Humble Choice April 2021 Review – A wide variety.

I’m Kinglink, and it’s time for the Humble Choice April 2021 Review.  

This month I’ve played each game for one hour over three nights on stream, and we’ll talk more about that at the end, but it’s given me a chance to find out what each game is about and if I can recommend it.  There are 13 titles, so let’s just dive straight in.  Starting with…

Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts.  This feels like a mixture between Sniper Elite, Metal Gear Solid 5, and Hitman, and that mix is pretty good.  It has extremely detailed bullet physics and large open world designs for its mission areas.

But make no mistake, this is a stealth game with a focus on taking down targets and getting away cleanly, rather than a close combat simulator.  While the personal approach can work, having large groups of enemies chase you will usually end up with one of them scoring a kill eventually, such as using the grenade here had bad results.

Still, the experience is good, there are a lot of different mission objectives, collectibles, challenges, and more.  The guards seem to talk quite a bit, but with the game focused on Siberian separatists in Russia, everyone speaks pure English with no explanation for it.

Pick this up if you enjoy stealth and want to see how they handle large open-world maps.  It’s an interesting game, and the first area feels huge with a lot to explore.  

F1 2020.  It’s the new version of F1 2019, which now adds in a new My Team mode with you as both a driver and owner of a team.  However, it also adds in new microtransactions including Battle Passes, an item shop for cosmetics, and more.  Ugh.  Someone watching my stream reminded me that EA now owns Codemasters so it’s only going to get worse. 

But F1 2020 is a solid game.  If you like extreme speed and Formula 1, there’s not much competition.  This is a high-octane but skill-based racing game that’s aiming to challenge you.  Yet with flashbacks and more, it’s not too rough.  There’s a lot of gamified elements so you’ll learn the game and be rewarded with research points as you experience a normal race weekend.

At the same time, this is made for Formula 1 fans.  Everything involves racing or getting ready to race.  There’s a good media mode where people will talk to you directly, about your performance or expectations but that’s race adjacent, and while you can simulate the big races, I don’t see why you would.  This is a game for the epic feeling of racing and that’s pretty much it. 

So pick this up if you’re a racing fan or like Formula 1.  But outside of that group, I think most people are safe to skip this, as it’s a niche product. 

Shenmue III. I don’t like what I’ve seen of Shenmue 3.  Whether it’s cutscenes that have entirely too many cuts in the middle of them, a story that feels elongated, such as coming up with reasons to fight, rather than just fighting thugs or combat that is almost a button masher.

I know there’s a strong fanbase for this series, and I’m sure this is the style of game that was made for the Dreamcast and Xbox, and if this is what you want, that’s ok.  I get nostalgia, but for everyone else, I don’t think they’ll be able to see the charm as this game feels rough. 

Add in rough English voice acting, frustrating controls, and a menu system that feels inadequate and you get a game that probably should have been released two decades ago if at all.

Pick this up if you want a sequel to Shenmue 1 and 2 that is very similar.  But I also think if you want that, you probably already have it.  I get why there’s a fandom for this game, but this is far rougher than I thought it could be.

Main Assembly.  This is a creative game where the enjoyment that the game provides will be equal to how much effort players play into the game. Racing through the game in an hour showed me the depth of the systems here.  

There’s a lengthy and interesting tutorial with a ton of extra challenges.  A challenge mode with even more challenges but more freedom for players, and finally sandboxes which also allow players to create their content.   But so much of the game is about building new vehicles, levels and accomplishing goals.

The controls and systems here are interesting and exciting.  There’s a lot to learn and even quite a bit of programming in the form of wiring up your new vehicles to accomplish different goals.  In some ways, this reminds me quite a bit of Banjo Kazooie: Nuts and Bolts, and it’s a comparison I like because both games give the player a lot of solid tools and interesting tasks.

Pick this up if you want to build, create, or even just explore other people’s work.  However everything is more difficult than you might expect at first and while everything is achievable, there’s a large ramp-up time where players have to learn how to build, and then what to build before they have the freedom to build anything.  

Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break.  This is a frustrating game.  I spent about half my playtime on the tutorial because Rock of Ages 3 doesn’t want to explain anything about its gameplay to the user.  But the tutorial was difficult enough, that its lack of explanation made the experience far worse. 

