I’m Kinglink and it’s the first week of January. That means it’s the Humble Choice January 2023 Review.
This month there are eight titles from Humble and there are a few oddities in the selection here, but before I get into the overall bundle, I’ve played each game for an hour on stream and I’m ready to tell you about the titles on offer and who might enjoy each game. Let’s get started with the game already on the screen
Doom Eternal. A step forward or backward for the franchise
Doom Eternal is the sequel to the major hit, Doom 2016. Once again players inhabit the Doom Slayer who just devastates the forces of hell. Rip and Tear might be said in the first game, but it’s lived here, with a higher focus on glory kills, chainsaw attacks, flamethrowers, and grenades. The action this time is more visceral and intense here.
And yet I don’t enjoy it. The extra combat pieces feel like abilities you’re supposed to punch every time they are available, rather than optional abilities. The story is weaker, and it demystifies the Slayer. The addition of Parkour feels out of place. And just the word Marauder, if you’ve played it, you probably know what I mean. I have a much longer video that I’ll link at the end but I just don’t think this is as good.
Pick this up if you liked Doom 2016. Listen, just because I didn’t enjoy it as much, doesn’t mean you won’t, but in addition, it’s twelve bucks, if you like any Doom game, why not take a shot at this, find out why people call Doom Eternal either the best game ever, or not as good as Doom 2016. Even at its worst, it’s still Doom.
Tribes of Midgard. A fun survival game with a focus on battle.
Tribes of Midgard does a lot to let people get into the survival genre. Looting of items is extremely fast, players can level up and build up their base and character as they want. The entire game is based on trying to survive, as long as the player can, against an onslaught of enemies, including impressive giant Jotuns, and if players fail the game resets and has the player start over on a different map to make different choices.
The other side is while the tutorial is good, there’s a lot to understand, to the point I would say most players are going to have to spend 5-10 hours just to understand the proper flow of the game or read a guide. But there’s a bigger problem. There is a cash shop, which appears to be limited to cosmetic items, and a battle pass, with daily or weekly quests, that’s something I always call out. With Ubisoft and Gearbox Publishing involved with the game’s launch, I worry.
Pick this up if you like survival games, especially if you want to partner up with a few people and play a game. This has a 10-player online multiplayer which is unique, and while there’s only a horde mode and a survival mode, it does feel like there’s a decent amount of content here to keep you entertained.
Encased: A Sci-fi Post-Apocalyptic RPG. Another fallout-style RPG.
Encased is a large RPG where players are exploring a massive dome that appeared in the 1970s. There’s a mix of sci-fi futuristic designs alongside the 70s style. There’s a lot of voice acting here as well, and most of it is good. The combat is the typical Tactical battle system that works well, and players are given a lot of freedom, including the ability to steal from people or get into a fight with whoever they want.
The first hour here was mostly tutorials. However, when I killed everyone in the initial lift when trying out the combat, the game just ignored my murder spree, when it could have explained it away with a clever moment. I saw at least one tutorial that was in Russian for no reason, and it does seem that the character you design matters quite a bit to the beginning of the story, but I’m pretty sure that the narrative dovetails together relatively fast.
Pick this up if you’ve already played a bunch of other Fallout-inspired games. This is interesting, but I think I’m going to play Wastelands 3 first. There are also dialogue-heavy games like Disco Elysium, that do this better. If you liked Atom RPG: Trudograd as well, this is worth your time, but these are long games. It’s still worth checking out if you like this style of game. Though I have heard from a couple of people that this game does get weaker in the second half.
OlliOlli World. Skating the world in style.
OlliOlli World takes a simple concept of skateboarding and creates a unique platformer around it. This is the third game in the series. The first two are solid games, but OlliOlli elevated the formula and shines with a style of its own. Every level looks interesting and the player is left wondering what’s coming next. The entire game is based around relatively simple controls as well, so players will be more focused on the level than trying to pull off each trick.
The one issue with OlliOlli World is that it’s designed around tackling challenges. If someone was to just beat each level at the bare minimum and move on, OlliOlli World only lasts around six hours. But once players try to beat every challenge, OlliOlli World will require multiple playthroughs of even the simplest level.
Pick this up if you want a cross between skateboarding and platforming. This isn’t Tony Hawk, but it’s also not-not Tony Hawk, if that makes sense. Its focus is on skateboarding and style but mostly on getting through the level. If you want more challenge though, try doing the entire level as a full combo. There are leaderboards to chase, as well as three unique tasks for every level.
This also comes with the Expansion pass, so there are even more levels to check out here.
Grow: Song of The Evertree. So bored.
The farming genre, for a lack of a better term, has grown like crazy. There are so many different takes on the idea. Grow: Song of The Evertree, has the player replanting the world to beat back an encroaching darkness, and singing to plants. It sounds good and it’s certainly popular.
