Xbox Game Pass might have had a rather slow 2022, but its value has really paid off in 2023. There are more than 400 games to choose from, and I’ve honestly struggled to pick just 10 to recommend this year. For a monthly subscription fee of between $10.99 and $16.99, you get to play a wide range of games like Starfield, Sea of Stars, Tunic, and Inside.
If you’ve just got an Xbox, here’s a list of 10 great Xbox Game Pass games that are well worth your time over the holidays.
This cloud-based service lets you play many Game Pass games through Wi-Fi or LTE / 5G. Get the first month for $1 and then $16.99 per month thereafter.
Pentiment is a manuscript murder mystery set in the 16th century. InPentiment,you play as Andreas Maler, a painter working on illustrated manuscripts in an abbey in Bavaria. The game plays out like a visual novel, where you’ll make decisions throughout that have a big impact on everyone around you. Once you’ve made those decisions, you’ll have to live with the consequences.
I love to slouch into my sofa and pressure wash away my day by stripping dirt from vehicles and pavements. There’s something very satisfying about blasting away grime without having to physically leave your living room and do the hard work of cleaning. If you’re a clean freak, then you’ll love this one even more than I do.
Tunic is a Zelda-style adventure that looks like it might be an easy ride thanks to the cute little fox, but the enemies are as challenging as anything you’d find in a Dark Souls game. The level design is gorgeous and there are beautiful animations throughout. As you’re drooling over how pretty Tunic is, the combat and mechanics will keep your interest for hours. Just make sure you consult the in-game manual to help you get around and understand how to get the most out of Tunic.
Starfield, the new space RPG from Skyrim maker Bethesda Game Studios, finally arrived this year and the best part is that it’s on Xbox Game Pass. Starfield is reminiscent of games like Fallout and Skyrim, as it’s huge and full of adventure and discovery. Be warned, though, you’ll need to put a good 10 hours into Starfield before it really gets going, and Bethesda is still working on improving Starfield’s systems — including city maps, official mod support, and new ways to travel around.
Inside is a platform game that starts in a grim and gray forest, which sets the stage for an unsettling and constantly changing landscape. You control a boy trying to escape a violent world that’s full of shocking plot twists. Inside only lasts a few hours, but if you’re a fan of 2D puzzle games then this is a must-play.
Cocoon is a minimalist puzzle game where you transport orbs to various devices. These orbs grant special abilities and include entire worlds, introducing simple yet complex gameplay. It has to be played to be understood, and it’s well worth five to six hours of your time.
Jusantis a climbing game from the developers behind theLife Is Strangeseries. You start at the base of a huge tower, climbing up and maneuvering through obstacles. It’s full of incredible vistas as you climb, but I just wish the game wasn’t told through huge amounts of text that really get you reaching for the skip button. Still, it’s worth pushing through all of that dialogue for this solid addition to the Xbox Game Pass library.
In Lies of P you play as Pinocchio, a silent protagonist who leads you through a Soulslike world where you have to adapt your weapons to take on the many enemies in the city of Krat. There’s a weapon crafting system that lets you mix and match weapons to create your ideal build. Lies of P also has a lying system, which means decisions you make throughout the game can lead to three different endings. If you’re a fan of the combat in Bloodborne then Lies of P will feel familiar, and it does a good job of standing out in the Soulslike genre.
Hi-Fi Rush launched as a shadow drop earlier this year, straight into Xbox Game Pass. Tango Gameworks, the developers behind The Evil Within series and Ghostwire: Tokyo, have created a slick and stylish rhythm-action brawler. You’re rewarded for landing hits in time with the game’s music, which really makes it feel like you’re playing music live. The game is also full of pop culture references, all set to a colorful visual style with animated 2D scenes.
I grew up playing SNES RPGs, so Sea of Stars felt like going back to the ‘90s and enjoying 16-bit video games. The beautiful pixel art really shines in the game’s dungeons, and I often found myself just admiring this retro RPG. The story takes some time to get going, but there’s a great soundtrack and excellent battle system that makes up for the rather generic storytelling.