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Our monthly update on new games being added to PlayStation Plus, Xbox Game Pass and other subscription services.
The following hand-picked games are either part of a subscription services at the time this articles gets published or were made available recently.
Venba (included in Xbox Game Pass and PC Game Pass since July 31st, 2023) (Patrick)
The visual novel Venba tells the story of the eponymous protagonist, her husband Paavalan and their newborn child Kavin. The small family immigrated to Canada from India in 1988 and the roughly 2-hour game spans their story through 2017. As Paavalan fights for a job as a teacher, the adolescent Kavin, striving for recognition, finds himself further and further removed from his Indian roots, despite of the great efforts that Venba makes as a link in the family. The storyline features some truly heartbreaking moments and comes with a bittersweet ending. A denser atmosphere would have been provided if the presentation of the dialogues spoken in Tamil had differed from the English-language conversations. So it seems a bit strange when Venba asks Kavin to speak in Tamil when all dialogues are displayed in English anyway. Every once in a while, your choices introduce a slight variation in the conversations, but don’t necessarily justify another playthrough on their own.
Venba’s unique selling point is conveying the story through the cooking of traditional Indian dishes. While the preparation of idlis, steamed, flat rice cakes, doesn’t require much effort, you’ll be tasked with cooking more and more elaborate dishes as you progress through the game. Luckily there is a recipe book and a hint system in case you get stuck. The dishes can be easily prepared with both the controller and the mouse. A ten-track soundtrack, sung in Tamil and inspired by local film music, was created for Venba. The harmonious 2D pastel look always conjures up new postcard motifs on the screen and the cooking scenes in particular are beautifully arranged.
Venba tells a timeless story with believable dialogue in a refreshing gameplay loop. The cooking not only conveys cultural backgrounds, but also gives the protagonists character through cleverly intersected flashbacks. If you are looking for an engaging short one-off story-focused game, you should give Venba a try.
Rogue Legacy 2 (included in PlayStation Plus Extra and Premium since June 20th, 2023) (Isaac)
Rogue Legacy 2 by Cellar Door Games joined PlayStation Plus Extra and Premium on June 20th, alongside its release for the PS4 and PS5. These were the last versions released, coming a few months after the game’s last major update.
This sequel follows a similar premise to the original Rogue Legacy: pick a character from a random selection, navigate a randomised castle, kill bosses, and reach the final boss. And, as with the first game, you can expect to die a lot in Rogue Legacy 2. The entire game is built around dying, powering up, and gaining more advantages over the odds that are stacked against you.
Gameplay is relatively simple, with your starting characters having access to a basic moveset that mostly mirrors the first game. Each character has access to a basic attack and class-specific talent, along with a randomised spell. You can also dodge, though with no invincibility frames it can be tough to use safely in combat.
It’s a simple moveset that works well, with no class feeling particularly weak (though some have quirks that can be hard to get used to). A lot of the challenge comes from the fact that you only get a choice from 3 random characters each time your previous one dies and you start again. You could potentially get a spell that doesn’t synergise well with your class, or negative traits that make things harder (though these do give you extra gold).
Learning how to best use the characters given to you balances out the simple gameplay, as you’re always having to learn new things on the fly. Add in the fact that your death will send you back to the beginning (at least early on), and some of the tougher trap-filled rooms can be fairly tense.
Thankfully, this is a rogueLITE rather than a rogueLIKE, meaning there are plenty of ways to improve your chances of success. You’ll gain a number of permanent moves by completing challenges in the castle, including a handy airdash that is used a lot in later biomes.
The gold and other currencies you collect are also used to improve your family’s manor, imparting stat bonuses, class unlocks, and features that you can make use of by the docks. Death doesn’t feel too bad when you know you’ve saved up enough to unlock the next HP upgrade or a class that sounds interesting.
Eventually, you even have the ability to unlock fast travel points permanently — while the cast is mostly randomised each run, the start points of each biome and the overall layout generally stays the same. It means that eventually, even if you’re not that great at games like this, you’ll eventually be able to clear Rogue Legacy 2 if you’re dedicated enough.
Rogue Legacy 2 is a fun time, especially as someone that isn’t the biggest fan of a lot of roguelites. There’s plenty to unlock, and the game never goes out of its way to obscure helpful information (the effects of things like items or traits are only hidden the first time you encounter them). Even if you only plan on making it through the castle once, it’s still worth checking out if you have access to PlayStation Plus Extra or Premium.
It’s easy to lose track of new games being added to the countless subscription services. Catch the latest titles below. All information is subject to change. We try to update this post as soon as new titles get announced.
PlayStation Plus Essential
€8.99/£6.99/$9.99 per month. Included in PlayStation Plus Extra/Premium. Playable on PlayStation 5/PlayStation 4. Available from July 4th – 31st, 2023.
- Alan Wake Remastered (PS5, PS4)
- Call of Duty: Black Ops Cold War Cross-Gen Bundle (PS5, PS4)
- Endling – Extinction is Forever (PS5, PS4)
PlayStation Plus Extra
€13.99/£10.99/$14.99 US-Dollar per month. Included in PlayStation Plus Premium. Playable on PlayStation 5/PlayStation 4. Available from July 18th, 2023.
