SALT LAKE CITY — Each month, Xbox Live Gold, PlayStation Plus and Twitch Prime members receive a selection of free games alongside online multiplayer access. Each platform usually offers its users a completely different crop of games for $59.99 a year, per program.
Xbox owners can expect to receive up to four games for Xbox One and Xbox 360 through the Games With Gold Program, and PlayStation fans are offered up to six titles for PlayStation 3, 4, Vita and VR. Amazon and the popular streaming platform Twitch also offer up to five free PC games for Prime subscribers.
Here’s a quick look at February's offerings, including the description, critical score, and ESRB rating of each title, as well as important information for parents regarding mature titles.
PS Plus games are made available on the first Tuesday of every month and can be downloaded for free until the first Tuesday of the following month. Anything obtained through PS Plus will become inaccessible if your membership expires, but your free games will be waiting for you if you subscribe again.
PS Plus subscribers will also receive access to 100 gigabytes of cloud storage for backup game saves starting this month. However, February is also the last month PS3 and PlayStation Vita owners will receive free games. PS Plus subscribers have until March 8 to download games from those systems.
Metacritic score: 84
Description: Hide in plain sight as Agent 47, a hitman tasked with assassinating targets across the world. Each of the game’s seven stages is a sandbox puzzle challenging players with reaching their target as quietly or quickly as possible. Players also have access to additional contracts, which add new targets to familiar stages.
Players can also download the “Hitman 2 Prologue” demo, which will allow access to the original game’s stages with improved graphics and gameplay mechanics at no extra charge.
ESRB rating: M for use of drugs, strong language, blood, intense violence and suggestive themes.
What parents should know: “Hitman” is a puzzle stealth game that tasks players with killing targets through a variety of means. Players can strangle, stab, shoot, drown, poison and throw targets to their death. Players are incentivized to avoid harming innocent bystanders and can set up freak accidents to take down targets.
The game also features infrequent swearing, including the s- and f-words, and a variety of suggestive references. Some characters also reference drugs infrequently, and alcohol is regularly present in most levels.
Metacritic score: 78
Description: “For Honor” is a multiplayer melee fighting game featuring three factions — Knights, Vikings and Samurai. Players can work cooperatively to control territory and defeat enemies, or face each other n one-on-one duels. The base game includes 12 heroes, 118 maps and thousands of gear items for each character.
ESRB rating: M for blood and gore, intense violence.
What parents should know: “For Honor” is a multiplayer fighting game in which players use swords, axes and other melee weapons to defeat each other. Each character also has their own unique finishing move, which usually involves bloody, brutal kills. Moment-to-moment gameplay can feature some blood as well.
Platform: PS3, PS Vita
Metacritic score: 65
Description: “Divekick” is a fighting game played with only two buttons, which allows players to focus on spacing and gameplay rather than complicated combos. The game includes 16 playable fighters, cross-platform play, a story mode and online multiplayer.
ESRB rating: T for violence, drug reference, use of alcohol and tobacco and suggestive themes.
Metacritic score: 94
Description: “Metal Gear Solid 4” is the conclusion of Hideo Kojima’s longrunning Metal Gear series set in a future where war never ends. Players assume the role of Solid Snake, a freelance secret agent experiencing advanced aging. After an old enemy takes control of a program that controls the world’s weapons, Snake must fight through a deadly Private Military Contractor force to save the world.
ESRB rating: M for violence, crude humor, strong language, blood and suggestive themes.
What parents should know: “Metal Gear Solid 4” is a stealth action game with an emphasis on quietly navigating active warzones. Guns, robotic mechs and other weapons are featured prominently, and several thematic moments can be scary and intense for younger players. The game features infrequent moments of intense violence that often involve lots of blood. Several enemy characters also dress in a suggestive manner. The game also includes one use of the f-word and infrequent uses of other minor swear words.
Platform: PS Vita, PS4
Metacritic score: 70
Description: “Gunhouse” is a part puzzle, part tower defense action game where players use combos and special attacks to defeat waves of alien invaders. The game features endless levels, upgradeable equipment and music from electronic composer Disasterpeace.
ESRB rating: E10+ for fantasy violence.
