Humble Choice April 2023 Review – Major headliners

Sorry about the late post on this, I just realized it wasn’t sent out. New review in a couple hours.

I’m Kinglink and it’s a little bit after April Fools, we made it through another year of those unfunny jokes as well as Sonic being murdered.  But that just means it’s time for the Humble Choice April 2023 Review.  

This month has a ton of major titles and lots to talk about.  As always I played each game on stream for about an hour, and now I can tell you what each game is about, how they feel and who should check them out.  

We have a completely bizarre game to start us off, so without further ado, let’s get to it. 

Death Stranding Director’s Cut.  A true walking simulator. 

Hideo Kojima is probably best known for Metal Gear Solid.  After Leaving Konami he created Death Stranding, a brand-new and strange game.  A few years after that he released the Director’s Cut which has a decent amount of new content, including new missions, cutscenes, abilities, and areas.   Death Stranding is a unique game telling a Kojima-tier story about a post-apocalyptic world.   

It’s hard to explain why the game is good without explaining the story, and that story is filled with important secrets, so this is a game to tackle a bit blind  On the other hand the gameplay is a mixture of exploration and walking which probably will sound odd but is strangely compelling 

There are two issues I feel are important for Death Stranding. The first is that while there are tons of different things to do, the core of the game is getting from point A to B, and many people complained about the lack of combat in the game.  The other is that while this has a great crazy Kojima-tier story, the story and gameplay often feel disjointed, almost like they could have come from different games.  But if you enjoy both it won’t be as big of an issue. 

Pick this up if you want the usual Kojima insanity, this man tells stories that are unique and oftentimes brilliant but also challenging and they will take a lot of thought.  If you ever find yourself wanting to go for a long beautiful walk, Death Stranding will be there for you as well.  But I’ll also be honest if it wasn’t for Kojima’s name, I don’t think this game would have sold as well.  Even with all that, I still heavily enjoy this title, but it’s not going to be for everyone. 

Aliens: Fireteam Elite.  Left 4 Dead with the Aliens franchise. 

Aliens is a pretty major movie franchise.  Xenomorphs are some of the deadliest and scariest life forms shown on film.  H. R. Geiger did an incredible job bringing them to life.  But you wouldn’t know that if this was the first game you played.   Instead of a scary deadly enemy, you’re mowing down hundreds of xenomorphs per level, and slaughtering them left and right.   This isn’t an Alien movie, it’s a Left 4 Dead clone where zombies are replaced by xenomorphs, though they do climb on walls and leap at the player.

The thing is, I played this for Xbox Game Pass for at least three to four hours. I’ve played another hour here, I even partnered up with someone on stream, thanks Royal, and I still don’t enjoy this.  It’s a looter shooter, where your gear’s stats will matter.  You’ll mow down enemies all the time, except if you are under-leveled and then you’ll get swarmed instead.  The levels all feel very similar, with only a couple of set pieces that stand out, and while franchise’s setting can be good, the combat and gameplay aren’t.  It also doesn’t help that if you wipe, you’ll go back to the beginning of a level, which is about thirty minutes of effort. 

Pick this up if you like the Aliens franchise and can forgive them for being turned into fodder.   I killed at least 150 enemies in this level as did both of the other characters.  That’s 450 xenomorphs killed in about 30 minutes?  That’s kind of an insane number, isn’t it? Truthfully I don’t know, Google Bard and Chat GPT say the most that were killed in a single movie was maybe 150.  I’ll be honest, I’m not a huge fan of this franchise, it’s the first one that made me terrified of horror movies, but if you want a looter shooter with a zombie horde of xenomorphs that you can mow down with friends, this is absolutely for you.  Everyone else probably can skip it. 

Rollerdrome.  Tony Hawk with guns, it’s a common thing to call this, but you’ll see why.

