I enjoyed Void Bastards a whole lot when I played it for, oh, about an hour in May of 2019. Although it turns out that “about an hour” is exactly what that game has: just repeated on a loop nine times over. The core of that loop is collecting garbage and dodging strange enemies through an unforgiving nebula. You need food and fuel to warp from one derelict spaceship to the next, trying to survive as long as possible, but mostly just hunt for arbitrary items or the resources to craft them. I probably wouldn’t pay $30 for that kind of repetition.
For the low price of free (or what I trick myself into thinking is free), though, it’s a pretty fair deal. Void Bastards has some charm. It’s the charm of tiny mutant monsters calling you “buttface,” a patronizing British robot, and art that looks like Rogue Trooper comics printed in the original DOOM engine. Void Bastards stretches that charm for far too long, without enough of the systemic interactions or handwritten jokes it hints at early in the game. That’s okay, though! At the same time, I’m stretching the limits of Game Pass.
You May Also Like:
- The Top 12 Games I Played on Vacation Instead of Sleeping
- ‘Vampire: The Masquerade Bloodlines 2’ Takes on a Changing Seattle
- In 2019, Games Explored the Meaning of Travel
The Xbox branded subscription lets players download hundreds of games for $10 a month. It’s one of a dozen services vying, or about to vie, to be the “Netflix of games.” Apple Arcade, PlayStation Now, and Google Stadia are all taking swings at it in one shape or another. For the time being, though, Game Pass is undeniably the best value. And Void Bastards is part of it.
I have issues with this kind of buffet subscription model. I like to know my money goes to support creators, even just partially. Even so, I can’t deny the satisfaction of trying and playing games I wouldn’t buy outright (or know about) without Game Pass.
Void Bastards takes full advantage of that — without feeling like it’s taking advantage of me. That’s because I bought its cheap and cheerful Bang TYDY add-on for $5 as a sort of tip to the developer, on top of its deal with Microsoft. I wanted to make sure I paid something directly in exchange for engaging with the game, even if I didn’t love Void Bastards all the way through. And it’s not a bad deal. The DLC adds a new ship, weapon, and enemy type to the existing collection — all based on cleaning robots that vacuum the oxygen right out of your lungs.
Void Bastards and the Importance of Tipping
In that way, it’s a perfect addition to Void Bastards It adds variety to a game that sorely lacks it. Bang TYDY wasn’t enough to completely change my mind about the game, but it did help. More than that, though, it let me contribute to the creators in a way that felt tangible and transparent — separate from whatever deals based on total downloads or time played are made behind closed doors.
The idea of “tipping” devs is nothing new. I throw money at Dragalia Lost, a free-to-play phone game, whenever I realize I’ve put in another two dozen hours. Itch and Humble Bundle even let you pay creators more than they ask for, just to support them. Game Pass offers another alternative to a similar end. And it feels much better. It gives access to full experiences, uncompromised by free-to-play trappings. It lets me pay extra money for extra stuff — not consumable jewels and Battle Passes I’ll never complete. Ironically, a lot of early free-to-play games followed a similar route, but now feel completely overshadowed by endless microtransactions.
It doesn’t feel any different than when I tip in everyday life. I know people in the service industry get paid by their employers, just like I know developers get paid by Microsoft. But Game Pass is another avenue to the same end — to cementing the idea that we should support devs for their labor alone, not just for the end product we receive. Its accessible price and curated catalog remove a lot of roadblocks to that end.
The Game Pass and add-on combo feels great: even for games that are just “good.: I got the most complete version of Void Bastards it could muster, and the satisfaction of supporting the devs. Even nine hours later, I didn’t regret a bit of it.