Humble Choice July 2020 Review – A solid but unexciting month

I’m Kinglink and we’re here for the Humble Choice July 2020 Review.

There are a lot of games so the rules are the same as always, I spent 1 hour per game, I’ll tell you why or why not to check it out, and Youtube chapters are available if you need them. Let’s dive right in.


Age of Wonders: Planetfall. If you take Civilization and merge it with X-com, you get Age of Wonder: Planetfall. You have a civilization based 4X game with diplomacy, on a strange and unique planet. This is what Beyond Earth promised but didn’t deliver on.

But the combat, as you will see on the screen, is an X-Com style tactical battle system, even going as far as having overwatch mode. While you can do auto-combat effectively, I find the combat here to be a very strong part of the game.

There’s even a campaign mode on top of all this where you go to various worlds to complete quest-based objectives and follow a story of some sort.

There’s so much in this game I couldn’t see everything in one hour, multiple factions, different victory conditions, the races look awesome, creating a unique commander which fits in the faction system. There’s a lot here.

I’ll make it simple, if you like Civilization, check this game out. If you also like X-Com this is even better. However, if you aren’t a fan of 4X games already or if you don’t like Civilization, I don’t know if you’ll enjoy this one. I’d love to dig into this one but this is a game that’s going to take ten or twenty hours before you feel like you fully understand all the mechanics.

A small note on Age of Wonder: Planetfall is that you can’t upgrade to the Premium version of the game from this version. If that’s something you want, it might be more beneficial to buy that instead of taking this as a choice in the bundle especially during the steam sale.

Void Bastards. This is one of my favorite games. It combines the style of System Shock 1 with rogue-lite elements, and it’s just fun to play. You’re a series of convicts trying to help your ship get back to a penal colony. The ship has multiple issues so the player has to keep hunting down gear to assist.

Much of the game is based on rather small space stations and ships that the player will have to gather resources from. Those resources aren’t always for your goal as you can use them to improve your weapons, abilities, and more. The crafting system is quite useful. As I mentioned, you are a series of convicts, similar to Rogue Legacy each character has different abilities and faults.

Much of Void Bastards is played almost like a stealth game where you avoid combat rather than try to take down every enemy and the experience is rather good. I like this one.

But there are complaints. Others have expressed it is too easy, which it is, though there are challenge modes, and that it’s short, which … ok it is too. You can beat the game in about 12 to 16 hours.

I like this one, it’s got a great art style, interesting gameplay, and solid game design, I even did a video on Void Bastards which I’ll link to at the end of the video. Still, rogue-lites are a hit or miss category and with a lack of focus on combat, some players will probably not enjoy this as much. I still think this is a very solid choice for the month.

Railway Empire. This is a game where you run a railroad company and have to service towns by supplying goods. This is another one where I think I understand some of it after an hour but I only played one out of possibly five chapters, and there’s far more to see.

Much of the game is about building new stations, tracks, and trying to ensure you can deliver goods. The challenge is that not every town needs every good so you’re building supply chains as you work on the railroad.

There’s a lot of little issues I had with this game, creating the rail lines is intuitive, but you also can easily break a rail line or not connect it properly if you’re not paying attention which set me back about 20 minutes as I tried to figure out a race condition. The game isn’t the best when it wants to tell you about problems.

I think I prefer this game to Rise of Industry from a couple of months ago, it’s in the same genre but I like how this one flows and plays, though I would have to play more to say conclusively.

The first hour of this is fun and I would like to play more. This is made by the same publisher as Tropico, though I think I like this one a little more. If you’re a fan of railroads this is a must buy as you can ride on the engines. If you like city builders or games like that, I think you’ll have a great time with this, but this is that genre, so adventure or action fans, you can skip this one.

Battlestar Galactica Deadlock. This is a space fleet simulator similar to Ai War, with a mix of Frozen Synapse as well. You issue orders, tell your fleet what you want to do, and the enemy, in this case, Cylons, will do the same. The goal is to outmaneuver and destroy enemy units in epic space battles.

With that said, I’m not a huge Battlestar fan, though I did watch the new series once. The concept is good, the battles here feel rather large and important but I’m still in the early game. There are a couple of different campaigns included here as well so there’s a decent amount of content.

