Humble Choice December 2022 Review – Ending year with solid stories

I’m Kinglink and it’s December, which means it’s time for the final Humble Choice … of 2022. This is the Humble Choice December 2022 Review.

As always we have 8 titles, this month having two major ones to start that I’m thrilled to talk about, and there’s a lot of strong storytelling here, so stay tuned for that. I’ve played each game for an hour on Twitch and now can tell you what I’ve found. 

Let’s just get to it. 

Wasteland 3. One of the few true CRPGs still around.

Wasteland 3 reminds me a lot of what the original Fallout was. A large wasteland, where your skills and abilities define your experience. You may be able to sweet talk your way out of a conflict, fight enemies at range, or get in their faces and beat them down. You start with 2 main characters who are ambushed and have to fight their way out. The action and story are well told, as well as having some big set pieces early on.

The one thing that strikes me with Wasteland is how awful the character models look, especially when the camera is up close, which both the character creation and the first major encounter have. This looks bad to the point where I wonder why they didn’t fix the lighting or weaken the graphics to smooth it out. This only came out 2 years ago, and indie games can do better than this. 

Pick this up if you’re a fan of tactical Role Playing Games. This feels like what I wanted Atom RPG Trudograd from a couple of months ago to be. You’ll move around the grid to fight, but the combat here is strategic. The skill checks are important which means how you develop your character can matter. I’ve heard co-op is rough, but in single-player, this will entertain the right fans.

Greedfall. An old-timey RPG adventure. 

Greedfall starts with the player traveling to a mysterious island, and technically I still haven’t set sail, this is a large open-world RPG, with a lot of dialogue and environments. The story is very good, though the dialogue is written in 18th-century style and doesn’t spend time explaining some of its esoteric terms. However, the combat is solid, and there’s an ability to solve missions in multiple different ways.

On the other hand, the lip sync isn’t even trying to be right, and the more you look at it, the more noticeable how off it is, which makes it hard to focus on the speaker at any point. There appear to be several factions that you can assist, and your decisions seem to modify their opinions of you though I’m not sure by how much. 

Pick this up if you like dialogue based RPGs with a decent amount of choice. You can choose what to do and how to do it, your stats and abilities will matter, as well as if you choose to be violent or play stealthily, which is intriguing. 

First Class Trouble. 3D Among Us

First Class Trouble is a social deduction game, and I’ve played quite a few of those, particularly Town of Salem. First Class Trouble is a rather solid take on the genre, where players are stranded on a ship with 4 humans, and 2 robots. The robots are attempting to eliminate humans, and the humans must either kill the robots or disable their main AI. There are multiple levels, and the players will be able to vote on which levels to travel through and each one is slightly different. 

There’s also distance-based voice chat which allows players to have multiple conversations and the ability to isolate players. In my three games, I was the imposter on all three, and had a good time, especially when people were teaching me the game, which I then repaid violently. The idea here is solid, but I will say that playing online, I heard some not-so-pleasant stuff, so let’s just leave it at that. Not as bad as some games, but enough that will upset others. 

Pick this up if you like Social Deduction. This is a solid game, especially if you can find 6 players for it. If you’re going to play with randoms you will find good players, but you’ll also have to deal with a few jerks. There is also cosmetic DLC but a decent amount of cosmetics are awarded for leveling up in the game at the same time.

BackBone. An animal Detective Noir.

Backbone has players starting as a private eye who seems to be down on his luck. He takes a case to track a husband who is accused of infidelity, which leads him to find out about a grisly murder, and from there Backbone starts. This is a pretty dark tale, filled with obscenities especially the F-word, and a dark backdrop that delivers an interesting landscape. 

The one issue I had with Backbone is some of the animations aren’t clear on what is happening. There’s also a puzzle where I couldn’t make out a digit. I thought it was a 6 or a 3, it was a 0. But at the same time, the dialogue and world-building in this game are so rich I forgive those problems because every conversation feels like there’s a way out, and yet I somehow stumbled into the worst result. This might be intentional, but I love this feeling of failure. 

Pick this up if you like well-written Detective Noir games. Near the end of my hour, I got a wave of nostalgia for Disco Elysium. I feel like the main character here is on his downward slope to almost the beginning of Disco Elysium, he’s a flawed, potentially fallen character, and that works well to drive the narrative. I want to see where this game is going to go. 

TOEM. Photographic achievement hunting.

TOEM is a game about photography, but rather than trying to inspire players to master the art, it instead focuses on using photographs as a way to challenge players. Almost every challenge in this game involves the player taking photographs, or looking through the lens of a camera, and there are a lot of challenges. Each idea is clever and it’s a unique game. 

It’s also a bit short, this seems to be about 3 hours long, maybe longer for completionists. The focus of the game is on earning each achievement and solving puzzles while exploring the world. That’s fun, but it’s only going to appeal to some of the audience. 