- Circus Electrique (PS4)
- Dynasty Warriors 9 (PS4)
- Dysmantle (PS5, PS4)
- Fast & Furious: Spy Racers Rise of SH1FT3R (PS5, PS4)
- It Takes Two (PS5, PS4)
- Melty Blood: Type Lumina (PS4)
- Monster Jam Steel Titans (PS4)
- My Little Pony: A Maretime Bay Adventure (PS5, PS4)
- Samurai Warriors 5 (PS4)
- Sniper Elite 5 (PS5, PS4)
- Snowrunner (PS5, PS4)
- SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated (PS4)
- The Ascent (PS5, PS4)
- Undertale (PS4)
- World War Z (PS5, PS4)
Left PlayStation Plus Extra on July 18th, 2023:
- BioShock Remastered (PS4)
- BioShock 2 Remastered (PS4)
- BioShock Infinite Remastered (PS4)
- Borderlands: The Handsome Collection (PS4)
- Fluster Cluck (PS4)
- Marvel’s Avengers (PS5, PS4)
- Raiden 5: Director’s Cut (PS4)
- Rogue Stormers (PS4)
- Saints Row: Gat Out of Hell (PS4)
- Stray (PS5, PS4)
PlayStation Plus Premium
€16.99/£13.49/$17.99 per month. Playable on PlayStation 5/PlayStation 4. Available from July 18th, 2023.
- Gravity Crash Portable (PSP)
- Twisted Metal (PS1)
- Twisted Metal 2 (PS1)
Xbox Games with Gold
€6.99/£6.99/$9.99 per month. Included in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. Playable on Xbox Series/One.
- Darkwood (Xbox Series, Xbox One) – Available from 1 July 1st – 31st, 2023.
- When The Past Was Around (Xbox One) – Available from July 16th – August 15th, 2023.
Xbox Game Pass Ultimate
Xbox Game Pass for Console / PC: €9.99/£7.99/$9.99 per month each, Xbox Game Pass Ultimate (Console + PC + Games with Gold): €12.99/£10.99/$14.99 per month. Playable on Xbox Series/One.
- Arcade Paradise (Console, PC) – July 3rd, 2023
- Grand Theft Auto V (Cloud, Console) – July 5th, 2023
- Sword and Fairy: Together Forever (Console, PC) – July 5th, 2023
- McPixel 3 (Cloud, Console, PC) – July 6th, 2023
- Common’hood (Cloud, Console, PC) – July 11th, 2023
- Insurgency: Sandstorm (PC) – July 11th, 2023
- Exoprimal (Cloud, Console, PC) – July 14th, 2023
- Techtonica (Game Preview) (Cloud, Console, PC) – July 18th, 2023
- Toem (Cloud, Console, PC) – July 18th, 2023
- The Cave (Cloud, Console) – July 18th, 2023
- Maquette (Console, PC) – July 19th, 2023
- Figment 2: Creed Valley (Cloud, Console, PC) – July 20th, 2023
- The Wandering Village (Cloud, Console, PC) – July 20th, 2023
- Serious Sam: Siberian Mayhem (Cloud, PC, Xbox Series X|S) – July 25th, 2023
- Venba (Console, PC) – July 31st, 2023
Left Xbox Game Pass Ultimate:
- Exo One (Cloud, Console, PC) – July 15th, 2023
- PAW Patrol The Movie: Adventure City Calls (Cloud, Console, PC) – July 15th, 2023
- Spelunky 2 (Cloud, Console, PC) – July 15th, 2023
- Dreamscaper (Cloud, Console, PC) – July 31st, 2023
- Expeditions: Rome (PC) – July 31st, 2023
- Marvel’s Avengers (Cloud, Console, PC) – July 31st, 2023
- The Ascent (Cloud, Console, PC) – July 31st, 2023
- Two Point Campus (Cloud, Console, PC) – July 31st, 2023
Nintendo Switch Online
Nintendo Switch Online: €3.99/£3.49/$3.99 per month or €19.99/17.99/$19.99 per year. Nintendo Switch Online + Expansion Pack: €39.99/£34.99/$49.99 per year.
- Nintendo Switch Online – GameBoy – July 27th, 2023
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Ages (GBC)
- The Legend of Zelda: Oracle of Seasons (GBC)
EA Play: €3.99/£3.99/$4.99 per month. Included in Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. EA Play Pro: €14.99/£14.99/$14.99. Available on PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series, Xbox One.
€14.99/£12.99/$14.99 per month, available on PC. Ubisoft+ Multi Access: €17.99/£14.99/$17.99, available on PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S and Amazon Luna.
€9.99/£8.99 Pfund/$11.99 per month. Available on PC from July 7th – 31st, 2023.
- Kraken Academy!!
- Merchant of the Skies
- Ozymandias: Bronze Age Empire Sim
- Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate
- The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition
- Yakuza 4 Remastered
€8.99/£8.99/$14.99 per month. Available on PC.
- Cook, Serve, Delicious! 3?! – July 6th, 2023
- Shovel Knight: Showdown – July 6th, 2023
- Star Wars: The Force Unleashed – July 10th, 2023
- NAIRI: Tower of Shirin – July 13th, 2023
- Wytchwood – July 20th, 2023
- Lunar Axe – July 27th, 2023
We captured Venba’s screenshot on PC. The screenshots of Rogue Legacy 2 were provided by the publisher. Xbox and PlayStation provided us with access to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate and PlayStation Plus Premium.