Humble Choice August 2021 Review – Is this the best yet?

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

It’s my birthday month, and as a present, I got a Humble Choice with 2 games I already own.  But that’s not a bad thing because they’re two of my favorite games and I get a chance to discuss them.  It may even have changed my opinion on one. 

As always I play the Humble Choice games for one hour, and compile my opinions, who I think should play them or enjoy them and who should skip.  With that said, let’s get started with the first game I already own, and the biggest game this month. 

Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night. This was a massive Kickstarter, one of the biggest of all time, and released with relatively no problems outside of the troublesome switch port.  It’s a game that delivered on its promises.  I’m excited to see it hit Humble Choice. 

Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night is a spiritual successor to the Castlevania: Symphony Of The Night as well as its handheld offspring, and it wears those influences on the sleeve.  This is as expected as Koji Igarashi leads this team and is best known for Symphony Of The Night. 

The fact is Bloodstained Ritual Of The Night is a very competent Metroidvania.  It isn’t perfect, but trying to measure up to the best Castlevania of all time, and possibly the strongest Metroidvania of all time was always going to be an impossible challenge.  

I got this game at launch and I gave this game an 8/10. As I play this again I honestly think I may have been a little too harsh on this title, there are some issues, but this just feels incredible.

Pick this up if you like Metroidvanias, period. If you’ve enjoyed the genre at all or are curious about it, this is a must-get.  At the same time, this is a Metroidvania imitating the biggest Metroidvania, so if you can’t stand the genre at all, this is not going to be for you. 

Last Oasis.  Another Survival game set in a desert where you have to build a base and avoid succumbing to elements, enemies, and of course other players.  It’s a concept that’s been done a lot though there are some interesting twists. 

It seems like the big one here is the idea that there are multiple different vehicles and the first one I got was a walker that the character had to peddle. It was a pretty cool vehicle and you can almost make a small base on top of it.  

However, I still don’t get this genre, and Last Oasis hasn’t solved that.  They push an MMO aspect of the game, and the game has been on life support, with only 500 active players, though on Thursday, when I played it, the number jumped up to over 2500, this is two days after Humble Launched, so I think the community is coming together to welcome the new players. 

That being said, I’ve heard reports of this mainly being PVP and the higher level characters have a lot of advantages over new players.  Also, while there’s a lot of different and interesting things here, it still is a survival game so it still involves the usual water, food, and stamina management. 

Pick this up if you like Survival games and need another.  I do think the community is only here temporarily and before this month is over the players will dip, but if you like the idea of survival games this could work.  The vehicles do feel pretty interesting in a potential Mad Max type of way.

Superliminal.  This is the second game I already owned. The easiest way to explain Superliminal is to just say it’s a Portal-esque game that’s focused on perspective puzzles as well as manipulating that perspective.  Superliminal is an excellent puzzle game, one well worth playing just due to how clean the puzzles are and how well designed they are.  

This is a game that will push players out of their comfort zone with how they look at the world or think about it.  Superliminal keeps coming up with interesting twists and puzzles that will impress players, and force them to keep making interesting logical leaps even if they aren’t fully able to explain how they make some of the connections.

I’ve personally played and beat this game on Epic and Steam because I enjoyed this game so much.  It’s about a two and a half hour experience, which is a bit on the short side, but it’s a solid and enjoyable two and a half hour experience that will leave players very satisfied. 

Pick this up if you enjoy puzzle games, or like what you’re seeing now.  This is a first-person puzzle game.  There’s no combat, but it’s still excellent at what it does.  However, if you want action or you don’t like puzzle games typically, this is not for you. 

Out Of Space. This is an odd game.  It’s a cooperative experience where players try to power up and claim a space station while beating back an alien scourge.  At least that’s how the game tries to theme it.  In reality, you’re cleaning up messes and killing enemies while trying to earn money to buy new things.  The goal of the game is to power all the rooms on the station. 

