Humble Choice May 2022 Review – A weaker month, but with a major headliner.

I’m Kinglink and it’s the beginning of May so it’s time for the Humble Choice May 2022 Review   

Once again we have 8 games to look at as well as a bonus game.  As always I play each game for one hour and I’ll tell you what I think of them and who will want to check them out.  This month is an interesting selection and even starts with a personal favorite game, though it is one that people will disagree with me on. 

Let’s just get to it.  

Planet Zoo.  My favorite topic, animal husbandry.

I’m partially serious about that. I love zoos and the preservation of animals. I’m a huge supporter of my local zoo, The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park.  Planet Zoo allows me to run my very own zoo, letting me mate the animals as I see fit.  There’s supposedly a park management game here somewhere as well, but we all know what we’re here for. 

I fully enjoy this game, this is one of those games that I’ll start playing, and three or four hours later I’ll come out of a trance and look at my creations.  There’s a solid story mode, though it is mostly just completing different tasks in different locations.  There’s an online Franchise mode where you can sell animals in a player marketplace, and there are tons more.  The one downside is there’s a lot of DLC and quite a few premium animals are only in the DLC. 

Pick this up if you like zoos, or you enjoy Planet Coaster.  This is far more focused on managing the animals, but it is the same as most theme park managers, just with living attractions.  I also have a video comparing this game to a real zoo if you’re curious, I’ll link it in the description. 

SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle For Bikini Bottom – Rehydrated.  A remaster of a solid title.

This is a surprisingly popular game online, and what’s strange is this originally came out on the original Xbox, PS2, and Gamecube generation almost 20 years ago.  The rehydrated edition is a remastered version that came out in 2020.  Now that I’ve played it, I’m a fan of this title.  It’s a great mix of Super Mario 64-style gameplay, as well as SpongeBob humor.  

At the same time, this is a remaster, so the game is a bit dated.  This is a title that was released on the Xbox after all.  It also is very similar to Super Mario 64 and while it got rid of the outdated lives system, it’s not ultra-fresh.  The music is also repetitive at times.  After a few minutes in a level, the music that sounds great to start ended up grating on me. Yet I will counter that with it having the original voice cast of the tv show, except for Mr. Krabs and Mermaid Man.

Pick this up if you like classic 3d Platformers, or are a fan of Spongebob.  This gave me a huge joy to play through it, they capture the show’s style perfectly.  The gameplay is a bit on the easy side from what I saw, maybe because this was aimed at children, but it’s a nostalgic trip that I’m hoping to return to. 

Command & Conquer Remastered Collection.  The classic is back… on Origin. 

The original Command and Conquer is now 27 years old, and EA brought it back for the 25th anniversary.  This version has updated graphics, refined hud and input elements, and the same great game that was released all those years ago, it contains the expansion console levels and more, and if somehow you want more, there’s Red Alert with all its expansions as well. 

This is extremely nostalgic and brings back a lot of memories, and they don’t make RTS games like this any more, though perhaps there are good reasons for that.  I still enjoy the heck out of this game, and those cutscenes are a huge part of it, just the cheesiness.  The FMV cutscenes have been remastered and look amazing, and yet all the other cutscenes, the ones that could have easily been redone as there are no humans in it feel like they haven’t been touched at all, it’s a strange choice. 

Pick this up if you want to see one of the most important games in the RTS genre. The problem though is it’s the same story, and gameplay and I can’t ignore how dated the entire game feels.  The RTS genre itself isn’t very healthy and while the MOBA genre has supplanted it, this is a very different game than that.

I’ll talk more about this at the end but this is an Origin key so beware.

Spellcaster University.  Run your own magical school, even that one you’re thinking of. 

You run a magical academy, where you can create different houses, assign students, teach different arts, hire teachers, and direct the destinies of your students.  It’s painfully obvious where the inspiration for Spellcaster University stems from.  You’ll also notice this is a bit of a card game, as you’re given options in the form of cards and use them to layout the castle, though they are cards, it appears that’s just a theme they used as this doesn’t have much to do with normal card-based games. 

This is also a bit slow of a game, a lot of events happen and you often have to choose what to do, if you take too long to notice an event it just starts and you have to make a decision, but the events just feel like I was continually min-maxing choices, or being punished because I didn’t have some room, though the rooms are randomly offered, so I never had a chance to get those rooms as well.   

Pick this up if you like this concept.  Yet as a fan of Harry Potter, there I said it, this just doesn’t live up to the magical world that the books conjures.  It’s trying its best but perhaps it’s just the team size or the development time, but it doesn’t feel like it can live up to what it’s aiming for. 

Surviving The Aftermath.  A Paradox Interactive game.

I keep having to challenge myself to say something different about Paradox Interactive games. Paradox Interactive creates games where players take on a role but are given a unique experience and rather than a strict goal, players can make their own experience up and see what happens.