If there is a problem it’s that it’s a bit slow. You’re making orders and then executing them and the executing time does take longer. You also can’t queue up multiple orders, such as doing a 180-degree turn will require two or three separate orders issued, rather than just marking where you want the ship to reach.

Still, there’s a lot of interesting tactics here, and I don’t think this is limited to just Battlestar fans, but I don’t think I’ll return. The concept is worth checking out, and the gameplay is solid. If you liked AI War from a couple of choices ago and want a turn-based version of the combat there, this is it.

Yuppie Psycho. This is a horror game, I don’t like horror games. Except for Resident Evil, I don’t even like scary games, so I don’t like Yuppie Psycho, I might not be the right person to listen to on this one.

Yuppie Psycho tries entirely too hard to make you uneasy throughout the game and I think it works after a bit. The first ten minutes feels out of place, the writing is weak but gets far better after that strange opening. This is a creepy freaking game, and I thought about what I would show but… I kind of have to show the disturbing parts because that is a major part of this game. I’d be lying otherwise.

I do want to say the art though is solid, the game is good in every way it should be but it’s just a genre and a style I have absolutely no interest in playing. I feel bad because I want to play more but I also don’t.

As I said, this is a horror game, not survival horror, not action, but a horror RPG for the most part. I think you already know if you like this one but this is mostly going to appeal to the horror niche and anyone who doesn’t like scary games, will want to skip this.

Quick related question, how many dead bodies would you have to see on the first day of work to excuse yourself and leave immediately? I think my number would be one, and I might even leave if there’s a serious injury. Maybe the main character is a psycho.

Beat Hazard 2. What if the music you are listening to could change the game and give you a unique experience based on the song that’s being played. That’s the thought behind Beat Hazard, and the sequel now tries to capture it again. I think they’ve succeeded in that area.

You can play any of the game’s tracks or built-in radio stations but now Beat Hazard 2 allows you to load in with any music or audio playing on your computer. It even detects the song and will give you leaderboards against other people who played that exact song. That’s a cool feature.

The gameplay is a simple twin-stick shooter but the first game gave me a ton of fun and I would play with streaming music for hours. Now with the ability to load up any song from Spotify through the open microphone system, I can imagine playing even more. There is workshop support, a ship customizer, and challenges.

The downsides are everything feels a bit hacked together though and the UI could use some work, but the experience here is solid. Yet, not every song I tried worked well and the game feels a touch too random at times, but the goal is to have fun while playing music and it does a great job at that.

If you are a fan of music with a good bass line or drum beat, you’ll find an interesting and unique game here. It’s not very deep but it’s a lot of fun and the music rhythm genre still is one woefully unexplored. If you like AudioSync or games like that, you’ll enjoy this one.

Sigma Theory: Global Cold War This is a cold war-style espionage game focused on scientific discovery. The game is entirely menu and choice-driven with the player just moving their agents around the world. The odd piece though is every country competes, so the US is competing against Russia, China, and Turkey, but also the UK, South Korea, and Japan, and it sounds like these are World War stakes, a bit strange.

Conceptually this is a good game, but as I played it, I just wasn’t that excited by the concept. It hurts that Phantom Doctrine was out at the beginning of this year, and while that is a retheming of X-com, it’s still a great game. Sigma Theory feels like a boring spy game, which is probably more realistic, but not that interesting.

I had a few bugs due to the tutorial which didn’t help, though the exfiltrations are kind of cool, they’re very random and since you can see all your character’s abilities, it’s just a simple game of risk aversion.

If you want to do the whole cold war-style gameplay and fighting over scientists, this game is fine, but there’s a lot of menu-based gameplay and while that’s almost a standard Humble Choice thing, this one just feels a bit weak.

Metal Unit. This is either a story based platformer action game, or a rogue-lite platformer action game. The tutorial stage here has a lot of story and development though it’s a little obvious where the story is going to go. The story isn’t the strong point but there’s a huge effort to tell it.

The problem is the first stage after the tutorial is just a rogue-lite style run of about 10-20 levels with a boss at the end. It does have some dialogue right before that boss, but the huge story from the first level vanishes, and that’s quite a change.

