Game Pass December 2021 Review Part 2 – Finishing 2021 with a few more games

I’m Kinglink and it’s time for the Game Pass December 2021 Review Part 2.  

If you haven’t seen part 1, you can check the description, I’ll put a link there.  There were 13 lovely games to discuss. I also talked about Game Pass dropping Xbox Game Pass for PC, but as I said, I mostly cover all the Game Pass games, and again, Among Us is great with friends.  With that being said there are still 13 games to discuss and discover this month. 

Before I begin, just a quick reminder, I now have a Discord Server, if you’re interested, check the link in the description or the pinned comment.  Let’s get on with the games. 

ANVIL.  A rogue-lite top-down shooter. 

Let’s start with this being a game preview, which I believe is just a different way to say Early Access.  ANVIL tries to combine the top-down shooter genre with the rogue-lite genre, along with multiplayer and the result was something I kind of played three rounds of and stopped.  A lot of this game feels locked off behind walls, such as only 3 playable characters out of over 10.   While you can earn some of the currency in the game, called crons, a battle pass, and more which only reminds me of microtransactions. 

You can’t buy the currency but the game just feels like it’s built to dangle that currency out of reach so you keep playing because of FOMO.  The gameplay though is not that exciting.  It’s trying to find a niche but suffers like most MOBAs where you just wait until you can hammer some buttons then wait for those buttons to come up while dodging enemies, it’s a bit of a yawner.   

Pick this up if you believe in Early Access.  This game feels very early but also feels like one of those games that either gets abandoned, or gets microtransactions thrust in, or possibly both.  As the game is today, I wouldn’t pay for it, and I’m glad to move on to something else. 

As a follow-up to this section: With some digging, I found out that Action Square the developer, originally had a mobile game called Gigantic X, which appears to be very similar if not the same game.  Worse, in Anvil, progress gets reset every three months in what they call seasons.  There are rumors of ways to pay more in the future, but I don’t see anything more than just the rumors on that piece, though I do get that feeling.  Also, I just don’t think this will retain a player base, but even if it does, I feel like there’s going to be more demands for money before long.   Do with that information as you will.

Stardew Valley. One of the best life simulators of all time. 

Last month I said Minecraft is a quintessential game, where everyone should have played it at some time.  Stardew Valley is newer than Minecraft, but it’s in that same category of must play games.  Stardew is just excellent at what it does.  It gives players a massive amount of content and lets them explore it at their own pace.  Want to run a farm?  Go for it.  Want to fish? It’s got that.  Want to dive into dungeons, befriend people, or just do nothing?  Stardew supports whatever you want, and seems happy to have content for everyone. 

Honestly, this is just a great game, it also supports split-screen play rather well, my daughter and I have played it multiple times, and she loves to play in her village.  There’s a lot of content, including a new patch from about a year ago.  I just adore this game and find it to be a masterpiece. 

Pick this up if you’ve never played it.  It’s a fantastic life simulator and while some people might find it a bit slow, I enjoyed diving deep into the dungeon while running a farm.  It’s just a game that wants to meet the player on their level and feels like it’s very successful at that. 

Generation Zero. A Scavenging game where you’re pitted against Robots.

I reviewed Generation Zero for Humble Choice in September of 2020.  I thought it was hard to find ammo, enemies were way too powerful and overall the game lacked a real purpose.  A year later I played with a buddy, this time it is easier to find ammo, enemies are easier to kill, but the game still lacks that strong purpose.  You’re in a post-apocalyptic zone with almost nothing of interest going on. 

If you like scavenging, this is pretty good and in multiplayer it’s really fair with each player getting the ability to search the same container individually, but ultimately, after you find your fourth shotgun of the same type, along with three of the same rifles, you question what else is there.   The combat is good now, but there needs to be more than just solid combat when fighting the same enemies.  

Pick this up if you need something to play with friends, but Back 4 Blood is far better, as is almost any looter shooter.  If you want to scavenge there are tens of games out there that are at the top of that genre, but Generation Zero isn’t it.  It’s kind of a textbook for what Avalanche Studios Group, the developers, release, good ideas, weak execution. 

Final Fantasy XIII-2.  The sequel to Final Fantasy XIII.

This is another story in the Final Fantasy saga, and this is the second time they did a direct sequel, and it’s about as successful.  Final Fantasy XIII is already on the service, if you haven’t played that, you probably need to as this is a story sequel and spoils big pieces of that game.  And you’ll need that foundation for this one to build your connection to these characters and the world. 

At the same time, this is a mechanically better game, with combat which you are minimally involved in but at least more than the previous game.  The story though is a complete mess, characters make the oddest choices, the opening hours make very little sense even after beating the past game, and it involves time travel, which isn’t handled well at all. 

