Humble Choice June 2021 Review – Civilization 6 and more.

I’m Kinglink. It’s the first week of the month so it must be time for the Humble Choice for June 2021 Review. 

Remember I only play one hour per game to get a sampling of them all, and I’ll tell you who is going to enjoy each title, and who might want to skip it.  It’s a big month with another massive headline so let’s dive in again. 

Our first game is one whose base game has already been in a Humble Monthly, in the February 2019 Humble Monthly Bundle… 

Sid Meier’s Civilization VI  The Platinum Edition.  This is Civilization, and you probably already know if you like this series or not.  If you don’t already have an opinion I’d probably just recommend you try this game out because it’s a deep and engaging 4X game, where you run a country.  It’s probably the most accessible franchise in the 4x space as well. 

There are multiple ways to play Civilization, whether you chase technology, culture, military might, or religion.  The entire game is played out over multiple hours, and days, as you run your country and try to become the dominant force in one or many of these areas.  The choice is really up to the player and it’s a deep and engaging experience. 

In the Platinum Edition, you get both major expansions for the game, Rise and Fall and Gathering Storm, both of which are huge changes, but also big improvements for the title.  Though this doesn’t contain the New Frontier Pass, which is a shame and a new expansion.   Still, this is Civ VI at its best, and honestly, it does appear to feel like a fresh entry into the system with both expansions. 

Pick this up if you want a Civilization game or are curious about the franchise. However, be prepared, it’s one of the easiest 4x games to get into, but it still will take most players at least 10 to 20 hours to get a handle on it.

Secret Neighbor.  Hello Neighbor was in the August 2020 Humble Choice Bundle.  If you picked that game up and thought “this needs to be in multiplayer”, then this is the game for you.  It takes the same Hello Neighbor formula of hunting for keys, but randomizes the map, and has one of six players become a Secret Neighbor.

There are ways this might have worked, especially one where it plays out like Mafia or Among Us, but in this case, players just have to avoid being caught by the Neighbor and when the Neighbor is finally revealed, the game becomes more of a brawl, than anything strategic.   

There’s limited communication which harms the game and much of the strategy is just having the neighbor isolate and pick off the party, which means the kids will have to clump into more groups, but Secret Neighbor has the same issue as Hello Neighbor as it’s lacking a tutorial and I still don’t know exactly what the game expected me to do, or if I could even have any fun.  Maybe with a group of people, I already knew, but this isn’t for me. 

Pick this up if you like Hello Neighbor but want a randomized multiplayer version of it, or have a group of friends who want to play this.  There’s an established fanbase with more than 100 people playing it each day even before it was bundled, but I still don’t really like this franchise, and I don’t know if this game will change many people’s opinions on the original game.

Stubbs the Zombie in Rebel Without a Pulse.  This is a throwback, a 2005 game from the original Xbox era, and this is one of the most outlandish games out there.  I can’t think of many games where you play as a zombie.  A game where the main character is one for the entire run time is extremely rare. 

But Stubbs the Zombie, yes I’m abbreviating it, is interesting.  You’re able to attack humans, eat their brains, and grow an undead horde.  What’s strange is that fifteen years later the gameplay still works though the game is showing it came from a different era, it’s still entertaining. 

The story and cutscenes are the biggest problems, the scenes are too short and random, with the game just throwing Stubbs in a level because that level was made.  Yet if you can accept a few flaws, this is an interesting throwback that still feels fresh due to the concept of not being something that has been remade a hundred times like a military shooter.

Pick this up if you buy the bundle for something else.  That’s an odd thing to say, but I’m torn on Stubbs, this isn’t the reason to buy the Humble Choice, but at the same time if you get this game in the Choice, absolutely check it out, because it’s a classic Xbox title and a very different type of game that you probably won’t see again, sadly. 

Worms Rumble.  Team 17 has made a decent number of Worms games and they all tend to have single players with additional solid multiplayer. Worms Rumble skips the single-player content and focuses solely on a brand new real-time multiplayer mode where players can use classic worm weapons to kill each other in real-time.

I wasn’t expecting to have a great time as the player counts are a bit low on SteamCharts with less than 40 players online since the bundle launch.  However there does appear to be cross-play and Worms Rumble is surprisingly active right now, though I wasn’t matched up with many Steam players.   I still found myself having a great time and wanting to play more.  The issue I see is one of having a consistent player base rather than issues with gameplay

If the player base can remain constant I think Worms Rumble is a solid and enjoyable experience.  The combat is fast but strategic. The character designs are the lovable Worms and the audio was still hilarious to hear.  Worms Rumble has only 3 maps but I still had an enjoyable enough time and I would love to come back to play more and take out new opponents.  Earning customizations through levels and daily missions helps as well

Pick this up if you’re a huge Worms fan and you want to take a risk on the player base.  As enjoyable a time I had, even playing with some friends on twitch stream, shout out to Bio Hazard Battle, and Royal, I don’t know if I see the player base remaining steady on Steam.  It does appear that there is still some life on consoles, so cross-play will help.

