As we’re approaching 2018’s major AAA games season, you might be thinking about picking up something to play that won’t break the bank. After all, you’ll need to save the big bucks for those Red Dead Redemption 2, Battlefield 5, and Fallout 76 special editions and console bundles. And that’s where this list of little beauties comes in.
You can find some critically acclaimed, fun, and downright silly games for $10 or less in the Xbox Store right now, and we’ve rounded up our favourites below. From the whimsical Starwahl, and Goat Simulator, to MMO RPG The Elder Scrolls Online, and the brilliant Divinity: Original Sin, you’ll be getting yourself a bargain. Some of these prices are exclusive to players with Xbox Live Gold membership, which comes with all sorts of perks. You can check out the best Xbox Live 12 month deals right here.
10. Dear Esther: Landmark Edition
Dear Esther is a walking simulator that split critics when it came to whether or not it effectively told its story using the medium of video games, but the general consensus was that players were in for a narrative that would have a lasting impact outside of its two hour-long playthrough.
Players will spend their time exploring a lonely island while listening to a disembodied male voice reading snippets of letters that will eventually come together to form the pieces of a rather sombre story. Each playthrough reveals different letter fragments, filling in more details with every trip to the island. It’s worth getting if you enjoy similar titles, like The Chinese Room’s follow-up game, Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, which we awarded a 4.5/5 in our review.
Starwhal is a couple of dollars over our promised $10 limit, but it’s a completely silly and irreverent couch co-op game for up to four players that will have the whole room in fits of giggles. Picking from a range of space narwhals, players can ready themselves for battle by choosing from over 90 costumes. If you want your narwhal to look like a flying piece of sushi, then have at it.
Up to four narwhals can duke it out over 25 arenas in four different game modes, including Score Attack, and Classic. And you can even brush up your jousting skills in the 32 single-player challenges. Starwhal made our list of the 15 best party games on Xbox, so if you and your buddies like to get together and see who’s the best at doling out a sound thrashing, this is the game for you.
8. Goat Simulator
Goat Simulator is definitely for those of you who enjoy a touch of the whimsical. Playing as a goat, your mission – should you choose to accept it – is to be a goat. Goating around and watching the absurd ragdoll physics create a trail of havoc in your wake.
It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, as evidenced by our 2015 review, but if you go in with the expectation that it’s just plain nonsense, you’ll find out that it’s really not that baaaaaa-d. Don’t just take my word for it; read Butterball the Goat’s comprehensive Goat Simulator review for a worthy second opinion.
7. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon
No, this isn’t a Castlevania game, but also, yes, it kind of is. Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon is the stretch goal mini-game from the Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night Kickstarter campaign. Castlevania: Symphony of the Night creator, Koji Igarashi, launched the Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night crowdfunding campaign earlier this year, which is considered to be a spiritual successor to the series, and is also definitely not a Castlevania game.
While Ritual of the Night isn’t getting a release until 2019, Curse of the Moon has been available since March, and lets you step into the shoes of demon slayer, Zangetsu, in an 8-bit adventure that channels Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse for the NES. There’s even a whip! If you’re a Castlevania fan, you’d be crazy not to drop $10 on this.
6. Thomas Was Alone
We’ve cheated again, I know, but it’s only an extra 99 cents for this puzzle-platformer whose witty narration by British comedian and writer, Danny Wallace, will have you invested in the fate of a handful of gaudily-coloured rectangles before you’ve realised it’s happened. You’re in for an emotional rollercoaster, to say the least.
We gave Thomas Was Alone a 3.5/5 in our 2013 review praising the “witty writing” that “creates characterization from nothing.” It’s not the most challenging of games in the genre, but the writing elevates it to a narrative that is really worth your time. And your $10-ish dollars.
5. A Boy and His Blob
A Boy and His Blob is the 2009 re-imagining of the 1989 NES classic, A Boy and His Blob: Trouble on Blobolonia. The adorable platforming-puzzle adventure features hand-drawn 2D levels that you (the boy) and your Blob will need to traverse to help save the citizens of Blobolonia.
Feeding the Blob different coloured jellybeans will give him all the motivation he needs to morph into handy shapes, like a ladder, parachute, and trampoline, to name but a few. The most important mechanic – that you should deploy often – is the hug button, that exists for the sole purpose of hugging your squishy friend. We gave the game 4/5 stars in our review.
Limbo is one of the best platform-puzzle games to have been released in recent years. Pigeonholing it into that genre is to do a disservice to the title which is at times unsettling, frustrating, eerie, and melancholic, with a beautifully simple aesthetic that perfectly underpins the tone.
If you haven’t had the pleasure of playing Limbo, you should do yourself a favour and grab it now. It even managed to bag the loftiest achievement of all, with a perfect 5/5 in our review.
Currently sitting at 50% off in the Xbox Store, Bastion is more than worth its usual $15, so if you miss out on the sale, we’d recommend you grab it anyway. A hack-and-slash action game with a vibrant palette and haunting soundtrack, the game follows “the Kid”, a boy who wakes up to find the world falling down around his ears – quite literally.
All of your actions are accompanied by the gruff narration of Logan Cunningham, which adds another element to what may have otherwise been just another hack-and-slash adventure. There are a few twists-and-turns in store as you progress, and the game really deserves one more star than our 2011 review awarded it. Get it on sale while you can, but we still think you should snap it up even at full price.
2. The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls Online is another sale title that you can also pick up for the tantalising price of $10 with Xbox Games Pass. You can try out a 14-day trial, which is well worth it, as there are 100+ games on there right now.
TESO is an MMO RPG that lets you explore the world of Tamriel, and has had a ton of improvements and a slew of extra content since its 2014 release. Our initial review gave the game a score of 3/5, but since then, the game has evolved, and delivers everything you could possibly want in the absence of The Elder Scrolls 6.
1. Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Edition
Price: $10.99 with Xbox Live Gold
Divinity: Original Sin is one of my favourite RPGs and certainly one of the best 25 RPGs to play right now, even if it didn’t make our list due to some mysterious oversight. The game offers both single-player and two-player co-op options. And hey, if you can manage to play through the strategic, turn-based combat with someone (which can get pretty brutal, depending on how brave you were in the difficulty settings) without murdering them, more power to you.
Larian Studios marries tactical combat, intricate RPG elements, and humour to create a world that is a joy to explore. The usual price in the Xbox Store is $39.99 but you can get it for a fraction of that with an Xbox Live Gold membership. No, it’s not less than $10 but… come on.
Looking for more? Here are the best Xbox One exclusive games currently available to play!