That’s also kind of my biggest complaint against the publisher.  I’m usually drawn to stories and strict linear objectives, and Surviving the Aftermath doesn’t provide that.  Here you’re building a new town in a post apocalyptic world with a freeform story.  While there’s a form of a tutorial mode, players mostly will stumble around for multiple hours to learn the mechanics of the game, likely restarting a few times.  After learning the game, players will know if they want to continue with the game or want to try something else, but we’re talking potentially ten hours before players get to that point. 

Pick this up if you like Paradox Interactive’s style of game and want a city manager. This is not for everyone, but if you can understand all the different mechanics at the heart of the game, and enjoy the style of storytelling that Paradox offers, this could be enjoyable.

If Found… Finding one’s self while doing a lot of erasing.

If Found is beautifully drawn at times.  The art on display is exceptional, and oftentimes the story shows similar sparks of brilliance.  This is a game that will speak to some people and I’m sure those people will be happy to be heard, the problem with If Found is that the gameplay, if it’s called that, doesn’t work. 

If Found’s main mechanic outside of being a visual novel is erasing the screen, you’ll do that a lot, like a frightening amount of times. The problem is the gameplay doesn’t fit with the story or themes.  The story also involves a transgender female, and while it’s mostly good, there are a lot of clunky lines especially when focused on those who oppose her transition.  It’s almost like the writer didn’t want to write realistic antagonists to avoid harming those who identify with the main character, but that only makes the antagonists in the game awfully written and that affects the main character’s motivations.  It’s a house of cards. 

Pick this up if you care more about having a trans woman as the main character than the gameplay mechanic in the game.  I normally am a fan of visual novels and enjoy a great deal of them, so the idea of a less interactive game is not an issue, but this is a game that probably is better to watch on youtube rather than play yourself due to how monotonous the interaction with the game is. 

Genesis Noir.  A strange take on the Detective Noir genre focused on the Big Bang.

I’m guessing a bit at the story here.  With almost no words, it’s up to the player to decide what’s going on, though with a few names being offered and references to the Big Bang, I think that’s what the developers were going for.  This game looks great and has a great style as the experience tosses you into different scenes going through time and space. 

But Genesis Noir’s gameplay is where I struggle.  When you understand what’s going on, there are very interesting and unique gameplay elements, but there’s moments where the player has to guess what the developer was thinking at times, and sometimes it’s not clear that control has been returned to the player.   A perfect example of the problem was a wave puzzle I spent at least five minutes on, where the goal is to get the wave to be as smooth as possible.  Good idea, but I couldn’t solve the puzzle because instead of holding the slider, I kept releasing it and that’s not what the developer wanted.  

Pick this up if you like wordless experiences.  I like the style of Genesis Noir, but I also found myself getting quite frustrated because the game isn’t always clear about when the player should interact with the game, and at times, it’s not clear what the expected action is or if the game is reacting to what the player is doing.

Embr.  Fighting fires and saving lives, or delivering food depending on the level. 

Embr is a game I like, players are firefighters and the main levels of the game involve the players saving people in burning buildings, usually requiring the player to also fight the fire to get through the building.  The art style here is rather good, and there are a lot of clever mechanics like using water to connect electrical conduits. 

What I’m a huge fan of is that after you beat each level you can return for additional challenges, and they’re hilarious.  There are five options including saving items for the family, avoiding damage from the fire, delivering food from an Uber Eats knock-off in the middle of the fire, and demolishing the house with fire.  These are great additions to the already hectic fire fighting in the game. 

Pick this up if you like the look of the game and the concept of fighting fires.  This game does get decently difficult and the levels grow quite a bit, but there’s a good challenge on everything you do here, and the mechanics are very sound. 

And that’s what I have for the main games of Humble, but of course, I like to do one more, something special for everyone, and this month we’re talking about a title from the Humble Games Collection….

Flynn: Son of Crimson.  A beautiful platformer. 

Flynn: Son of Crimson is a 2d action platformer.  Players take on the role of Flynn who as you’ll see here earns a special power and then must cross the island he lives on to restore the spirits that the thief nab from his pet Rex.  The art is exceptional, and the controls are tight. 

I played this on Game Pass, and my one complaint is that eventually, you’ll earn a second weapon but that comes so late, like almost half of the way through the game, multiple hours will have passed, and then suddenly the game awards it, that changes the flow.  It’s also not that challenging.  There’s a health recovery system, an invincibility skill , and more.

Pick this up if you like 2d action platformers, the style here is good, and the controls are tight. 

I also want to mention that Humble added the excellent bullet hell Zelda-esque Archvale, the Rogue-lite FPS Into the Pit, and the FTL clone, Crying Suns, though remember these games are available if you subscribe, so if you skip this month you can try those out next. 

I also want to say I tried to find good sounds to represent the games but oftentimes the best noise selections were not the best video representing the experience in the game so I went with the gameplay when I had to make the choice.  I’ll try to do better next time. 

So what about this bundle… Well, let’s start with the biggest problem.  Why Humble?  Why is there an Origin key?  Or rather why EA, why is Origin or the EA App still a thing?  Yes, I know money, but man I wish this was a steam key, and I think most people agree.   Origin is below Epic on my list of launchers and I’m sure many people agree.  Perhaps EA hope this key will get people interested in picking it up on Steam as a way for them to get more money out of people and it may work on me, but I’m going to wait for a hell of a sale. 