Going Under.  This is a Dungeon Crawler slash Roguelite with a corporate environment theme.  You play a young intern who is hired to work in the marketing department, but ends up going into the basement to slay monsters, in your Amazon-inspired office.  

Going Under had me laughing quite a bit, perhaps that’s because I’ve spent too much time in Corporate America or I recognize what most of these scenes and characters are supposed to be.  I don’t know if this will translate to everyone, but I still got a lot of chuckles out of this game.

The gameplay is as solid as the writing.  This is a typical rogue-lite but focuses on a Breath of the Wild style durability system, but in the case of a rogue-lite where you’re constantly moving rooms and locations, that is a pretty solid system, and it keeps players from favoring a specific item.  Each dungeon also has a different selection of tools, so there’s no one strategy to win the game. 

Pick this up if you like Roguelites, clever writing, or like this art style.  There’s something funny about knocking an enemy out of a car to drive it around yourself, or fighting goons who use moving dollies to smack you around.  Maybe it’s just me, but I couldn’t get enough of this game. 

Panzer Paladin.  A classic-style game, with a completely modern sensibility and excellent gameplay.  Players will pilot a mecha, collecting fragile weapons and fighting their way through multiple levels in a great throwback to an ancient era. 

The gameplay is pretty unique as well.  Players will have to constantly seek out new weapons as there’s a durability system in the game that will cause weapons to break.  There are quite a few styles of weapons and interesting designs, but there’s also workshop support so players can include additional weapons, from a library of 2000, or create their own and share them.  Though sadly those only appear in certain locations. 

The art is great, the music is amazing, and the 8 or 16-bit era graphics look fantastic.  There are also multiple difficulties, a remixed mode for an extra challenge, speed runs, special challenge maps, and more.  

Pick this up if you like solid 2D platformers with sword-based combat.  There’s something very satisfying about this game and makes me want to see more of it.  Still, this is an old-style retro with a bit of modernization, so if you want something that feels like it only could come out this generation, this isn’t it.  

Milky Way Prince: The Vampire Star.  This game is probably not aimed at me.  I like visual novels, and that’s what Milky Way Prince is, but it also is a homosexual relationship, not that there’s anything wrong with that.  But the main character didn’t speak to me, and after my hour I wasn’t invested in the relationship.

Is it a personal issue that I couldn’t connect to the characters or the game’s issue for not making characters that I could connect to?   I’ve played gay characters before, even in a romantic visual novel, but I just couldn’t meet the game on its level in the first hour, and sometimes I feel like the game was going to outlandish places to get people to make jokes about it.

Reading about the themes of the game online does seem to have an interesting story, but it did not appear in that first hour, and with only a couple of hours of gameplay, I’m not sure this is going to be for me. 

Pick this up if you like what you’re seeing, or are really into Boy on Boy Visual novels.  I’m sure there’s a fanbase for this game but I’m not a member, and I’m not sure how big that group is.

Desolate.  A multiplayer survival horror game with a really strange implementation of multiplayer.  The single-player prologue section of this game worked hard, as it tried but failed to tell a story to hook the player.    From there, players are put in a multiplayer map and told to go complete quests from completely different characters. The first quest is to reestablish communication.

The issue is this feels like a forced stealth game, enemies are too powerful, there are not enough health items, and there’s a lot of enemies in the way, so players will have to constantly creep around to avoid being seen.  The combat and gameplay just don’t feel that great either.  Some elements try to be like S.T.A.L.K.E.R but done far better in that 13-year-old title. 

The multi-player is especially egregious.  Players will start hundreds of meters apart, and while working together makes the frustrating combat bearable, any loss of life separates the party by a huge gap again and again. 

Pick this up if you must have a survival horror game to play with friends, but there are so many better games even if we only consider multiplayer survival horror. I’m not a fan of the genre, but even so, this one is at the bottom of my list still, even below Resident Evil 6.

Ikenfell.  The Humble extra sneak-peek from June 2020 is now a choice, and it’s great to see this game fully. This is a lot of different pieces that come together to make one interesting game.  It’s an RPG where players learn magic and go to a witch school, the combat has timed attacks and blocks, similar to Super Mario RPGs, and there’s a strategy RPG grid of moving characters in battle.  And none of that is a bad thing. 

The story starts with the main character hunting for her sister, who stayed at school for the summer, but it appears something has gone wrong, and the school is locked down.  The game revolves around fighting enemies to get more powerful and solving rather simple puzzles. 

