Humble Choice December 2021 Review – Ending the year with style

I’m Kinglink and it’s the end of the year, which means it’s the Humble Choice December 2021 Review. 

It’s been a great year, and we’re ending on a massive bundle, but before we get into that, I just want to say two personal things.   First, I broke 3000 subscribers and I’m staggered, so I want to thank all of you for subscribing from the bottom of my heart.  I quite literally couldn’t hit that goal without any of your support. 

Second,  I’ve created a discord server. It’s called The Roundtable, and if you’re interested check the description, or possibly the pinned comment, and let’s get that server going.  I’ll talk more about it at the end but I wanted to give everyone a heads up.

With that said, for this month, we’re back to twelve games, though without an extra original title.  How is the new selection from Humble?  We’ll let’s dive in with…  

Maneater.  And not the Hall and Oates kind, well maybe that kind too. 

Maneater lets you experience the feeling of the movie Jaws, as the shark.  You swim the water, attack other fish, and even humans.  The game has the player move from a young shark to the apex predator in a weird and wacky tale of revenge.   There are quite a few funny voiceover lines, and the combat and gameplay are very fun. 

But I also have small issues here.  In that first hour, I finished about a fifth of the story, which is frighteningly fast.  The game is supposed to only take 8-12 hours, sadly.  Second, the game is a bit clunky, there’s almost a feel like some controls will work when they want to.   I really like the gore, as I’ll try to show here, but it’s also not that realistic either.  In general, it’s just rough around the edges.

Pick this up if you want to be the shark.  You’re like a villain in your tale terrorizing the sea, but at the same time, this is fun.  It reminds me of a good GTA game, where it’s not trying to pretend the main character is a hero, but rather letting players just have fun in the playground. 

Mordhau.  Massive medieval melees, ahhh alliteration.

Mordhau takes the combat that so many people enjoyed in Kingdom Come Deliverance and adds multiplayer, creating huge battlefields with players rushing across it.  The combat is mostly based on melee weapon combat, with a focus on parrying attacks and finding openings.  In a 1 on 1 fight that feels exceptionally well done to the point, it could be almost a chess match.  Add in a large battlefield and there’s a focus on more tactical combat, where players need to focus not only on a single opponent but avoid being surrounded or getting the enemy to fall into their ambushes. 

Still, this is a multiplayer-only game.  There is a PVE mode and three other modes, but the focus is mostly on the large active battles with interesting objectives.  There is a feeling of chaos throughout the entire game along with classes and unlockables to help customize your characters.  

Pick this up if you like a skill-based sword fighting system.  This reminded me of Kingdom Come: Deliverance, though without any of that leveling or skill system.  I’m not a huge multiplayer fan, but I’m looking forward to playing this again.  This is also in the same realm as Chivalry, but I haven’t had a chance to play that one yet. 

Endzone – A World Apart  A post-apocalyptic game focused on resource management and worker placement. 

Endzone starts with the player having to help restart civilization. Players will quickly have to start getting food, water, and eventually scrap and wood for their citizens.  From there, there’s a large number of requests, tasks, and needs.  The tutorial in this game takes a very long time, to the point I had to put it aside and try to play a scenario for myself.  You’ll see on screen as I try to build up the world. 

The thing is, I don’t know how the long version of this game will be.  It’s a slow plodding game, where I often had to put the game at the maximum speed to get anything done.  Similarly, this all feels like gameplay I’ve seen before.  There’s an interesting mechanic involving searching locations though I only got to experience that once.

Pick this up if you like city builders, or focusing on worker placement.  You need to manually add citizens to every job.  There’s a lot here, I just can’t tell which way this game will go.  It’s not a bad game, but also one of those games that will take ten hours to figure out if you’re enjoying yourself or not unless you bounce off it immediately. 

Beyond The Wire. I’m just going to say it, this is a dead game. 