Rock of Ages 3 is about sending your giant boulder down a course at an enemy, and then the enemy sending boulders back at your base.  You can build up your base with traps on the path to try to divert or stop the enemy, but ultimately the experience becomes one of frustration as players feel like they have limited control and the gameplay here is one of quantity, not quality.  

The cutscenes as well are like the vignettes in the middle of Monty Python Episodes along with the characters never saying anything.  It’s an attempt to retell the story of Odysseus, but ultimately it just feels like fluff. 

If you loved Rock of Ages 2, you might want to check this one out, but after a bad tutorial and several levels that feel like players aren’t even given a fair shake by the developer, I am fine forgetting about this game existing and if I want to play it, I’ll go play the second game in the series.

Remothered: Broken Porcelain. This feels like a game made by people who didn’t understand what they were making.  The opening begins with a massive exposition dump of the first game that introduces more plotlines than a Metal Gear game all at once.  It’s a story that does not need to exist, as this title doesn’t seem to connect. 

However much of Remothered: Broken Porcelain seems to be introducing more elements of the plot without attempting to resolve or connect any of them, and before long the player won’t care about the story.  It’s just a big problem that the gameplay is even worse.  While the big creepy Stalker will scare you at first, actually being attacked by her makes you realize she has almost no way of damaging the player.  

The game mostly involves sneaking around weak AI, trying to solve puzzles and deal with more awful scenarios, but everything Remothered does is low quality.  The animations, the sound, the AI, the gameplay, the controls, and there are still bugs.   

Pick this up if you want a janky game, I don’t think I can recommend this to anyone else.  It’s extremely rough in every single aspect. 

In Other Waters.  You’re placed in a suit and have to explore, but given no tutorial, so everything you do while playing In Other Waters will be about discovery and exploration, and that’s kind of interesting. 

In Other Waters is very much an exploration game, though it does have a computer at the heart of the suit that you’re in, who will talk to you with a timed response.  While trying to look at everything on screen and talk to the AI will overwhelm people, it’s also a unique feeling and gives the player a lot to do.

Yet In Other Waters is an interesting and unique game.  This is a game unlike anything you’ve ever played, and that makes this feel especially fresh.  It’s a game about discovery rather than being told what to do.  It’s a game where you need to understand what your actions are rather than following a guided path.  That makes it feel different than most games you’ll see. 

I recommend In Other Waters for anyone who thinks they need a new or unique game that they haven’t seen before.  In some ways In Other Waters reminds me of Cultist Simulator, but with a far more friendly design philosophy that promotes exploration and experimentation, instead of punishing mistakes.   On the other hand, it’s probably not going to resonate with a lot of people.  This isn’t an action game or even an adventure, but you also haven’t played a game like this before. 

Aven Colony.  This a city builder in outer space, where players have to build a colony and try to accomplish goals.  There are two short tutorials, as well as larger starting campaigns, however, those starting campaigns will help you get used to Aven Colony.

After an hour I just was scratching the surface but much of Aven Colony is about the micromanagement of your colony and likely expansion to other colonies on the same planet.  Each campaign level seems to take place on different worlds, but I wasn’t able to complete the first campaign mode, so I’m limited in what I have experienced. 

I enjoyed my time with it and if I needed a new city builder, this would fit the bill.  The science-fiction aspect of it works well, and the alien landscapes you find yourself semi-exploring feel unique.  Also, the missions are just the right scale at the beginning to give you tasks but not large goals that you may not be able to accomplish. But I wonder if there will be a deeper challenge, as there’s only a handful of buildings. 

Pick this up if you liked Tropico but want a scifi version of it. I honestly can’t tell you much more as I only saw some of the first mission and, even there, didn’t finish that mission but I would play more.   If you’re not already a city builder fan though, I would skip this title.

Simulacra + Simulacra 2. These are a pair of horror or thriller games.  The first game spooked me with a major opening that has a lot of horror elements in it, but then didn’t do much with the horror aspect in the next 40 minutes.  Instead, it focused more on what life would be like as a woman.

Simulacra has you find a woman’s phone and then try to figure out what happened to her.  Though while playing it I noticed how freaking awful it would be to be a woman.  There’s a solid social commentary on how some people spoke to the mystery girl online and it’s done in a very strong way.  This isn’t social commentary being forced in there, but instead a strong point the game makes. 

The gameplay is mostly about snooping on the phone and has voyeuristic qualities to it.  You can even impersonate her with different people, and it’s quite interesting.  As much as I dislike the horror aspect in the beginning because I’m a scaredy-cat, I found myself wanting to play more as it’s more of a thriller.

