I’m Kinglink and it’s time for the Humble Choice August 2022 Review. Which is also my birthday month.
Once again we have eight titles to go through and I played all eight for an hour on stream, even crazier I played all eight in a single day as well, which was quite an experience. Now I’m ready to tell you which ones you should check out and who is going to enjoy them.
I’ve actually covered half of these titles previously, but I am giving them a second look to see if my opinions have changed. Let’s get to the games. Starting with…
The Ascent. Diablo meets cyberpunk with guns.
The Ascent starts with an interesting concept with players being an indentured slave to a mega-corporation and being told where to go and what to do. Players start dealing with the sewers and will find a ton of enemies to slaughter. Though after that first level the mega corporation defaults like many concepts it’s not well explained and the game starts sending players to other locations to shoot it out. The Ascent plays a lot like typical action RPGs.
Well mostly, I like to think of The Ascent as Diablo with guns, or a looter shooter without meaningful loot. I almost question if the developer moved away from loot late in the development process because, without the focus on loot, The Ascent’s levels drag on quite a bit, and yet there’s chests where loot should be stored. However, the cyberpunk aesthetic works and the hub is large, overpopulated, and dense, which is exactly what cyberpunk calls for.
Pick this up if you want to wade through a ton of enemies with guns blazing or love that cyberpunk style. There’s a good solid combat system here, though the game does sometimes get monotonous and can be a slog. There is a lot of inventive design for the characters, aliens, and world. I just wish the levels were a little better-paced.
Hot Wheels Unleashed. Racing little toy cars, in epic courses.
Hot Wheels are almost a rite of passage, and almost everyone has seen these toys. Now you can grab them and race them around the course at breakneck speed, taking your favorite vehicles and drifting and zipping through a track to master the corners. There are a lot of different cars and many classic designs. The racing feels good, and mastering the drift or the courses will take you time. Multiple difficulties range from extremely simple to challenging to impossible depending on how you want to approach the game.
But Hot Wheels Unleashed also dabbles in a lot of gray areas. Getting randomized loot in blind boxes means progression is randomized. I even got a duplicate on my fourth box opened, which sucks. There are Daily quests to prompt FOMO, a battle pass, and DLC, a lot of DLC, there are currently 61 pieces of DLC and they will cost over 200 dollars to buy them all, not that people would, hopefully. But this feels like a game designed to at least make you consider paying more. The races are a bit unforgiving as well, where if you wipe out in the final two laps, there’s almost no chance of getting back to first place on harder difficulties.
Pick this up if you like Arcade racing games or have a fondness for Hot Wheels. This is a lot of fun to see the famous hot wheel licenses. But there’s still a slimy slayer here of the game being a platform to demand more money and shove battle passes at the player. But the biggest sin is that Hot Wheels Unleashed doesn’t go completely off the wall with the idea from the first moment of this game. I just want to jump a ring of fire in the tutorial.
A Plague Tale: Innocence. A visual feast with a solid story.
A Plague Tale: Innocence starts with a hunt that ends up going wrong with the family dog being taken by something. It’s a strange and dark opening and as a dog lover, I always hate when dogs are used as a plot device. However, A Plague Tale doesn’t end there, as our main character watches her family and their estate being sacked and she and her brother flee from danger.
This may sound confusing and it is, but that’s where A Plague Tale’s strength comes from. It’s not a game with easy answers or long exposition. Much of the game is more about the subtext of the moments and the story is told compellingly. The gameplay is based on stealth as well but has several action sequences that were exciting for the player to experience as they ran from different groups of enemies.
The art is beautiful however there are also a few awkward animations that slip into the game as well. The game looks and plays fantastic and quite often I was just dazzled by the experience.
Pick this up if you want a great story. This is more of a stealth game than anything, but it’s also a game that will grip the player and make them ask questions. Those questions will keep players returning and experiencing the rich story.
Gas Station Simulator. I think this is what people think a Simulator game is.
Gas Station Simulator has the player start by buying a gas station, apparently selling their car to do so, and then having to fix it up and take it over. Players will have a lot of different chores and tasks to complete to continue progressing through the story here, and the game will hold their hand through most of it.
The one problem I have with Gas Station Simulator is there’s not much here that feels polished or interesting. There’s no zen-like experience or minor details that players can focus on, instead, Gas Station Simulator keeps throwing out jobs for the player to do, and then slings achievements at them constantly, I got 24 in an hour, and I probably could have done better. There’s also a decent amount of bugs. You can’t even get Keyboard inputs to show up without disconnecting the controller completely.