Pick this up if you love Final Fantasy XIII and want more. That’s the bar.   If you haven’t played Final Fantasy XIII play that first, if you don’t like that one, this one is slightly better but not remarkably so.  While the story here might eventually come together, I’m not a fan, especially not of the opening hours.  The first time I played this, I got deep into it but it just never pays off unless you’re doing a detective level dive to piece it all together. 

Rubber Bandits.  Whacky Physics in a bank heist game. 

Conceptually Rubber Bandits is good.  Players have to rob a bank and flee with the most money.  It’s even better when you are competing with your opponents to secure the most cash. The physics are whacky but it’s just a wild beat ’em up between the robbers while trying to flee with the most dough.   Good concept but after the first run you don’t get anything to keep you playing. You can just chase more money. 

There is an Arcade mode that’s rather good where instead of trying to get 20 dollars, I ended up with over 200 of the currency in this game, so ten times the award in maybe three to four times the length of the game, while playing with instead of against other players, but again there’s not much, you buy more skins and then play again?  The core mechanic works, but there’s no reason to keep playing. 

Pick this up if you need a game to turn on for fifteen to twenty minutes while waiting with a couple of friends that you won’t mind turning off suddenly.  After playing it for a little under an hour, I wouldn’t have any objection if I played it again, but I also have no reason to return now that I’ve seen all the levels. 

Townscaper. A fun and innovative toy.

Townscaper is rather simple.  You start on a giant ocean and then can paint the land and buildings on the ground to form a city.  That’s a pretty interesting concept.  Townscaper pushes players to discover what you can build with their toolset, whether it be ultra-tall towers, large apartment buildings, or vast cities. 

But that’s also all Townscaper has you do.  There are a few achievements for creating specific architectures or specific layouts, but otherwise, the game has no other functionality.  Even looking at the city is odd since there’s no life to it.  There are a few birds, but no humans, dogs, cats, or any other city life, so it is a barren world.

Pick this up if you want a fun toy to play with, or an easy 1000 gamerscore.  This is interesting to pick up for a while, but also a lot of people are going to play this just to get the achievements and move on, truthfully I question how much time people will spend outside of that.

Archvale.  A bullet hell version of Zelda.

Archvale starts with a difficulty setting, you can play on easy normal or hardcore.  I tried Easy and Normal, on Easy this feels like a very welcoming and friendly Zelda game though I wasn’t dying.  I was having a blast, though I heard it was a bullet hell, so I tried Normal.  It’s a bullet hell game, Normal difficulty ups the challenge to the point where I needed a lot of work to complete areas, but that’s part of the fun of a bullet hell game.

Archvale also has randomized maps and great art design.  The enemies and characters all look amazing.  I also ended up using magic more than melee or range, which is not a normal approach for me in these games.  The one downside though is with the randomized maps, almost all of the dead ends in the game are empty so exploration isn’t heavily rewarded.

Pick this up if you want a fun adventure game or a bullet hell game. I’m kind of amazed at how well both those genres are represented here.  Easy was fun and normal was still challenging but entertaining.  I’m likely to return to playing more, though I don’t know which difficulty I’ll continue with. 

Warhammer 40,000: Battlesector.  XCOM done in the Warhammer style. 

Let me just start by saying I’ve struggled to get into the Warhammer universe, I’ve had good times with Vermantide, Space Marine, and some others, but the lore is just so heavy with the franchise.  Battlesector itself is a strategy game, where players take turns to move units and combat the enemy forces similar to xcom. 

There are only three factions currently in the game, with one of them being a little skimpy, the main two are the Blood Angels AKA the Space marines, and the Tyranids.  There is another faction coming, but that will be paid DLC as well.   The rest of the game falls into typical Warhammer style, thick lore, that’s hard to get into at first.  I’m sure Warhammer fans will love the story here, but I didn’t get deep into it.  However, the gameplay was solid and it’s exactly what you expect from an XCOM style game. 

Pick this up if you like Warhammer or XCOM.  It’s a very well done, interesting, and deep game, with solid turn-based gameplay.  When a strategy went well for my team, it felt like I was holding off hordes of the enemy with military precision which is exactly how it should feel. 

Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator.  Fast-paced trading of human organs. 

Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator, I’m just going to call it the trading game, feels a lot like how working in the stock market is.  It’s crazy, hectic and there’s no downtime.  Players start a trading day with only a couple of minutes to work.  They can take new requests from people, buy organs, and then fulfill requests.  Each request gives a reputation that levels up the player and gives access to even more of the organ market.

