Humble Choice October 2021 Review – A little of everything.

I’m Kinglink, the calendar says October, so it’s the Humble Choice October 2021 Review. 

Same rules as always, one hour per game so I can tell you who is going to like them, or if you might want to pass on them.  Twelve games are ready to go.  Let’s just get started. 

Katana Zero.  This is a high-octane platformer with twitch combat.   

Katana Zero is focused on the player being an elite assassin over a series of small rooms in larger levels.  You’ll carve your way through enemies as you go through each area.  The gameplay in Katana Zero is good but it’s not a very deep system, and by the halfway point you’ll have seen almost everything, but the story is what kept me coming back and I enjoyed what was here. 

The opening hour or so is a bit on the slower side, however, before long Katana Zero impressed me with a deep and thought-provoking story and the cast of characters who are extremely memorable.  With the gameplay in service of that story, I can easily recommend this, though it does have an abrupt ending but free DLC is promised for it and I hope that addition can satisfy my craving for a full story.

Pick this up if you want an intense action experience or love twitch gameplay along with platforming.  I gave this a 7/10 and you can check the review on my site, but I also am remembering so many pieces of later story pieces that enthralled me.  It’s a slower opening but a very interesting game. 

Amnesia: Rebirth. Is this a walking simulator? 

Let’s explain that.  I am not a horror fan.  I dislike the genre and I gain no enjoyment from being scared.   I played Amnesia: Rebirth for over 80 minutes, and it feels like nothing happened.  Amnesia: Rebirth consistently pulled me out of the intense atmosphere of the game with flashbacks, scripted scenes, and magical happenings, but none of that was scary and in fact, the storytelling and flashbacks broke a lot of the tension. 

I don’t know if I could recommend this even to fans of the franchise.  Maybe this is what people will want, but personally 80 minutes without anything, and having to listen to a weak and forced story that couldn’t stop reminding you that you’re just playing a game, rather than lulling you into a state where you can be terrified. 

Pick this up if you want another Amnesia game.  There is a monster, at some point, I’m sure you could be terrified, but after 80 minutes of rather weak gameplay, I started to wonder when the game might be able to scare me.  I’m surprised this is from the same developer as the original Amnesia game and Soma… What happened? 

John Wick Hex. Becoming one of the greatest action heroes, one hexagon at a time. 

John Wick Hex is a strategy game focused on taking out enemies and managing the room as your character, John Wick, of course, advances in the game and fights his way to various goals.  It may sounds and look simple, but John Wick Hex takes simplistic rules and setups and then overloads the players till they’re forced to move through the level as John Wick would, slaughtering enemies and moving from each target to the next with an amazingly fast combat system. 

The one thing to know is this is far more turn-based and strategy-oriented than action.  While the game is good, it’s also a bit lacking.  There doesn’t appear to be any possibility for additional attacks other than special weapons as the game goes on, and the animations are weak as is the replay of the level.  John Wick uses so many amazing fighting moves in the movies, it’s disappointing when you see the same takedown for the third time, or an unrealistic attack. 

Pick this up if you like strategy games.  Rather than a turtle strategy that works in XCOM you’re going to have to be far more aggressive here, but as you mow down enemies, you start to feel like a legendary bad-ass, that Baba Yaga of myth.   This is a prequel to the movie, and while some characters and faces appear, you don’t already need to have seen the movies to enjoy this. 

112 Operator.  Handling the emergency services for towns, including your own. 

112 Operator is a sequel to 911 Operator with similar gameplay based on the European system rather than the American.  You’ll control different cities, such as Berlin, and have to route emergency services to different events as well as handle calls yourself.  This sounds like it’s simple but it’s quite intense. 

The calls are rather entertaining, with many of them being well-acted, or at least done well enough to keep my attention.  A nice new feature is the ability to base the game around where you live.  This game was able to detect where I lived, and sure enough, put events in the city and surrounding locations from my home.  It pulls real street information too. That’s kind of interesting. 

Pick this up if you want a strange game.  I never thought I wanted to be a 911 or 112 operator but after playing this game I was entertained enough that I’m going to return and play more of my game, and the campaign.  This isn’t an action game or a AAA bonanza but 112 Operator was well done and does feel like it’ll work towards overwhelming the player with the number of different tasks they’ll have to juggle. 

Guts and Glory.  A Physics-based streamer game. 