Beyond The Wire was fun, I joined a server with 60 players, I was having fun, there was fantastic voice chat, and the action was great.  It emphasizes how horrible World War 1 and the trench fighting there was, while still being enjoyable.  This is a large combat game with up to fifty players per team. 

The problem is those 60 players were EVERYONE playing this game right then.  This game is barely breaking 100 max active players each day on Steam, and that’s accounting for the Humble Choice crowd.  I have a feeling that this is going to slip back down to twenty to thirty active players before the month is out, and that is sad because it’s a mechanically solid and interesting game.  It’s just going to struggle with the player base, and while the game was ok with 60, I think this is going to be rough with fewer players. 

Don’t pIck this up.  Maybe that makes this a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you get the bundle, give this game a shot just to see what the developers have on offer, but this player base is going to crater again soon, and I’m sad, but I can’t ignore how this story goes every single time.

Partisans 1941. Stealthfully killing Nazis on the Eastern front. 

Partisans 1941 is a stealth tactical game.  Players control up to four characters and use those characters to disrupt Nazi plans, and attack them.  Players are relatively weak so they aren’t able to go toe to toe with the Nazis for long, but instead, they’ll have to ambush them and use better tactics to thin their numbers.  The idea that you’re behind enemy lines feels fresh, and there’s a camp development mechanic that I still need to explore. 

Partisans 1941 is a solid game, but it didn’t grab me yet in that first hour.  Nothing is wrong, it’s just a slower burn, with about 20 hours of gameplay.  It also reminded me of Men at War, especially with that inventory system, where each character has their supplies, and you have to move the ammo around.  Though this game does have a stronger focus on stealth. 

Pick this up if you want to play a World War II game where you’re Russians and using stealth tactics to kill Nazis.  A lot of people say this is like Desperados 3 or Shadow Tactics, truthfully I haven’t played either of those for long enough to make that comparison, even though I own one.   If you’re ok with the slower gameplay though, this might be worth trying out. 

The Survivalists.  A Survival game done in The Escapists style. 

The Survivalists starts like any survival game, you wake up abandoned on an island and start farming minor items to build axes, shovels, and clubs.  This is a common setup but the graphics and style here work well, as does the crafting system.  Players can quickly progress through their recipe chart, always able to see what they need to craft anything, and clear progression is available through the entire chart.  Basically, build the prior item to get to the next.

The big addition to The Survivalists is the monkey automation, you heard right.  You use a monkey to automate mundane tasks and that adds just enough to feel fresh early on.  There’s supposed to be a good amount of content here, at least 20 hours, and a mix between standard crafting and farming for loot, as well as exploration and theoretically you should be able to eventually get off the island. 

Pick this up if you enjoyed the Escapists or want a solid survival game.  I’ll be honest, I didn’t like any of The Escapists, but I still enjoyed this one.   At the same time, this is a very saturated genre, and if you’re not looking for a new survival game, this might not be able to hold your interest. 

Lacuna – A Sci-Fi Noir Adventure. That subtitle stole what I was going to say.  It’s a sci-fi detective story. 

Lacuna starts by telling the player there’s no rolling back or manual saves.  What happens in the game happens and that alone makes Lacuna feel good.  Every decision, every choice has consequences where you can’t just try a different path.  You play as a special agent detective who is called in to investigate the murder of a space diplomat.  It sounds far out, but it feels quite relatable even if it is set in the future.

The main gameplay is detective style, the player will talk to numerous witnesses, investigate different objects, and have to solve multiple sheets as they’re called, basically answering important questions put to the player.  On-screen I’m currently trying to figure out which building a sniper shot from.  The only real issue I can see is that with the lack of rolling back and the fact that decisions in the game do matter, there’s going to be alternate endings, and having to play through the entire game a second time will suck. 

Pick this up if you like point-and-click adventure games or solid stories.  There’s an interesting thread already here, and it’s one I want to follow.  At the same time, there doesn’t appear to be any action at all, and the game mostly involves solving rather solid but challenging puzzles. 