Rollerdrome has players competing in a new game format where they rollerblade around, shoot enemies, and do tricks to earn additional ammo.  The movement and trick system heavily reminds me of the Tony Hawk Pro Skater franchise, and the combat adds in a slow-down mechanic and a combo mechanic for the score.  Each level is well designed but focused on an arena-style landscape, and has 10 unique challenges for completionists as well as a ranking system for those who want to chase the leaderboards. 

I have heard this isn’t the longest game, with people putting in around four to twelve hours depending on how much players want to tackle.  The shooting will force purists who just want to do extreme sports to tackle something different, and the required tricks for reloading may frustrate shooter fans, but if you exist at that sweet spot between those two genres, this will feel like nothing else.  It’s a fresh and novel idea, and well executed. 

Pick this up if you want to play Tony Hawk with guns.  There’s a reason that’s what people say about this game, but that’s also what’s brilliant about it, it’s a simple concept that works so well and is obvious enough that it can be summed up in a single line.  I’ve played for about two to three hours on this already and I just want to come back and play more.   I’m hopeful we’ll also see a sequel to it with larger and more variety in their levels.  Also, this is made by the same team who did Olli Olli World, so kudos to those developers.  It’s another game that’s just brilliant. 

Life is Strange 2: Complete Season.  A dated,  flawed, but interesting piece of fiction. 

Life is Strange 2 is a story about a pair of brothers who have to find their way together.  It’s about two Hispanic teens who are on the run, and where their life takes them.  This is a Telltale-style narrative with great main characters and an interesting story, most of the time.  There are interactions and the story does take players’ choices into account for how the journey goes, even if the ending is predetermined.  

The original Life is Strange was amazing, as was the prequel, and True Colors is a worthy heir to the franchise.  But there’s one game in this franchise that I don’t give as much praise for, obviously, it’s this one.  I’ll say it again, the main characters are brilliantly written just like all the others, especially with that style of teenage writing that most games miss.  Yet, the antagonists, villains and so many characters here feel one-dimensional or just mustache-twirling, which harms the narrative when the game has to kick the player forward with these weak characters.  

I also feel that the game is a bit dated in a lot of ways, it’s talking about America in 2018, but at times it feels as far removed as the 1950s, especially with as heavy-handed as the story goes at times.

Pick this up if you enjoy good stories.  I know I just kind of said the opposite, but the thing is Life is Strange is a good series and there are points of Life is Strange 2 that are just as good as previous games, it’s just not as consistent.  At full price I gave this game a 6/10, I still stand by that, but in this bundle, it would be a far better deal and maybe you’ll enjoy it more than I did. 

As a little note, there is some coarse language, and drug use here. The teenage characters feel realistic, but if you’re looking for a clean game, this one isn’t it.

The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante.  A slow, dark story-based adventure.

The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante is a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure.  There’s a little more strategy than a typical visual novel, stat-based choices, and relationship systems, but as I played the game I remembered all those times I picked up a Choose-Your-Own-Adventurebook and picked a bunch of different options to work my way through the story.  Sir Brante does the same thing with more stats and stories.  This also is a dark story, in a rather troubled time.

The problem is I dislike how heavy-handed the story is.  A good story usually gives players hope before dashing it in front of them, but in Sir Brante, everything is bad.  The world is pain and suffering and then more pain and suffering.  Hell, your grandfather might just kill you early on because…. reasons.  This is made by a Russian studio and Russian literature tends to be darker and depressing but man this was a bit frustrating because rather than give the player happiness and steal it, this is just a pain for most of the game so far. 

Pick this up if you like story-based games, there’s no voice acting, and most of the game is just flipping through pages and making choices.  If you can get over the dark, dreary story there are interesting choices, and gameplay, but there’s also a feeling that you may be min-maxing your results, more than enjoying a story.  You can disable the game from displaying those results but that’s not the intended way to play the game. 

Monster Prom 2: Monster Camp.  Great, now I want to sleep with a monster.

