Humble Choice May 2023 Review – A rougher month than usual

I’m Kinglink and it’s May fourth as I record this, so May the fourth be with you, and it’s time for the Humble Choice May 2023 Review. 

This month we have 8 titles, an interesting list, let’s just say that for now.  I’ve played each game for an hour on stream, and now let’s talk about which games are worth checking out, which games should be skipped, and who will enjoy each title. 

Let’s just get started with what’s on the screen. 

Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters.  X-COM in the Warhammer universe. 

I’ve struggled to get into the Warhammer lore, especially the 40k universe.  But I’ll tell you straight out that  Warhammer 40k has amazing style, and Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters consistently is impressive with its art, characters, armory, and weapons.  There’s also a major conflict on display here with what feels like high odds.  The game plays very similarly, perhaps too similarly to X-COM but the style fits and you’ll play as the commander leading units into a tactical battle against demons. 

The downside is this is still very Warhammer based, and I’m sure it goes deeper into the backstory over time.  The story throws out terms and expects the player to just understand them.  The gameplay so far is just X-COM, though apparently, they removed the chance to miss a target.   An odd issue is the difficulty can’t be changed after starting the game, which in the case of at least a 30-hour game, makes me hesitant to challenge myself. 

Pick this up if you like Warhammer 40k, and X-COM.  It’s the same game as X-COM, with some tweaks.  Overall that’s a good thing, but there are a few X-COM titles that I’d put over this if I wasn’t a Warhammer fan, especially the Enemies Unknown and 2.  I might even put Phoenix Point higher but it’s a question of the theme you want.   This game does look good. 

Spiritfarer: Farewell Edition.  A Beautiful tale. 

Spiritfarer is gorgeous.  Every moment I was staring at this game I was amazed.  Whether it was the obscenely playful-looking dog, the amazing character designs, the beautiful tranquil world, or even the strange creatures I’ve already found, this is just a feast for the eyes.  

The game itself is about Charon giving his power to a girl and a dog, and they become ferrymen for the dead.     This sounds like a downer but in the first hour, it’s surprisingly serene and peaceful.  I know it’s going to be emotional, but there’s an uplifting feeling here.  The movement, animation, and gameplay so far all work together and produce a unique and impressive game. 

I, however, don’t know if there’s going to be a hard challenge, this is supposed to be a nice experience and does have a bit of resource management going on so far, but I assume you can’t make too many mistakes here. 

Pick this up if you want something beautiful,  This is just so impressive and the gameplay feels like something that stands out.  This game got a lot of attention, and it’s easy to see why.  It’s over 20 hours long from what I hear, and I’m already looking forward to returning to this after the video.

Bendy and the Dark Revival.  Bioshock and horror which together creates a problem. 

Bendy and the Dark Revival is the second in the series and the first we’ve seen in Humble Choice.  It’s a survival horror game set in a Walt Disney-esque studio.  At first, it has a decent number of jump scares, which is perhaps not great, but a form of horror.  The level design is interesting, and while it would have been nice to use more color, it’s a stylistic decision to go black and white or rather brown and black.  The story has some interesting thoughts but also a few stumbling blocks, like an evil character that isn’t even hiding it.

The problem is after about thirty minutes, players grab a wrench.  Horror games have this problem where they give weapons to the player, and suddenly players are in a power fantasy, that happens here.  But worse, this uses Bioshocks rules, so players can infinitely revive if they die… as long as they don’t die to the Ink Demon, which will instantly kill the player.  The problem though is the minute I learned both of these facts, I didn’t fear either the Ink Demon or the normal enemies and was able to melee the latter to death.  It’s hard to be afraid of much in this game.  Also, it feels like the story here has links to the first game, but without playing that or having it, I’m at a loss.

Pick this up if you’re already a Bendy fan.  If you have the first game, this might be for you, but as a new fan, instead of being afraid or impressed, I was more angry.  This game squanders two great ideas of a horror game or a game similar to Bioshock and instead feels like it’s unable to properly do either since it’s doing both.  Even running and hiding lack purpose because players can just duck into a vent and get away from almost anything.