8 Doors: Arum’s Afterlife Adventure. Korean folklore in an amazing graphical style. 

8 Doors blew me away, this game is filled with some of the best-looking animations I’ve ever seen.  The art is consistently great to the point where I wasn’t sure which part of the game to show off.  The story is interesting as it’s based on Korean folklore, which unsurprisingly I’m not well versed in. However, it involves a child going to purgatory to help her father’s spirit.  I’m hooked after the first hour.

8 Doors has a Metroidvania style with multiple places that tease the player to return when they get new powers.  There’s a good number of collectibles, and the main character has already changed forms into a great-looking frog character.  The combat is challenging but fair, though do remember to dodge, that is quite important on the first boss. 

Pick this up if you like platformers or if you like the art style here.  This is a game that consistently impressed me with the animations, music, and more.  The gameplay is very challenging but worth trying to master.  

Greak: Memories of Azur.  An extremely challenging but beautiful platformer, almost like we just had a game like this. 

I’m going to talk about the graphics again because Greak is also a beautiful game with fantastic style, animations, and gameplay.  Greak is a platformer that also has some nice puzzles, nothing too hard just yet but this is a game that pushes the player to explore for quests, rather than just move through levels on a linear path to get to destinations.  Greak also teases the ability to control three characters, however it also quickly removes that once the real game starts. I hate those fake-outs.

At the same time, this is a hard game.  I struggled early on and then focused on dodging and rolling out of the way of attacks.  That’s normal for a platformer.   But where Greak ups the difficulty is that it doesn’t restore health when players save the game and can be a little brutal at times with new enemies.  There’s also a small inventory size.  Of course, players will get better, but I found Greak to be very challenging in a good way. 

Pick this up if you like platformers that will push your limits.  I’m not sure how far the puzzles will go, and they are solid, but I do think this is much more action-based than a deep puzzle challenge.   Still, it’s a game I’d like to return to so I can see more, and as you can see on screen it looks great. 

Fling to the Finish. A fantastic couch co-op game.  

Fling to the Finish has two players controlling two orbs connected by a tether.  Players have to work together to get to the end of the level without cutting the tether or falling off the platform.  It’s a simple idea but the level design here is amazing.  One player goes right, one goes left, laser in the center and you’re back to the last checkpoint which is thankfully plentiful.   My daughter played as a team and it was a lot of fun, racing through the level and trying to find hidden objects or work as a team. 

I also tried playing single-player and while it still works, it’s not as fun.  The level design here is great, and there are currently four different modes per level, an item hunt mode, a time trial, a coin collection mode, and then a bomb mode which acts as a different type of time trial.  Each one feels different and was fun to play through.  

Pick this up if you have someone to play with.  Each team in this game is local co-op only, and while you can play single player it lacks the fun factor.  There is online matchmaking but I wasn’t able to find a match.  This game is also in Early access, but there’s a decent amount of content here.  This is also a great game to play with a young child or spouse who usually doesn’t play games. 

Tohu.  A point and click adventure in the “What was the dev” thinking variety.

Tohu looks great, yeah again I’m going to talk about the graphics, because look at this game, it’s a feast for the eyes.  Every area, every level, every object has so much care and detail in it, I’m amazed.  The art shines and it is fun to just click around the level to see what you can move even if it’s just a small idle animation.

Tohu is about clicking around a level and trying to figure out what the dev was thinking.  It’s a style of point-and-click game where players are supposed to figure out how to manipulate the world to achieve their goal.  However, what that goal is can be part of the puzzle.   Overall, it’s a good concept but it’s going to resonate with only some people. 

Pick this up if you like Machinarium or Samorost both by Amanita Design, sorry if I’ve butchered any of that.  I thought this might also be from the same company because of how similar the style is… it’s not.   At the same time, this is a short adventure, about four to five hours, and it can be very obtuse at times.  