This is my first time playing a Monster Prom game.  In this, you have a short time to get to know different characters, build your stats up and pass challenges to potentially get to choose your romantic mate and hopefully get them to view a meteor storm with you.  The entire game is randomized so you’ll see different stories every time you play, and with only about 15 scenes per playthrough, over 300 scenes, and four different results for most of them, you’ll be playing a very long time if you like the writing. 

And oh boy, that writing.  Some snippets were tamer than others, but then there are those which… My god, this game is saucy as hell.  I thought I was making a sexual joke on stream, and the game didn’t just one-up me but went far deeper and more perverted.  There’s swearing, dirty situations, and absolute insanity in the writing.  I’m a huge fan of this, but my mind is almost permanently in the gutter.  This is something else though. 

Pick this up if you want to… date monsters, and probably a bit more than dating.  Also, if you want a weird wild ride with the writing you’ve seen on the screen and a decent amount of content to discover.  This is definitely for you. I’m considering trying out Monster Prom and playing more of this because it just gets me. 

Revita.  A twin-stick shooter with a big update coming.

Revita is a solid twin-stick shooter where players will platform and mostly dodge enemy attacks, even getting to a bit of the bullet hell style.  Players will navigate through a massive tower earning upgrades and bonuses, as well as purchasing them with their life force.  It’s an interesting twist but it feels like the only major thing that stands out here.  Though at the core is a solid and interesting title with tons of secrets and unlockables. 

After the first hour, I’m still unlocking functionality, so it’s not clear how much more there is, though there’s still a lot of room in the base.  One issue I find is that the upgrades so far don’t feel that amazing, every item feels like a safe bet in another game, and nothing stands out that much yet.  

Pick this up if you need another rogue-lite, I keep saying this and it’s still true.  This is interesting, though there is a rather major upgrade on the horizon, something the developer has called 2.0, and if you want to try that out it’s already on the beta branch, but after trying that out for 10 minutes it feels better but it won’t completely change the game, mostly fixing up major complaints and issues the fan base has had.

Founders’ Fortune.  The Sims with more resource management. 

Founders’ Fortune has players managing a colony by moving characters around and assigning them tasks.  In many ways, this reminds me of the Sims, though a lesser version of that.  At the same time though, rather than working a job, players will have to manage a ton of resources and their characters’ happiness, which will allow them to grow their colony by inviting new people into it. 

The first hour though hasn’t made me want to continue.  There’s a decent level of micromanagement here, but also where the Sims allow players to live out a different life, this feels like a typical crafting or survival game where the whole point is to amass as many resources as you can to build out a base.  It’s an interesting idea but never felt exciting, especially with randomized wishes and desires

Pick this up if you want a version of the Sims but don’t want to buy it from EA. It’s a unique idea, I’ve heard people compare it to Rimworld, but it also just feels a bit cheap and lacking a significant level of polish.  The tutorials for example just go to an HTML page, and the gameplay feels lacking.

And that’s the bundle.  Before we dive into the full list, I’ll do my usual and bring up that once again more games are being removed from the Humble Game Collection.  Archvale and Fae Tactics are leaving in the middle of April, but now Into the Pit and Crying Suns are leaving too.  Again, I don’t know what the purpose was for the Humble Game Collection, but it feels like it’s falling apart, and shows the problem with trying to compete with Xbox Game Pass, in that you constantly need new games to replace those that are leaving.

With that out of the way let’s talk about the value of the bundle, and this month it’s not bad.   3 games have never been cheaper than 12 bucks even on their best day.  Life is Strange is listed at 0, but that’s due to it having the first episode for free, it’s usually going for around 12 dollars during the Steam Sale as best I can find.  

Also if you have the original version of Death Stranding you could upgrade for 10 dollars which isn’t on this list.  There is a problem with that upgrade, and a work around that feels a bit janky, I’ll post the link to how that works in the description. 

