Xbox Sales: TA Team Picks (February 24th)

Tom West - February 24th 2022

This week's Xbox sales are offering up plenty of goodies for eagle-eyed bargain hunters, so the TA news team has once again embarked on a quest to uncover the secrets of the discounted games — and share their riches with you, of course. Well, all but Sean... it's always the Seans of the world that break the Fellowships, isn't it?

Heidi — Alba: A Wildlife Adventure

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure is pure charm. It wraps together a sense of childhood adventure with a motivating message about conservation, all tumbled together with a gorgeous art style. Alba is visiting her grandparents on a Mediterranean island when she starts to notice the litter coating the island, and the danger this rubbish poses to the wildlife. She sets out to photograph the island’s creatures and raise awareness about conserving their home. The game focuses on the smaller actions Alba can take, which add up to have a big impact on the world. Those actions have delightfully immediate results; fixing a bird feeder, putting rubbish in the bin, or fixing up a forgotten corner of the island causes rarer creatures to come flooding back in, with Alba’s photos and exploits making the news on her island town.

One major strength of the game is its atmosphere. The sounds, sights, and songs of Alba come together to create a beautiful world where you can almost feel the sun shining down on the tiny island — which, if you too have had nothing but rain and storms recently, offers a welcome change. Overall, it’s just a lovely experience, and one that’s currently 35% off.

Alba: A Wildlife Adventure

Small actions can make a big difference. Join Alba, a young activist, as she sets out to save her beautiful island and its wildlife.

Kes — A Plague Tale: Innocence

I well know that A Plague Tale: Innocence is on Game Pass, and that it is likely to stay there given that Microsoft has wrangled a deal for the fantastic looking sequel — Requiem — to arrive day one on the service. So, if nothing else, I hope this serves as an endorsement to go and get the most out of your subscription, or to pay developer Asobo a small amount of coin for their effort. What the team has made is a very solid and perfectly-formed middle-market action-adventure stealth game that looks AAA. France is the epicentre of a horrific plague during the hundred-years war of the fourteenth century. This isn’t like any other, though. Rats are crawling from the earth in a horrible show of grotesque amorphic mammal explosions that will unsettle you from the moment you first see it. You follow young woman Amica de Roon and her brother Hugo as they try to escape the plague, not realising how closely they are tied to the events unfolding.

It’s hard to know what to start with, here. I think there is an hour or so that could be trimmed out of the game, with the last few sections not really adding enough “new” to warrant being there. Some of the combat scenarios that play like puzzles are a really smart and efficient bit of game design. Approach with a rock for guard distractions, use your sling here to knock the torch, sneak around this wall at this part of the guard's pathing. It is simple, yes, but an exceptional way to satisfy the player when it works. I just think maybe one or two of these scenarios could have been culled because they aren’t exactly deep. And there we go, everything else is a resounding positive. The world design is gorgeous and immersive — so many levels are memorable. One has you sneaking through a local city, which really places you at the heart of historical fiction narrative using the interactivity of a video game to heighten your enjoyment. The characters feel real, likeable and unlikeable as required, all while dipping in and out of the broader tapestry of story. I love some of the lore, particularly with all the alchemy stuff. The rats add a unique haunting presence to your playthrough and I love how Asobo has put the effort into making them an integral part of most levels. This is, no doubt, a great game. So, pick it up ahead of Requiem in 2022!

A Plague Tale: Innocence

Follow the critically acclaimed tale of young Amicia and her little brother Hugo, in a heartrending journey through the darkest hours of history.

Luke — Afterparty

Plenty of video games take us to Hell, but it's pretty much always the same deal — fire, spikes, screams, demons... you know, the usual. Imaginative adventure game Afterparty (from the creators of Oxenfree) has all that staple stuff, sure, but it builds on it in colourful and amusing ways to deliver a narrative adventure dripping with character and personality. Afterparty follows the trials an tribulations of long-time friends Milo and Lola after they suddenly find themselves suddenly (and inexplicably) dead and dragged to Hell during their graduation party. There, the pair must out-drink, sweet-talk, out-dance, recruit, and out-other-things Hell's higher-ups as they seek an audience with Satan himself to win the right to return to their normal lives, and it's a ride that's every bit as crazy as it sounds. It also balances its dark humour and more serious story beats brilliantly, leading to some emotional ups and downs to go along with gameplay and writing that aren't afraid to throw a few curveballs.

The superb Afterparty did a stint on Game Pass but left the service a little over a year ago, so if you need to finish it up — or if you never played it at all — then grabbing it now for 70% off (as low as it's been) is a move I wholeheartedly endorse. I'll be grabbing it myself to mop up the Afterparty achievements I missed while it was on Game Pass. A good few are missable but it's not exactly the longest game, so if you want to see how great this adventure actually is, save the guides for your second playthrough and just drink it all in on your first.

Afterparty

In Afterparty, you are Milo and Lola, recently deceased best buds who suddenly find themselves staring down an eternity in Hell. But there’s a loophole: outdrink Satan and he’ll grant you re-entry to Earth. Time to go on the best bender ever.

Tom — Monster Jam Steel Titans

Have I picked Monster Jam Steel Titans as a Sales Pick before? Yes, yes, I probably have, but it’s good fun and well worth your attention, so I’m highlighting it again. While the game will catch the eye of players that have an interest in Monster Jam and its varied line-up of teams, you don’t need to be a monster trucking superfan to have a great time with the game. Many of the sport’s most iconic trucks make an appearance here, which includes the likes of Grave Digger, MAX-D, Zombie, and more, and you can use them in several different game modes. For me personally, the game was enjoyable from beginning to end, even though the Monster Jam Steel Titans achievements are a slight grind to finish off once you near the end of the game. Flipping, spinning, jumping, cashing, and crushing your way to victory with a pretty good soundtrack rocking alongside you is one of the game’s best featured — I regularly return to play with my son, even though we finished it over a year ago.

With 50% chopped off of the price right now, Monster Jam Steel Titans is a title worthy of your games library, I think. Its sequel, Monster Jam Steel Titans 2, is also on sale and adds even more trucks to the game, alongside what looks to be awesome new tracks, performance improvements, and more. I’ve not had a chance to play the sequel yet, so I can’’ comment

Monster Jam Steel Titans

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

Have you found anything here to add to your collection, or have you found something to share with us? Let us know down below!