Most of the game is repetition.  The gameplay here was good, except also tedious.  It’s a battle to take over any room and players will have to play defense to avoid losing gained ground.  Players will have to grab water buckets to throw water on objects.  They also can use a mop to attack enemies or wipe up messes.  There’s a rogue-lite aspect so players can come back to play more and find new levels.

Though the game is intended for multiplayer, you should try to find friends for either couch co-op or online.  The public online system had some problems when I tried to find a match.  I found one player but then got into a soft lock the next three attempts.  

Pick this game up if you need something cooperative to play with friends.  There are not many couch co-op games, and this is a pretty decent choice.  But if you have something else to play that might be better, or if you are only going to play single player, this isn’t that great.   There are just better games out there, and this one feels like housework.   Ick.

We Need To Go Deeper.  A submarine rogue-lite where players have to work with a crew or bots to dive deeper and deeper into the ocean.  There are three ships, each of varying size so a two-man crew can work as well as a four. 

I wasn’t sure how I’d like this game with its forced multiplayer, but this was a lot of fun.  There’s no tutorial but I learned the game in under twenty minutes with minor experimentation and from there I had so much fun I ended up playing extra. 

There’s a very solid cooperative feel, and everyone’s working to the same goal, getting money, getting XP, and going deeper.  The only real issue is there’s no couch co-op.  There are LAN games, public and private online matches, as well as bots, but I would recommend playing with a group of friends. 

Pick this up if you want a game to play in multiplayer.  It can be a bit rough around the edges, but the gameplay is very solid and the experience kept me wanting to play more to see what would happen next. 

Carto.  In October 2020, I made a joke that if I waited long enough Carto might be released in the bundle. 10 months later, that came true, and honestly, Carto is an excellent game.  Carto’s main gameplay is the ability to manipulate a map and change the world in near real-time.  Moving a map square on the map screen and suddenly everything around our main character is new. 

Carto is done as a level-based experience, giving players different challenges, puzzles, and goals.  Out of the three maps I’ve seen, each one has a different style and feeling to the story, giving a fresh experience.  

If Carto can keep up the solid writing and interesting characters, this will be an excellent adventure.  It’s said to be about five to six hours, so I’m hopeful it will fill that time with a worthy experience. 

Pick this up if you like puzzle games again, at the same time, this is a bit of a strange style of puzzle where it’s mostly involving moving map pieces around or catching clues from what people will repeat multiple times.  Again if you don’t like puzzles, this might not be for you. 

As Far As The Eye.  This is a rogue-like, turn base, worker placement game.  Players will have a group of characters who are on a trip to the Eye, the only place safe from a coming apocalypse.  Players will have a limited number of turns to gather their supplies for the trip to avoid certain death. 

Each spot on the larger map will ask for different characters, different resources, and different abilities, and players will have to find the best path from their starting location to the location of the Eye and earn those resources before time runs out.

I got through two out of the five tutorials, and the first part of a run.  I expect the game to get decently difficult before long, but overall, it’s a fun and inventive game that will probably take hours to get a handle on, and even longer to master. 

Pick this up if you enjoy turn-based rogue-lites.  This is a bit slower than what many fans might be used to, but it also has a high level of strategy and pushes the player to avoid hoarding and overconsumption, but rather pushes players to plan. 

Cepheus Protocol.  Another Early Access game, but dear god this one is rough.  It’s a game where you’re fighting as a form of the CDC against infection and are terminating the infected with extreme prejudice.  It’s also an RTS that is trying some new things. 

However, this is Early Access and feels extremely early. There are only two modes in the game, a horde attack and a “pandemic mode”, and man what a poorly timed game to focus on a pandemic that spreads like this game.   Still, the gameplay here is just really weak, and while it is an RTS, it doesn’t feel like an entertaining one.  

Worse, everything feels incomplete.  There are FOUR different tutorials, a video, a series of pages, a website that has what appears to be no info, and a text box at the top that has another set of documentation, and it’s all done as an information dump. 

