Xbox Sales: TA Team Picks (March 31st)

Tom West - March 31st 2022

This week's Xbox sales have given the TA news team a chance to set out on exciting adventures. We've navigated through portals, experienced storybook tales in mystical lands, revisited history, and even searched through the trash to offer up our prime pick-ups of the week...

Kes — Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Maybe I’m misremembering, but I feel like Valiant Hearts — a platformer where you take three different characters through WWI — came out of a very different Ubisoft, one that dared to make smaller and more experimental titles. The UbiArt Framework that brought Child of Light to the world also gave us this gem in 2014. That art style is the first thing you notice and is just fantastic, giving us a combination of visuals that looks like both chalk drawings and pastels combined in such a deeply morose and grey way that it exudes the era. The thematically multi-pronged stories of different characters from every part of the war, tied together by a dog, is just an exceptionally easy narrative thread to follow through a very complex moral context. You will grow attached to all these folks for one reason or another while staying in tune with the historical reality of each situation. If I have one gripe, it is that the gameplay, a mix of platforming and puzzling, isn’t really that great. It toes the line of being repetitive and absurdly basic, which won’t be an appealing prospect to go back and mop up for achievements once you are finished. Nonetheless, this is a great showcase of what videogames can do when given the licence to explore history and give you access to the human stories residing within, and for a fractional cost, too.
Valiant Hearts: The Great War

Valiant Hearts - The Great War is the story of 4 crossed destinies and a broken love in a world torn apart.

Luke — Trash Quest

Trash Quest only came out for Xbox a little over three months ago, so it's quite surprising to see a juicy 80% lopped off its price already, making it even cheaper than the Steam version. It's a superb retro-style micro-Metroidvania about a raccoon in search of a space station's garbage dump, and it has a few neat little quirks that set it apart from its peers. First is the single spawn point — the bins where you start the game are where you'll return every time you die. Handily, this screen is right in the middle of the map, so exploration becomes more about finding shortcuts to help get around quicker rather than checkpoints and teleporters in many similar games. The map is small enough for this to work well without getting frustrating, so long as you remember to nibble on those wires whenever you find an open panel to pop the shortcuts. The other neat feature is a stamina system of sorts that determines how many times you can use your abilities before you touch the ground again to reset the charges, reminiscent of parts of Celeste. With just one slot, you can only jump, but for each additional one, you'll be able to tack on additional hops, glides and dashes like the nimble little spacefaring trash panda you are.

The Trash Quest achievements are no joke, with just one completion on-site, if from an admittedly tiny player base. Looking at the list, it's not hard to see why that might be — speedruns, deathless wins, damageless clears, pacifist runs, 100% completion... it's only a low% achievement away from completing the full set. The silver lining here is that 'finishing' Trash Quest only actually requires you to beat the first ship, which I managed in a little over 30 minutes on my second run while still trying to feel out the best route (taking a lot of safety power-ups on the way, I might add). I'm glad the second ship isn't part of those challenge runs, as it's brutal, almost more hardcore platformer than Metroidvania in places as you weave around spikes, lasers, bombs, and all the rest, but the mechanics hold up great even when it gets crazy tough. Trash Quest absolutely does not live up to its name — it's a fantastic and challenging little game that's easily worth a few bucks. Heck, it's worth the asking price for the awesome chiptune OST alone. Go on, get trashy. You know you want to...

Trash Quest

Enjoy the crazy ride aboard the space station in this cute Metroidvania platformer featuring the raccoon!

Sean — Bridge Constructor Portal

The Bridge Constructor series has been changing up the traditional bridge-building-puzzle-game formula for a while now by either mashing it together with another IP (Bridge Constructor: The Walking Dead) or by ramping things up to 11 and asking you to create bridges that also serve as ramps in a stunt park (Bridge Constructor Stunts). However, my favourite of the bunch is Bridge Constructor Portal, which takes you back to the Aperture Science Enrichment Center to build some bridges under the watchful gaze of GLaDOS. The twist with this Bridge Constructor game is that you’ll need to utilise portals, companion cubes, propulsion gel, and repulsion gel to manoeuvre your test vehicles through the test chamber and out the other side. These Portal mechanics fit remarkably well into a Bridge Constructor game and really offer something unique, fun, and engaging — they’ll also have you scratching your head as some of the later puzzles get pretty complex. This is all combined with that familiar Portal humour, which largely comes from GLaDOS’ sardonic quips. In terms of achievements, the Bridge Constructor Portal achievement list can be quite tricky as you need to complete every puzzle, but with a guide, you should breeze the lot without too much of an issue.

Bridge Constructor Portal is included with Xbox Game Pass, though it's on sale this week for just $1.99/£1.67/€1.99, which I think is an absolute bargain for a well-constructed and humorous puzzle game.

Bridge Constructor Portal

Enter the Aperture Science Enrichment Center and experience Bridge Constructor Portal – the unique merging of the classic Portal™ and Bridge Constructor™ games.
As a new employee in the Aperture Science test lab, it's your job to build bridges, ramps, slides, and other constructions in 60 test chambers and get the Bendies safely across the finish line in their vehicles.

Tom — Child of Light

I'm pretty sure I recommended this sometime last year, but it's a new year so I can pick it again, I'm sure. The reason I'm happy to highlight Ubisoft's gem of a game once again is that it's right up there with my top video game surprises. After joining Aurora on her quest through the hand-drawn stylised world of Lemuria for one of our TA Playlist months, I quickly realised that it's a refreshingly relaxing game. Everything about it is joyful, even in its darkest moments, thanks to the incessant use of rhyming whenever anyone speaks. While there is a lack of voice acting involved, the written dialogue is fantastic and really captures the essence of the storybook theme that inspires the game.

Anyone looking to grab this beauty now should know that it's impossible to get all of the Child of Light achievements, thanks to the servers having been shut down. Through the Looking Glass is now discontinued, but I'd highly recommend you look past that and try the game for yourself. It really is that good.

Child of Light

Child of Light is an adventure inspired by fairy tales. The story is the journey of Aurora, the daughter of a duke, who is transported to the world of Lemuria.

Will you be trying any of our suggestions? Or do you have a recommendation of your own? We'd love to hear your thoughts, so let us know down below!