There appears to be an interesting challenge here, especially if you’re a hoarder like me. The art is simple, but the designs are interesting and there were quite a few characters I wanted to know more about or see what happens next in the story.  Also, the HP restore system and the save system are activated by petting different cats.  I love that.

Pick this up if you want an RPG focused on magical systems and timed actions.  It’s also said to be about 20 hours long so it’s got a good run time, and it looks like it has an interesting tale to tell. 

Paw Paw Paw. This game starts with a funny premise: the king is hit by a meteor and decides all animals should wear pants.  The resistance, known as Antipants, one word, fight against him and try to stop the evil king…  funny concept which quickly just becomes a typical beat ‘em up. 

The art on this game is rather strange, while the animals look pained when you’re beating them up, it’s almost as if they didn’t take the art style far enough.  These are the enemies I fought for almost the entire time I played this game.  I fought a couple of variants of them, and two bosses, but the generic character reuse is a bit much. 

The gameplay is just hit attack over and over until you kill enemies.  There are upgrade systems, gear systems, and usable items but most of the time you’re just spamming attacks and thinking about what else you could be doing.  Beat ‘em ups need a little something more than just simple gameplay systems, and Paw Paw Paw lacks that. 

Pick this up if you want every beat ‘em up ever.  But I’d grab Castle Crashers, Scott Pilgrim, Capcom Beat Em Up Collection, Streets of Rage 4, and more before I’d play this.  I wanted to like this but it’s pretty bad, oh, and the music is earworm levels of repetitiveness, which I don’t talk about music often, so bringing it up should tell you something. 

Effie.  Effie is a strange game.  The first twenty minutes is a rather boring 3d platforming game.  Then the player gets a shield and uses that to beat enemies for another twenty minutes.  Then there’s a large open world segment in the game, without a firm direction given to where the player should go.  It’s like Effie didn’t focus on one style of game. 

The problem is Effie struggles to be interesting in anything but the open-world segments, and even there, it’s only a short part of the adventure. There’s a ton of runestones that just feel like a collect-athon.  But those go to a leveling system that didn’t feel necessary. 

There’s nothing wrong with Effie, but it’s just average, even with all these systems and styles.  The puzzles are a bit too easy, the combat is simple, and even when the game is good, it’s merely good.  It doesn’t even have an interesting concept on its own, nor does any of its ideas or style stick around long enough for players to even appreciate them. 

Pick this up if you want a very average game.  Effie isn’t bad, but it’s also not good enough to recommend and that’s probably the biggest issue.  I could imagine someone playing through the entire game because there’s nothing that harms the experience, but I also see players will likely put it down for dinner or bed and move on to something else because there’s not a strong reason to return. 

Disjunction.  This is a story-based stealth game that seems to take its story very seriously.  There are three playable characters, with the first one being a PI. Each character has their abilities.

The gameplay kept reminding me of Metal Gear Solid where players had to avoid view cones of enemy guards.  Yet there is a higher push for the abilities and skills in the game, to avoid alerting the enemies to your location and getting slaughtered.

The story ties in well with the game, with each level being set up by the players trying to get information.  Players can play non-lethally or lethally, or a mixture of the two and the developer promises a story that will change depending on your actions.  That’s a common promise, but it looks like this game might pull it off.  After the first level, the quest giver chastised me for killing a few guards.  She’s not going to like how I responded in the second level. 

Pick this up if you like action stealth.  Players have a lot of tricks and agency in the game, and this is intended as a game where players take out enemies rather than sneak by, but this is a stealth game, so it’ll be about a slow methodical approach.

And of course, we have a Humble Original bundled in as a bonus game, so this month it’s. 

Fistful of Nothing.  I’m … not comfortable with Fistful of Nothing. I think Trigger warnings can be a bit silly, but this is a game about an office worker and then people trying to shoot him in the office.  It’s told and done poorly so maybe there’s a story reason, or maybe it’s just poorly timed.  The creator is Somalian so I don’t think this is done purely for shock value, but there it is. 

Much of the game is running around, avoiding being detected in the view cones, and eventually using an unlocked pistol to hold up enemies.  It could be a good concept, but the more I played, the more I found myself struggling with the controls or gameplay.  I’m not even sure what I was expected to do in the last level I tried where I got stuck, and enemies felt way too aggressive at times. 

There are also some poor controls where players can be stuck on walls they should slip past.  This might be a mechanic where players are expected to rotate and move past, but I’m not sold on if that’s intentional. 

Pick this up if you like what you see, it’s the Humble Original so it’s a free add-on but this felt like the roughest Humble Original I’ve yet to see, and that’s a bad sign. 

