Humble Choice September 2021 Review – What was that?

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

We have 13 games and, as always, I played each game for an hour and now am here to tell you all about them.  Let’s just get started.

PGA Tour 2K21. I think a lot of people are expecting me to tear into this game.  But that’s not what I do,  PGA Tour 2K21 is a golf game and that could be my review. It perfectly bookends every point I would make about this game. 

Everything I don’t like about PGA Tour 2K21 can be followed up by “but it’s a golf game.”  It’s slow and boring, it doesn’t have any really interesting modes, it’s focused on golf but it’s a golf game.  And every positive thing I could say is equally followed up by “but it’s a golf game”.  The controls are decent, it has excellent difficulty settings, it’s peaceful and relaxing, but it’s a golf game. 

The only real issue I have with PGA Tour 2K21 is the Privacy statement and microtransactions that are just thrown as a 1-2 punch at the player, and while it’s only cosmetic, that’s not good enough when you only have a couple of choices without paying.  You can earn the money in-game, but not at a huge rate, and again if that was the expected way, why not just remove the microtransactions. 

Pick this up if you want a golf game.  Honestly, if you like Golf, it felt rather good.  I turned down the difficulty and had what could be considered fun with it, and while I got super frustrated, it was my failing at that point not any issue with the game itself.  That sounds great, but it’s a golf game. 

And if you want me to tear into it, we’ll save that for the conclusion, where I can discuss if this game should be a headline.  Spoiler: No. 

Neon Abyss.  Our first rogue-lite of the night.  Players are thrown into the abyss and have to fight their way out.  The game just oozes style and feels like a Binding of Isaac design philosophy with a little Dead Cells platforming and deep weapon system, but every weapon is a gun.  

The levels and gameplay are fantastic and working your way through levels and boss encounters are fun.  Though a big piece of the game is the items you get and the synergies between them.  There’s a decent amount of luck involved with the game as well, as my two deep runs had amazing item lists, and I struggled for about thirty minutes across four runs to get beyond the second level possible due to some bad luck, or possibly grinding permanent upgrades. 

Still, this feels polished and well designed, even if a decent amount of that is just Binding of Isaac’s rules snuck in there.  I have seen it’s not the longest rogue-lite, and with a heavy reliance on luck that might upset some rogue-lite players.  There are three difficulty modes so new players can choose the right one for them. 

Pick this up if you somehow aren’t overloaded with rogue-lites.  I have over a hundred rogue-lites myself, and I can still somehow find myself playing this.  It’s solid, but also I question if I need yet another rogue-lite.  

Not For Broadcast.  Not For Broadcast takes a simple idea of the player being in charge of a broadcast, and then has them running the broadcast booth themselves.   This is a strange idea for a game, but with excellently acted FMV it works. 

Everything is based on a typical news broadcast, including an anchorman, interview segments, and even press conferences.  You have to keep the stream lively but also focus on who’s talking, or give reaction shots.  Then you haveto bleep out swears and a bunch of different functions that will keep players focused on the game, rather than the video. 

But what’s great is that players will be able to look at their broadcasts after they’re finished creating it, so they can catch much of what’s being said, and it’s the actual footage the player has put together, it’s a simple but obvious thing that many FMV games forget about. 

Pick this up if you like FMV games, and want to see something a little different than everything else.  I don’t know if chasing a perfect broadcast will be worth it, but I enjoyed my first experience.  This is Early Access, which normally puts me off, but the team has proven they can deliver quality and all that remains is three final broadcasts out of 9, I think this is a gamble that already has paid off. 

Roki. This is a point-and-click adventure game focused on Scandinavian folklore. Well kind of.  It has the same mechanics as a point-and-click adventure game but is designed for a controller, so you can’t click to move.  It still is a classic point-and-click adventure with a different control scheme.