Pick this up if you love the simulator genre, and gas stations interest you. But I am a huge fan of Lawn Mowing Simulator and have played through all of PowerWash SImulator already, and I’m not sure about this game. The art, gameplay, and experience here feel cheap, and that’s a shame because conceptually this could have been fun.
In Sound Mind. A great example of psychological horror, I think.
The first forty minutes of In Sound Mind had me going. Players begin by exploring a strange basement, and then a building with a lot of odd events happening. There are quite a few moments that had me questioning my sanity, or if I remembered things correctly, and that’s where Psychological Horror is the strongest. There are a few moments that were so well designed that I was amazed.
And then the horror kicked in. Those first forty minutes made me think I could handle In Sound Mind, and then the first scare rattled me so hard, that I questioned if standing still in a location would count as “playing” the game for purposes of the review. I kept trying to continue to play, but In Sound Mind had my number.
I am a scaredy cat, and I don’t like horror at all, so being able to play the first section is nice, but this game feels extremely terrifying though it has a compelling story, so fans of psychological horror or just normal horror, will have something exciting to experience here.
Pick this up if you want to be scared, this game didn’t just get me, it demolished me, and it was done in a skillful way that made me appreciate its craft. The atmosphere and experience here are well designed, as are some of the more unsettling moments.
Mind Scanners. Papers Please but dealing with mental health.
Mind Scanners feels like a game from someone trying to imitate Lucas Pope’s hit Papers Please, but with their unique twist. Players will have to help the government to scan characters’ minds, judge their mental capacity, and then fix insane patients when necessary using interesting devices . The overall goal is to understand what happened to your daughter and attempt to rescue her.
Though unlike Papers Please, Mind Scanner has players spend entirely too much time with most characters, creating a game that players might not be as excited to play through a second time. Where Papers please focus on stamping passports, Mind Scanners deal more with how players classify quirks.
Pick this up if you want to play a game like Papers Please or Not Tonight but with a focus on mental health. It’s a solid and unique idea and worth the first play-through. However, after beating the game on Xbox Game Pass I could never get up the energy to replay the whole experience to chase down other achievements or see other choices that players could make.
Emily is Away <3. The third game of Emily Is Away now with more Zuckerberg
I’m just going to call this Emily Is Away 3 instead of heart sign. But that’s right, Emily Is Away is back, and this time instead of an AIM experience, players are creating their profiles on Facenook with the help of their friends. If you are new to Emily is Away, these are unique games where players focus on talking to in-game friends over AIM or now Facenook Messenger. While there are similar ideas here, this is a brand new story told over five chapters, each taking about an hour and telling a robust story.
I bought this game when it was released last year, and do enjoy the story, however, I don’t enjoy the game as much as there’s a desire to see different endings and experiences, but there’s no way to speed up the experience. If players want to see all the possibilities they will have to sit through mostly the same dialogues and make different choices, and Emily Is Away <3’s pace is plodding at times. It works the first playthrough because it’s fresh, but on a replay, it can be slow.
Pick this up if you want a unique storytelling experience. This is one of those games that explores how games can tell stories. It’s a strange experience where you start to connect to these characters due to how robust they are. It’s not perfect, but far better than you might expect. Also, the Facenook site is amazing, and users will send you to a spoofed Youtube page where you’ll see many classic videos, and remember what the internet was like over ten years ago.
Omno. A beautiful experience created by a solo developer.
Jonas Manke created Omno alone and I’m incredibly impressed. There’s a sense of wonder about everything in Omno that delighted me. The desire to rush out and see everything, interact with plants and wildlife, and see what the world would offer next is strong with this title. The art here looks good, and the creatures feel unique. I often forget this was a solo project but it was.
Omno was a delight when I played it on Xbox Game Pass Last year, earning an 8/10 from me and I still believe it deserves that, especially now a few bugs have been worked out. However, the UI still is a bit rough on the pause menu. But that doesn’t detract from the adventure or the fantastic puzzles.
Pick this up if you like platformers or puzzle games. Omno will only take the player four hours, but it’s a memorable four hours, and replaying it for Humble Choice reminded me of how wonderful that experience was.
And that’s what I have for the Humble Choice, but we have a great Humble Collection title this month.
Into the Pit. A rogue-lite FPS.
