I’m Kinglink and welcome to the Humble Choice January 2021 Review.
So, I hope you like leftovers because that’s what I think we have for you this month.
Like always I’ve played each game for one hour, and I’m here to tell you which games are worth checking out and which games you might want to avoid. Premium and classic subscribers get all the games this month like always, so let’s get started with the list.
PC Building Simulator. This is another simulator game, and I’m going to hold off on discussing the headliner aspect of this game until I look at the whole bundle. But this is a game where you work on PCs and try to fix them up and I kind of love the idea here.
My first job ever was working in a PC repair and building shop so this has a special place in my heart, though that was a little over 20 years ago, so the tech has changed. Before the bundle came out I had to do some work on a pair of computers to swap hard drives and when I played this game, I not only had to do the same thing but used a similar process which is extremely cool. There’s an authenticity here that feels right.
At the same time, this is a simulator game, so it’s a scaled down version of the real thing. No scraping your hand on an overly small case, or having trouble running the cables, thank god for both. It’s a repetitive game, but it’s also an interesting one, and compared to Rover Mechanic Simulator last year, I would choose this game every single time. It’s interesting and very slick.
So pick this up if you like working on the internals of PCs, or like the Simulator genre. Even if you’re just curious I’ll give this one a nod for being realistic enough to be worthy of the simulator title. I’m probably going to return to see what else it has in store for me.
Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey. This is a survival game of a different type. Rather than just try to survive an experience, here you try to evolve your apes and grow your species to develop better skills and abilities
Conceptually, Ancestors is a fantastic game. It feels like the team took one section of that old Sid Meier game, Spore and really developed the concept, focusing on growing neurons and developing offspring which gain new abilities and skills over time, as well as genetic mutations. The ideas at work here are fascinating and are exciting.
But Ancestors: The Humankind Odyssey isn’t able to capitalize on the concepts as it tries too hard to create a new UI and interface that ends up being more frustrating than exciting. There’s an attempt to go for a minimalist interface that works, but the control scheme doesn’t feel intuitive and players will likely spend entirely too much time fighting against it. The tutorial is also too simplistic but feels like it was begrudgingly put into the game against the wishes of the team. It’s more intrusive than helpful and lacks important information and clear delivery.
Pick this game up if you want a game that will challenge you with its discoveries and experience. There are brilliant moments, such as the feeling of leaping between branches, but this is a very rough game, and it’s one where players will spend time struggling against the game to really enjoy it.
Pathologic 2. This claims it’s an open-world horror RPG and sure I can see where it’s coming from, but I find it more like an open-world survival game. Of course, I’m only an hour in and it’s probably not that indicative of the full game which is close to a forty-hour experience.
The first half-hour is a set of cutscenes that feel very out of place and probably could have been done better. Random s]tuff happens, people refer to stuff that the character clearly should know about and the narration doesn’t match the subtitles. This feels broken at times and just not very polished at other times.
Then the player gets to the main game and is presented with rather severe survival mechanics, and a town that seems to despise him or is out to get him. There’s not really horror outside of one scene so far, and this is supposed to be a rather long game, so maybe this game changes over time, but all I found was a rather dreary open-world survival game, one I was not interested in continuing to play. It reminded me of Disco Elysium which I loved exploring, but here I found the nature of this world uninteresting.
Now I’ll admit, there are some very fervent fans of this game, people seem to enjoy this experience, and I’m not a guy who likes the horror genre, so if you like horror or survival games, give this one a shot, but personally I don’t even get the passionate love of this game from even a conceptual standpoint. Maybe I’m missing something.
Feel free to let me know what I’m missing down in the comments.
Warhammer: Chaosbane. This is a hack and slash dungeon crawler like Diablo, though it felt underwhelming for the hour that I spent here.
I played as a Dwarven engineer so she had a lot of flame power gadgets that I could use and the gameplay felt good. The gameplay mostly has players diving into dungeons for different goals which is given from a single quest giver so far.
Yet, Warhammer Chaosbane’s story is shockingly weak, Warhammer is a massive franchise but this feels like it has almost no lore to the missions. The enemies all feel the same and the levels have very little that make them feel special, though that could be due to randomized elements of the map design. Still, that’s something Diablo never struggled with.