Operation: Tango.  An online co-op spy game. 

Operation: Tango is similar to the We Were Here series.  Two players try to complete spy missions in enemy territory.  One player will be a field operative, and the other plays a hacker, though both characters will have a variety of tasks that they will need to collaborate on to work their way through each mission.   The game requires online play but only needs one copy of the game and the expectation is the only communication between the players is verbal, with no way to see each other’s screens. 

Operation: Tango should be played by friends, random players won’t be as good for this.  But a bigger problem is that Operation: Tango is a single experience.  Once players get through the entire game, the same experience won’t be as special.  I forgot to record footage, and this is the second playthrough of the same level.  Even swapping characters didn’t change the experience.  There are only 6 missions and while there are ten additional challenges in a new free DLC, this isn’t the longest experience.   

Pick this up if you have someone to play with, if you get the game, this is enjoyable, and with the right partner, it’s something else.  The reason I forgot to record the footage was that I was having an amazing time playing the game, but we also got through two out of the six original missions already, so, as I said, it’s not going to be that long. 

Windjammers 2.  An Arcade Sports game, a sequel to the original. 

On Neo-Geo, there was an interesting game called Windjammers where players would fling a disc back and forth to score points.  Windjammers 2 came out of nowhere reviving a game that had a cult following.   This is like a HD remake of the original, now with online play, and the same arcade mode.

Did you notice I didn’t say they made it better?   This feels very much like a remake of the original, and I’m sure fans of both might be able to point to different pieces, such as four new characters and such.  However, they also are the target audience.  This game doesn’t have a good tutorial, amounting to about 20 static images.  The Main game is just a line of battles with three difficulties, where nothing is explained when you reach the bonus games, and online is just play against an opponent and that’s it.   The problem is there is enough strategy to the game that it could have used a small tutorial mode, but it’s clear the developer made this a very bare-bones experience, perhaps because if it wasn’t trial and error, it would be even more straightforward.

Pick this up if you want to play a sports game against friends.  The computer is way too good at the game, but also, playing through the game against the CPU will only take 30 minutes once you’re good enough.  This is meant to be played against other players and online had only 5 players when I started the game.  Play this in local mode, or maybe just play something else.  

Builder Simulator.  A perfect example of why the simulator genre is both good and bad.

Builder Simulator has players taking on the role of a one-man construction company and working on houses.   It’s a concept that has been done before, but with accessible controls, a large variety of tools, and good-level design, Builder Simulator is solid.  The levels start small and grow in the size of projects, there’s also a sandbox and at least 16 contracts in the game. 

But there’s a promise of more to come, which I don’t know if the developers will deliver on.  The third level made players repeat the second level, the fourth level just did the same as the third but made it even longer.  It’s an interesting concept for a game, but it quickly becomes filled with busy work, which admittedly is what making a building is.  However it’s repetitive and I don’t know how much content there is here, or how long it will continue to get updates.   

Also, this is the same company as Train Station Renovation which is a title I like, but it’s also one that was better in small doses, thirty minutes to an hour at a time, and this game gives the same feelings already. 

Pick this up if you like laid-back simulator games.  This is a good concept but it’s also one that will probably only last a couple hours.  Even if it’s much longer, it’s going to be like House Flipper, or Lawn Mower Simulator with a lot of grinding, not that it’s awful at that, but there are so many simulator games out there, and this one just feels average.   I still expect to play more just out of that casual interest. 

Behind the Frame: The Finest Scenery.  A beautifully told hour-long story.

Behind the Frame is gorgeous, there are beautiful animated scenes that will play along with a solid point-and-click puzzle game that’s pretty reasonable in difficulty.  There are a ton of a-ha moments.  There’s also an interesting narrative being told here, where… honestly, I’m not sure exactly what the story is. I’ve heard three different interpretations from what I took away, and I’m quite glad that the game doesn’t give a firm answer, but is left open to the player to understand. 