Pick this up if you like having lists of challenges and checking off each one as you solve puzzles. This is the perfect game for me, and I love the experience here, but taking photographs might not appeal to everyone, and the achievement list is a form of meta-gaming. 

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine. A game for story lovers.

Where the Water Tastes Like Wine is strange. You’re a player trying to find true stories, as you cross the United States as a skeleton. You find normal stories as you travel but also run into 16 characters, each one asking you to tell them stories before they start to tell you their real story. The stories become your currency but also your goal.

What’s exciting about Where Water Tastes Like Wine is how it evolves the folk tales told.  A simple interaction becomes a tall tale that continues to grow over time.  The evolution shows the power of writing and story crafting. It doesn’t hurt that the game is narrated by an amazing voice, and uses different voices for each character. Though the one issue I have is he’s a little slow if you’re a fast reader, but his voice and delivery are perfect, which makes sense because that’s Sting from The Police.  Wut? 

Pick this up if you’re enamored with stories, this is the perfect game for someone who loves narratives in video games and just sitting back and enjoying each campfire story to the fullest is exceptional. The gameplay also is unique as you try to use your stories to satisfy the requests of the strangers you run into.  But that also might be why someone will skip this game.  I however will return.

Blade Assault. A rogue-lite inspired by Hades. 

Blade Assault starts with a short intro before the player is cast down to the slums and rescued. From there, players will attempt to climb up to get their revenge and are usually tossed back to the slums each time they die. Blade Assault wears its influences on its sleeves. It doesn’t hide the fact that a lot of the systems are inspired by Hades and this works well. 

The problem is it misses a couple of important points. Blade Assault’s story is lacking, so most pickups in the game are just that, rather than chances to talk to the gods in Hades. In addition, the sound design is weak, and the music in the game lets down the action and combat. 

Pick this up if you need another rogue-lite, or if you buy the bundle. The combat is satisfying here, but so many gameplay systems just made me think how Hades was a better package, or Dead Cells was more polished. There’s nothing bad here, but it’s also lacking anything that could make this title stand out. 

Super Magbot. Magnetized platforming. 

Super Magbot starts with the player trying to stop a large asteroid on a collision course with multiple planets. Players control a robot that has the power to attract or repel with two different magnets. It’s a simple setup but the level design here is great and the controls are tight. Once you can remember which color is which button, you’ll be able to fly through levels, and there are optional challenges that will increase the difficulty. 

On the other hand, what you see is what you get, the story is pretty weak, the gameplay is tight but simple, and the experience is good, not great. However you’ll feel accomplished after almost every level, and there are alternate extremely difficult bonus levels as well. 

Pick this up if you love platformers. The controls are tight enough that almost anyone will have a good time here, but while there’s a small amount of puzzle in the design of a level, it’s more about fast precise actions, than anything else. I believe there are only about 100 levels in the game and I was knocking out my successful runs taking about 20 seconds a piece. 

And those are the games of the Humble choice, but because you have been so awesome to me and checking out the video, I’m going to give you just a little more, we have a special treat this week. It’s a game from the Humble Game Collection, which you can check out if you subscribe to Humble Choice now or in the future. 

Ghost Song. A Metroidvania based on exploration. 

Ghost Song has players walking around in a reanimated suit known as a Deadsuit. Players will explore an alien world filled with an amazing environment and level design. The stronger elements of Ghost Song come from how this isn’t a linear world. You will never go from point A to point B, but also never feel lost as you explore the massive planet. There is a story, but it’s the atmosphere that sets Ghost Song apart.

On the other hand, I wish there was a little more enemy variety. There are a few alien life forms early on, but so much of the game has enemies that are vaguely human or humanoid, and while this might be an attempt at body horror, it never lands, and after a couple of hours I want more variety in the enemies, even after a few bosses. 

Pick this up if you like Metroidvanias. This isn’t a top-tier version of it, but it is clear that the developer learned a lot from Hollow Knight and Dark Souls and that’s not a criticism here. It may be rough around the edges but that’s probably due to this being a small or single-person team at times. And yet I enjoyed exploring this map far more than many other entries in the same genre. 

And that’s the bonus game, again that is available in the Humble Game Collection, and technically on Game Pass. If you’re interested and subscribed you can check out any of the Humble Games on their app, it’s mostly the games Humble has published. 

With that said, let’s talk about the bundle, and I’ll be straight up, I think this is an excellent bundle, and a strong finish for the year.  After playing all the games, it’s probably not the best, but  Wasteland is a series I haven’t played and I‘ve wanted to. I know Greedfall is popular and I can see why. The rest of the games are from different areas, but almost all of them have strong stories and interesting gameplay, and I always look for something a bit different, which is what makes me happy here. 

I will also mention, that First Class Trouble, is a game that is better with more people you know, and if you want that, there’s also a coupon for 75 percent off a second copy if you buy the Choice, and if you are planning on picking up Jingle Jam, there’s a copy in there as well.

