It's that time of the month again, and Xbox players are once again taking another headcount of which games Microsoft will offer as a complimentary gift for their Xbox Gold subscriptions. After a somewhat lackluster couple of months, this July harvest of "free" titles is a bit deficient in terms of theoretical monetary value but rich in quality thanks to a duo of retro and modern classics.
This past June, Xbox One players were given access to the new, still full-price NHL 19 in addition to 2017's Rivals of Aether, a fun and critically well-recieved indie fighting game with fantasy undertones. On the Xbox 360 front, Microsoft threw it back to the early years of the seventh console generation, with the clunky-yet-charming Earth Defense Force 2017 and - for those who still have somehow yet to play the classic genre-definer - the timeless, irreverently brilliant FPS puzzler Portal: Still Alive.
This month, the Xbox team is throwing Gold members a much tastier bone, even if it's still a bit skimpy on the meat. It's certainly not the Games with Gold program's most bountiful collection of free titles, but July 2019's games are as follows:
- INSIDE: Available July 1 to 31 on Xbox One.
- Big Crown: Showdown: Available July 16 to August 15 on Xbox One.
- Castlevania: Symphony of the Night: Available July 1 to 15 on Xbox One and Xbox 360.
- Meet the Robinsons: Available July 16 - 31 on Xbox One and Xbox 360.
INSIDE is an incredibly impactful single-player experience brought to players by Playdead, the same fantastic indie studio that gave the world the wonderfully moody Limbo. Though it has evaded Games with Gold since its 2016 release, the small Danish developer's second go at a boy's journey through a violent, dystopian setting is an excellent addition to any library. Meanwhile, Xbox One players are also being given Big Crown: Showdown, a medieval-themed party game that looks to be paced for those who also enjoyed May's Marooners.
Complementing the Xbox One's linear INSIDE is Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, the 1997 classic that served to cement the Metroidvania genre as it is today. Full to the brim with beautiful art, branching paths, and gameplay-morphing abilities that blew minds back in the days of the original PlayStation, Symphony of the Night has (mostly) aged like a fine, conspicuously blood-red wine. Much less impressively, Games with Gold is also bringing players the 2007 Meet the Robinsons movie tie-in game, which was far from poorly received at the time but certainly lacks the staying power of its twenty-two-year-old counterpart.
Again, July's Games with Gold is by no means Microsoft's best ever, but it does provide bored gamers a nice, paid-for oasis amid the annual summer drought of new releases. However, compared to Sony's concurrent offerings of Borderlands: The Handsome Collection and Sonic Mania for PlayStation Plus subscribers, the Xbox's offerings of late seem a bit on the cheap, more well-traveled side. However, INSIDE and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night are fantastic single-player experiences that will keep even repeat players busy for at least a dozen hours or so, and those who have played neither will be blown away by each as though they were new.
Source: Major Nelson