Humble Choice January 2022 Review – New Year, New Bundle, Old Problems

I’m Kinglink and Happy New Year, which means it’s time for the Humble Choice January 2022 review. Where does the time go? 

A new year, a new bundle, and the same old me, though a little under the weather. This month we return to the 10 game lineup and there are a lot of interesting choices and discussions to be had, but in case you’re new I check out each game for at least an hour, and I’m ready to tell you what I think about this month’s offerings. We’re going to start with the game I was the most excited about. That is…

Mafia: Definitive Edition. A classic game remastered with a more modern look.

Let me just start by saying Mafia can look like GTA at times, but this is most definitely not GTA. There’s no option of which missions you take, there is a large world but you’re never allowed to free roam within the story, and the experience is fully story-driven. But these are all things that allow the Mafia to try to tell a stronger story, and at times it succeeds. However, it’s a strong story in the 2002 style, which is when the game originally came out. 

In the 2020 remaster, which is the definitive edition, much of Mafia feels dated. The gameplay and control choices feel off, such as the X button to get in cars, and open doors. The gunplay is quite weak, and the story has some odd discussions in the car. There are also numerous bugs even though this game has been out for eighteen months. The game froze while playing it for almost thirty seconds. It also stuttered a lot, and the controller icons only work if you use a very specific steam configuration. 

Pick this up if you want a story-based game or enjoy mafia movies. This is a bit of a weaker story but it’s still well told. Mafia is still a good game, and I’m willing to take another crack at it though I’m going to have to spend some time trying to fix the issue I’ve already seen, and there were quite a few, a shockingly large number for this title. 

Iron Harvest. An RTS based in World War I… with Bears, and giant mechs.  Awesome

Iron Harvest reminds me a lot of Company of Heroes or Dawn of War, you take control of squads of men and work your way through large maps. However, with a strong story, Iron Harvest gripped me early, and the main character was interesting. You start the game as Anna Kos but also get a bear companion in the second mission which you’ll use to just tear up the enemy. After partnering with a couple of squads, the rest of the level has both a strong story and excellent gameplay.

There are three campaigns in the base game, each one with one of the three factions, and each main character appears to have an animal sidekick, the other being a tiger, and a pair of wolves. Iron Harvest’s campaign missions also have optional side missions, and multiple challenges per map, so if you want a lot of content there’s that, as well as skirmish missions with their medal system, challenges maps, again with medals, and multiplayer. If that’s not enough there’s a co-op mode for the story, where both players control the same units, but there’s a lot of opportunity for coordination as well. 

Pick this up if you enjoyed the RTS genre. If you like what you’re seeing on the screen this is a no-brainer. The cutscenes are particularly good, and the characters are interesting. But the gameplay feels tactical and refreshing rather than a mindless slog through fodder which has me wanting to see more.

Project Winter. A survival game, no wait, social deduction, no it’s a cluster!@#$… wait, it’s all of these things. 

Project Winter is an interesting game, there are 8 players and each player is either a survivor or a traitor. The survivors try to get rescued, the traitors don’t want to be rescued, and there are a couple of objectives to complete. In the two games I played, the survivors tried to restore power then they had to find and fix up a helipad. It’s a good concept. 

The problem is this is also a dense game where the tutorial doesn’t give you a ton of information and I think because a lot of people are new to the game from Humble that they’re not playing it right. Communication is a bit light, there’s no social deduction, and on both games, the mega blizzard killed the group which apparently is an artificial time limit. At least I’m pretty sure it is.

This is a game where you’re going to have to learn the game, and probably one you should play with an established group as the influx of new players and the fact so few things are well explained is a barrier to entry.

Pick this up if you want a more active Among Us, it’s far more complicated than that and players have to work together rather than doing their tasks, but this feels like it could be a really good game, though it’s one that players will have to put in the time and effort to understand.

Rebel Cops. XCOM with cops… not normal  cops but rebel cops. 

Rebel Cops is an interesting twist on the typical tactical game. Players play as rogue cops fighting against a corrupt city and trying to take out bad guys, usually, players are outnumbered, underfunded, and relatively weak. So rather than slugging it out, Rebel Cops seems to focus a lot on stealth and works well there. However much of the game is still heavy percentage-based gameplay. 

While this game is a vast improvement on This is the Police or its sequel, it does have issues where the stealth is a mixture of systems that aren’t the most informative. Not knowing what an enemy can see, and lacking many attacks that are guaranteed will likely upset some people. Limited saves will upset others, though players can turn on unlimited saves, and the gameplay feels ok but not amazing.  