Speaking of… this isn’t the freshest bundle. We’ll pop up our IsThereAnyDeal summary, and the fact is, most of these games have been bundled before. And all of their lowest prices are under 10 dollars. A bit of an ouch in my book, which means you might be able to get them cheap during the winter sale coming up around Christmas. 

At the same time, they normally go for a decent amount of money, so depending on how you view that, or which titles you’re interested in, there’s a good value there, but not a great one. I’m going to try to keep popping these up. 

As for the tier list, I needed to make a change. Do you really want to see the headlines as “high value” and then the rest of the games in the middle of three tiers?  I know I don’t. So I split it up a little more. 

We have the Full Bundle Price tier if you like that game, grab the bundle, and you’ll get your money’s worth, followed by Strong Contenders tier, which are the games you absolutely should check out, the Weak entries, one of my favorite games this month is there, but it’s an understanding that they’re more pack-in titles, than stuff that shine on their own, and finally the Miss. And I promise this is the last time I’ll redo the tier lists…. this year. Yeah, I recycled that joke.

Before someone asks, why leave the Miss in the list if there’s nothing in it, well it’s a reminder that Humble can do worse, Fantasy Blacksmith exists after all. 

Which of course means the Miss Tier is empty, thankfully. Moving up to the Weak Entries, at the bottom of this is Super Magbot. I had a blast playing this on stream. It was fun, and I got into it after ten minutes, but I struggle to recommend it as a stand-alone title, and while you should check it out, it is not that special.

The middle of the Weak Entries tier is Blade Assault. This suffers from a fatal flaw. So much of this game is similar to Hades but Hades has important differences and Blade Assault kept making me think, why am I not playing Hades, or perhaps Dead Cells? I have a video on both of them, check it out. But Blade Assault didn’t stand out enough on its own and there are far better games. 

The top of the Weak Entries is TOEM, I hope I’m saying that right. This is a great game, with an interesting mechanic and a world I loved exploring, but I also can admit I enjoy it because of the achievement list. The photography is well executed as well, but if neither of those things excites you, I don’t think this is the game for you. With a short run time, I’m forced to admit this is weak. That doesn’t mean I will be skipping it myself. 

And that’s what I have for The Weak Entries. Three games down, and five more to go, so let’s take a look at what the Strong contenders are. 

The bottom of the Strong Contenders tier is First Class Trouble. I know a lot of people don’t like multiplayer games but that’s what the game is, and it excels at it. This take on the social deduction is well done, and interesting. Though it is borderline because your experience is depending on who you’re matched with. Get foreigners, racists, or cheaters, you’re going to have a bad time. On the other hand, if you’re with the right people, or just playing with friends, you’ll have a blast. 

The middle of the Strong Contender tier is  Backbone. The writing in this story saved what could have been a worse experience. The feeling that I had failed conversations kept me engaged and there felt like there were potentially multiple paths to take. Also, this game nails the down-and-out detective motif that’s at the heart of a good Detective Noir game, and that’s important. 

The top of the Strong Contender tier is … Where the Water Tastes like Wine. I love stories, and unique gameplay, and think people need to check this title out. The writing is great, but it’s that narrative that makes this package amazing. If it wasn’t for the odd gameplay it’d be even higher. If you need more than just sitting back and listening to interesting tales, this isn’t for you, but for everyone else, this is exceptional. 

And that’s how we look with two games left, I kind of gave away what was going to be in the top tier but let’s look at the order. 

The bottom of the Full Bundle Price tier is Greedfall. This one has a large campaign with a lot of interesting characters. I’m curious about where the story is going to go and what will happen when the player reaches the main island. The combat and writing have been on point so far, and that only makes me more curious about what will happen next, which I hope to find out. 

And that leaves the strongest title of the month… Wasteland 3. I will admit my bias, I love the original Fallout games, which was based on the original Wasteland game, and seeing those same systems here makes me happy, but the gameplay and experience are well done, and there are a couple of surprises in the first hour which makes me curious what else the story will do. If you have any interest in strategy or turn-based RPGs, I highly recommend this one. 

And that’s what the final tier list looks like, hopefully, you got a better idea about the contents of the bundle from that. 

With that said, we’ll wrap it up, I do have to say I’m trying something new on my Game Pass video this month, I’m going to put ads on it to answer a question I’ve had, and donate the entire amount earned to the San Diego Zoo and Wildlife Foundation, I’ll also be matching that up to 100 dollars, so if you notice that, yes it’s a change, I haven’t decided if I’ll do it on other videos yet. For more information and why, please check out the end of the Game Pass November 2022 video. 

If you’ve enjoyed this video though, you should consider subscribing. I’ll be back next month with the first Humble Choice of 2023 as well as a wrap-up of 2022. I honestly don’t know what that will be, but it will contain what I consider the best monthly Choice for 2022. as well as other interesting games to check out. 

I know I’ve just dropped a ton on you here, so let me know what you think in the comments, and don’t forget to like the video, that’s always appreciated

I’ll be popping up a couple of other videos for you to check out from me if you want more. 

See you next time. 

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