I just can’t figure out why. So much of this game just feels like chores and not the type that is fun or interesting. Instead of building towards something, you’re just told to grow plants, farm them for items, and eventually build a town, but everything is so monotonous. Admittedly, I’m early in the game, but I went back after an hour to play more and I gave up a second time because I was so bored.
Pick this up if… honestly, if there’s nothing else. Maybe this is the type of game that doesn’t work for the first hour review, but as always I ask if the first 90 minutes of the game are so weak, why not cut those out, or improve them? The thing is while playing the game I started thinking up a list. Slime Rancher, Stardew Valley, My Time at Portia, Graveyard Keeper, Forager. Even the soon-to-be greedy Dreamlight Valley all of these games have great opening hours that get players excited for the rest of the experience. Grow, just feels like it’s chores upon more chores. I’d rather play any of those six games I mentioned.
Conan Chop Chop. A multiplayer rogue-lite.
Conan Chop Chop is a fresh take on the Conan character, using the style of Cyanide & Happiness, as well as the gameplay of Binding of Isaac, though without the darkness of either of those. There’s an ability to add in up to four players including couch co-op which is a nice touch. The story has a bit of solid humor. The combat is good, though parry heavy, and there’s different equipment you earn.
However, the first boss was brutally hard, to the point that we only took off less than a third of his life bar on the two chances we got to reach him. It feels like the game wants the player to master the encounters more than anything else. There is unlockable equipment, which might help, but that boss felt like a major skill or grind wall.
Pick this up if you have a group to play with. I don’t know if I’d enjoy this as much solo, but it also was more interesting with multiple people. I played this game alongside my daughter and we had a good time with it though it’s probably not going to be something we will rely on. Still, it felt like a fun and unique game that I wasn’t expecting.
Hokko Life. A take on Animal Crossing.
Hokko Life screams its inspiration. You have animal characters, arriving in a town on a train, and people just walking up to you and making demands of your time. But that’s also exactly what Animal Crossing is. This isn’t trying to create a new genre, it’s taking what is successful and finding its audience, and doing that well enough after a few minutes to get comfortable with the game.
Hokko Life is focused on a laid-back style of game, where players build a town for characters, add new citizens to their town, and just have a simple existence. It gets into the meat of the game quickly but this is a slow raft ride down a lazy river rather than whitewater rafting. It’s not going to appeal to everyone but it’s a game you can boot up every couple of days and play for thirty minutes just enjoying the atmosphere.
Pick this up if you enjoy Animal Crossing. I stress this because this isn’t attempting to be something completely new, it knows what it wants to deliver to players and does it successfully. This is the comfortable shoe for players who want to experience Animal Crossing on a different platform, and the fact it’s not tied to a set internal clock means players can play on their schedule.
The Serpent Rogue. An alchemy scavenging game.
The Serpent Rogue has players start as a plague doctor named The Warden as they try to fight back against an approaching corruption. Players will forage for items, brew potions, and use that to fight back against the evil of the land. As a concept, it sounds intriguing and the graphics are good. Battling the evil forces makes the player wonder what they’ll find.
The problem is The Serpent Rogue runs into a couple of rather big problems. The first is that without any tutorial it can be hard for players to understand what they are doing, and even once that’s understood, how to use many items is kept from the player. Even just understanding how to use a potion correctly can confuse new players. The second problem is that maps don’t appear to reset, so if a large boss or a strong enemy chases you to the exit, returning through that same portal will immediately put you against that same enemy. There’s possibly a way, but again, there’s nothing to tell you how to deal with that. A final issue is that I’ve heard that this game can be rather short, and while there’s a lot to explore the main story is only a handful of hours.
Pick this up if you want an obtuse survival game. It has traces of Don’t Starve in it, but ultimately, I couldn’t enjoy this game and I couldn’t even begin to understand it. This is a game where you are better off turning to a walkthrough or a guide before you even start, and that’s not a good experience in my opinion.
And that’s what I have this month… literally, usually, I slip into a Humble Games Collection, but there’s nothing new this month, and while Archvale is worth checking out, I already covered that in the past, so let’s talk about the bundle itself.
It’s Doom, seriously, this is a major freaking bundle, just because of that one title, and people have been requesting it for a long time, well here it is. You don’t get the Doom Eternal DLC with the bundle, but you do get two coupons for 60 percent off, meaning you can get each DLC for 8 dollars, that’s not a great deal but if you want the game and DLC, you can have it for under 30 bucks.
That being said, I still think this is a solid bundle outside of Doom Eternal, there are a few high-value games, let’s take a quick look at isthereanydeal.com.
It’s kind of impressive that none of these games have been bundled before. Now the current price is extremely low, but I did pull these numbers on the final day of The Steam Winter Sale, I expect that number to probably double if not more, as you can see many of those games are over 70 percent off currently.
I put a link for isthereanydeal.com in the description if you want to see the current prices.
The one game that wasn’t cheaper than the price of the bundle is OlliOlli World… Well I think anyone who bought the game three weeks ago at 26 dollars for the Rad Edition feels pretty foolish, and yet he’s admitting it here on a Youtube video so … yeah exactly three weeks.