Roki focuses on Scandinavian folklore, with Jotunn’s being mentioned pretty early in the story.  The opening focuses on siblings Tove and Lars.  As you’ll see on screen, a mythical giant beast attacks the family’s home and suddenly it’s up to Tove to try to get away with her little brother Lars, though ultimately Lars gets captured.  I particularly love that it’s Scandinavian folklore which still has a mythos that feels fresh.

The one thing is this family just acts like being attacked by this massive creature the size of the house is a normal occurrence.  While this giant beast is attacking, everyone seems somehow accepting of this fate.   What the heck?

Pick this up if you like Point and Click adventure games, such as those from Lucasarts or want a great story about something that you probably aren’t sick of a million games going over.  There’s not a lot of action and the puzzles are a bit easy in the first hour, but I want to see where this game goes and it lasts over ten hours, so that’s pretty impressive. 

Narita Boy. This is a game trying to base itself on an eighties game and it’s really obvious from the video, Narita Boy has a ton of style in its art.  It’s just a shame that the gameplay and the experience are so underwhelming. 

The story is about a player sucked into a game and then fighting to save it from its creator and an evil force named the Stallions.  As I played it, I couldn’t help but think about how many missed opportunities there were here.  One character is named the Motherboard, but there are not that many other references to computer hardware or software.  Even when the game tries, it just makes up words like Trichroma instead of giving players something recognizable.  I kept thinking of how Tron did this idea so much better, even in a movie. 

The gameplay is also lacking, while the combat is acceptable, there’s also a lot of walking, and a ton of backtracking.  Directions aren’t always clear, but even then the battles are mostly easy to dodge attacks and then punish enemies, nothing that deep.  The platforming is merely ok.  There’s just nothing beyond the art that I clicked with. 

Pick this up if you love the art style here, this is really what it looks like, but the gameplay is pretty rough for what it is.  What a shame, because I love the concept here.  Traveling into a computer can be a rich experience, but this one just wasn’t that enjoyable.  

West Of Dead.  When I think of West of Dead, I think of a cowboy crossed with Ghost Rider.  Players take on a dead soul, trying to escape from purgatory, and ignoring the rather obvious link to Hades, it’s a good concept. 

West of Dead’s gameplay is focused on lighting.  If enemies are in the shadows, players can’t damage them.  If the players ignite torches it will blind the enemies, but enemies of course will shoot at the player, causing them to have to dodge out and ignite the light to illuminate the area.  There’s also a strong cover-based system and a rather solid weapon selection here.  I found a lot that made me hopeful for the title. 

But I also have seen some not-so-flattering opinions, it sounds like this is a love-it or hate-it game, and it may be a little light on content, which could be a problem.  However, for the hour I played it, I started to enjoy myself and had a pretty fun time.  But I also wouldn’t put it high on my growing list of rogue-lites, it’s good, not great. 

Pick this up if you like cowboys, the wild west, or rogue-lites and need a new one.  Also, the main character is voiced by Ron Perlman, so his fans might want to check it out.  The cover-based shooting was rather strong here, and I already found a couple of weapons that felt very powerful, so it might be worth picking up just for that. 

Atomicrops.  Anotherrogue-lite and I’m going to start with a warning.  This looks a lot like a cutesy Stardew Valley, but it’s not.  This is a rogue-lite that has players running around a location in the day, collecting seeds, and supplies, then returning to protect their farm at night from invaders. 

Atomicrops has a solid gameplay loop.  The farming is fast-paced and complicated, and the enemy horde keeps the player fighting.  This is a bullet hell shooter, tied to a simplified farming system.  The first hour I played this on Xbox Game Pass, I wasn’t sold on it, but it grew on me, and now I enjoy the experience, but my god it’s very overwhelming at the same time. 

The combat though is going to be the make-it-or-break-it point.  Players will be overwhelmed by enemy attacks and have to dodge the bullets as best they can.  Healing is a rarity here, and players will be expected to last a very long time against absolutely aggressive enemies.  Still, it’s rewarding and every day you survive feels like an accomplishment. 