The game itself is a generic anime girl in a mecha platformer. You have inventory systems with semi-randomized weapons which provides an interesting experience, but the game itself feels half baked… which it probably is because it’s in Early Access, but the result feels more like a generic rogue-lite platformer than something special.

If you love games like Dead Cell and want to go back to a point where they were incomplete, then Metal Unit is here. It’s not broken, and nothing is awful, but there’s also nothing that makes me recommend this over games that are already out. Similar to Barotrauma last month, maybe pick this up just to hang on to it until it gets a full release.

There is a Metal Unit Demo though I imagine that’s going to just be the tutorial which will give you a false impression of the game as mentioned.

Don’t Escape: Four days to Survive. This is a point and click adventure with a couple of twists on the formula. The first is that this is a time-based game, though that’s done by counting time during certain actions, not by real-time.

So it’ll take you time for very specific actions, that the game will inform you about before trying. There’s a little resource management here, with a specific carry weight. There are also multiple challenges. On the first day, I got locusts, but you can also get poisonous gas or spiders instead, and each need to be handled in a slightly different way.

The time aspect makes this game feel a lot more interesting than a normal point and click adventure. It’s not long, taking about four hours to beat but with the multiple events happening, you’ll probably want to play through it a couple of times.

If you like adventure games this is pretty good. It’s not that heavy on the resource management side, though there is a bit of that with the time limit. I might return to finish a full playthrough of this one.

Verlet Swing. What happens when you combine the childhood game of “The Floor is Lava” with a grappling hook, Verlet Swing, of course, That’s why I bring it up. This is similar to either a 3d version of Remnant of Naezith from last month or A Story About My Uncle with one major difference. You can’t land or even touch any solid object.

The constant sense of speed and danger works well here, and I found the game to control far better than I expected. The player has to keep moving in almost every situation, but they have a decent amount of control in the air and it feels incredible. The movement feels fluid and I was able to get through the first sixty or so levels.

On-screen is the third grouping of areas and every twenty levels or sochanges up the theming on the game, in this section we’re focused on food. Every level is pretty interesting and has a different challenge, with the perfect time being ridiculously tight on every level. Most levels can be beaten in under 10 seconds but you’re going to have to master the game to perfect these levels.

If you’re a fan of grappling hook games or speed runs, this game is great. The controls are very fluid and the experience is intense. Though what you see is what you get. There’s no combat, no walking around, just swinging on surfaces, and avoiding touching anything.

Basingstoke. Basingstoke is a survival horror rogue-lite game. While the art style appears to be nothing special, the gameplay here is quite well done. The goal is to reach each safe house and try to survive.

How you reach the safehouses differ. For the first few levels, you can just run around, with your flashlight on gathering supplies and dodging the horde. Though after a while you start to realize that’s probably not the best. Instead, Basingstoke offers a skillful stealth system, focused on staying in shadows when possible, and moving slowly.

The stealth here is good and the enemy AI is top-notch as the enemy will often give up once you move away in the darkness. The animations are great, and the game itself is solid, even the rogue-lite elements have a ton of variety, so you might have to go through a store multiple times on different lives, but each time you’ll have a different layout with different possibilities.

When I saw it was survival horror I wasn’t sure but this is a good game focused more on tense situations than trying to scare the player, and it’s more focused on resource management than horror. There’s also multiple characters, with their gear, and a different intro for each of them.

If you like survival horror obviously, check this one out, but if you’re just a fan of stealth games or even isometric action games, this one is worth a look. It’s challenging but a lot of fun as well.

Earthlock. This is an interesting JRPG-ish. Technically this is an American company but I don’t think the country of origin matters when talking about the genre of JRPGs.

It’s a typical turn-based RPG, it has a variety of skills, different characters, and each character has two stances, which change the abilities they have. There’s an ammo system for weapons, and a decent cast of characters, I’ve already seen at least 5 playable characters, out of possibly 6.

The writing is merely ok from what I’ve seen. There are a few overworld systems with each of the characters getting a different ability. There’s also a bit of a lack of challenge from the game so far, but I’m still in the first hour, it can change.

The only red flag I saw was my completion percentage on the save game is 16 percent in under an hour, however other people on the internet have said this game will last at least 20 hours, so you are probably safe from a shockingly short game then.