So that’s what I have for this month, now I have some thoughts.  At first, I thought this is going to be a Civ 6 or bust month, but after playing, there’s a good amount of choice, but not a great one.  Civ 6 is the anchor to the lineup, but a couple of others titles are worthy of praise, and I think I got my money’s worth even if I didn’t want Civ. 

On the other hand, there are some weird choices here.  Three multiplayer-focused games are a lot, the original is once again similar to another game in the bundle, both being stealth.  There are two games with weapon durability systems.  Maybe it’s just me noticing coincidence but it’s odd. 

And the elephant in the room, that GOG key… yeah, apparently the studio/publisher couldn’t get keys from Steam and I’ll trust them on that.  Remember GOG is giving away DRM-free games, so it’s probably worse for their future sales, but I hate having to have a GOG game when I have my library on Steam.  I don’t think it hurts the game, but GOG achievements don’t excite me.   Dumb point but it’s true. 

So let’s get to it, The strongest and weakest of the month.  

Starting with the third weakest of the month.  Paw Paw Paw. This is a bland game but it’s the music that made me give it the list.  There are a few others in the running but Paw Paw Paw had nothing I could recommend except for a smart concept. 

The second weakest of the month. Desolate.  There’s maybe a small audience for this one but for me, I didn’t like it, and even playing this in multiplayer was frustrating.  Just teaming up and taking on enemies should be easy but having to meet up to even do that after every death became a chore.

The weakest of the month.  Secret Neighbor.  It’s a multiplayer-only version of Hello Neighbor, and there’s an audience but there’s no reason for this to be in the bundle as the people it appeals to are the ones who already liked the last game.    The fact this game probably needs active voice chat, and I saw only two people using mics as well as an all-or-nothing party system is what kills it. 

And before anyone asks, Worms Rumble had consistent games, fun gameplay, and a good atmosphere.  Yes, the servers may tank tomorrow but the same is true of all multiplayer games. If you had 8 friends together, I probably would recommend Rumble out of the three games. 

So let’s talk about the other side.  The Strongest of the month.  Starting with…

The fifth strongest this month.  Disjunction.  Yes, it’s a GOG key, but it’s also a good stealth game that has me interested and should be decently replayable.  There’s an interesting start to a larger story, and three different storylines that I imagine will dovetail.  I’m adding it to my Steam Wishlist… yeah  I know that’s kind of the problem.

The fourth strongest this month. Panzer Paladin. Good classic gameplay, excellent controls, interesting level design, and excellent graphics.  This is a great game, and it’s one I wish I knew of earlier.  Glad to finally get a copy. 

The third strongest this month.  Ikenfell.  I liked the demo of this game in June 2020, now that I got to see the start of the story, I want to play more.  Solid Strategy RPG gameplay with a good action timing battle system.  I’m in. 

The second strongest this month. Civilization 6: The Platinium Edition.  What?  Yeah, it’s the best value proposition, it’s the longest game, it’s the AAA game in the pack, it’s the best version of Civ 6… But it also is a game that was in a previous bundle, it takes a LONG time to get into, and longer still to play and it’s not for everyone.  Civ 6 is a great game, and if you want it to be number 1, it can be.  But I think there was a better game.

Which was the strongest of this month… Going Under.  Like I said, if you want Civ 6 to be top dog, you can let it.  But Going Under is the game I’ve wanted to play.  It’s the game I wasn’t expecting and the game I want to see more of.  I don’t typically laugh at games, I cracked up at this one.  I am kind of hot and cold on Roguelites, I am pretty hot on this.   

I’m not sure if this is purely a game aimed at me, a guy who has been on Agile teams, and done standups and dealt with corporate bs, but I think this is the stronger game.  But again If you want Civ 6 to take the top spot, I’m not going to stop you.  

Now that I lost all credibility for not putting the AAA Headliner at the top, it’s time for me to go.   If you’ve enjoyed this, please consider subscribing, ring that bell if you care.  Feel free to voice your praise or displeasure down in the comments, and throw a like in the pile down below if you are feeling it. 

A little channel news.  I haven’t released a video in May since the last bundle review and that’s intentional.  I’m trying something new, it’s my biggest video yet.  The video will be all about the Yakuza series, the first three games have been in the Humble Monthly and Choice so it’s relevant.  It’s going to be everything from which game to start with, reviews of each game, and finally a discussion of pieces of the series, there’s something for everyone. 

If you’re interested I’m also going to try to start releasing videos two weeks after the Humble video, to be more consistent, so check back then, but like always I want to send a thank you out to everyone who has supported the channel through subscribing, watching and/or sharing the videos, and just being here.  

I’ll be popping up my old review of Civ 6 from my channel, check that out if you want to see more on that title, though that review was only the base game, and quite old now. 

Until then I’m Kinglink and thanks for watching. 

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