Pick this up if you like rogue-lites, though this is more Enter The Gungeon than anything.  The farming mechanic is almost a gimmick as it’s a way you will earn money and restore life, but a majority of the game will be focused on gathering seeds away from the home.  Staying home for a day is seldom a wise option. 

Heaven’s Vault.  This is a dialogue-heavy game about space travelers exploring the galaxy and trying to find out what happened to another expedition, and if it sounds like I’m not sure, it’s probably because while the game talks about flying to moons, you also just ride the wind to travel between locations.  It’s strange. 

But Heaven’s Vault feels like a robust storybook that keeps pushing the player to interact with its world and story and experience it.  Heaven’s Vault does a great job keeping the dialogue flowing and prompting the player for input.  There’s also an interesting mechanic for learning an ancient language which has the player having to eliminate possibilities and consider what objects might be used for. 

Heaven’s Vault also claims it’s a non-linear story, so players might be able to explore the world and learn the language at their own pace, without being forced to go through the same path every player is forced down.  That’s a big promise, but I am curious how well it works. 

Pick this up if you like narratives over gameplay systems, or are interested in linguistics.  There’s not a ton of gameplay here, but the language learning system feels robust and fresh.  Most of the game is just talking to your fellow robot or random people in random locations.  That appears to be the extent of the gameplay. 

Swag And Sorcery.  This is a game that I should love.  It’s almost an incremental game where players collect loot and try to survive.  The gameplay is mostly resource management.  Tell a hero to go somewhere and then let them work.  You can’t control the combat, so it’s up to them. 

Going through the quests shows how to play the game, and it is solid to start until you hit the wall about 15 minutes in.  Suddenly the game starts summoning elite units, without really preparing you for it.  Elites are much harder, but what’s worse is they start appearing on EVERY run due to a quest.   If you can’t beat them, you have to start grinding, but entering a level and leaving when you see an elite isn’t fun. 

I played this for an hour, I tried on three separate save files, three different tactics and I barely made progress.  Worse, there’s no easier zone, so you either struggle against the elites or quit.  There’s no way to make money to get stronger, and even farming for resources is annoying at best once these elites are introduced. 

Pick this up if you want a frustrating incremental, but again I’m a huge fan of the genre, and I kind of hate this one.  Pick up Cookie Clicker instead, it just came out on Steam for 5 bucks.  Yes, that Cookie Clicker!  The developer deserves your purchase.  You can also check out free incrementals such as Idling to the Rule the Gods, Wizards and Minions Idle, Realm Grinder, or Clicker Heroes and probably enjoy yourself more.  I just can’t recommend this one at all. 

Fort Triumph.  This is a fantasy version of XCOM tied to a Heroes of Might and Magic game, and when taking on both games and genres at once, Fort Triumph feels rather fresh. 

The combat system has the usual attack, buff defenses, or using overwatch for ranged characters that fans of XCOM will be familiar with.  But it also adds in many physics-based solutions for the player to experiment with.   If an enemy hides behind a tree or stone, players can topple the tree, or kick the stone into the enemy.  There are also chain reactions that can happen as well. 

The rest of the gameplay uses an overworld map like Heroes of Might and Magic, with a focus on scooting around and accomplishing quests to progress a story of a scenario.  I didn’t get very far with the story, but it reminded me of all the best parts of Heroes of Might and Magic’s exploration, though without summoning your troops. 

Pick this up if you like XCOM’s tactical system or are fond of the old Heroes of Might and Magic games.  It’s a good blend between the two of them, the story is a bit weak though, and if you don’t like XCOM, it’s going to be hard to get into this game, as that is the majority of the experience. 

Orwell: Ignorance is Strength. This is a strange game.  You play as an agent of an intelligence agency and have to provide intel to a supervisor.  That supervisor will make important logistical decisions based on your intel.  It sounds like a straightforward game, but Orwell: Ignorance is Strength is surprisingly deep.