Guts and Glory is one of those games that the developers hoped would get popular based on twitch streamers overreacting to its wacky zany physics, but as I played it, I don’t know.  I enjoyed my hour with this game, but I mostly just ran some generic courses and while there’s an interesting mechanic of being able to choose different characters, none stood out to me, and a few… Well, Pedro was a pretty racist choice. 

The entire game is a checkpoint race, where your goal is to survive and get the fastest time.  It’s a simplistic concept and while there’s a lot of different challenges and goals, there’s just nothing that exciting after a few minutes of it.  The goal is to get to this checkpoint, then get to that checkpoint. There are community maps but it feels like those are just made for insane difficulty. 

Pick this up if you like physics-based games, but I don’t know if there’s any reason to take a second look at this one.  It’s just a very average game. 

Ring of Pain.  The humble original demo is now yours to keep.

Ring of Pain is a rogue-lite where players need to work their ways around circles of cards, dealing with enemies and encounters, and getting to the next room. What keeps this interesting is there’s always the ability to go to bonus rooms on the path as well.  There’s a lot of focus on stat progression and finding good items.  It’s not a deck builder even though it is card-based.

Ring of Pain’s biggest issue is randomness.  Some games I lost because of bad rolls, and some games I just made a huge mistake, though either way, I wanted to play one more game.  At the same time, this is a strange macabre game with a lot of styles, and I’m curious how the game will progress over time. 

Pick this up if you like rogue-lites.  This one is more like a pure rogue-like, so while you unlock new cards that can appear, the majority of the game stays the same.   I rather enjoyed my time and looked up and realized 90 minutes had passed, and all I wanted to do is try again. 

Garage: Bad Trip.  A pixel-based Zombie twin-stick shooter. 

Garage: Bad Trip starts with players having to break their way out of a trunk and then stumble around.  Before long they start seeing cannibalism and sure enough… it’s a level-based zombie game, just one done in this pixel art style.   It’s hard to be afraid of the zombies in this game, with the art as it is.

There is a problem though where your biggest nemesis isn’t the zombies that can be dodged and managed.  Instead, I found myself using most of my bullets on the rats that are in the game, that can’t be punched or hit with an ax but instead needed to be kicked.  When rats are a bigger problem than the Zombies themselves, maybe that’s a sign. 

Pick this up if you want a Zombie game.  This is a nice level-based game, with an interesting story going on, but it also didn’t stand out that much.  Though I do admit I’m not a huge fan of the zombie genre. 

The Textorcist: The Story Of Ray Bibbia.  A Bullet-hell shooter with a sort of typing mechanic. 

The Textorcist is a very unique game.  You control a priest who has to use his spells, and it’s done through the left bumper and right bumper on a controller.  The pattern is on the bottom of the screen, you have to hit left or right and go through each word.  This seems simple enough and actually can be quite fun when trying to do a perfect run on a boss. 

But then the Textorcist combat starts and you start to see this is a bullet hell game hiding behind a simple mechanic.  Players will have to dodge attacks on the main screen while still entering in pieces of the incantations on the bottom.  It’s a strange feeling but it works well together.  However, while playing it, I was unable to even speak, my focus and attention were forced to be on this game fully and that’s a great feeling as it pushes you to the limit.  The fourth boss in the game made me struggle but I also enjoyed learning the fights and trying to master the game.

Pick this up if you want something strange.  There’s not much like this. It’s not a typing game, and while it’s a bullet hell shooter,  the combat is very unique.  There are only 10 bosses and the first four had no stage before them so it might be short, but I have this very strong desire to go back to master all these battles.  I will return. 

Tools Up.  A couch co-op renovation game.

In Tools Up you’ll have to rush through a house, complete major renovations, mostly wallpapering and flooring in just minutes, and then clean up after yourself.  It’s an extremely fast and hectic game.  You can work with up to four builders, and I’d recommend that.  It’s similar to Moving Out or Overcooked, where you have to work as a team.  

Tools Up, though, is a bit easy.  My daughter and I got three stars on six or seven levels in just an hour, though we did have some fun doing it, we also got a little snippy, but we enjoyed ourselves.  However, the single-player is going to be a weaker experience and I’d probably say this is only for co-op. 

Pick this up if you want a local co-op game, if you’ve already played Moving Out or Overcooked, you know what to expect.  Hectic and frantic actions will occur while trying to beat a time limit, but there’s a reasonable challenge in this game, and it seems like it’ll provide a good level set. 