The games themselves were enjoyable, and I’ve found a few new games that I’m dying to get back to.  I do find it odd there’s a weird connection, with both Monster Camp and Sir Brante as they are both visual novel-esque games with stat systems but that’s the way these things go, and then there’s also Life is Strange 2 for another story based game, if you’re a fan of those that’s not a bad combo. 

Let’s go to the tier lists and I’ll say this month I again ignore the prices and just am telling how I feel about each title.  We have games worth the Full Bundle, Strong Contenders, Average games, Misses… 

And we’re going to use that last category a bit.  We start with Aliens: Fireteam Elite, I know some people enjoy this but it’s just such a mediocre looter shooter that takes one of the best monsters and makes them into fodder.  I’d rather go play Aliens: Isolation, Left 4 Dead, Back 4 Blood, and Deep Rock Galactic, and that’s just games I’m thinking of off the top of my head.  I really can’t recommend this. 

The other miss is Founder’s Fortune.  It’s an interesting idea, and maybe with a lot more polish this would work, but it feels like there’s a tutorial missing, glitches, and just a rough outline of how to make the game enjoyable.  It’s as if they chose the worst part of Sims and mixed it with the worst part of Survival games.

Next up we have the Average games, and I’m going to start with Life is Strange 2.  Playing this game does remind me why I love the series, but I still also remember how much I didn’t enjoy this title, I gave a 6/10, and I still stand by that score.  I just wish they put True Colors or Before the Storm in the Bundle, or even the remasters.

The other average game is The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante.  This might be better as you play more, but man, I don’t want to return.  Even though I love story books, the depressing writing, and the fact everyone feels like an unlikeable character got to me.  It feels like there’s no hope available to players which makes me struggle with this title, but I do feel like it’s on the cusp. 

And after two tiers, we have four games down at the bottom already.  But there are still four to go, so where will they land…

The strong contender, yes just one, is Revita.  I’m going to base this off the hope that the 2.0 patch will fix a lot of people’s complaints, it does feel solid and I got decently far in one run before my general suckitude showed up and made me struggle.  There’s probably a lot more to unlock as well, so there’ll be quite a bit to explore in the game. 

And we’ll just continue onwards for the games worth the full bundle price, at the bottom of which is Monster Camp.  Yeah, it’s currently cheaper than the bundle but I’m also considering picking up the newest game because I liked the writing here.  This makes me wonder if Monster Camp is hitting me like Homestuck hits its fans if you remember that title.  Either way, I’m going to be investing a lot of time into this.  

The middle title in the Full Bundle prices is Rollerdrome.  I grew up with Tony Hawk, I love those titles, and now someone put a shooter into the middle of it.  Truthfully I bought this title before this bundle came out and have no problem with this. This is a great title, and it’s clear why everyone was talking about it just last year.

This leaves just one title, and of course, that is Death Stranding.  It’s the biggest, and most expensive game this month but it’s that story that makes me want to revisit this title. I’m probably going to hold off until the sequel is almost upon us for a second playthrough but I can easily tell people to give this title a shot if they haven’t before.  It’s unique and often brilliant, but also completely bizarre.  If you haven’t understood all the cutscenes I’ve shown you for the game… don’t worry you’re not alone, but that’s also the type of roller coaster ride you’re signing up for with this title. 

And that’s what I have for this month.   I do think this is one of the strongest months though my ratings are all over the place, I’m sure some people will rave about Aliens: Fireteam Elite, or just get their money’s worth out of Life is Strange or Sir Brante.  Let me know what you think of these titles in the comments. 

If you’ve made it this far, thanks for watching and considering subscribing, it always helps out and lets you be one of the first to see my next video.  Liking, sharing and commenting also helps, as you know. 

I also want to bring up another video I put out about two classic titles, Final Fantasy IV and Final Fantasy VI.  If you’re interested in that video or know someone who would be, check it out. 

See you next time. 

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