Simulacra 2 seems to up the production values but presents a very similar experience.  Though I do want to mention there are a few grammar issues that I noticed in both games, and apparently, the team who created the game is from Malaysia, which might explain that.  Nothing that bad, but it can be a bit noticeable. 

Pick this up if you like horror or thriller, these aren’t long games, but they are unique.  There are some effective and interesting moments, such as hearing a woman’s voice from behind you if you’re playing wearing headphones. 

There’s a mobile version that would work better than the steam version but since this one is in the bundle it’s worth checking out if you find this interesting. 

Colt Canyon.  This doesn’t look like much but Colt Canyon is a game that should be checked out.  It’s a rogue-lite game with minimalist graphics and does pretty well for what it is.  While it doesn’t look like the deepest game, there’s a lot here. 

The combat is solid and intense, the gameplay is fun, and there are quite a few moments where I marveled at how much information was visible in the game with such a simple graphic style. 

On the other hand, I probably could use more information.  I believe there’s a reaper in the game if you kill innocents, but also not a way to understand who is considered innocent or not.  Also, ammo is treated as a currency and is a bit scarce early on, but that’s something players will have to manage.

Grab this game if you want an interesting rogue-lite especially with this graphical style, it’s pretty solid and worth checking out. 

Skully.  This is a strange platformer where the player is a skull with a head full of mud, and he’s assisting what appears to be a deity fight with his siblings.  It’s a very colorful and bright game, has some wonderful music, and solid controls. 

The level design is good with a lot of collectible items.  The character design looks expressive and I liked the look of the first form that Skully could transform into.  There’s a decent challenge but also a lot to see and explore and the world is interesting enough to see what comes next.

There are a few potential issues.  It’s probably not the longest game, and the music seems to repeat in different zones.  That’s unfortunate because I want more of that music.  But the experience here is solid 

Pick this up if you like platformers and like what you’re seeing.  I had a great time with this one though it isn’t the most exciting game I’ve seen. 

Popup Dungeon.  Take Neverwinter Nights, remove the multiplayer but make it a tabletop papercraft game and allow players to create characters, enemies, and modules, and you have Popup Dungeon.  

This is a very slick concept.  The official writing is a little cheeky, with a good amount of humor, even if it is in the form of dad jokes.  There’s also an interesting map system that combines exploration along with combat encounters as the player explores each module. 

This is a strategy RPG though, so players will be moving their players tactically and using accrued action points for their abilities.  However, with the ability to be fighting anything with potentially anything, and players given the tools to make their own stories/characters, there’s a lot of potential here. 

Pick this up if you like tabletop games or papercraft.  The art style is a love-it-or-hate-it choice, but the gameplay here is fun, and the writing makes it clear the developers knew what they’re getting into by asking everyone to make content for them. 

Finally, we have the bonus game 

Rogue Mansion. This is a sneak peek of a game that plays like a Resident Evil rogue-lite game.  Every run the mansion is regenerated with all new content and new placement of puzzles.  The gameplay is very similar to the original Resident Evil, without the tank controls or the fixed camera. 

However, it’s also a decently hard game and the combat is a little stiffer than it should be.  There’s a dodge mechanic that takes a lot to get used to and the enemies appear to have weak points but move so fast it might be hard to hit them. 

Still, after an hour I was starting to get a hang of it, but it’s still extremely challenging and I would likely need many more runs to get used to the gameplay.   

It is only a Sneak Peek, but definitely, one that has potential even if it is probably way too hard.  If you pick up the bundle, check this game out though, because the developers deserve a lot of credit for their take on a classic.

So those are the games this month. This has been a pretty solid month in my eyes at least in how I judge the bundle.  There’s a lot of variety and overall the games are positive, even the bad games aren’t that bad compared to previous months.  However, the lowest is low for the wrong reasons. 

Still, there’s a lot of variety, and a ton of games I didn’t even know existed or some were genres I was expecting to enjoy.  This is a month for players who want to take a chance on something you might like, rather than know you’ll like.  

Again this is kind of what I like about the Choice, more variety or overlooked titles than the big name titles that people get excited for.  With that said though I’m going to go over the Weakest and the strongest of the month. 

Let’s talk about the three weakest games this month.  

