The Best Hidden Games On Xbox Game Pass

The Best Hidden Games On Xbox Game Pass
Image: Drake Hollow / The Molasses Flood / Curve Digital
At Kotaku, we independently select and write about stuff we love and think you'll like too. We have affiliate and advertising partnerships, which means we may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. BTW - prices are accurate and items in stock at the time of posting.

The Xbox Game Pass library is absolutely massive, and it’s nearly impossible to play every AAA and indie gem on the service. The nature of games coming and going every month also means there’s plenty of titles that just don’t get the love they deserve — and ones that get overlooked entirely.

If you’re currently on the lookout for your next big game, or you just want something new to love, there’s plenty of great games waiting for you on the service.

Here’s a few of our favourite hidden gems on Xbox Game Pass, and what you should consider playing next.

Drake Hollow

drake hollow game
Image: Drake Hollow / The Molasses Flood / Curve Digital

Drake Hollow is a gothic adventure-survival-simulator where you take the role of an explorer trapped in a mysterious realm called The Hollow. Like our world, it’s filled with life — but it’s also plagued by an oncoming darkness. To fend off the tides, you’ll need to team up with friends in co-op multiplayer or recruit plant-like beings known as Drakes to protect your new home.

With the Drakes and/or your friends at your side, you’ll be able to build new campsite structures, expand your safe haven, explore new lands and discover unique collectibles along the way. Basically, it’s a touch of Animal Crossing combined with some fantastic survival-style gameplay.

If you’ve yet to check it out, now’s the time.

Blinx: The Time Sweeper

blinx the time sweeper hidden gems
Image: IMDb

Blinx: The Time Sweeper is now most-known as a failed experiment to create gaming’s next big mascot. But beyond the internet jokes, The Time Sweeper is actually a solid early-2000s 3D platformer, and one that gives a great deal of insight into how the gaming landscape was changing at the time.

The time travel mechanic, which lets you reverse or stop time as you please, is genuinely fun — and it’s a real mystery why so few games have ever tried to replicate them on a grander stage. Each themed level is also a blast, and features a great amount of challenge for any player.

Sure, Blinx looks pretty naff and it hasn’t aged very well in its leap to the modern gen, but it’s still a great gem worth exploring.

Bug Fables: The Everlasting Sapling

bug fables game hidden gem xbox game pass
Image: Bug Fables / Moonsprout Games / DANGEN Entertainment

Bug Fables is a game with a singular purpose: to improve on the mechanics of the Paper Mario franchise and craft a beautiful, endearing tale to boot. And you know what? It succeeds.

The Everlasting Sapling is an adorable little game filled with sweet art, unique puzzles and a cast of characters that’s easy to love. If you grew up playing Bugdom, you’ll feel right at home in this adventure as you lead your buggy crew on a journey to uncover secrets in the land of Bugaria.

Like Paper Mario, it features simple, turn-based gameplay and an overworld positively brimming with wholesome stories and dialogue. It’s cute, charming, and deserves far more attention.

Curse of the Dead Gods

curse of the dead gods game
Image: Curse of the Dead Gods / Passtech Games / Focus Home Interactive

Curse of the Dead Gods had the unfortunate luck of being labelled a Hades clone on release because it shares a lot in common with its fellow rogue-like. Beyond the visual style, Curse of the Dead Gods is also filled with godly mythology, deadly weapons and powerful, ancient bosses — but to call it a clone is wildly unfair, and diminishes the fun of the game.

If you’re into Hades and you’re looking for more, Curse of the Dead Gods is a great next option.

The curse mechanics are a fun challenge, and each new room bears exciting and horrible surprises, meaning you’re constantly kept on your toes as you run through each dungeon. Sure, it does get incredibly difficult in its later stages, but persevering brings great, unholy rewards.

Carrion

carrion game underrated hidden gems
Image: Carrion /
Phobia Game Studio / Devolver Digital

Have you ever wanted to be a slimy, oozing flesh monster who consumes humans for fuel? Well, have I got the game for you. In Carrion, you play as a fleshy monster from the depths of hell charged with escaping a dense research lab filled with soldiers and scientists. Essentially, it’s like an adaptation of The Thing where you are the titular Thing.

It’s a relatively short game, and you can finish it over the course of a few days — but that’s what makes this experience so special. It’s short, sweet and very slimy.

Even if you don’t fall in love with the game’s beautifully fluid, pixel-heavy art style, you’ll certainly find some disgusting moments to cherish as you ooze your way to bloody glory.

Sea of Thieves: A Pirate’s Life

sea of thieves
Image: Rare / Microsoft

Sea of Thieves on its own isn’t a particularly ‘hidden’ gem, but A Pirate’s Life still feels very, very underrated. If you’ve never popped into Sea of Thieves because you feel like it’s not your thing, or you don’t gel well with multiplayer titles, you should still absolutely check out the Pirates of the Caribbean-themed expansion.