Players will have to decide which intel is important to their agency, and which intel they should ignore, or even hide.  Each of these choices becomes a branching system that creates multiple different resolutions to each of the three episodes.  The branching pathway actually can change the stories for almost every character in the game, and that’s where Orwell: Ignorance Is Strength shrines.  

Orwell: Ignorance is Strength is strongest not because it talks about government surveillance, but also questions what information governments should have access to and what decisions governments could make with incomplete or incorrect information.  It’s not just a game that takes a singular stance, but rather one that puts the player into a position where his decisions matter, and then challenges them to make better decisions. 

Pick this up if you like strange games.  A majority of the game is just clicking through fake websites and deciding what information is important.  The story at the core here is very compelling and the questions at the heart of Orwell will stick with you long after the game is over.  At the same time, I highly recommend new players start with the first game, Orwell: Keeping an Eye On You if they have it, because it’s a stronger experience.  Ignorance is Strength is a good follow-up, but just a little weaker. 

Framed Collection.  I like this game, but there are a few caveats here.  Framed has a really interesting concept where players move panels of a comic around to help the hero survive and follow a good adventure. 

The biggest issue though is there’s not a lot of interactivity.  While every level is an interesting puzzle, most of them can be solved in a couple of seconds, and only a few of them are challenging at all.   There are also not many puzzles.  I got every achievement in this game in under 3 hours, and I didn’t need a guide for anything before the achievements themselves.   This is a pretty easy puzzle game. 

Still, it’s rather good-looking, and I enjoyed the experience, but similar to Book of Kai, this is going to be a game you play through once quickly and then move on.  The concept here is really good but there’s no longevity.  Both of these were originally mobile games, and it’s a bit obvious due to the lack of depth. 

Pick this up if you’re going to grab something else in the bundle.  It’s a great pack-in title, but it’s not something I would recommend itself.  It goes for 10 bucks on Steam, and I think I’d recommend picking it up for under 5 due to its length. 

And that’s the twelve Humble Choice games, and … .wait what is this.  Oh no, it is the bonus game.

Sluggish Morss Pattern Circus.  Seriously, I need someone to tell me what this even is.  It feels broken, it feels awful, it feels terrible,  but let me try to be nice.  Sometimes the music is good, but only sometimes. 

I don’t get why this is in the bundle even as an Original.  It feels like my neurochemistry needs to be modified to even accept this. I think there should be something at the beginning to tell me what drugs I should be using here and when to use them because it’s clear there’s a disconnect here. 

The other option is something was broken on my machine, which could be the case, but there’s a similar look to previous titles, and it looks like this is just the style chosen for this game.  It got like nine thousand pounds on Kickstarter, and I hope those people got what they wanted, but I have no clue what it is they wanted even after playing this.

Don’t pick this up.  Dude, it’s a free add-on to the bundle that I literally will say don’t download.  If you like what you’re seeing, let me know why, because I am staggered this is in the bundle.  This was absolute frustration to experience for forty minutes.  

I’m going to change the videos because I don’t want to see this game anymore.   Golf… Golf is better than that.   Did I say that? 

Well since we’re watching it, let’s discuss the Headliner, and yeah, PGA Tour 2K21 is the headliner, I dislike that fact.  I get the game, I don’t think that’s the problem.  If you like realistic golf this might be one of the best golf games and bundles.  But it’s a headliner for a bundle, and dear god, that’s a really bad choice. 

I’m not even going to complain more about the microtransactions anymore, but they suck, ok that’s the last of that.  Golf is a niche sport.  This is like having a Nascar game as a headliner, or Assetto Corsa.  There are going to be people who enjoy those games, but the Headliner should have a mass appeal,  PGA Tour 2K21 probably appeals to less than 10 percent of potential Humble Choice buyers, and it’s the wrong game to start us off. 

Also, maybe it’s too late to draw this line in the sand.  But I’m sick of how many rogue-lites there are in these bundles.  There’s three this month which might be on the low side for Humble, but I don’t think I need more rouge-lites, I barely have time to play the ones I have already. 