Pick this up if you like turn-based tactical games. Having to work your way through rooms and areas works well here, but there are reports of difficulty spikes, and if this game gets difficult it’s also going to get very frustrating quickly. Especially because one bad roll could tank a mission playthrough that was successful up to that point.

Rustler. Grand Theft Horse… That’s actually what they call it on Steam. 

Rustler is a medieval version of Grand Theft Auto, not the normal Grand Theft Auto people think of but the Playstation One top-down version, and it does quite well with it. Much of the game is going around to assist people, learning about their troubles, and usually murdering someone or a bunch of someones to fix minor issues and create all new ones.   

Rustler tries hard to be a funny game, and shockingly it succeeds at times. Whether it’s a subtle reference like a modern parking system or a chalk outline of a murdered person and a horse, there’s a great subtlety to the humor. However, it wasn’t a consistently funny game, though I did find myself laughing more than I expected. Some of the references to pop culture fell flat, and quite a few jokes were groaners, but it still had its moments. Even an overdone reference to the Spanish inquisition was still funny because there was more than just repeating the same gag as Monty Python. 

Pick this up if you like the idea of a top-down GTA, where you’re stealing horses, and fighting Knights. This game reminds me quite a bit of American Fugitive, but I feel this is better written and more fun to play. I’m quite impressed at the quality of the title, and this company also made the 112 Operator from October 2021 Humble Choice, though these are quite different titles.

The Henry Stickmin Collection. A collection of rather funny choose-your-own-adventure style games.

The original Henry Stickmin were flash games where players chose one of up to six objects and then the character would use that to accomplish a goal, such as breaking into a bank to steal money or breaking out of prison. Out of the choices, there will be multiple failures, each giving a unique death scene, and potential multiple correct choices, each leading to a different scene. With multiple endings, a branching pathway, and tons of failure conditions to seek out, not to mention even more content, this is a rich game. 

This is just a remake of the flash games with similar names. While each title has been massively improved, and the animation and voice acting here are fantastic, it doesn’t have much beyond what you would find on Youtube. You choose an option, watch a usually funny vignette playout, and then choose something else and see everything. That’s the gameplay. In addition, the first five out of the six episodes are available for free in their original, though worse, flash version.  

Pick this up if you’re enjoying what you’re seeing. I like this game a lot, I laughed quite often, and I think it’s quite clever, but also there’s a limit to the content, if you want to see every failure, and every ending you’re probably talking about two or three hours at the most. There are a few collectibles as well but at the end of the day this is a short, but enjoyable game. 

And I want to bring up one last interesting thing. This is made by the two founding members of Innersloth, who if you don’t know, also made Among Us. Yeah, the guys who created Among Us also created this, that’s crazy.  

Farmer’s Dynasty. 90 minutes of asking. Where’s the farming? 

I’m sure Farmer’s Dynasty has some interesting farming gameplay, but the first hour and a half of this game involved walking through a slow tutorial with awful stock animations and then trying to fix up my house on a quest system. However, with one indicator in the center of the entire area, there was no clue what still had to be fixed up or where I had to go. Well, I could use my super sense to tell me what was broken, but that’s only if it’s visible. 

I kept finding little pieces, but with poor UI, poor information, and awful gameplay, I became rather annoyed by this game. What should be a ten-minute task dragged on so long I had to overplay the game and hope I could find the next scene, and even then I had to use a guide because it was a bit obtuse, and yet it still wasn’t done. If this is how the game starts, I can only imagine what hell waits if players continue playing. I’ll admit, I didn’t see much beyond the repairs that took entirely too long, but that’s giving this game 50 percent longer than almost every other game I’ve reviewed over the last year. I gave this game a shot. 

Pick this up if you want a bad simulator? I mean listen, I heard about this bundle, I was excited because I wanted to play a farming game, and Humble provided. However, the section I played was like a really bad version of House Flipper, and now that I’m done playing I’m pricing out what I could get Farming Simulator for. This game made me want to buy another game, rather than continue to play what’s on my hard drive. I wish I could enjoy this one.  

And before someone says “It’s a life simulator” then I’d probably just play My Time At Portia or Stardew Valley instead. And similarly forcing the player to spend so long repairing the farm was a poor use of my time.

Between The Stars, A spacer tale with a strong story.

Between the Stars has the player piloting a ship as they explore the universe, at least I believe that’s the main game, I spent my hour in the extremely good prologue. While the prologue uses a predefined character and a powerful ship, the main game requires the player to create their own character and start with a weaker ship. There’s a narrative the player is supposed to follow throughout the game, and I found the combat a bit easy but very enjoyable.  