The third weakest this month is Rock of Ages 3: Make & Break.  It’s a pet peeve but tutorials in-game should feel complete and at least easy enough to learn from.  Rock of Ages 3 feels like someone started making the tutorial and stopped right when the gameplay starts.  It has bad information and a high challenge to that level.  

The second weakest this month is Shenmue 3.  This was disappointing, I finally tried this series and may never come back.  I’ve heard people talk about this game in the same breath as Yakuza and I don’t understand it.  But what upsets me is that this was a game fans wanted, and I am dumbfounded to tell you why. A lot of fans feel the same way and it’s such a shame.  But at least I can understand why someone might enjoy it. 

The weakest this month.  Remothered: Broken Porcelain.  Broken is right.  Shenmue is understandable why it’s the way it is.  Remothered Broken Porcelain feels like no one cared about making a great game, and that’s the result.  Check out the Zero Punctuation I agree with every single complaint he had.  That’s the easiest way to sum it up.

So with those three out of the way, let’s see which games are the strongest of the month.  

I don’t have a full list but two runners-up that I think deserve a quick mention, Simulacra and Simulacra 2 which missed because of its length.  And In Other Waters which is going to be an acquired taste.  Both of those games are worthy but not top 5. 

The fifth strongest this month is Skully.  This game is bright, cheerful, and that music is pure happiness.  Honestly check this one out if you like platformers, and take a close look at those graphics because there’s a lot of effort that went into small things like the Skully’s mud disappears as he takes damage. 

The fourth strongest this month is Main Assembly.  This is a creative game that players can put a lot of time into and get a lot out of.  It’s a fun experience and perfect for the type of person who spent hours making their designs with legos.  Games that allow players to be so expressive are worth checking out. 

The third strongest this month is F1 2020.  It’s only this low due to it being a niche genre.  It’s Formula 1, if that interests you at all, the bundle is worth it just for this game, however, most people probably won’t enjoy this title, and unfortunately, that makes it hard to recommend.  But it earned a podium finish. 

The second strongest this month is Popup Dungeon.  Similar to Main Assembly, Popup Dungeon is a great game that will be even better if you decide to be creative with it, but with a large toolset and a lot of user-created content already, there’s a lot here.  In the right player’s hands, this is easily going to give hundreds of hours of enjoyment.  

The strongest game this month. Sniper Ghost Warrior Contracts.  With a mixture of Sniper Elite, Metal Gear Solid 5, and Hitman, I was pleasantly surprised at this title.  It’s got a good difficulty to it, but it’s aexample of a game I was unaware of but am glad I now have in my library.  With that said, it may not be for everyone but if you like any of the three other games mentioned, this one is worth trying out. 

And that’s what I have for Humble Choice for April 2021.  It’s been an interesting month, let’s talk about the channel for a moment.  So last month I talked about trying to stream the reviews, and it went well, I had a good time, playing games like I was already going to but there was also a chance to reach out to fans, talk and enjoy the games with people.  

Each of the streams is linked below, they are now unlisted from the channel.  

I get it, not everyone loved it, clearly and I don’t blame anyone for unsubscribing, first I kind of had some technical issues with the streams which maybe caused a few extra notifications, but more importantly Youtube sucks when it comes to trying to differentiate between people who want to see your stream and want to watch your videos.  So if I bothered you because of anything related to the streams, trust I understand, and I’ve had the same reaction with other channels. 

I did like streaming, I liked getting a chance to know the people who chatted, if you watched and enjoyed the stream, thank you.  I’m going to try to continue streaming, but I’ll be doing it over on Twitch at Kinglink_Reviews.  I’ll be streaming on Tuesdays at 6 pm Pacific Time regularly and potentially other times when I have the time.  I’ll put a link to my channel in the description, and if you want to check it out, that’s great.  I appreciate it, and if you just prefer my videos, consider subscribing here if you haven’t already.  I’m closing in on 2000 subscribers which I’m excited about.  I honestly never thought  I’d hit one hundred views, let alone subscribers, the fact I’m twenty times as large today staggers me.  I can’t believe how far I’ve come, so thank you everyone, it means so much to me. 

I’ll pop up some videos here if you want to see more.  I did a video on the idea of how to review games that are better with friends, which sadly doesn’t tie into any specific game this month.  Darn, and I also have a video on UHS-Hint an old walkthrough site that did things a bit differently. 

Until then I’m Kinglink and thanks for watching. 

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