The story though is a little strange, it’s mostly done through pop-ups and requests made, however, there doesn’t appear to be a real choice, if you don’t accept a story request, they keep making that request every day, until you finally accept it so they stop asking.   The UI here also is a little rough.  Quite often I tried to buy something but someone else bought something at that exact moment and the UI updated and I bought the wrong item.  There are also times you have just manipulated the interface when the game gets into a weird state, such as a full marketplace.  There you have to buy organs and immediately sell them if you don’t want them, just to see new organs. 

Pick this up if you like the idea of being a day trader.  This is a fast-paced hectic game, but it’s quite fun once you get into the flow of the game after an hour or two.  The game only lasts a couple of hours, though there are multiple endings.  Also, you can get all 1000 gamerscore in about three hours, I know I did. 

Serious Sam 4.  A classic FPS with those classic bad puns.

Serious Sam 4 feels like a throwback to a bygone era.  It might remind people of Doom 2016, but lacks a lot of the grandeur of that title, and instead just gives the player large guns and hordes of enemies to kill.  This sounds great on paper, but Serious Sam also tries to revive a style of gameplay that has gone out of style.  The Duke Nukem wisecracking was awkward in 2011, and a decade later it’s not much better, and the one-liners are far worse.

Yet, Serious Sam 4 tries to be self-aware, which only highlights the problem.  The story just doesn’t work, but what does work is the gameplay.  Serious Sam brings large battlefields filled with enemies in arena settings back, and it’s quite successful at it.  The horde of enemies are vicious and the game revels in the violence in a way that games seem to have forgotten. 

Pick this up if you like the Serious Sam franchise or classic FPSes, though I’d probably suggest quite a few games before this, most notably Doom 2016, of course.   Serious Sam 4 tries to remain true to the Serious Sam series but also makes it hard for new players to get invested in the game.  Still, this brought back fond memories of times when the story wasn’t that important, though perhaps they could have completely skipped the story here as well. 

Halo Infinite.  It’s Halo.

People probably aren’t watching my video for Halo Infinite, there’s a ton of people talking about this game both good and bad and that’s great.  As for my take, it depends when you’re talking about.  The first couple of hours were great combat, but a story that yet again just feels poorly told.  A lot of people seem to put Halo up on this story pillar, and while the franchise has excelled at world-building, the story in most of the Halo games isn’t great, I kind of wish it was as good as people thought it was. 

But Halo is about combat, and the combat in this game is excellent, it’s hard to deny the skill of making the combat flow so seamlessly. That is until the end of the second mission… when the game switches to an open-world format, with a large map and hundreds of things to do.   I’ve talked about boring and pointless open-world games are before, and Halo Infinite is a perfect example of a great open-world game that rewards the player.  

Every little event on the map feels rewarding, whether it’s finding an upgrade, small combat, a special target, or just a new fast travel location, everything rewards the player, usually with new upgrades or unlockables, and that makes me want to explore the map and do everything before I continue with the story.  Halo Infinite made me believe in it because of how good the open world is, which is something most open-world games fail at. 

Pick this up .. Listen, if you love the Halo story, you’re going to enjoy this game, and probably already have.  If you aren’t already well versed in the lore, it might be worth playing through the Halo Master Chief Collection to get up to speed.  On the other hand, if you just want really good combat and are going to ignore the story, this is solid.  The open-world aspects are great, to the point where we’ll see tons of weak imitators before long.  The level design is solid, and combat encounters are oftentimes excellent.   But if you’re not already enamored with Halo, and you don’t love the FPS genre, you could skip this one.  Sorry to the Halo fans, but I don’t find this to be the gold standard of gaming that everyone has to try.  I did still enjoy myself. 

One Piece Pirate Warriors 4. Dynasty Warriors meets One Piece, and it’s what you expect.

I’m a fan of the Musou series, also known as Dynasty Warrior games. I’ve played many of the spin-offs including One Piece Pirate Warriors 3, and One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 is exactly what I expected.  It’s a game where you beat up thousands of enemies in a level, attack bosses, and try to keep control of the battlefield.  The gameplay is both easy and fun, and while it’s mindless, it’s consistently enjoyable.  Basically, it’s a power fantasy. 

But this is also very much focused on a specific anime and a game style that admittedly not everyone loves.  One Piece Pirate Warriors 4 tries to introduce new players to the One Piece Series, though it doesn’t go over the origin story again, though for the fourth game in the series that makes sense. Players will be able to pick up who most of these characters are, and there is a glossary, but it’s a large game in a large established franchise, and players will have to work to get to know who each character is, and what they do.  The good news is there’s a lot of information on One Piece out there. 

Pick this up if you like One Piece or the Musou series.  If you’re not sure, see if you like what’s on the screen, killing hundreds of enemies you can ignore while slaughtering your way to the major characters, and usually beating them with very little challenge, but there’s a large story at the core here, and colorful characters and attacks.  It’s enjoyable but it’s also a bit monotonous.  I am enjoying it though.

