Xbox Sales: TA Team Picks (July 22nd)

By Luke Albigés,
There doesn't appear to be any specific theme for this week's Xbox sales, but that hasn't stopped the TA news team from diving in to pick out some choice recommendations all the same. Enjoy!

Heidi

Heidi — Carto


Carto is a wonderful puzzle and adventure game with gorgeous hand-drawn visuals. You play as Carto herself, who gets separated from her Granny and has to use her “innate cartography powers” to rebuild the world around her, by moving segments of the map. It’s a neat idea and works wonderfully well, as the puzzle of rebuilding and sorting the world around you never really gets old. Despite its cutesy design, Carto’s puzzles don’t hold back, and some of its later puzzles can leave you stumped. Achievements can also be more than a little tricky to unlock, especially in the late game — aside from the general achievements for finishing chapters, there are a few for discovering in-game secrets that can be quite easy to miss unless you’re using the TA Carto achievement guides. Carto is also included with Xbox Game Pass, but at 30% off I’d still recommend buying it to own, especially since you then won’t need to worry about rushing it.
Carto

Carto

Carto is a charming adventure game wrapped around a unique, world-altering puzzle mechanic. Use this power to explore mysterious lands, help a quirky cast of characters, and guide Carto on her journey back to her family.



Kes

Kes — Under the Jolly Roger


I bought this so I could tell you about how I was a pirate for a bit: “Oh, the game was kinda janky, but you know what? Being a pirate is cool, so whatever.” Unfortunately, I cannot even achieve that minor goal with Under the Jolly Roger. I played for an hour and a half to get me in the groove. Let me tell you, you might as well buy a cheap bottle of rum for the price this game is currently for sale at. It will give you a longer buzz and you can bask in the summer heat pretending you are a Caribbean hijacker and have a great time. Anyway, the game was ported from mobile to console, but that hasn’t stopped games from being good before.

Under the Jolly Roger is just quite boring, quite ugly, quite janky, and it broke on me during the tutorial. I spent 45 minutes doing all the opening tasks thinking, 'you know what? As long as I’m guided through this game, I’ll have a mediocre to bad time.' I learned the slow and barely adequate sailing mechanics, how to battle on the sea with as much pizzazz as a failed party popper, and I boarded ships with my boarding crew and fought it out over the decks using some stiff animation and two-button combat. Whatever, it was kinda piratey if you squinted a bit. But then the game asked me to repair the hull of my boat to keep progressing and — honest to the goddess Rán — did so three times, but nothing popped, zinged, or let me get on with the guided tutorial. Knowing myself to be a bit of an idiot, I decided it was probably my fault but I sailed around a bit longer to try and experience what was left of the open world. I fought some more battles, traded with colonies for a bit, got slapped by a kraken, and saw some weird futuristic Aztec lasers protecting a shipwreck. It was all so… urgh. It’s stale and boring and without audio or characters, by which I mean that it is deathly quiet without any ambiance and there seem to be no other human beings around on these islands. I guess this still qualifies as a sale pick because I literally picked it from the sale, but I wish I had kept my dubloons in hand.

Oh, and some quick nerdy pirate trivia: the game is set in the 1750s, but in reality this was a point at which the whole ‘pirate thing’ was pretty much dead and the Caribbean colonies were well established and under control. I guess I shouldn’t question it that much though — there are Aztec lasers in Under the Jolly Roger.
Under the Jolly Roger

Under the Jolly Roger

Under the Jolly Roger is offering an ultimate ability to free roam three vast worlds filled with dozens of colonies and forts, hundreds of quests, and countless ships to plunder.

You can trade, fight, explore on your own!
Set your foot on the land to plunder it!

Game features:
- Limitless sailing in real-time - use Global Map only if you want to!
- A system of leveling your pirates, let them grow from sailor boys to skilled old salts!
- Hundreds of quests



Luke

Luke — Tesla Force


If you tell me there's a game in which Nikola Tesla, Marie Curie, H.P. Lovecraft, and Mary Shelley all team up to ride mechs and wipe out legions of eldritch abominations, of course I'm gonna be interested. If you then tell me it's a fast-paced twin-stick shooter roguelite currently on sale for five bucks, that hot nonsense is getting added to the collection on the spot. That's exactly what happened with Tesla Force this week, and I'm really glad I picked it up — it's gloriously stupid, great fun, and it seems like a pretty easy completion to boot.