Parts of the game that haven’t unlocked make me think there might be more but I haven’t seen this yet. Though there’s also a lot of DLC including an additional character, chapters, and an entire skill tree that’s DLC only? Then there are gold and XP boosts? I had to make sure this wasn’t made by Ubisoft.
Overall this felt like an average dungeon crawler. I’d probably only recommend this if you are a fan of both Diablo and Warhammer. I think there are far better versions of this game, but it’s not a bad game itself, just not an exciting one.
Total Tank Simulator. This is a strategy game with an FPS component as well. You set up large groups of tanks, give them very simplistic orders at the beginning of a battle, and then set them loose. You then can control any of your units and blow up other tanks.
It feels like this game is trying to be like Totally Accurate Battle Simulator but based on World War II. Each battle I played either ended with my team getting smashed very early or an ending that lasted five to ten minutes of three or four units chasing down one last infantry.
This game might have done better if it just stuck to the strategy portion, but I couldn’t find a way to issue orders after the battle started which is a shame. Controlling units usually felt underwhelming except for the infantry who you could throw sticky bombs that just murdered tanks, though the AI wouldn’t do that on its own.
Pick this up if you love the look here, and love setting up tanks and throwing them at a group of enemy tanks. But if you want either a solid Strategy game or a great FPS or tank commander, this is not for you. It sits in the middle in a place that probably should have been avoided.
Song of Horror. This is a survival horror game that also offers permadeath, multiple playable characters, and a solid puzzle experience.
The first hour revolves around a mansion withz the first character the player controls gets trapped while following a music box. Players are then able to choose their character from a large cast. Entering the mansion with their new character starts the real game, and players will have to solve several puzzles that reminded me of puzzles from Resident Evil. Though I say that cautiously because there’s no combat, and just a single QTE so far.
The puzzles here are interesting, the idea of a permadeath system seems interesting though I haven’t really run into the challenge just yet. While I’m usually not a big horror fan I can say I’m actually enjoying the tense situations here as it’s more suspense than “scary monster trying to eat your face”. With this game taking around fifteen hours, this sounds like I’m barely scratching the surface, but it’s a solid game so far.
I recommend this one to survival horror fans or people who would prefer less combat in the original Resident Evil games. Though this is a tense game, so be prepared for the level of intensity demanded by this game.
Not Tonight. This is a Post-Brexit version of Paper Please, though with a few twists. Rather than being a border agent, you’re now a bouncer, working to earn money so you can stay in England.
Instead of being assigned a job, Not Tonight involves selecting jobs that get progressively more challenging, and checking IDs or guest lists to let people into clubs. This is a ten-hour game so it’s longer than Papers, Please, but I’m already starting to feel a similar sense of a growing wave of challenge, and a desire to avoid mistakes.
A few side stories are going on with different characters so I think the narrative will expand. There’s also a home area the player returns to, so this tries to be a little more advanced than Papers, Please and I applaud that. Though so far this is just Check IDs for some rule set and get a certain number right.
I recommend fans of Papers, Please to check Not Tonight out. If you want a strange game and like what you’re seeing on screen it’s great for that. Though with a focus on England, rather than a fake country there’s a little more political commentary, though not too much just yet. Personally, I’ll be returning as I find this style of game fascinating and this game was already on my wishlist.
Vampire the Masquerade – Shadows of New York. This may look familiar to long time fans of Humble Choice. This is a sequel to Vampire the Masquerade – Coteries of New York, or rather a stand-alone expansion. According to How Long to Beat it’s about half the length at 3 hours instead of 6 hours long.
This is a simple visual novel where the main character becomes a vampire, though this time around it skips her joining the Masquerade and instead focuses on her navigating the vast underground. The main character starts as a reporter and then is turned and the game jumps forward to her being treated as a traitorous outsider of the vampire group, so the player starts from there.
This is the second Vampire the Masquerade game I’ve played, and it’s a strange one. I think there is a lot of potential in the game world, known as the World of Darkness, but this has the same issue I have with Vampire the Masquerade – Coteries of New York. It feels like it’s going to mostly appeal to people who already are fans of the World of Darkness.
Grab this game if you enjoyed Vampire the Masquerade games, or Coteries of New York from Humble Choice September 2020, or love Visual Novels. Otherwise, I think this is a safe skip.