Aliens: Fireteam Elite.  Left 4 Dead with xenomorphs. 

Aliens: Fireteam Elite tries to get the same Left 4 Dead feel of moving through levels and getting harassed by an unending horde of enemies.  There are a lot of xenomorphs coming at the players as they explore derelict locations and try to complete missions for command.  As players progress there’s also loot, upgrades, and levels that will help enhance the player to try to give them more power. 

However, the matchmaking wasn’t working when I tried the game, at all.  The gameplay itself felt like a weak skin pulled over the Aliens franchise.  On a single mission, I killed two hundred aliens myself, and my android partners killed about the same, which is far more than existed in any movie, I think.  The cover system is pointless in a game with so many melee attacks, I’m sure it will matter eventually but feels out of place.  Dying at the end of the level resets about 30 minutes of work, but also shows you that the levels don’t change.  Also, the look isn’t that great. 

Pick this up if you like the Aliens franchise, and have a fireteam ready to go.  If you want Left 4 Dead with a Sci-fi enemy, it’s fine, but again I have to say Back 4 Blood did all of this far better.  The player base is also hurting quite a bit, but that might be because this is more of a one-and-done multiplayer experience, though there are difficulty levels. 

And that’s what I have for this video.  So that’s 13 games in this video, 13 games last time, how was this month?

Well, Halo Infinite delivered, whether it’s what fans wanted or not, I’m not sure.  It’s definitely far different than any Halo game before it, and I feel the story wasn’t what people were hoping for, but still, this felt like the most unique game in the series for good or bad. 

There were a lot of games though that I found myself enjoying quite a bit, with many Indies leading the charge, while a few were shorter than I expected, I still found myself enamored with them.  

I will say, the amount of games is extremely high, but I’m hoping this is just because it’s the end of the holiday season… Though, of course, looking at February of next year, this rate will probably keep coming for a while.  Good for you, a little rough for me. 

So let’s just get to the strongest of the month.  Five games that I enjoyed the most and think you should check out.

The fifth strongest of the month is Exo One.  This is a shorter title, but it’s also a fresh idea, and quite enjoyable.  The gravity craft is strange at first but becomes second nature by the end of the game, and I love the feeling of it.  There’s an exhilaration every time you go airborne that makes the entire game worth trying. 

The fourth strongest of the month is Archvale.  I enjoyed both ways of playing this game.  The easy mode is perfect for people who don’t want to get frustrated with the crazy attacks of the enemies.  The normal and I imagine the hardcore mode will push players to the limit.  Overall though this was a solid experience. 

The third strongest of the month is Next Space Rebels.  This is one of the few games I kept playing after I finished recording, and it deserves it.  The ease of creation drives the player to keep creating new designs.  The progression does get a little frustrating at times, but it’s also extremely fun to build and create new rockets. 

The second strongest of the month is Stardew Valley.  If you tried Stardew Valley and didn’t like it, I understand, but I do think everyone should try this game because there’s a very nice relaxed experience here, as well as fantastic gameplay.  I spent around a hundred hours on this game, and with all the updates and new content, I should go back and play even more. 

And that leaves the strongest of the month.  If number two is Stardew Valley, a game I think everyone should play… there’s one game that could be higher. 

It’s Halo Infinite.  I do have issues with this game, it’s not perfect, but it’s also close.  That combat feels flawless, and that’s hard to do in any game.  The open-world has me excited to play more.  While the story didn’t hook me, I don’t mind because there are enough other reasons to return.   I do wish there weren’t two or three hours of linear gameplay before players get to experience the real meat of the game, but once you get there, Halo Infinite is quite wonderful.  

And that’s what I have for December 2021.  It’s almost January, I apologize, I’ve had a few family things come up, a major birthday party for someone special, but I’m already working my way through the new games, and I am still working on the best of 2021.

I do want to apologize, last month I left the Dicey Dungeon tag on The Hunter Call of the Wild section.  I’m sorry about that, mistakes were made, and I’ll try to be better, which probably means I probably did the same in this video somewhere. 

As mentioned I have a discord server called The Roundtable, please check that out, I’m happy about the community growing there, and I’d love to see even more people join up.

If you’re new here, consider subscribing to the channel, ring that bell if you want to be the first to see my videos.  Like, comments, and share that’s always helpful, last month there was a ton of new viewers, and thank you to everyone who helped me hit those numbers, that means a lot to me. 

Please stay safe out there as well. 

I’ll be popping up Part 1 of this video so you can find out about all those games you might have missed out on, and the Humble Choice for December 2021.  

See You next time. 

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