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Thursday, June 4, 2020

12 of the Best Horror Games to Try on Xbox Game Pass

Netflix’s subscription model has changed the landscape of TV and film, so it’s only logical that the video game world tries to follow suit. So far, Microsoft has been the most successful company to attempt it, putting together a strong library for Xbox Game Pass. But much like Netflix, it’s easy for good games to get lost in a huge pile of content.

So here are some of the horror highlights that Game Pass has to offer, both on PC and Xbox One.

Pathologic 2

This is the perfect type of game to try out on Xbox Game Pass. Ice Pick Lodge’s surrealist horror title defies easy description and won’t be for everyone, but if you’ve already got the service there’s no reason not to download it to see if it’s your cup of tea. The game casts you as a doctor trying to save a town from a mysterious disease as everything is going to hell around you. It’s bizarre, stressful, and possibly too real for the time we live in, but even with rough edges, it’s one of the most unique experiences you can find in the genre.

Blair Witch

Another game that seems perfect for the service, but for different reasons, is Bloober Team’s adaptation of Blair Witch. While Pathologic 2 feels like that weird indie movie you randomly watch and end up thinking about for weeks, Blair Witch is something that’s perfectly enjoyable, but will fade from memory afterward. While it never is as good as its source material, there’s enough there for you to give it a shot to see if it resonates with you, especially if you’re a fan of the films.

We Happy Few

Microsoft must have liked what they saw in We Happy Few, because they acquired Compulsion Games in 2018 and added the game to Game Pass. While the game was disappointing to many fans because it wasn’t the Bioshock-like experience many thought it would be from the trailer, the Prisoner-meets-Clockwork-Orange vibe of the game’s world is enough to help make up for the clunky crafting and survival mechanics.

A Plague Tale: Innocence

With the massive amount of good games that have come out in the last few years, it’s easy to miss some smaller titles like A Plague Tale, but with Game Pass, it’s only a click away. Set among in 1348 against the backdrop of the bubonic plague and the Spanish Inquisition, the game tells a heartfelt coming-of-age story with strong characters and an oppressive atmosphere. Again, it might hit a little too close to home in 2020, but it’s a powerful game that deserves to be played.


Have you ever played SimCity and thought to yourself the game would be improved with “hope” and “discontent” meters? If so, Frostpunk is your game. Tasked with building a city during an icy apocalypse, players have to carefully manage their resources while making tricky moral decisions to keep their colony from dying out. Definitely not the most cheery game around, but this chilly city builder offers a unique experience that’s as stressful as it is addictive.

Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night

If the many delays with this project led you to skipping it upon its release last year, now’s the perfect opportunity to correct that mistake through Game Pass. Koji Igarashi returns to the genre he helped make famous with a gorgeous game that accurately captures the spirit of his classic Castlevania title, Symphony of the Night. Exploring gothic castles while fighting all manner of creatures still holds the same appeal now as it did in 1997.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Another one of Microsoft’s exciting studio acquisitions was Ninja Theory, especially following the release of Hellblade. Featuring highly polished visuals and excellent acting, Hellblade told the mentally harrowing tale of Senua’s descent into the underworld to save her dead lover from the goddess Hela. Though the game has a solid foundation, neither the combat nor the puzzles find interesting ways to evolve as the game goes on, but the story and atmosphere carry the game a long way.

Mortal Kombat X

If you’re like me, you’re not very good at fighting games and find little reason to own them because you get trounced anytime you try to play online. Fortunately, Xbox Game Pass gives you access to NetherRealm’s excellent Mortal Kombat X. Fighting game newbies like myself can try it out and have fun with the game’s over the top and entertaining story mode. The series as a whole has been on a roll in the past few iterations, so if you have any interest in Mortal Kombat, this is a great way to jump in and see what it’s been up to.

Devil May Cry 5

Speaking of series that have come back with a vengeance, Capcom revitalized the Devil May Cry series with the fifth entry after an attempted reboot six years earlier. Devil May Cry 5 brought back the original Dante in all his glory, with new and old characters rounding out an interesting story told in its signature over-the-top style. If you held off from trying out this excellent action title because of worries about replay value, Game Pass gives you a perfect opportunity to dive in.

Remnant: From the Ashes

If you and your friends are looking for something to play together during this era of social distancing, Remnant is a great option. The quick pitch is that it’s Dark Souls with guns and Diablo-style loot mechanics. Set in a post-apocalypse where the world has been overrun by an evil race called The Root, the game changes up the Souls formula by randomizing enemy layouts, even changing the boss you encounter from playthrough to playthrough. The lore isn’t as much of a hook as it is in the Souls series, but the shooting mechanics are top notch and always satisfying.

The Surge 2

Speaking of Souls-like games, the first The Surge game was one I bounced off of pretty quickly. The combat was solid, but the environments were very dull and lifeless, giving me no reason to keep progressing. Luckily developer Deck13 learned their lessons and the followup improves on it in every way. While the original was set in a rather bland factory run amok, this one features a whole city overrun by cyborgs of all variety. The combat can seem overwhelming at first, but the rush of chopping off an opponent’s arm with a well-timed strike to acquire their shiny new weapon never gets old.

Alien: Isolation

The Alien franchise has a long and storied history in video games. While most try to capture the action-packed spirit of Aliens, Alien: Isolation reaches for the tension and horror that made the first one an instant classic. Stalked by the iconic Xenomorph, players control Amanda Ripley as she tries to escape from the doomed Sevastapol Station. Isolation manages to perfectly capture the look, feel, and mood of the franchise, creating a truly authentic Alien experience. 

Have you tried out Xbox Game Pass? If so, feel free to leave your recommendations below! 


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