Tales of the Neon Sea. This is a point and click adventure where the player walks around as an old cybernetic detective and solves crimes he stumbles upon.
This game is a little weird to start, and, strangely, a former police officer would just be allowed to investigate random murders but there’s something special here. There’s a cyberpunk aesthetic that works, along with the feeling of a political landscape that sets up a human vs robot conflict that’s starting to bubble up.
In the first hour, the game is pretty solid, with players having to find items, and use them on the appropriate things. There were at least three clever puzzles so far, and with the world exploring a character that had cybernetic implants that are starting to fail, I’m interested in finding out what’s going to happen with him next. There was also a really solid murder investigation that got me interested.
Pick this up if you like detective stories, or point and click games. If you’re interested in the cyberpunk theming I think you’ll find something great here, the opening seems to do the genre justice. Anyone who wants action though probably will not enjoy this one.
Minoria. This feels like it’s a game that tries to be a Metroidvania or a Dark Souls but probably doesn’t have the team size, or funding to really hit either of those lofty goals. Yet the game that exists is rather interesting and fun.
Minoria involves two nuns, roaming a map trying to find the princesses of their kingdoms and fighting witches of the other side. This is a pretty expansive map and the combat is mostly focused on really solid combat systems. I will mention that the parry in this game feels really overpowered and fun to pull off, though without it the combat may feel weak so make sure you use that.
Yet, I do want to call out a few issues. The game feels balanced but also strange, like the numbers for HP, and damage feels chosen at random but still feels balanced. So far there are no traversal abilities, so you’re doing the Metroidvania style exploration though it’s only by picking up keys. These aren’t huge issues, just oddities that make this game feel strange. But this is a smallish team in Brazil and perhaps that’s the reason. With this game and Dandara, perhaps we all should pay more little more attention to Brazil’s game dev community.
Pick this up if you like Dark Souls or Metroidvania games but are ok if they’re a bit easier. If you want something with a lot of polish on it, this one might bother you as it’s a little rough around the edges.
Deleveled. This game is a minimalist platformer where players have to use momentum and bounce their squares towards goals, and switches to beat levels and that’s about it.
Ok, obviously the level design will make this a little more complicated and there’s a lot of puzzle aspects such as getting your characters to reach certain points to activate switches but, in general, this is a rather simplistic game where the question is how best to move your objects into the right spaces.
While each area introduces new concepts in general this game is just different variants on the same themes of bouncing, momentum, and switch puzzles. The music is ok, not great, and I put the game down after forty minutes as I had seen enough. Good concept, but I feel like I’ve played similar concepts so many times before, I wasn’t having a great time with this one.
Check this out if you like minimalist game design, or want to play with the momentum puzzles. Skip this one otherwise.
The Ambassador: Fractured Timelines. This is a twin-stick shooter where players play a mage and fight against waves of enemies.
The art style on this game is unique, though I’m not really sold on it. You can see on the screen how it looks. There are also some interesting enemy designs but a majority of the game is fighting against the same enemies and remembering their patterns, like the ax soldier who swings in a giant circle, the sword guys need two hits to defeat, and so on.
I beat about a third of the game in just over an hour. The game tracks a number of different feats so if you want to go for all the achievements, you might have to replay levels multiple times, but I felt no desire to even try that. In general, it just feels like a very generic twin-stick shooter.
Pick this up if you love the art because this is what the game is going to look like. Also if you like twin-stick shooters you might have fun with this for a few hours. However, outside that, I think you can safely skip this one.
That’s the twelve choices for this month’s Humble Choice, but of course, we get a bonus game.
This month it’s Heeey! Park Boy, which feels like an incremental game with a mix of the flavor of Katamari Damacy or Wattam. Just an uber cheery and happy adventure focused on watering flowers and playing music for them.
The entire game just lifted my spirits, there is something serene about running around and just turning this dreary park into a green colorful paradise. It’s just a very charming game that will make players smile.
The only complaint I have is it takes a decent amount of time for the first upgrade, but after that point, you start earning upgrades decently fast. I am a little sad I had to stop, and that this game isn’t on Steam yet, but I want to see how much more there is to this game.
I recommend this game to anyone who wants an upbeat game, especially for fans of Keita Takahashi, the guy behind Katamari Damacy. If you want action or combat, you won’t have it here, but you get this cute guy boogieing down as he grows flowers, which I think I prefer.