In A Pirate’s Life, you can take on a range of puzzle-themed solo missions or team up with other newbie players to fight off Davy Jones, free Jack Sparrow and travel through the seas of the damned. There’s not a whole lot of pressure in these adventures, but they do give you a very good taste of what Sea of Thieves is about.

There’s no current timeline for when this content will leave Xbox Game Pass, but given these crossovers are usually created on timed, licensed deals, you should kick off your journey as soon as you’re able.

Pikuniku

pikuniku game hidden gem
Image: Pikuniku / Sectordub / Devolver Digital

Pikuniku looks like a cutesy game about flowers and magic in a woodland forest — but once you get past the game’s colourful aesthetic you’ll find it’s actually a dense 2D platformer all about the evils of capitalism. The narrative is extremely well-told, and it’s buoyed along by some great puzzle-platforming, intriguing exploration and a genuinely adorable cast of characters.

As you travel through Pikuniku’s idealistic, rainbow-filled world, you’ll quickly find yourself going on more complex quests, battling a host of villains and attempting to free the hearts of the game’s pacifist little creatures.

In a word, Pikuniku is surprising. It’s a game that’s so much deeper and more interesting than its cover art makes it seem, and it’s well worth checking out on Xbox Game Pass.

Costume Quest 2

costume quest 2 hidden gems games xbox
Image: Costume Quest 2 / Double Fine / Midnight City / Majesco Entertainment

In Costume Quest 2, you play as a young child whose main mission is to eat candy and defeat a dentist. Oh, but it’s not just any dentist — this dentist has unleashed a “dental dystopia” on a future world and banned Halloween for kids everywhere.

As the protagonist of Costume Quest 2, your job is to travel between dimensions, fight monsters in turn-based battles and save the future of Halloween in your town. The entire story is delightful, as is the game’s cast of characters, making Costume Quest 2 one of the most fun RPG experiences on Xbox Game Pass.

Like other titles on the list it’s relatively short, but it’s a great bit of entertainment, and perfect fodder for some afternoon fun.


Have you discovered any hidden gems on Xbox Game Pass? Have any to recommend to your fellow Kotaku Australia readers? Pop on down to the comments below and share your picks.

Comments

  • Drake Hollow was really disappointing and honestly I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone. The first few hours are great, and the game builds atmosphere and a sense of mystery really well. Then it just kind of stops and you quickly get into a wash-rinse-repeat cycle of going out, destroying thorns, fighting the same 6 or so enemy types and gathering materials before coming back and building stuff. With a horde mode attack every so often. You’re far better off playing State of Decay 2 if you want a similar gameplay experience, though zombies may not be your thing.

    A number of these games aren’t really what I’d call hidden gems, they were pretty well promoted when they came out. For my list:

    Scourgebringer is a hidden gem too if you’re into action based Roguelites like Hades.
    Cyber Shadow is a fun, but tough as nails platformer that deserves a look.
    Monster Sanctuary is a fun fusion of Pokemon and Metroidvania that I recommend as well.
    Monster Train and Neoverse are two deck builders I’ve had a lot of fun with and Star Renegades is an interesting Sci-Fi Darkest Dungeon like game well worth a check out.

    • Those are great suggestions, definitely adding them to my list!

      As for Drake Hollow – I really enjoyed it! But that’s a personal opinion ofc and everyone will have their own mileage.

      • Oh I absolutely enjoyed the time I did spend with it. Like I said, the game builds a sense of atmosphere and mystery really well and the sound design is the hero behind it. It’s just the gameplay gets stale pretty quickly. Maybe it’s one of those games that’s better with friends but I just found it felt too much like an Early Access game concept rather than a finished product.
        So revised opinion: Try it out for a few hours.

      • I also enjoyed Drake Hollow! I did, however, also feel like it was forcing me to grind a bit more than I’d have liked, and I wasn’t really sure why, given I was playing solo. That said, I’m pretty sure I was playing it in pretty early access like… a year ago, and it may have been balanced better since.

        Monster Train, Neoverse, and Star Renegades are all recommendations that I wholeheartedly support.

        It’s hard to say which hasn’t had enough coverage to count as ‘hidden’, but I feel like more people should take advantage of game pass to play Haven, Project Wingman, VA-11 Hall-A, Bard’s Tale Trilogy, Spiritfarer, Prodeus, Monster Sanctuary, Hypnospace Outlaw, Boyfriend Dungeon, Dodgeball Academia, and Yes Your Grace.

  • I’ve tried twice to get into Sea of Thieves and both ended badly. The first was not long after launch when I tried to go solo and it just sucked. Then in lockdown around 12 months ago I got together 2 mates so that we could play as a group. Nope, the game is full of people that will just kill you for no reason.
    I get it, it’s a Pirate game, but it seems that we couldn’t go 15-20 mins without people who had obviously been playing for a while and got their head around it just taking us out.

Show more comments

Log in to comment on this story!