But the game talks about the fact that it’s in the second year, yet the roadmap is stretching out in front of it, but worst the game itself isn’t interesting or entertaining to play, and that is so frighteningly bad.  I was shocked at the state of this game, and I’m staggered that this is so positively reviewed, except most people are recommending it based on Potential. 

I can’t recommend this one.  This is a complete gamble, but the game as it is today isn’t worth your time and honestly, may never be.  If you get this game I’d put it aside and hope there’s a full release one day.  If you want to buy the bundle for this, I’d still recommend holding off and seeing what the final game looks like assuming it ever gets there.  

Drake Hollow.  I don’t know who this is for.  You have these ultra-cute characters called Drakes, and players have to build up their village and try to give them food, water, and entertainment.  But those Drakes are in a world filled with a dismal outlook and grimdark set of enemies.  Is this for kids or adults?  I honestly don’t know and it sits in the middle in an uncomfortable area, where adults might find it too cutesy, and young kids probably shouldn’t play with the dark visuals.

Drake Hollow is about farming resources and using them to build up Drake’s home.  Players will travel to multiple islands to explore them and gather schematics, which are needed for new buildings.  At the same time, they will be clearing dangers. 

There is a multiplayer component as well that I didn’t get a chance to explore, but I struggled to try to find resources.  Islands have limited resources, but before long they run out and they don’t appear to respawn that quickly, that’s probably a decision to push players to explore further out, but it’s a bit frustrating as every trip takes longer and longer to reach an interesting part. 

There does appear to be some interesting mechanics, such as building networks to multiple islands, and leveling up of Drakes but both of those mechanics were further out than that first hour.

Pick this up if you want a different type of survival, with a focus on building a town for cute characters and foraging.  This is a really interesting stylistic game, but it combines two extremes, so check the visuals on display here.   I’m probably going to pass myself, but it’s not a bad experience.

And when I hear this name I still think of Nathan Drake from Uncharted in case you’re wondering. 

Nowhere Prophet.  This is a card-based rogue-lite, and if you immediately think of Slay the Spire, I’m with you, but Nowhere Prophet is a pretty inventive take on it.  Instead of “cards” you have a group of loyal followers and are on a pilgrimage to a far-off place.  But at the end of the day, the followers are treated as cards, and this is still a deck-building game. 

The combat is focused on a more strategic battle system where character placement and choice matter quite a bit.  Players and enemies will have higher and higher energy levels as each battle goes on, so larger forces can be deployed, and there’s a lot more that can be done. 

Players can also lose their cards if the cards are defeated twice in battle, with the first time wounding the card, which makes it weaker, but also cheaper to summon next time.  There’s just a lot of little changes to the typical deck-building formula like this, and I have to admit, I think Nowhere Prophet could be really interesting, even if it’s very difficult.  

I’d probably need five to ten hours to decide if this is the next big deck builder or not, and I think by that time I’d get my money’s worth.  I also really like the idea that every location has an event rather than just random battles that happen in most rogue-lites, which is appreciated. 

Pick this up if you still need another deckbuilding rogue-lite.  This is a pretty different take on the formula and I think it’s still fresh.  It’s similar to Slay the Spire, but not the same game. At the same time, if you don’t enjoy deck builders, this probably won’t win you over, and if you are happy sticking with Slay the Spire or another deck builder, this might not change your opinion. 

Blue Fire.  I heard a lot of buzz about this game, and I get why.  This is a Dark Souls-esque game, with a great visual style placed on it and a bit more story.  Players are in control of an experiment and must travel through the land, fighting evil monsters, tackling large challenges, and trying to find their way.

But this is also very Dark Souls-esque in its difficulty.  I found myself having a few early issues while I got a handle on the combat.  There’s a good parry system, a very fluid battle system, and what appears to be great hit detection.  The downside is that Blue Fire is pretty challenging, which also is probably a positive to most fans of this genre. 

There are some special platforming sections in the game to get health upgrades, and there’s a decent amount of distance between checkpoints.  However with at least 11 hours according to How Long to Beat, this will be a meaty adventure, and the experience so far is good.  And while I think it is a little hard, there is an easier difficulty as well which I haven’t tried, but kind of invalidates all the difficulty criticism. 

