Microsoft has announced September's suite of free titles for Xbox Live Gold subscribers. This month's Games with Gold include Prison Architect and Livelock on Xbox One, as well as LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars and Sega Vintage Collection: Monster World for Xbox 360. As always, the Xbox 360 games are backwards compatible on Xbox One.
It's a relatively slower month compared to last month's excellent offerings, but there's still plenty of fun to be had with these games - and most of the new games will be available all month long to download, though some will only be available for half the month, so players better get downloading!
Prison Architect (Sept. 1 – Sept. 30)
An oddly charming look at the prison industrial complex, Prison Architect lets players design and build their own prison. It's like a cross between Theme Hospital, Sim City, and other management simulation games, but with a uniquely uncomfortable setting. The game also features an "Escape Mode," which casts players as prisoners on a quest to get out of jail without being captured or killed by the guards.
Prison Architect isn't for everybody, but there's nothing else like it on the market, especially when it comes to its sharp criticism of the damage unregulated capitalism can do on the prison system's supposed goal of rehabilitating prisoners, rather than keeping them incarcerated for as long as possible, thus boosting profits... But that's a whole other story.
LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars (Sept. 1 – Sept. 15)
In the world of video games, there are few franchises more reliable than the TT Games' LEGO franchise tie-ins. They're rarely revolutionary, but they always deliver in terms of jolly co-op adventure, family-friendly action, and silly comedy antics. LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars builds on its predecessors with the inclusion of light RTS elements in the form of epic ground battles, as well as levels which segue seamlessly from vehicle to on-foot sections. Alongside LEGO Marvel Superheroes and LEGO City Undercover, The Clone Wars is one of the best LEGO games around, and can easily sap dozens of hours from even the most hardened players.
Livelock Sept. 16 – Oct 15)
Published by Perfect World Entertainment (Star Trek Online) and developed by Tuque Games, Livelock is a top-down twin-stick shooter. Livelock is playable either solo or in three-player online co-op, but sadly lacks local multiplayer. The game features a surprisingly complex sci-fi storyline, but the real hook is the non-stop twin-stick shooting action. Heavy firefights result in screen-wide explosions and eye-popping particle effects. Add in some light RPG elements and personalized customization systems, and Livelock is nothing less than good time for fans of isometric action and dungeon crawling action.
Sega Vintage Collection: Monster World (Sept. 16 – Sept. 30)
This game is actually a collection of three games in the Wonder Boy series: Wonder Boy in Monster Land, Wonder Boy in Monster World, and Monster World IV. The games feature Metroid-style progression, light RPG elements, and a focus on exploration. Monster World IV is notable for having been locked out of Western shores in its original release; in fact, the Sega Vintage Collection version (released alongside the Wii U Virtual Console and PS3 ports) marked the first time the game has been officially available in North America. The Monster World games are basically forgotten classics at this point, but it would be absolutely fantastic if more people started remembering them, or discovering them for the first time.
What do you think of this month's Games with Gold? Do you plan on playing any of these during downtime from Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Valkyria Chronicles 4, and NBA 2K19? Sound off in the comments!