Into the Pit has the player running around arenas with metal music playing and casting spells at enemies that are more akin to machine guns than magic. Players will have to use fast reactions and a series of upgrades to stay alive as they take out target after target and collect tokens for various uses. Over time players will unlock citizens that expand the town’s functionality and give them uses for their items.
Into The Pit will probably be easy for fans of twitch shooters, but for rogue-lite fans, there’s a decent challenge here. Though there is limited content for Into the Pit, it’s still a fun and inventive bridge between two genres.
Pick this up if you want a rogue-lite with FPS gameplay. This reminds me a lot of Doom, with that music track, and the combat. The experience is intense and I find it decently challenging.
And that’s what I have for the games of Humble Choice.
As for the bundle overall. There are two headliners and I think either title could make the bundle worthwhile. However, I already had played four titles this month, which isn’t normal for me. Why I bring it up is that three of them were on Game Pass. I don’t know if this is a shift, but I covered The Ascent, and Omno, a year ago on the Game Pass Review, and Mind Scanners in December. The fourth game is Emily Is Away 3, which I bought for myself as a fan.
Right now In Sound Mind is on sale until the 8th, which isn’t that long but it’s going for five dollars, so if that’s all you’re interested in that might be better to grab it on Steam. With the exception of Emily Is Away and In Sound Mind, these games are reasonably valuable even during sales.
Other than that, let’s just get to the Rankings, now this month I’m trying something different. I’ve divided the games up into three categories. Bundle sellers, for the games that are worth buying the bundle for just one of the titles. Solid Additions, which if you can grab two or three, you’ll be well served, and the Leftovers which I wanted to call the bag fries, but probably aren’t worth the full price of the bundle. I’m open to better names but I struggled on this one.
With that said, let’s start with the leftovers, and starting from the bottom. I almost created a lower category for this. It is Gas Station Simulator. I love this genre, I just am not that excited by this title, and doubt I’ll return for anything other than farming some easy achievements, which is disappointing. I was getting bored of the concept before my hour was up.
The other Left Over is Emily Is Away 3. I love the concept here, and the fake Facebook and Youtube are hilarious, but this is a game that lingers a bit too long, even with solid writing but it’s often cheap on Steam. Worth checking out if you get the bundle though, the point of the category.
And let’s just take a peek at how the board looks. It’s a shorter board than the grading system, but we’ll talk about what’s solid this month next.
The bottom of the Solid Additions is Hot Wheels Unleashed. This game is good, and if you are a fan of arcade racing you’ll have fun, but there are a lot of good arcade racers out there, including Trackmania. It’s also a title pulled back a bit by the rampant DLC and monetization.
Next up is Mind Scanners. It’s a good story, and I enjoyed my entire first playthrough. The different devices you use to make the experience are interesting and unique, but it’s a game that needs a second playthrough but has gameplay that doesn’t lend itself to a repeat plays.
Above that is Omno. I’m a sucker for this game, it’s a single dev, and I enjoyed the art. There’s a lot of variety in locations and the creatures bring a smile to my face that few games get. If you just want to explore a beautiful world, Omno is it.
And the Top of Solid Additions is In Sound Mind. Maybe this will be worth the full price of the bundle to some people, though the sale on Steam does hurt its value. However this freaked me out, and like I said I’m a scaredy cat, but this does a great job with its genre.
And this is the tier list after the second category. So with two games to go let’s find out which order they’re in.
Second place goes to The Ascent. While it’s a little repetitive, the world is so brilliant that I would play through the game just to see the story, locations, characters, and hub. I wish the gameplay was a little more engaging or at least the levels were shorter or more compact, but there are not many games that get the Cyberpunk feeling right.
The best game of the month is A Plague Tale Innocence. I’m going to keep playing this because it’s that good. I’m curious where the story goes, I’m interested in what’s happening, and the motivations of every character. I’m just curious when we’re going to see our first rat because there’s been none yet. I just want to know more about these characters, and that’s what a good story should do.
And this is how the final tier list looks. Like I said, I’m still working on names for the categories. I’m open to suggestions, I think my alternate favorites were Full Price, Wait for a Sale, and Left in the Cart, but for a bundle, I don’t know if that works.
Still, I hope you enjoyed the videos, it’s slightly different than last month but I’m always looking for feedback. I’ve kind of broken out of a mold here and am trying a few new things.
So last month I teased a third video that took a bit of time, but rather than rushing two videos out this week, I’m going to be dropping a goodbye to Zachtronics next week, and I’m really happy with how that’s turned out, keep an eye out for that.
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