Platform: PS Vita
Metacritic score: 72
Description: “Rogue Aces” is a rogue-like air combat game featuring high replayability and randomized levels. Players are given one life and three planes to accomplish 100 randomly-generated missions during the game’s campaign. The game also features score attack, survival and time attack modes.
ESRB rating: T for fantasy violence and mild blood.
Microsoft’s free games are usually divided across both Xbox consoles, with two titles featured for Xbox One, and an additional two for Xbox 360. It’s important to note Xbox One owners can also download the Xbox 360 titles, thanks to backward compatibility. Any Xbox 360 games downloaded as an Xbox Live Gold subscriber will stay in your digital library, even if your subscription lapses.
Note: “WRC 6 FIA World Rally Championship” for Xbox One will continue to be available for free until Feb. 15.
Platform: Xbox One
Date Available: Feb. 1-28
Metacritic score: 82
Description: “Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon” is an action-adventure NES-style throwback to Konami’s “Castlevania III” and an appetizer for former Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi’s next game, “Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night.” Players can switch between four characters as they fight their way to a haunted castle dominated by a powerful demon.
ESRB rating: T for blood and fantasy violence.
Platform: Xbox One
Date Available: Feb. 16-March 15
Metacritic score: 63
Description: Drop bombs and navigate mazes with friends in this modern update to the classic "Bomberman." The game features multiple characters, each with their own ability, a story mode and several multiplayer maps. The Xbox version of the game also features "Halo’s" Master Chief as a playable character.
ESRB rating: E10+ for cartoon violence.
Platform: Xbox 360, Xbox One
Date Available: Feb. 1-15
Metacritic score: 72
Description: Set during the French and Indian War, players experience the life of Shay Patrick Cormac, a former assassin who has been betrayed by the Assassin Brotherhood. After falling in with the Templar Order, Cormac is tasked with hunting the American Assassins to extinction. Players can explore the North Atlantic, interact with historical figures like George Washington and Benjamin Franklin and use deadly skills and equipment on the path to revenge.
ESRB rating: M for blood, strong language and violence.
What parents should know: “Assassin’s Creed Rogue” is an action-stealth game centered around themes of revenge and war. The game features several intense, violent scenes and some light bloodshed. Strong swear words like the f-word are also used infrequently.
Platform: Xbox 360, Xbox One
Date Available: Feb. 16-28
Metacritic score: 76
Description: “Star Wars: Jedi Knight” puts players into the role of a student at Luke Skywalker’s Jedi Academy. The game — which is part of the "Star Wars Legends" continuity — features appearances from popular "Star Wars" characters and locations, as well as lightsaber and force-based combat abilities.
ESRB rating: T
Twitch usually offers five free PC games on the first of the month for Amazon/Twitch Prime subscribers. While the free games aren’t available on Mac, Windows users can access their games through the free Twitch Desktop App. To redeem the free games, log in to Twitch, click on the crown in the top right corner and claim the free game offer. Twitch also allows subscribers to send one friend a copy of each free game every month.
Metacritic Score: 73
Description: “The Flame in the Flood” is a rogue-lite survival game set against the river of post-apocalyptic rural America. Players journey down a randomly-generated river and search for resources like food, tools and medicine.
ESRB Rating: T for violence and blood.
Metacritic Score: N/A
Description: “Draknek & Co Puzzle Collection” is a bundle of experimental puzzle games designed by independent game developer Alan Hazelden, who goes by Draknek on Twitter. Each puzzle game tackles different concepts, like building snowmen, planning travel routes for aliens and exploring desert islands.
ESRB Rating: N/A
Metacritic Score: 81Comment on this story
Description: “Downwell” is an action game in which players guide a “young person” falling down a well — with only a pair of gunboots to defeat monsters on the way down. The game also features upgrades and power-ups that can be purchased after each run to reach higher scores.
ESRB Rating: E10+ for fantasy violence and mild blood.
Metacritic Score: 75
Description: “Dear Esther” is a first-person story-based game exploring immersion, love, guilt and redemption. According to the game’s website, “Dear Esther” is a landmark title for storytelling in video games. Each playthrough randomly generates audio, visuals and in-game events, offering increased replayability.
ESRB Rating: T for drug reference and language.