Hiveswap Friendsim.  It’s Homestuck, if you don’t know what that means, beware. 

In March 2021, Humble Choice contained Pesterquest, the sequel to this game.  It focused on telling odd stories in a style from a website called MS Paint Adventure.  The comic is known as Homestuck.   It has over 8000 pages, tons of spin-off media, and two games.  My understanding is Hiveswap is EXACTLY what Homestuck fans wanted. 

Just like Pesterquest, I can’t fathom a reason it’s in the Humble Choice.  I get this is popular, but people who want this should already have it to support the creator.  This is not the type of writing that people are going to stumble upon and be a fan of, or at least they would already be a fan of Homestuck.  But worse, I said all of this with Pesterquest and it’s even more true with this title. 

Pick this up if … you like Homestuck.  But I also would say not to buy the Humble Choice for it.  Go support the creator so you can use your voice and wallet and say “Give me more of this.”  Honestly, I can’t recommend this to anyone who doesn’t already know what this is and likely already has it.    I couldn’t last more than thirty minutes, and that’s fifteen minutes too much.  I know there’s a fanbase, but I just don’t get this. 

Black Future ’88. A rogue-lite focused on platforming and guns.

Black Future ‘88 has a great art style, it looks slick and futuristic even though it’s set in 1988 or some year around that because… they decided to stop changing the year.  You’ll fight your way through the living tower, a tower that takes any items you leave behind and uses it to equip your enemies with better gear.  At least that’s what the game says.

Black Future ‘88’s biggest problem is the controls don’t feel fluid, a very simple issue is there are only four directions to dash in.  You can’t use an upper left or upper right dash, you either go up or aside. The entire game suffers from strange logic like that, such as a reward room where you can bypass the trap and just double jump and dash to the upper portion.   You also have only 18 minutes to live each game, so this is probably going to be a very short rogue-lite.

Pick this up if… Honestly, if you somehow didn’t get Neon Abyss last month?  As I played this game, I realized I should just switch to Neon Abyss, it was better in almost every way, and that’s likely because it came out the year after.  Black Future is just an average or below average rogue-lite, but in a crowded genre, you need to be better than average. 

Syberia 3.  We end on what feels like the oldest game.  

Syberia 3 looks and plays like it’s from early 2000, the first game in the series was released in 2002, the second one was in 2004, and this one was… 2017, on the Playstation 4 and Xbox One.  Wait…what?  I seriously can’t believe it.  This feels like an old point-and-click adventure and looks very dated.  It’s an interesting game, but it’s going to be hard for anyone to approach this as something new. 

And yet, I enjoyed this.  The experience reminded me of very old point-and-click adventure games and there’s something strange about such an old style of game being released four years ago, without Kickstarter.  Though the game doesn’t appear to recap either of the previous two titles and just starts on a strange story of being trapped in a hospital.  

Pick this up if you like really old point-and-click games, but you’re going to have to accept a lot of jankiness as well. I honestly think this probably should have been all three games in Syberia to get people ready for the new Syberia game coming out in December, because jumping into the middle of the story is a strange experience. 

So with twelve games that are out. We have our Humble Original… sigh. 

The Groundz.  

I wrote a pretty harsh review for this game, and then I got some more information.  Apparently, The Groundz is one of two games Humble commissioned with 2k games and helped fund black students to make games.  That is a very noble effort.  But something went wrong here. 

This feels like an incomplete game. Nothing works right here.  There are three characters, the Arcade mode is broken.  I believe you were supposed to have a team of four, and yet only one character appears on your side.  You cycle through the opponents and that’s about it.   I can go far deeper and further, but I hope it’s obvious.

Don’t pick this up, there is a free version that I’ll try to link in the description, but in general, something went wrong, and the developers are just students, that’s understandable, I blame Gameheadz or Humble for not working to finish or polish this game at all, which is the important part of game dev.

But you know I had to get all this information second-hand, and you know there’s a piece of criticism that Bombchu would call out every month.  With them ending their coverage, I’m going to pick up that standard at least for this month. 

Humble, you failed this game, not only did you fail to work with the team to polish the game, but you also released the game with 0 information, just “Here’s a file.”  You need to start putting out a small blurb on the Humble Originals because this is an interesting story of the developers, why did someone have to research this?  By the way, Thanks Bio.  I appreciate the info.