I also want to mention that a lot of these games are rebundled.  Framed, Heaven’s Vault, Orwell, and Swag and Sorcery have all been given away by different services, including Framed, and Heaven’s Vault being bundled on Humble themselves.   Narita Boy, Neon Abyss, Atomicrops are currently available on Xbox Game Pass, West of Dead was available for the last year.  I know Xbox Game Pass and Humble are different offerings, but these games are pretty well-tread at this point. 

I normally just talk about strongest and weakest and try to avoid making a general suggestion on the overall bundle, but I do have to call out that I feel this is the weakest Humble Choice has ever been.  I normally roll my eyes when people immediately say they are passing, but this list is far below where this has been, and I see the problem this month, I think everyone does. 

The fact is I’m glad to make this video, but I feel like I’m playing these games so other people might not have to.   If that’s the case, I’m glad to spend my time on it, but man… this was rough. 

Anyways, let’s talk about the weakest and strongest. 

The third weakest this month is Narita Boy.  This just didn’t speak to me, and I know there’s a huge audience for it, but I didn’t enjoy this game.  Maybe I expect too much when a game talks about going into a computer or code, but Narita Boy also didn’t have the best controls or balance between combat. 

The second weakest this month is PGA Golf 2K21,  I don’t think this game is that bad, I just can’t recommend it to anyone but a heavy realistic golf fan.  If that’s you, buy this bundle at any price, it’s a 60 dollar title for cheap, but almost everyone else will probably just skip playing this game. 

The weakest game this month is Swag and Sorcery.  I love incremental games, I probably spend too much time on them.  But Swag And Sorcery are some of the worst ever.  I got stuck three times after about 15 minutes of play on each save file.  I could grind, but it’s such a horribly designed system to grind, requiring too much micromanagement, and the only clear path to progression being tedious.  And that’s from someone who likes idle games, which are repetitive and tedious. 

With that being said, let’s switch to the strongest.

The fifth strongest this month is Fort Triumph.  XCOM and Heroes of Might and Magic in one package is a strategy fan’s wet dream.  Even if you just like XCOM you’ll find a great game here, but I love someone making a great Heroes of Might and Magic game again.  

The fourth strongest this month is Atomicrops.  As I said, the first hour I played on Atomicrops was rough, but something clicked and then I fell for this game, it’s a weird mixture of a rogue-lite, bullet hell shooter, and a tower defense game, which works well as a concept after you get used to how strange that combination is. 

The third strongest this month is Roki.  I like the concept and story at the heart of this game, but I also really appreciate seeing a game that looks at folklore and doesn’t feel like it’s the same tales everyone is repeating ad nauseum.  Also, it’s a good point-and-click puzzle game. 

The second strongest this month is Not For Broadcast.  This is a unique and strange concept, and the FMV genre needs more games.  I love FMV games if the production values are like these.  There’s silliness here, but also a game that will keep the player’s attention just due to how much is thrown at the player.   The only issue I have is it is a bit short, but I hope the final 1.0 update extends the game a bit more. 

The strongest of the month is Neon Abyss.  I’m torn on this game, I have heard it’s not the longest, but it also seems like the most fun.  The concept is taken from other places, but perfectly executed on, and it feels like there’s a lot of variety here.   It’s still the best title on the list this month, and that’s why it’s here. 

If you’ve reached this point, thanks for watching this month, it was a little harder to get through these titles, but If it helps you make up your mind, it’s all worth it.  If this was helpful in any way, give me a thumbs up or throw a comment my way, telling me what you think about the bundle or video.   If you haven’t already, consider subscribing and ringing that bell to see when I come out with a new video. 

With that said, I did mention pausing this month, and if that means you have a couple of extra bucks, you might want to check out Xbox Game Pass.  I do a similar video on Xbox Game Pass games, and I have my August 2021 video on the screen.  Even if you aren’t interested in Game Pass, the format has me going over a bunch of recent releases, and games you might want to check out.   Check out that video and help out your favorite content creator… Wait, before you click away, I meant me. 

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

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