If you like JRPGs, pick this one up. I’ve had a good time so far, and I might come back to play more. A 20 hours JRPG sounds just right, but if you want a longer game, that’s probably not this.

So that’s the main games this month, as always there are the two bonus games, and we’ll start looking at those with Grotto

Grotto is a game where the player is an oracle of some sort. Various petitioners will come and ask for the oracle’s wisdom. The player has to read the night sky in a series of stars to come up with an answer to their questions. You can be vague or rather specific depending on the sign you see.

The playthrough I had seemed to change the story based on my choices, and I got a specific ending. I don’t have any way to know if my ending is the only one, as it’s rather hard to find information with such a generic name as Grotto, I will try to leave my ending in the comments, feel free to let me know yours, but I imagine multiple endings are depending on what you tell people.

It’s an interesting look at the idea of soothsayers and how they can interpret the same sky to be what they want, and then how the receiver of the prediction can interpret it as they want. Overall, it’s an interesting game and can be played in an hour or so, It’s worth checking out but not exactly a bundle seller on its own.

And then there’s Popup Dungeon which is a strange demo that promises the game is made using their tools, they say they can take images and create enemies and characters based on them which is a pretty strong boast but not shown in the demo. The game is mostly moving your characters around a board which is made of papercraft designs and attacking monsters.

There’s a lot of potential in the game, and I ended my playthrough a bit early but I’m curious if the final game will come through on the promises and boasts. This feels a bit like Little Big Planet where the game will be good, but the real test is the community that gathers around it. Will the community modules take the game from a simple concept to a massive hit, or will it be limited to just what the company releases.

I think there’s a lot of potential from what I saw, and the idea you can create your character, skills, enemies, and possibly world makes me think this could be a big hit, but it’s a demo… I mean it’s just showing you what the game could be like.

So that’s what you get in the Humble Choice for July 2020. There’s also another mystery game, I think it’s safe to assume this is going to be a standard thing moving forward, which is a shame because while I liked Humble Monthly with everything being hidden outside of a big name game, hiding one game feels cheap as if there’s a bit of fear of missing out, FOMO.

Last month also had a mystery game which turned out to be Boundless you won’t be able to get this game but if you subscribed last month, let’s take a quick look.

Boundless is a Minecraft style MMO where players can fully explore a world that is shared with other players. Players can claim land, build on it, and share it with other people. What you’re seeing is a city built by what I assume is multiple people, and it’s rather impressive. There are even unmanned shops and more that players can collaborate on or even buy stuff from.

I was ready for another Minecraft clone, and that is what Boundless is, but it feels more like Minecraft 2.0 instead of just a knock off. My only complaint so far is that there are microtransactions though if you are going to let your kids play it, you can disable that with parental settings. The prices are probably fair, but I find them to be too high because I hate microtransactions. Still, you can earn the funds in-game as well but that will take a lot of time.

If you own last month’s bundle, check this one out, especially if you like Minecraft, I think this is very well done and deserves more attention.

But I caution you not to judge this month’s mystery based on that because it could be anything. As I have said, just assume it’s a 10-15 dollar game you already have in your library because it might be.

With that said what about this month. There are a few games that have been in other bundles, but not an excessive amount. Void Bastards was in the Australian Fire Relief Bundle, and Yuppie Psycho was in the Award Winner bundle, the rest are new to Humble, but a couple have been bundled elsewhere.

I had to buy one of these games as I needed 11 of them, and the cheapest was Verlet Swing which goes for 5 bucks during the sale, and the next highest are going for 7.49, which are Metal Unit and Don’t Escape. So there’s a lot of value in this bundle as well.

Still, there are only two or three games that I would say are amazing, yet overall it’s a solid month, but there are a lot of mouse-driven games here, meaning games that aren’t as good on a controller, which is what I prefer. There’s also not a ton of action, but I think this list is a good mix.

It’s not like that one month where every game was a Strategy RPG. This month I have had trouble making my best and worst list because I don’t think there’s many bad games or games that people will avoid.

I’ll rename these lists to better reflect what they mean. The idea here is since you can only buy 3, 9, or 10 games let’s choose which games you might want to skip or might want to pick up. I’m renaming them to the strongest of the month and of course the weakest of the month. Starting on the bottom.