Each run consists of a number of frantic objective-based arcade shooter stages, which rarely last more than a minute or so each. Build mechs, blow everything up, grab the reward that best fits the build you're going for — be that a better weapon, new perks, extra resources, or whatever else — and move on to the next stage, although the Doom Clock mechanic does at least make knowing when to pull the plug interesting. The longer your run, the harder enemies get, so while you could sit around farming waves on earlier levels for supplies before moving on, that's going to make the tail end of the run a lot more challenging unless you luck into some powerful stuff along the way. Those resources do let you pick up permanent upgrades, though, so a few greedy suicide runs wouldn't be the worst way to start a file.

Tesla Force definitely sits at the friendlier end of the roguelite spectrum, and while some of the upgrades and selectable perks may cost a fair bit, the power you can reach with them means you can absolutely annihilate stuff, good run or no. It's chaotic, cathartic, and completely crazy — I have a hell of a lot of time for this dumb game, especially considering I only learned it existed a few days ago.
Tesla Force

Tesla Force

With science as your superpower, team up with Tesla, Curie, Lovecraft, and Shelley to save the world from an invasion of cosmic horrors. Tesla Force is an intense, procedurally generated, rogue-lite top-down shooter packed with non-stop mayhem and over-the-top power tripping.



Sean

Sean — Frostpunk: Console Edition


Admittedly, I have only really played Frostpunk on PC, but I have it on good authority (check out Heidi’s review) that Frostpunk: Console Edition is well worth this week’s price of $11.99/£9.99/€11.99. The world of Frostpunk is brutal and unforgiving. You are tasked with building a city and looking in a world that is covered in nothing but ice and snow. To see that your people survive, you’ll need to gather enough resources such as food, fuel, and building supplies, all while maintaining the hopes of your denizens and establishing law. Every decision you make comes with consequences. Do you force children down into the coal mines, risking their lives for extra fuel for the city, or do you keep the little ones safe from harm in the hopes that you’ll have enough coal to scrape by? You’re presented with numerous interesting choices just like these that will have you questioning your morality. Much like the game’s harsh world, the achievement list is equally tough. Only the most dedicated players will be able to unlock achievements such as The Winterhome Survivor, Refugees Survivor, and Ultramarathon Extreme.
Frostpunk: Console Edition

Frostpunk: Console Edition

Frostpunk is a society survival game where heat means life and every decision comes at a price. Adapted for consoles with revised controls and adjusted mechanics, Frostpunk: Console Edition allows you to fully test your tactical prowess on the frozen wastelands



Tom

Tom — The Wolf Among Us


When I first booted up Telltale Games’ storybook point-and-click adventure The Wolf Among Us, I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. I knew it was based around some of the most prominent characters from my — and many others’ — childhood, just, this time The Big Bad Wolf would be solving crimes rather than partaking in them. Well, pleasantly surprised would be an understatement when I found out that those sweet characters had been dropped into a dark thriller filled with murder, mystery, and the strangest game of whodunnit I’ve ever experienced. The story focuses on Bigby Wolf and Snow White as they attempt to solve the murder of a local Fable (storybook character). What they find, however, is a pit of lies and deceit as they delve deeper into a criminal underworld of the strangest characters. It’s a fantastic game, especially for anyone that’s enjoyed Telltale Games’ other titles such as The Walking Dead. You make the decisions and you deal with the consequences of your actions, with nothing stopping you from progressing the story. If you’ve not played the game before, don’t sleep on its current 60% discount — it’s comfortably worth full price, so this is a steal.
The Wolf Among Us

The Wolf Among Us

Based on the award-winning Fables comic book series by Bill Willingham (published by DC Comics' Vertigo imprint), The Wolf Among Us is a dark, often brutally violent, and mature take on the characters and creatures of fairytale and legend.
A five episode series from the creators of the 2012 Game of the Year: The Walking Dead, the player will experience what it's like to be Bigby Wolf (THE Big Bad Wolf), Sheriff of Fabletown.



Anything there you might splash out on this week? Or perhaps you've spotted some even better bargains? Let us know below!
Luke Albigés
Written by Luke Albigés
Hey, I'm Luke! I've been playing games since way back in the 8-bit days, and have spent the last 15+ years writing and talking about them professionally for anyone and everyone who would let me. Monster Hunter fanatic, wearer of many fine hats, and always up for a raid.