So with that said, what about this bundle.  Well, let’s start with the always important.  Four of these games have been bundled before. Two of them by Humble themselves, Guts and Glory and The Texorcist have been in different weekly bundles.  Syberia 3 and Garage: Bad Trip have been sold elsewhere in bundles.  Also, the Textorcist was free on Epic, I have it in my library there, and Tools Up Was on Twitch Prime.

But there’s a bigger issue I have here.  There’s an idea that there should be a big game in every bundle, the headliner as it’s called, and usually, it’s split up over the first three games.  Katana Zero is a rather cheap game to be a headliner and has been out a long time.  Amnesia: Rebirth could be it, but I don’t know if people are super excited for that one, and John Wick Hex was interesting but it has the same issue as Katana Zero. 

But even if there isn’t a headliner, I will admit I enjoyed this selection. I’m going to be playing more of Ring of Pain, 112 Operator, and The Textorcist.  Is that the top three? No, but it’s the games I enjoyed the most.  There’s a lot of variety here, and if you’re willing to tackle more indie titles you’ll find some good bargains here, though I think this is on the lower end of acceptable for myself.  

But I also fully accept that I like oddball games rather than seeing the same genre a thousand times… like Roguelites, which credit to Humble, they did only give us two this month, though with it being October, I wouldn’t have minded a really scary game, and maybe Amnesia is it if I played more. 

Let’s talk about the strongest and the weakest. 

Starting with the third weakest of the month is Guts and Glory.  There were a lot of average games this month, but Guts and Glory just feel like it was capitalizing on a gimmick.  There is Happy Wheels which is a free 2d version of this game that came out first.   Honestly, just try that out, I’ll throw a link in the description.  

The second weakest of the month is… Hiveswap Friendsim.  It’s Homestuck, I know someone will want this, but I also think it’s clear, I don’t think this is a very good choice for Humble, and it’s the second time they pulled this.  Why Humble?  Did you think this would be popular or did you have to reach 12 games and this is what you had? 

The weakest of the month is The Groundz.  To the developers I hope you understand why I’m disappointed, you have a passion, and you should use that passion and polish this game or deliver an amazing second game.  This isn’t your failing in my mind, but rather whatever process said the title could ship in this state. someone failed you, and man… What a shame. 

With that said let’s go to the strongest, and I’ll be honest, I’m specifically not ranking Amnesia: Rebirth, I don’t know where it should go. 

The fifth strongest of the month is John Wick Hex.  This should go higher, I like Bithell games, I like John Wick, and I like the gameplay, but the average animation drags the experience down.  Liked it but didn’t love it. 

The fourth strongest of the month is Tools Up.  It’s been a while since we’ve had a good local co-op game, and Tools Up is pretty fun.  It’s colorful, inventive, and clever, and honestly, I’m hoping to play more.  It would also be fun to play with a child as it’s not extremely complicated, which is good. 

The third strongest of the month is The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia.  I like this one, and maybe it’s just the oddness of the gameplay or the idea behind it, but I want to see what is next for the Textorcist.  Just the idea of trying to keep up with that typing while dodging a hail of bullets gets me going.

The second strongest of the month is Ring of Pain.  I’m not 100 percent sure of this title, which is probably what kept it from number 1.  The 90 minutes I played was really good, the fact I wanted to keep playing and see what else could happen or what combo I would get next is key to a rogue-lite.  But I’m not sure how deep the game goes either.  Still, it’s a title I’m excited to play more of. 

And the strongest of the month is Katana Zero.  It does have a slow opening, but it also has hinted at a strange and very solid story.  Even replaying it for the bundle got me to try new things and the writing is well done.  Once you get hooked on this, you’ll find you can’t put this down, and I can only hope the DLC that should be out whenever can give us even more of the same experience. 

And that’s what I have for this month.  You know it’s a weak month with headliners that didn’t satisfy.  I just don’t know where Humble is going next, but I’m going to stay on for this ride and I’ll hope you’ll keep checking out my videos. I’m going to have my fingers crossed that next month is the one where Humble can deliver a great deal. 

If you do want to stick around, consider subscribing, ringing that bell, and leaving comments with what you think about this month’s bundle or anything else you want to say. 

Thanks for checking out the video and I’ll see you next time.  

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