’s simple, almost pointless life, is turned upside down and leads him on an adventure that provides him with an explanation for who he is and dare I say it, what a life might mean.

The game breaks all the rules of modern video gaming. This is digitalised craftsmanship at its finest. Quite literally hand-built with figurines and transposed to graphics on our screens, this attention to detail and luxuriousness lends life to Harold Halibut; a sort of texture that makes it pop and seem even more realistic than simply great graphics.

I could go on and on about this game, but I won’t. If you enjoy narrative games, set in a world that imparts urgency and aliveness, I’m sure you’ll get on well with Harold Halibut. Make a brew or pour a wine and let this charming game wash over you.

What am I playing?

I’ve already spoken at length about the gorgeous Botany Manor and the enigmatic Harold Halibut, so lets talk about a couple more titles that are available on Game Pass, one of which is a monthly regular. You guessed it...

Of course I’ve been dabbling with Sea of Thieves again. We’re now on Season 12 and there’s been – forgive the pun – a raft of quality of life updates, namely, harpoon sliding! Fire your harpoon, and once attached to a surface, you can hop on and use it to access difficult to reach areas. This helps to get treasure to the boat quicker and if you fire the harpoon from a sharper angle, you can even slide down the line at the rate of – forgive me – knots. Get your hands on the new double-barrelled pistol, throwing knives, multi-cannon scattershot, a skeleton summoning ability and the windcaller, a powerful tool that lets you boost or push enemies away from you!

I’ve also been playing a Xbox 360 game called The Cave, which is available to all you Game Pass subscribers. You will take control of three characters of your choosing and descend into a self aware cave (you’ll see what I mean when you play), from there you can take control of each character at any time – similar to Grand Theft Auto V – and use each of their special abilities to solve the puzzles of the cave. The game is intuitive, original and again showcases how spoiled we were. It speaks volumes that recent reviews of the game are positive all these years later. Definitely worth a punt.

Newly added

Another Crab’s Treasure

EA Sports PGA Tour

Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes

Have a Nice Death


Lil Gator Game

NHL 24

Orcs Must Die! 3

The Rewinder

Shadow of the Tomb Raider Definitive Edition

Star Wars Jedi: Survivor

Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition

Coming soon

Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons – 14/05

Humanity – 30/05

Kona II: Brume – 07/05

Little Kitty, Big City – 09/05

Senua’s Saga: Hellblade II – 21/05

Thanks for reading again this month and apologies for the initial ramble; remember, a problem shared is a problem halved! I hope you all had a fab extended weekend. Tell us what you’ve been playing on Game Pass over on our socials.

Much love.