Start Your Engines Sale TA Team Picks (August 19th)

Kes Eylers-Stephenson - August 19th 2021

This week's Xbox Sale asks you to 'Start Your Engines' and being the good sports that we are, we kindly obliged. We've put together a list of our top picks from the selection of games on sale this week and definitely didn't stay on track with our selections. Kes slammed his vehicle-related choice into reverse the moment he saw pirate ships and Sean has spent so much time sleeping in festival fields that any knowledge of the century he's living in has careened into the sidewall. Luke will be absent again from this week's picks due to his hard work bringing you more awesome features like The Grind Is Real! Speaking to him has confirmed that he too would have chosen the medieval madness of The Procession to Calvary, so another that forgot the choice needed to have wheels. No matter, Tom and Heidi are here to keep everything themed correctly... wait, Heidi went with a cat cafe? That's even more ridiculous!

Heidi - Calico

I think the game I’m most interested in from this week’s sales pick has got to be Calico. Any game which tasks you with running a cat cafe should be all kinds of adorable, but especially one that literally says in the description that it’s “meant to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.” Calico tasks you with rebuilding the town’s cat cafe, finding furniture, decorations, food, and, of course, cats, to fill it with. Calico also doesn’t seem too concerned with making things realistic — for example, there’s a potion that lets you turn any animal into a giant, which does go some way towards explaining why several trailers show people casually riding enormous horse-sized cats. After being trapped in a rather stressful time-loop lately with Twelve Minutes — check out our Twelve Minutes review to see what we thought — something as laid-back and fantastical as Calico seems ideal, especially when it’s 25% off, and particularly when it’s boasting a healthy TA community rating of 4.23/5!

Calico is a day-in-the-life community sim game where you are given an important and adorable task: rebuild the town’s cat café and fill it with cute and cuddly creatures! Build up your café by filling it with cute furniture, fun decorations, yummy pastries, and get it bustling with animals again!

Kes — King of Seas

I picked this game up at launch, because pirates, and I found myself a little sceptical before going in. The semi-top down action RPG was getting 6/10’s all around the hold; getting roughed up for a grindy mid-game, lack of visual polish, and occasionally clumsy implementation of gameplay mechanics. I played for two hours or so and had a great time, but very quickly realised these reports of small shortcomings to be spot on. However, the game had charm and gusto in abundance, with nothing intrinsically wrong that couldn't be patched out. Indeed, there is something very chill about navigating the easy-going Caribbean Islands delivering your goods to get your doubloons. That casual trading life makes every ship encounter feel treacherous on the harder difficulties. I sat up in my seat every time a rogue vessel came blazing by swaddled in a shroud of cannon smoke. A tap of RT and LT allows you to aim and fire with ease while trying to balance what ammunition you are using and the wind speed and direction. The story anchoring this all down is well written and genuinely gleeful, as opposed to the dead-eyed Jack Sparrow-parroting nonsense you see from imitators. That makes this a good game to pick up for 25% off. You get to support an indie studio while having a piratey time that, in terms of genre, is sitting somewhere in between the AAA swashbuckling of Sea of Thieves and the complex AA economy-sim of Port Royale 4.

In all honesty, though, there is work to be done here if you aren’t in it just for the fun of heading to the Caribbean. King of Seas is sitting at port waiting for a patch or two to be exactly what it wants to be, and the good news is it is nearly there! The Ready, Aim, Fire! update made the game much better on PC — with lines of sight for ship combat, graphical enhancements, and ironed out low-key issues — and now we are just waiting for that same upgrade on consoles. In addition, the achievements might have a case of scurvy. Reading around the topic after I realised I wanted to see the game in the best waters, it seems the first run of the game will require a lot of RNG for rare items and special encounters. So, making the player do a second run on Permadeath afterwards is a proper Charles Vane move. Again, I still really like this game and would recommend it on sale at this point or in the future. I, for one, can’t wait to kick up my feet and head back out to the seas as soon as that patch drops.

King of Seas

King of Seas is an Action Role playing game set in a deadly procedurally generated pirate world. In a ferocious plot you will fight to regain what has been taken away and embark on an epic adventure in a fantastic world, filled with battles, lost islands and treasures. A universe full of amazing characters and breathtaking missions will keep you anchored as you strive to become the king of all pirates.

Sean - The Procession to Calvary

If you’re after an easy completion that’s also a lot of fun and is absurdly silly, The Procession to Calvary has got you covered. From the out-there mind of lone developer Joe Richardson, The Procession to Calvary is a simple point-and-click adventure game with a quite literal renaissance art style. The holy war is over, but the opposition’s leader, Heavenly Peter, has escaped, and you are tasked with tracking down the tyrant to end him once and for all. The visuals are pretty unique and striking for a video game and are constructed using paintings by renaissance artists, Rembrandt, Botticelli, Michelangelo and many more. And while that sounds all very serious, the art style is contrasted by the hilarious writing, which will have you wondering what on earth it is you’re actually playing. You will go from persuading an amputee to give up his oar that he’s using as a crutch, all the way to somehow obtaining a “supple young boy with rosy cheeks and a pert little butt” for a rather odd priestly scholar — it’s bizarre, I tell you! There are times when the backtracking and the puzzles do get a little tedious, but that’s really the only downfall I can think of when it comes to The Procession to Calvary. For just $10.04/£8.36/€10.04 in this week’s sale, it’s a must purchase.
The Procession to Calvary

The Procession to Calvary is an adventure game in which you journey through a richly detailed landscape built from hundreds of Renaissance paintings.

Tom — Monster Jam Steel Titans

There is something extremely rewarding about flooring an oversized truck with six-foot wheels into an arena wall and watching it launch into the air, only to perform a multitude of somersaults before crashing into the ground. That’s pretty much how I spent most of my time playing Monster Jam and, in my opinion, it was time well spent. This is one of those games that gets by on just being itself, offering plenty of unlockable trucks — a list worthy of the most extreme Monster Jam fan — various arenas to mess around in, and a fantastic selection of game modes that range from arena stunt challenges to straight racing.

My experience with the game was amplified by the fact that we are already fans of the franchise in my household, with my son having a collection of over 50 die-cast models. I suppose there is a little bit of bias in my opinion of this game, for sure, but my recommendation is still based on fact. The trucks look fantastic and allow for body damage, giving you the ability to smash the carbon fibre shell to pieces and repair blown tyres. The game shines the most, however, in the handling of said trucks. I’ve not driven a monster truck (yet) but I can only imagine that attempting to control a top-heavy machine on man-sized balloons is a bit of a chore, and the game perfectly nails the simulation of the difficult task. You never feel totally in control of your vehicle, and that is what allows the game to shine. What you can control, however, is the achievement list, which isn't too difficult to knock out so justifying buying it at a 60% discount should be a little easier. On one final note before I leave you alone: Grave Digger rules... obviously!

Monster Jam Steel Titans

Real Trucks. Real Action. Monster Jam! Monster Jam Steel Titans delivers the complete Monster Jam experience for everybody to enjoy!

Anything in this list catch your eye? Let us know!