The one other thing I have to mention is there are two sets of games that feel almost paired, The Serpent Rogue and Tribes of Midgard are both scavenging games though different. A more similar pair is Grow and Hokko Life which is both about city building. It’s strange but I think the difference in the game quality stands out a lot more when placed next to each other. Hopefully, that at least explains what I’m about to do.
Let’s get to the tier list, four categories, Full Bundle, Strong contenders, Average, and then misses… and yeah…
The bottom of the Misses is The Serpent Rogue. I struggle with this game, and I’m sure like every game someone will love it. The art is good, but the gameplay here frustrated me to the point that I have 0 interest in returning, and would not recommend it to anyone. It reminded me of Cultist Simulator, and like that game, I’m willing to say I may have missed something, but I also would question, shouldn’t the game have taught me or shown me what I was missing?
Speaking of, the other game in Misses is Grow: Song of the Evertree. I went back to this game for an extra 30 minutes, and I still was bored by it. We’ll talk about another city manager game soon, but this one just does everything to make the player hate the gameplay loop in the first couple of hours. Gathering in games can be fun, why does the developer hate fun?
That’s the tier list after two games, and as I said, if it wasn’t for their matched sets, maybe they wouldn’t end up here, but I dislike both of those titles, it’s probably me, but I’m the one in control of the list, and there they go.
The Average Tier also has two titles. The first is Encased: A Sci-fi Post-Apocalyptic RPG. This might be a very slow burn, but the first hour had barely anything that hooked me as a player, granted the premise of the Dome is interesting, but then there’s a very slow methodical tutorial that just didn’t get me going. Still might be worth it for fans of the original Fallout.
The other game in the Average Tier is Conan Chop Chop. I enjoyed playing this but I enjoyed it because of who I played it with and not necessarily the game, and I question if I would enjoy the game as much playing it solo. I doubt it mostly due to the high difficulty level, and a gameplay loop that feels the same for every enemy. Though if you do have some couch co-op going on, this would be significantly higher.
I didn’t even talk about what’s best in life. To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women!
And here’s how the Tiers look at the halfway point, we still have four more games to go, and the good news is the Strong Contenders only have a single title.
The Strong Contender is Hokko Life. I’m not going to act like most people will enjoy this, but for the right person, this is a slam dunk. That chill vibe from Animal Crossing exists here, and I wouldn’t mind returning to this game and seeing what else it has up its sleeves. As I said, this is the lazy river of gaming, but I also think lazy rivers are the best way to relax.
This leaves us with three games worth the Full Bundle price… The first is Tribes of Midgard. I loved the gameplay here, and I’m ready to return and play even more. Especially if I can get a couple of people together, I’d love to explore this world. I still think this game could be taken down the wrong road by the publishers or developers and try to squeeze money out of fans, but until that happens, it’s worth the price.
The second game worth the Full Bundle price is Doom Eternal. Yeah, I’m not a fan, I won’t play this again. Been there, done that, made a 27-minute video on it… and yet, if I was given the option to forget everything about it I still might replay the game. If you haven’t played this entry, you still should check it out if you’re a fan of Doom. About half of Doom Eternal players think it’s the best, and half prefer Doom 2016. Make up your own opinion.
And my favorite game this month, OlliOlli World. The style, the difficulty, the controls, and the gameplay here are all perfect. The ability to beat a level to progress, or turn around and try to master each level makes this game shine. There’s a ton to do here for completionists, and it still has a nice tight gameplay loop for people who just want to do some simple skateboard platforming. I’m looking forward to playing more right after I finish this video.
And that’s what I have for the tier list. Maybe I’m being too harsh but I thought a lot about this ranking and I’m pretty happy with where it is now. Let me know what you think about the titles, or what you think 2023 might bring us in future Humble Choices.
Just remember as of right now this is the best humble choice of the year… and the worst so far in 2023.
Speaking of 2023, I have another video ready to go. In two weeks, I’ll be doing the Best of 2022, talking about the games I played last year, and of course, I’ll be crowning the best Humble Choice game and month. Let me know which titles you enjoyed in 2022 and try to guess mine.
If you’re curious about that video and haven’t already subscribed, you know what to do, and ring that bell so you can be the first to see that list. Game Pass videos are officially over, but I do have a few other things I’m working on, though I will be taking a bit of a break and focusing only on Humble for a couple of months.
I’ll be popping up two videos here, including my video on Doom Eternal if you want to see my in-depth thoughts on that one.
See you next time.
One thought on “Humble Choice January 2023 Review – Starting the year with a “hell” of a game.”
As someone who enjoys gaming, I appreciate the effort you’ve put into reviewing the Humble Choice January 2023 titles. It’s great to see that you’ve taken the time to play each game for an hour on stream and offer insights on who might enjoy each game. Your review approach is both informative and engaging, and I look forward to seeing more of your reviews in the future. Keep up the good work!