Voidigo. One of the most colorful rogue-lites

Yes once more, look at this game, I mean seriously this is another amazing sight to behold.  Voidigo looks incredible and plays well too.  While the base of this game does share a lot with Nuclear Throne, it also adds a lot of style to the formula.  Whether it be a weapon that’s just playing the bones of a skeleton, a tuna gun, or add ons that give your character a pair of spider legs as they move faster, Voidigo impresses. 

Voidigo focuses on stomping diamond-shaped voids, which will unlock the boss’s health bar for players to burn down.  There’s also an upgrade system for your home base home that hopefully will have a lot to discover.  Technically this is early access, it’s only 0.1.5, which seems low, but I also didn’t even realize that this was early access until looking into the game after my session, which is a good sign. 

Pick this up if you like rogue-lites or colorful games.  This dazzled me to the point where I want to play more just to see what else is out there.  It reminds me a lot of Atomicrops with its bright colors and style, and I’m glad to see a developer infuse a real psychedelic color into a game rather than just use another drab mix of brown and black. 

And while this is normally where I talk about the bonus game… Humble didn’t include one this month, so I guess it’s time we should talk about the full bundle.  I don’t know if you noticed but I called out the graphics on a lot of games, this was a very artistic month.  8 Doors, Greak, Voidigo, even Lacuna and Fling to the Finish have so much style.  There’s a good mix in games, from open-world, multiplayer, platforms, and co-op.

While Humble returned to twelve games, I kind of ask why?  Beyond the Wire feels out of place, with the developer hoping to make one last push to save the game.  It is in Early Access, and it’s a good game, but I just don’t see why it was included in the bundle itself.   Otherwise, though, this was a rather solid month with a lot of variety. 

In addition, none of these titles have been bundled before.  Though… that’s only true because Jingle Jam came out the day after this bundle.  Fling to the Finish is also available there.  Still, this should be a very fresh bundle for those who collect games. 

I’m just going to get to the rankings. This month I’ve added two tiers, it’s the American School style. A B C D and F.  We’re going to start at the bottom with the F-tier. 

The only game in F-tier. is Beyond the Wire.  I feel like I’m harping on this, and will absolutely admit I’m looking down on this game, but it’s also because I’ve seen this story multiple times.  Beyond the Wire is a very technically solid game.   It just doesn’t have the player base, and unfortunately, that’s always going to be a problem, even currently there are about a hundred players max a day which barely would fill a full game. 

And we’ll just be moving on to the D-tier here… 

There’s again only one game in D-tier, and that’s Partisans 1941.  This is a game that does what it wants to do well.  The stealth seems solid, the combat works and the gameplay would be what someone wants, but It also is a very slow game to start.  I’m sure there’s an audience for it, but I’m just not sure if I could recommend this one to anyone in particular. I don’t have a specific complaint but I also don’t have a desire to return to it. 

And this is where we stand after two tiers down.  Like I said it’s a very positive month, however, we’re going into the middle of the chart now and there are a few entries this time around, as a reminder I try to keep these in relatively ascending order, but of course this is a personal opinion. 

We’ll start C-tier with Endzone: A World Apart.  Endzone is interesting, the problem is I can’t tell if it’s just very slow to start, or an overall dull game.  Forcing the player to play on the high-speed setting to even make it through the tutorial makes me think this is going to be frustratingly slow.  At the same time, it, at least, is an interesting concept but I think it might be on the border of slipping to D. 

Next up in C-tier is The Survivalists.  I like that monkey and I want to see more of the game, but it also is a similar game to so many other survival games, that it’s going to take a lot to stand out.  I also found myself struggling with the controls but maybe that’s just being new to them.  This is a game I’d say you can probably take or leave equally, exactly what I would give a C to. 

