As the nights close in and unknown beasts skitter in the spaces between the walls, the soft glow from the screen of your gaming PC is a precious comfort—or a source of even greater unease. It's October, Shocktober, the Spooky Season, and PC Game Pass is full of ways to satisfy our urge to feel unsettled and frightened. If you're after less jumpy gaming thrills, however, a number of non-spooky Game Pass additions, including the long-awaited sequel to one of the most popular city builders ever, have you covered this month.
On top of that, the trial offer for PC Game Pass returns, enabling you to explore its trove of 500+ games for just $1/£1 for 14 days—head here for details.
Cities: Skylines 2
The spiritual successor to the legendary SimCity series finally gets a successor of its own this week. Cities: Skylines 2 is aiming to expand on the muti-faceted urban management of the original game, embroiling you in the details of town planning, commerce, traffic, taxation, and trying not to "do a Chris Livingston" by building a hadron collider that blows out your city's plumbing.
There's a bigger focus here on the rural regions around your city, as mining, farming, and otherwise exploiting the land become crucial to your city's functioning. With the first game boasting nine expansions currently, it'll be a little while before the sequel surpasses its predecessor in scope, but this is a solid start despite the performance issues we've been warned about. If you do dive in, be sure to check out our tips for getting started and graphics-boosting settings advice.
Like a Dragon: Ishin!
The recently re-labelled Yakuza series heads back to 1860s Japan—a time of social upheavals under the Meiji Restoration, heavy industrialisation, and the samurai class facing the threat of abolition. Serious stuff, but this still very much being a Yakuza game, there's plenty of room for levity, with hero Ryoma Sakamoto bimbling around a bustling, beautiful realisation of the town of Kyo, getting caught up in such eclectic activities as cooking, chicken racing, and smashing heads in while solving the central murder mystery.
Ishin's unwavering loyalty to all the things that make Yakuza (or Like a Dragon) "Yakuza" (or "Like a Dragon") has its ups and downs, according to our reviewer Dom, but the unique setting is a joy to explore as usual.
From one of the minds behind Inside and Limbo and Inside, Cocoon eschews the sombre monochromes and sad themes of those games with a vibrant, surreal world that you navigate as a little guy with beetle wings.
Our reviewer Jon loved it, saying that "Cocoon makes incredible meals of puzzles within vibrant worlds that could have adorned prog rock album covers, backed by moody synths that also could have blessed the vinyl inside."
Amnesia: The Bunker
It'd be remiss to get through our October PC Game Pass roundup without dabbling in a spot of horror, and there are few series more recognisable to genre fans than Amnesia.
The Bunker changes things up a bit from the sanity mechanics of its predecessors, placing you in a semi-randomised WWI bunker where you need to keep a generator powered lest you get plunged into total darkness. When that darkness inevitably comes, you're more vulnerable to the monster prowling the shadows of this grim environment. The upcoming Halloween update will also add new modifiers, such as making your "safe room" no longer safe, increasing randomisation and not pausing when you browse your inventory. And this is in what's already one of the year's scariest games.
The Texas Chainsaw Massacre
Asymmetrical multiplayer veteran Illfonic (Friday the 13th: The Game, Predator: Hunting Grounds) heads out to the hinterlands of the US to give ol' Leatherface the online treatment.
Texas Chainsaw Massacre does a few things to stand out in what's a pretty saturated genre these days. There are multiple villains, for a start, with three players controlling Leatherface and other members of the Slaughter family, such as The Cook who can "Seek" out victims, and Grandpa, who may not be capable of killing, but can reveal victims' locations by letting loose a horrific yell.
The relatively slow pace and tight environments make for a menacing, claustrophobic experience to dive into with a few brave souls this Halloween (who can join via the $1 trial, or if you're already a subscriber you can send up to five links for free 14-day trials).