The fifth weakest is Earthlock. It’s an average JRPG but it is just average and I don’t see it surprising me much more. It’s not a bad experience but it’s not particularly strong and if you skipped this one you’ll be fine.

The fourth weakest is Metal Unit. This is here because it’s Early Access, in a few months this game might come out and be amazing, but it also may stay at the same level. I don’t think the story is particularly strong, and the gameplay feels like it’s in Early Access. I still think it’s fine but it’s a gamble at this point. Very similar to Barotrauma from last month.

The third weakest is Battlestar Galactica Deadlock. Again not a terrible game, but turn-based space battles are probably going to be a niche group. The theme doesn’t feel particularly necessary so non-fans can get into it, but there are 8 other games I would put over this.

The second weakest is Yuppie Psycho. I think this might be the strongest game graphically. The art here is great, and the animation is so well done. But dear god, this is a niche game. If you like horror maybe buy the bundle just for this, that’s how good it can be. But I’m not a horror fan. I still recommend this game, but only to people who like the genre, which probably tells you how effective it’s horror is.

The weakest game this month is… Sigma Theory: Global Cold War. This might be the only game this month I don’t recommend and even then it’s barely there. Even with the tutorials causing issues I don’t think it’s a bad game, just not a very exciting one and every month there’s going to be a game that doesn’t click or is the weakest. Sigma Theory is it. I don’t hate any game this month, but I didn’t enjoy my time with Sigma Theory and more time will likely not fix that. Ultimately that’s the game I would least recommend.

So with that out of the way, let’s go back and look at the strongest.

The fifth strongest is Don’t Escape: 4 Days to Survive. This is a rather short game, yet I talk a lot about a game is as long as it needs to be, and Don’t Escape doesn’t need to be more than a few hours long especially with the replayability. The concept is fresh and there’s an interesting challenge to it. I’ll probably finish this one off myself.

The fourth strongest is Railway Empire. I enjoyed playing this game, and it’s another one I plan on playing more of. Running the railway and trying to profit from it seems pretty interesting and making effective train lines is good. There’s at least one Steam review of a guy who has over 1000 hours into the game, and I can fully believe that. It doesn’t have the longest campaign, but it has the potential to keep people playing as long as they want to go.

The third strongest is Basingstoke. This was an interesting stealth game. I liked the gameplay here, and I’m interested in seeing how well this holds up. It’s not something I’ve played multiple times before, and that’s a real strong point. The art style has grown on me and it sold me on the concept.

The second strongest is Void Bastards because I get to say bastards…. Also, it’s a fun game, and I’m not kidding when I say this is one of my favorite games I’ve played all year. It’s a rogue-lite that gives you a set campaign length, and an interesting concept. There’s a feeling of progression as well, and there are a couple of clever systems so there’s more than one way to beat the game. I like this one a lot and that’s after playing the entire game.

Finally the strongest of the month. It’s Age of Wonder: Planetfall. It’s Civilization, it’s X-com, and that alone should make most fans buy it. I’ve not played a game like this, admittedly, I never played any of the Age of Wonders, but this one makes me want to have the time to tackle it. It’s just incredibly unique and worthy of being the headliner.

So that’s what I have for the Humble Choice July 2020. Not the strongest month but I think on average each game is worth checking out, and if you wanted Age of Wonder: Planetfall or Void Bastards, this is a great way to play either or both of those games.

Thanks for watching this far, and I hope you’ll give me a moment more of your time. So last month I mentioned hoping to reach 1000 subs, I was within spitting distance and I just want to thank everyone because I absolutely smashed that goal and am still growing quickly. I’m sure some people are watching this video so I want to give a very sincere thank you, it means the world to me and I’ll continue trying to live up to your support. Of course, if you haven’t subbed or want to ring that bell, you can consider it now, I will appreciate it the same as I always have.

I’ll throw up two videos, we have a video on what makes Void Bastards stand out and it’s a game I love so it’s worth checking out. And then I’ll have a review series I do in a similar style to this video so if you want to find out what else I’ve been playing over the last couple of months, you can always check that out.

Until then, I’m Kinglink, and thanks for watching.