Pick this up if you like Dark Souls.  Check this out if you like the graphics, this is solid and I’m only surprised it’s this far down the list.  It doesn’t have the most publicity, but it’s worth checking out.   If you dislike Dark Souls, you probably will also dislike this. 

Encodya. A point-and-click adventure with a young girl and a robot given to her at birth.  Tina and Sam-53 are alone in a world and during the first chapter have to gather supplies for the day, normal things like food, socks, and oil.  There’s a vast and interesting world to explore here. 

However this is a point-and-click adventure so that’s going to live or die based on how good the puzzles are and in Encodya’s case, I’m not sold.  I love Monkey’s Island, the Sierra Quest franchises, and Sam and Max, but I’m also careful about moon logic, and Encodya does seem to throw too many objects at the player and just wait for them to figure out their specific solution to a problem.  Also, a lot of the game is trying to find who to talk to and then makes it more difficult because both Tina and Sam have different dialogues with every character. 

The game also says it’ll be stereotyping people, and says all references are coincidences, but then mentions Kickstarter and is political even though it claims it isn’t.  The warning screen at the beginning of the game is a giant red flag.  It’s like someone saying “I’m not racist but….”  you know you’re in for a pretty rough ride. 

Pick this up if you love point-and-click Adventures, and even enjoy the bad ones.  Pixel-hunting and repetitive dialogues will get annoying but there’s still a competent game here, even if there are common issues with the genre. 

Also, this is a GOG key, so be aware of that.

And that’s what I have for the twelve choices, but of course, there’s a bonus game, and it’s a doozy.  Get ready for…

Retired Men’s Nude Beach Volleyball.  I play about a hundred games a year, which is entirely too much, but Retired Men’s Nude Beach Volleyball is probably the weirdest title I’ve ever played.  What’s even stranger is I played for almost two hours on stream because I wanted to see the end.   

Retired Men’s Nude Beach Volleyball is a bit weak when it comes to the volleyball aspects, but the writing in the game is so well done, I couldn’t put this game down.  I spent the two hours I played it deciding between if I was overanalyzing the game and expecting a deeper meaning to the writing, or if it was just an insane conversation between a couple of guys who just strip down and play volleyball. 

Without spoiling, there is a pretty satisfying ending, however, I also think Retired Men’s Nude Beach Volleyball could have been trimmed down to about half the run time.  The gameplay just isn’t that great, and while the writing often got me hooked to keep playing, it’s a very long and drawn-out game.  The actual volleyball gameplay is a bit weak, and there are enough glitches, whether intentional or not, that I was becoming more frustrated as I continued playing. 

I still can recommend it if players want a unique game, or want a reason to think a little too hard about large existential questions while playing an average-at-best volleyball game. 

With that said, how’s this month?  There are two Early access games, and I’ll be honest, I’m not thrilled about that.  Last Oasis is season 4, yet early access, it’s a perfect example of how companies use Early Access to avoid criticism.   On the other hand, the Cepheus Protocol is extremely rough, to the point that I can’t understand why it was included.  This game is missing multiplayer, a campaign, and the gameplay feels unfinished.  Early access games feel like they are desperate grasps to try to stay afloat. 

There’s also a lot of rogue-lites, including Out of Space, We Need to Go Deeper, As Far As The Eye, Nowhere Prophet, and pieces of Cepheus Protocol, which is four or five games.  While I love the rogue-lite genre, I think that’s a bit much and Humble has even released a rogue-lite bundle at the same.  

Still, there’s a lot of fresh games here.  Only Out Of Space appears to have been bundled anywhere before.  A few games have been on Game Pass but we’ll talk about that after the conclusion.  There is also a lot of value in this pack and if someone is looking to start or build on a library, this does have a reasonable amount of quality. 

So as always let’s do the strongest and weakest of the month, starting with the bottom. 