That being said, there is an issue. While the game was really fun to play, it’s been in Early Access for two years, and worse the developers are actively working on another early access game, though they do appear to still be committed to finishing this game in the first half of 2022. There are only two devs according to them, which on its own is extremely impressive. There are different reports on the length of the game but it appears to be at least ten hours of content with a majority of people saying around fifteen.

Pick this up if you like what you’re seeing. I really enjoyed this game in my hour and I am looking forward to playing more, though admittedly I’m in the prologue which should be the most polished part of the game, but there still was at least one completely epic moment. However, it is still an Early Access game so it’s a bit of a gamble even now. 

Retrowave. This game… this game. 

Retrowave is simple, like as simple as can be. Drive for as long as you can, and dodge traffic. Get near misses, and get close to oncoming traffic and just keep driving. And that’s it. After five minutes I was looking for ANY level of complexity. There are 20 cars and 20 tracks that all play the same and there are four difficulties but at the end of the day, I had seen almost everything the game has to offer in 20 minutes and then I played another forty because I’ll put in the time. 

But after playing the game, something was off. So I kept digging. I found this Unity Asset pack, which has the exact same UI in multiple locations but particularly in the gameplay. Now there’s some work here, likely using something like this, which could be the skybox and road that’s being driven on, maybe a few small tweaks, but the gameplay, UI, and modes are the same. There are a few assets added to that pack, but in general, this is just that Unity Asset Pack. It also retails for 2 dollars, is usually on sale for 1 dollar, and has DLC that is just a huge amount of credits so you can unlock everything instead of playing the game. 

I can’t recommend this, there’s nothing wrong with checking this game out if you got everything else, but this is a 2 dollar game at best, AND it’s just an asset flip. The developer Rewindapp has released 67 games on Steam in four years, almost all of them appear to be asset flips, and they all run for two dollars. I’m going to move on but I’ll talk more about this in the conclusion.  

Also once I found the asset, I was able to quickly find three games using the same asset, and I’m sure there are hundreds more. 

Midnight Protocol. A keyboard-based hacking game.

Midnight Protocol calls itself a tactical RPG, though I disagree. Midnight Protocol is a strange keyboard-based game that completely removes the mouse from the game. It also is a hacking simulator where players have to breach networks that are more similar to Uplink or Hacknet. Though controlling the entire experience through just a command line makes for a very interesting experience. 

I’m a little shocked to announce this isn’t made by Zachtronics, and yet still really feels like a Zachtronics style game. The entire game gives the player the power to breach networks and then adds moral choices such as robbing random people and earning profits as a black hat hacker, or trying to remain noble as a white hat hacker. There’s a strong narrative as well, which is intriguing. 

Pick this up if you think you’d be willing to play a keyboard-based command-line game. The game is interesting and unique as you’ll see but if you aren’t intrigued by a game that only allows the player to use the keyboards, this one probably won’t be for you. It’s a special game, yet I adore this one. 

And that’s ten games. Once again there are only ten and similarly, there’s no bonus game this month.  

So what about this offering? I’ve gone back and forth on this. I picked this bundle up and would have done so just to get Mafia for 12 dollars, which is the price I paid. I wanted to complete my collection and replay the original and now I can, though the game is noticeably rough.  

At the same time, I am not sure if there’s a true stand-out game. If you weren’t already going to buy any of these titles, or are not already interested because of their genres, I don’t know if there’s anything that is a must-buy on its own, and almost all of them go for under ten dollars during sales. 

Worse, Humble is back to repackaging games. Between The Stars was in Choose Wisely, Project Winter was just in Yogscast’s Jingle Jam of last month, and Retrowave was in the Early Access All-Stars Bundle 4 months ago.  

And I want to go deeper to discuss that game, Retrowave. Let me start by saying there’s nothing illegal with an asset flip. However, they are low effort and not something many people want to support. Using an asset is a great way for a developer to get content and improve on it, however, the game as it appears is the same gameplay as that purchased Unity Asset.  

If Humble didn’t realize it was an asset flip, that’s understandable, Yet it was bundled before, but maybe no one told them. However, it’s also a two-dollar game with minimal gameplay. It doesn’t deserve to be on this list. On the other hand, if they knew it was an asset flip, that’s a new low, and that’s saying something for a company that keeps releasing multiplayer games that are going to be dead in a month. Though Beyond the Wire is still looking relatively healthy, though unable to support more than a single full server at peak each day.

I reached out to Humble for a comment, but with a four-day turnaround time in response, I wasn’t expecting one, it’s still a bad look. 

The idea for going to ten games is to improve the quality of each title, but most of these games were recently cheap because the Steam Sale just ended. I’m not asking for a mega title, but at least some value would be appreciated 

With that said let’s get on with the Tier list. We’re sticking with the American Educational System, A through F, and I think we all know what is getting an F. 