I’m obviously a fan of the headliner in this bundle and I think there are some good games, but if it wasn’t for Planet Zoo, SpongeBob SquarePants, and Command & Conquer even with that asterisk on that one, the rest of the games feel lacking, and all three of those titles are limited.  If you’re not a fan of park simulators or animals, Planet Zoo has nothing.   SpongeBob SquarePants is a nostalgic and dated title, and Command & Conquer is even more dated.   The rest of the titles are lacking on their own.  The same problem is true if you already own any of these titles. 

These also were relatively fresh titles, with the only title being bundled before was Embr, which was in the Jingle Jam 2021, and Spellcaster University was available on Amazon Prime, and I only barely remember that so maybe others have been on there before. 

Otherwise, I don’t have much more to say, it’s just a weaker month, but let’s throw them on the ranking chart because that’s probably what you’re waiting for.  Before I begin I just want to point out that this is intended to highlight my enjoyment or how much I would recommend each title personally.   That’s also why I tend not to try to compare one month to the next because it’s a very subjective scale. 

Anyways let’s get started A through F like always and see where the games lie. 

I’ve kept the F tier specifically as a failure tier, and while there are weaker titles this month this is more meant for broken, or laughably bad titles, the good news is nothing deserved it once again.  I’m very hopeful nothing ever does. 

Moving up to the D tier, we have two games.  We’ll start with the weakest of the month, that’s Surviving the Aftermath.  I’m not sure who is going to enjoy this game, I don’t even know if Paradox fans will enjoy this, but even so, this is such a niche game I struggle to recommend it at all. 

And the other game in D tier… If Found… The story works, but the fact I’m willing to go watch a youtube video of it, rather than play through it myself even though I own it tells me how I’m feeling.  This is important, this is not a subject matter issue, I would watch the story, I just don’t want to keep erasing everything for no reason, it is just such a destructive action. 

With the D Tier out of the way, let’s take a moment to look at where we’re starting from, there are still three tiers left but with three games coming up on the C tier, well that’s also pretty telling let’s just get started with the game on the cusp of the D tier. 

The Bottom of the C Tier is Spellcaster University.  I’m torn on this one.  After an hour I wasn’t enjoying myself, but I feel like this is once again a game I would have to play for quite a few hours to fully get a handle on or restart with the gameplay elements that I’ve figured out in my first hour.  But it would take so long to figure out if I’m enjoying the experience that I probably will just play something else instead. Oh well. 

Next up is Genesis Noir.  This is a better visual novel than If Found, but it’s also still a frustrating one.  It made me think of The Artful Escape, but also that just made me want to go replay that game instead.  There are good concepts here, but also bad ones and they feel like they might even be in equal amounts. 

And at the top of the C Tier we have Command & Conquer, and yes I did enjoy this title, there’s a ton of content, and while it’s an older game, it’s aged like fine wine.  It deserves credit.   But it’s an origin key, and I’m going to be petty in my rankings because this feels like pure EA greed. 

That’s what we have after the C Tier, and with two tiers left and three games, let’s see where the rest lie.  

The bottom of the B Tier is Embr.  I am a huge fan of this game, but it’s also sometimes a bit frustrating and limited. I love the additional modes, and I probably need to take some time and play through this entire experience. There’s something so charming about it.   

And the other game in B Tier is Spongebob SquarePants The Battle For Bikini Bottom. I’m a huge fan of the game, but it is about an eight-hour experience, and while it was fun, the challenge is a bit easy.  But it also made me realize I’m a fan of the show and I can now admit it proudly. 

This only leaves a single game that can be in the A-Tier, Planet Zoo.  I’ve been obvious about why this is here.  I love zoos. I love animals.  Management games are fun, and this just ticks all my boxes.  It’s the game I would recommend people check out.   I have a ton of fun playing this one and after playing it for this video I’m considering that I have to return and try to finish off the remaining harder missions of the story.

So that’s what I have this month.  It’s the weaker months, and I think there will be a decent amount of pauses by fans, but I won’t say it’s a horrible one, mostly because there are at least three games I think are still worth the purchase, but it’s not as strong as the last couple of months. So what do you all think, am I being too hard on the other games, am I being too positive on Planet Zoo, or is this month also slipping into the abyss for you.  Let me know what you think in the comments. 

As always thank you for watching. I always appreciate it, and if you haven’t subscribed before, consider doing so today.  Like and share the video as that’s what helps Youtube decide what to promote, and have a great day. 

I’m going to pop up a video I made for April Fools of 2020 about Planet Zoo versus the San Diego Zoo.  It’s a serious video but one I had a lot of fun with and I hope you check it out. 

See you next time. 

One thought on “Humble Choice May 2022 Review – A weaker month, but with a major headliner.

  1. One note on origin is that you can use their newer launcher, ea play, which works a lot better than the sunsetting origin. I’ve been using ea play for months to play gamepass games and it’s been a bearable experience.

    Like

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