Playing games is a great way to blow off steam. I have really needed that outlet recently with how chaotic things have been. Between starting a new job, trying to balance that on top of all my other responsibilities both here and with my own content. While life can sometimes get overwhelming, the games below have done a fantastic job at helping me keep a level head and take things in stride as they come along. The best part is many of the titles didn’t break my dwindled bank account. Prey (2006) (Xbox 360, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC) 2006’s Prey is a wonderful refresher on how simple games could be before we had all the microtransactions and seemingly endless updates and bug fixes that come with today’s gaming landscape. It follows the story of a Native American brought aboard an invading alien force’s ship. Throughout the tale, he learns to embrace his culture and beliefs. By the end of the game, despite the shortcomings the game does have, I enjoyed it more than the more recent Prey title. While the game does feel a little clunky compared to games of today, and there were far too many flying sections for my liking, the combat and story kept the game engaging. I wanted Domasi (Tommy) to find his girlfriend and escape. I wanted to hit stuff with a wrench or run along walls in spirit form. It was great fun, even if I did get tired of seeing the health mini-game after each death. It didn’t cost too much either, I grabbed the game on sale for about five dollars but it only runs about 20 bucks. It Takes Two (PlayStation 4/5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC) While it wasn’t the top pick for my personal Game of The Year I did really enjoy playing It Takes Two with my sister. The story follows a couple (Cody and May) that have been going through the process of getting divorced. Their young daughter is upset by the whole ordeal, understandably, and ends up accidentally trapping her parents in some dolls she made. She cried on the dolls while reading a book and it left their adult forms completely comatose. The two go on a huge adventure to get back to their bodies, eager to proceed with the divorce. Along the way, a book by Dr. Hakim helps them reconnect and find the love that they lost. He reminds both Cody and May of the things that they love about each other and not only that the love they had outside of the relationship. Things like Cody’s love of gardening and May’s love of singing. While the game did feel a little long in its run time it wasn’t short on content and I loved the messages of hope and perseverance that showed through its’ narrative. It Takes Two can be picked up for 40 bucks when it isn’t on sale or you can enjoy it now on Xbox Games Pass. Halo Infinite (Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC) I’m putting Halo Infinite on here because it can be enjoyed in its entirety on Xbox Games Pass, I know it is full-priced regularly. With that out of the way, Halo Infinite is the best outing the franchise has produced since Halo Reach. The multiplayer, while lacking the breadth of customization of Reach is still fun to play. The campaign is surprisingly enjoyable as well. It isn’t as bland as Halo 4 or 5 and while it still has its moments of tripping up, it still is great. The duplicate Cortana is a very enjoyable partner for Master Chief. The open-world gameplay is fluid and doesn’t suffer from the normal pitfalls of most open-world games. What I mean is I never felt like the random happenings of the game, I.E. liberating a FOB or taking out a high-value target took away from the narrative, or felt like they were forced in to pad out the run time. Those kinds of things felt like they added to the overall game in a positive way. I loved exploring the ring in Halo Infinite, I found many easter eggs and threads that made it feel like there was something more than just another Master Chief story in the game. More than that it actually made me feel something for the first time in a Halo game since Reach. There is a specific conversation Chief has with duplicate Cortana that made me feel sad for them. It may have seemed small to a lot of players but to me, it felt like a real moment of humanity and vulnerability breaking through arguably one of the most stoic and white bread, lacking in depth, soldier characters we have seen in gaming’s history. Pick of The Month: Forza Horizon 5 (Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PC) While racing games generally aren’t my forte I do enjoy playing one every so often. Forza Horizon 5 is the culmination of what feels like everything that has ever worked in a racing game put into one great package. I also appreciated the effort to include an actual story. Making a story based around racing rarely works in games but it fits here well. The main character goes down to Mexico to help out with a festival and over the course of the game expands the festival’s areas and various locations. There is more than that though. Side stories were surprisingly enjoyable. I had a ton of fun helping a character find her grandfather’s old Volkswagen Bug and rebuild it. Then we got to do a bunch of really cool stuff with it. There were countless other side stories such as helping a college gather data by driving as fast and as close to other cars as possible. It’s an enjoyable way to kill time whether you have just an hour or a whole afternoon to spend with the game. It’s another full-priced game or you can check it out on Xbox Games Pass as I did. Alright, I swear Gaming Access Weekly is not sponsored by Xbox Games Pass. I just enjoy the service as someone who needs and appreciates monetary relaxation from playing some new games. Especially this year, between the pandemic and everything else going on in life. With that said, I hope you have a safe and wonderful holiday, whatever you decide to celebrate. Check out the games above and let me know in the comments what games you recommend that aren’t super expensive.