Ahhh, ending on a fun game is so nice. Makes me a little sad because we now have to discuss the bundle itself. I’m not a fan of this bundle. I didn’t make that quip at the beginning about these games being leftover to be funny. This bundle feels like Humble had a few games leftover from other deals and threw it together.
The headliners feel a little weak, and I already know Pathologic 2 is going to get some people excited for the bundle and that’s great, but currently, that game is only 15 dollars during the Steam sale, and probably could have done better around October. PC Building Simulator feels really strange as a headliner as that’s been bundled before and goes for about 20 bucks.
The rest of the bundle seems to be very hit and miss, and I honestly struggle on really recommending the full bundle because I only found a few games I enjoyed enough to recommend to people.
Oh and then there’s Deleved and The Ambassador: Fractured Timelines, both published by Quantum Astrophysicists Guild, and they both feel a little weak for the Bundle.
This just feels like a strange month, and I hope it’s just a weird one and the rest of 2021 can deliver a better set of games.
So with that, it’s time to go over the strongest and weakest of the month.
Starting with the third weakest, we have Vampire: The Masquerade – Shadows of New York for all the same reasons the other visual novel was on the weakest list in September. You really need to like Vampire The Masquerade to get into the visual novels for the series. This one skips much of the world-building and jumps into the story and it’s half the length of the first visual novel.
The second weakest is Total Tank Simulator. I am curious about the genre this game is in, but this game just feels unnecessarily hard and not in a way that feels fair. I wouldn’t mind a strategic game or a game where I watch large armies crash into each other, but Total Tank Simulator seems to want the player to take control of the units with a system that doesn’t feel very rewarding.
The weakest of the month is The Quantum Astrophysicists Guild games. I’ll show Deleved here, but both of these games feel strange to be in the bundle. They have under 25 reviews on Steam, and limited coverage. I understand Humble finding a hidden gem here, but these are quite weak to be in the bundle.
Alright with the weakest games out of the way we can talk about the strongest games, and even with a rough month, I found games I think I can recommend to people.
The fifth strongest of the month is Song of Horror. This one surprised me, both in the style of game, and experience. While I usually stay away from horror, there’s more dread and danger around every corner, rather than scary stuff chasing after the player. I’m actually pretty intrigued which is not what I expected from the name.
The fourth strongest of the month is PC Building Simulator. While I’m not sure it deserves to be a headliner, this is a really solid and well put together game. Simulator games tend to be about repetition and I’m sure that’s here, but after my hour here I felt like I only scratched the surface and want to play more to see what else I can do with the game. Having real parts was also a great decision here.
The third strongest of the month is Minoria. This has interesting gameplay, good characters, and a map that was fun to explore. The combat is a little brutal at times and takes time to get used to but it started to click for me after about 40 minutes, and I want more.
The second strongest of the month is Tales of the Neon Sea. I’m a sucker for point and click adventure games and good detective games. Toss in a great cyberpunk aesthetic and I’m sold. This also is supposed to be at least 10 hours long, and I’ve already seen a few solid puzzles so this seems like an easy game to recommend.
The best of the month is… Not Tonight. Papers, Please was a fantastic game, but Not Tonight feels like it takes that concept and evolves it to add more content to the game. It adds more story to the formula, develops characters for more than a few chance meetings, and gives the player a little more agency. If it can keep the momentum it already has, this will be a great game.
It’s also interesting that apparently Brexit is finalized on New Year’s day, and this game was in the bundle. So good timing on that as well.
And that’s what I have for the Humble Choice this month. So what do you all think about this month’s bundle? Are you pausing? Buying the bundle? And, seriously, if you can give a counterpoint to Pathologic 2 please feel free to let everyone know down in the comments!
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This bundle is actually the anniversary of the Humble Choice. A year ago they switched to the new format and I think it’s time to take a look back and see where we are. But this video has gone on long enough. So I’m planning on doing a follow-up video on my channel about Humble Bundle and Humble Choice at some time this month. Keep an eye out for that.
I’m going to pop up two videos here. I did a video with my daughter on various co-op games we enjoyed together, you might want to check that out. And you can also check out the video I did on the best games I played in 2020. There is at least one Humble Choice game on there, find out which one.
Until then, I’m Kinglink, and thanks for watching.