Finally, in C-tier, there’s Tohu.  I like this art, but I also question who is going to enjoy this.  As I said, this is like Machinarium, a very special style of game.   The length also is a bit short, but I still want to return and see more of this beautiful and interesting world. This is close to being in B but I think it just misses that. 

And that’s where we stand after C, five games down, 7 to go, That’s across the top two tiers.  There are five games in the B-tier making it the biggest category, so we might as well get started.

And the first game in B-tier is Fling to the Finish.  If you have someone to play a game with, definitely play this with them.  Even if they’re not a gamer, they’ll probably enjoy this, and this game is so much more fun with two players.  It is on the cusp of slipping lower, but that level design does have me wanting to see a lot more of this game. 

The next game in B-tier, Lacuna. Mechanically solid game with a well-told story.  I am a sucker for a good detective story or a point-and-click adventure game, and Lacuna is both.  The fact the puzzles require some deduction and then filling in a sheet makes them feel more interesting and challenging, and that’s a good feeling.

And then there’s Voidigo.  Voidigo’s style pushes it above other rogue-lites, but the weapon design helps a lot too.  There’s one thing I didn’t mention, the dodge mechanic is actually a leap that can be used as a stomp on enemies, simple, effective, and a pretty major change for the genre.  I want to see more of this. 

Next up we have Maneater.  This is the only game I had wish-listed and was keeping an eye on.  Now that I’ve played it, I’m ready for more.  However, this is also a game sorely in need of a lot more polish.  This could have been a triple-A title, possibly even with the same style of story and humor, it just feels like the developers didn’t put in the effort or polish to push these systems to the level they need to be at.  

Finally, we have Greak: Memories of Azur.  I like this game, but the one issue that keeps it from the top tier, is I fear that challenge, and how much players will progress across the game.   Still, this is a game I’ll be returning to if I get the time, and who knows maybe it just has a sharp difficulty curve at the beginning.  This could easily slip up to A-tier as well. 

And that’s the B-tier.  Two games left, so which order will the final two titles be in.  When I call something an A-tier, I usually mean it to be a heavy recommendation, the reason why someone would buy the bundle just for one of the games, and I think both of these games are worthy of that. 

The first game in the A-tier is 8 Doors.  Amazing graphics, gameplay, and a fresh story that makes me want to see more.  The controls feel tight, and already there’s an overwhelming urge to backtrack with new abilities so I can find every little secret.  That’s a great feeling. 

And the top game of this month… is Mordhau. I enjoyed my time with this game, and like I said I’m not a huge multiplayer fan.  The deep sword combat might be frustrating at times, but once you throw in the large melees, the objective-based gaming, and the chaos of the battlefield, this is just a wild and frenzied battle with deep combat.   I’m going to have to play more of this one. 

And that’s what I have for this month. I’m glad Humble could deliver a great bundle to cap 2021 and hope everyone can find something interesting in this list.  Feel free to tell me what I got right or wrong down in the comments, and what you hope is coming in 2022.

Now as I mentioned at the beginning I just hit 3000 subscribers, I want to again say thank you, I’m just an old guy yelling at clouds, the fact you’re enjoying my ramblings means a lot to me, I’ve said it before, but the views, and the subscribers is what keeps me going. 

And again I want to announce my new Discord server.  The name is The Roundtable for a reason. This isn’t intended as a server just for me, but a place everyone can join and feel like they have a part of.  It’s rather new but I hope to see you all there.  The link will be in the description and again, hopefully, pinned comment, depending on if I’ve already gotten it up to post it.   

Sadly I still need to say the normal youtube mantra, but if you’re new here, please consider subscribing and joining those subscribers, and remember to ring that bell.  If you enjoyed the video remember to like it, and keep commenting and sharing, both of those are helpful to the channel. 

Anyway, I’ll put up two more videos. I hope you enjoy them.  I will be working on a Game of the Year, but at this time it’s going to be at least next month if not February, I’ll talk more about that another time. 

See you next time. 

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