The third weakest of the month is Encodya.  Honestly, this is here mostly because it should have been better, but point-and-click games are hard and they are giving it the best shot, but there are still common issues that all point-and-click games suffer with and it’s so frustrating to see it.  Not necessarily a bad experience, just weak, which is what this is about. 

The second weakest of the month is Out Of Space.  It does feel like cleaning the house, or your room, just in space, and while it’s a good concept it got tedious extremely quickly, within fifteen or twenty minutes.  Again it’s probably better with more players but it can also get out of control faster. 

The weakest of the month is Cepheus Protocol.  There’s one bad game this month, one game I don’t think belongs and it’s Cepheus Protocol. Even with all the potential, the game as it is now isn’t worth playing.  Maybe a year or two from now it’ll be one of the best RTSes of all time, but I doubt it.  Prove me wrong, devs.

So with that out of the way let’s talk about the strongest of the month.  I will say that two through four were some of the closest I’ve ever had for my review, so let’s dive in. 

The fifth strongest of the month is Nowhere Prophet.  This is just a fantastic take on the rogue-lite and deckbuilding genres.  I love seeing how each location has what feels like a unique event offering a reason for the results.  If you like Slay the Spire, definitely check this one out. 

The fourth strongest of the month is Superliminal.  An excellent mind-bending puzzle game that focuses on both confusing the players and then illuminating them.  So many puzzles feel impossible just before you realize every incorrect assumption you have made, and that’s what a great puzzle game does. 

The third strongest of the month is Carto.  I love the concept of changing the world with a map, and Carto does this efficiently.  The first hour has me excited for more, and each area seems to have a new and fresh part of gameplay to explore, so I can’t wait to see what else Carto might have in store for me. 

The second strongest of the month is Blue Fire.  This game snuck up on me and made me accept it.  The Genre is great, but I love the art style and want to see what else the game will do because I feel I’ve only scratched the surface.  While this still might be weaker than Carto or Superliminal the length of the Blue Fire I think makes it worthy of second place… which only leaves. 

The strongest of the month is Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night.  I don’t like to give the top spot to the headliner or the first game on the list.  That’s the de facto winner usually because of the size and scale of the game.  But Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night is so damn good, it earns it.  It’s a game that’s never been cheaper than 15 dollars, but it also is a game that will give you at least twenty hours for the first playthrough of the campaign 

Multiple free DLCs have been released.  Two bonus characters, a classic mode that’s excellent, boss rush, boss revenge, I mean honestly this was a great game and has just continued to grow after launch, if you have avoided it and have any interest, this is a great time to pick it up. 

And that’s this month’s Humble Choice.  This has been a blast, anytime I talk about a game that’s already in my library is a pretty good sign, but this has been an all-around killer bundle.  I’d probably say this is the best so far in 2021, but I haven’t run the numbers. 

Now a channel update that I think will be important to you, dear viewer.  If you’ve made it this far, I’ll assume you like my Humble Choice reviews. But what if I said you could get a similar review for the Xbox Game Pass?  Well, the fact is due to a suggestion made by Bio-Hazard Battle, that’s exactly what I’m going to do.  The first week of each month will be Humble Choice, The third week of the month will be a look at what you should check out on Xbox Game Pass. 

There’s going to be a slightly different format and deeper plays than just the first hour, but I’m quite excited about that.  I’m also going to be streaming some of those new releases for Xbox Game Pass games on Twitch, such as The Ascent and Bug Fables done as a game club. It’s a chance to play the game and be able to discuss it.   Those streams will be on Tuesday and Thursday, and I’m closing in on 50 followers on Twitch, so any help there would be much appreciated.  I’m Kinglink Reviews there as well. 

So that’s what I have for this month. I hope you’re excited for my first Game Pass Review, I hope you enjoyed this month, I have.  And if you liked this video or want to see more from me, thank you very much, consider subscribing, ringing that bell, or leaving a comment and letting me and everyone knows what you thought about this month’s bundle. 

If you want more, check out my video review of Bloodstained: Ritual of the Night on screen now, as well as another video. 

Until then I’m Kinglink and thanks for watching. 

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