It’s Retrowave. I could talk about this more, but I think I said enough, Asset Flip, a two-dollar game, has been bundled previously, and honestly, this shakes my faith in Humble more than a lot of things. Now that’s a bad Choice. 

Moving up from the F tier, we have one game in D. 

It’s Farmer’s Dynasty. I trust Farmer’s Dynasty is eventually about farming or at least better than the repair simulator I’ve seen but my session also ended with me just ramming my house with my tractor out of frustration and you know what, I feel better… Days later and multiple other games played, but I feel better

And that’s the D tier. Let’s just take a moment and look at the list, at least we got those two titles out of the way, the rest are a little more varied but at least I can say some people will enjoy them, and many do. 

The first game in C is Project Winter. This is low, and I think with the right group of people and right training this could easily move up, however it’s so dependent on who you’re partnered with and so much knowledge that it also could be lower. Two games with zero chance of winning as a survivor is really a bad opening. People at least do voice chat, but it’s a much harder game to get started than it needs to be. 

And the other game in the C tier is Rebel Cops. This is probably on the cusp of being a B, I just don’t know for sure. Limited save slots will probably get annoying and if there’s a difficulty spike that will be frustrating. Having to manage your money as well means you will want to try to perfect most scenarios and that means getting lucky with where you spend your save slots and probably save scumming. This isn’t bad, but it’s also something I’m not sure I’d recommend over other tactical games, which there are a lot of them out there. 

And that’s what I have for C. Now B is once again the largest category, but the line between the B and A tiers is also fuzzier than normal. Still, we’ll start from the bottom and work our way up the tier.   

Our first title in B tier is Rustler. I like Rustler a lot but the humor is going to be hit or miss, and I already felt the humor being more in the vein of sight gags that wear off in that first hour. Still, it’s a very competent GTA clone, and one that is clever enough that I think I still might play more of it. 

The second title in B Tier might be my favorite, it’s Midnight Protocol. Yeah, I found this game to be unique and interesting and I’m looking forward to playing more, but I also am fully aware, it’s a game designed to be perfect for me, and I struggle to say someone else will appreciate it as much without being part-programmer. Still, I hope this gets more attention, it deserves it. 

Next up we have Mafia: Definitive Edition. I keep moving this title, it’s either in A, due to the size of the game, bottom of B because of its issues, or right here. It’s the game I wanted the bundle for, but now that I have it, I’m not sure when I’m going to try to finish this game off, and actually, there are a few other titles this month I’ll play first, though given enough free time I’d probably play through this one as well. 

Finally, in the B tier, we have The Henry Stickmin Collection. I laughed my butt off while playing this game.  It has good references, clever jokes, and great production values, however, it’s kind of simplistic. There’s a lot of content here but it’s just selecting options and seeing what silly unexpected thing happens, that’s great but that’s going to keep it out of the top in my book. Still, I enjoyed this one. 

And that brings us to the A-tier with our final two games. Now I want to say, this is a little shakier as mentioned. I’m going off of the experience I had, rather than the research I put in after, or the opinions of others. Let’s just get to it. 

The bottom of A Tier is Between the Stars. It has an arcade feeling to its movement, and I only saw the Prologue but that made me want to play the final version whenever it finally comes out. The epic battle you’re seeing on screen was an act ender and I was pumped during it. It was just a knock-down-drag-out fight that lasted for almost ten minutes and felt like the world was ending, which is what it was supposed to be. That was extremely fun to play through. 

And the best game of the month, Iron Harvest. This is an excellent game, and well worth playing if you’re a fan of the RTS or Tactical Squad games. There’s a meaty campaign that will take players about twenty hours, additional goals to allow players to replay the levels, and even more content and multiplayer outside that. This is well worth checking out. 

And that’s what I have for this month. So now it’s your turn, what did I get right or get wrong, let me know, whether it’s down in the comments below, or on Discord, I’ll throw a link to the Discord server in the Description. It’s becoming a place I love hanging out to talk to people and there’s a real active crowd growing there, so I’m looking forward to welcoming you as well. 

Some of you may have noticed my voice sounds different.  I’m a little under the weather today, I apologize, though I wanted to ensure this video came out in a timely manner as it appears people rely on it, but don’t worry, I’ll rest up and be ready for the next one. 

Let’s just do  the usual Youtube mantra. Like Subscribe and Ring the Bell, you all know what to do by now. And I hope you’re looking forward to more from me. We have the monthly Game Pass video coming up as well as my games of 2021, and I’ll also talk about the best of last year’s Humble Choices in that video, feel free to leave your favorite game from last year in the comments as well. I’m curious what everyone will pick.

See you next time.

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