That being said, I’m already done with Behind the Frame and finished in that first hour.  That’s short, reminding me of games like Gorogoa, but also like Gorogoa, this is a beautiful experience, and it’s touching to the point where I’d consider replaying it, especially with the story that may need a second playthrough to consider. 

Pick this up if you want a beautiful art-filled game.  This is unique in several ways, and the puzzles are solid.  While the game is short, this is a title I’ll probably think about for some time.  In that way, it reminds me of Her Story, a game that I love, but also will just sit around considering the story.  Behind the Frame is short but memorable. 

The Invisible Hand.  Being a stock trader, only here you can’t lose. 

The Invisible Hand is another Simulator game, this time it’s the stock market.  You are supposed to compete against other stock traders, because… reasons, but all you’re doing is day trading and while the game starts hectic, it’s pretty relaxed for the most part, even having the ability to drink tea to slow down time or coffee to speed it up.  The controls are pretty simple to learn, and the game has nice shortcuts so you can just click on the names of items to get to the correct sheets. 

But man, everything here feels like a cheap simulator game.  The models feel like they’re straight out of an asset store.  The characters make an annoying sound to the point where I would have preferred silence, there are a few clever lines but nothing important is ever said.  In the first hour of gameplay, the game makes it blatantly easy to make money, it tells you which stock is going to go up, and when.  It gives your “hints” with indicators telling you whether it’s real or not.  There’s almost no challenge whatsoever, and I think I’m almost halfway through the game.  I’m at the third level out of probably four or five. 

Pick this up if… Honestly, I wouldn’t pick this up.  There’s a game called Space Warlord Organ Trading Simulator that’s equally short, but at least that one has some fresh ideas. There are a lot of good economic trading games, but The Invisible Hand is just too easy and cheap to be worth the time.   I’d probably recommend skipping this and looking into something with a focus on economics, maybe Offworld Trading Company, or god, I can’t believe I’m saying this but Capitalism 2.  Yeah, those aren’t about sitting at a desk day trading stocks, but nothing is interesting here about that either. 

Also, there are swears in this game, but honestly, you just shouldn’t pick it up anyway.

And that’s the games for May.  Man, I hate ending on a game like this. 

So like always we’ll start with how the value of the bundle stack up, and the answer depends on what you’re interested in.  First off Spiritfarer isn’t on that list possibly due to a small name change, but it is going for 7 dollars on Steam until the 11th, if it’s already back to full price and that’s all you want, the next Steam sale will probably have it at the same price. 

Warhammer has never been below 12 dollars, and Windjammer also hasn’t hit that price, but I will mention it has been on Xbox Game Pass, though I believe it no longer is.  Behind the Frame and The Invisible Hand are both pretty cheap.  On average the prices aren’t bad but there are only a few standouts here. 

This is also true for this bundle.  This is probably the weakest month I’ve covered in a long time.  And yeah, I might have lower opinions overall, but there’s not a strong anchor this month.   I usually find a few games I’m happy to own, and while I did enjoy three of them, even in hindsight I probably only would have picked one. 

I will call out that there isn’t a rogue-lite, which feels fresh, but also might be a way I want to go with my channel, that’s not a negative though.  However, there are a couple of multiplayer games which are both refreshing and will upset some people.

Speaking of those multiplayer games, I want to bring up one other thing before we go to the tier lists.  In the bundle, there’s a coupon for 45 percent off Operation: Tango… the game in the bundle?  What?  Not only do you not need a second copy of the game, but the coupon makes the game eleven dollars, which is one dollar cheaper than the bundle.   Why would anyone take that deal?  Seriously?   And worse, if you only wanted Operation: Tango, it’s currently going for eight dollars and fifty-five cents on Steam. 

With that said, let’s talk about the tiers. Four tiers, Misses, Average title, Strong Contenders for the cost of the bundle, and games worth the Full Bundle price.  Remember I’m not talking comparatively against other stores but which games are worth 12 dollars on their own, and we’re using my opinions, yours can differ, that’s why we have youtube comments. 

With that said, we start in the basement with a miss.  We’re going back to look at The Invisible Hand.  This one gives me no joy.  I could beat this game in maybe two or three hours with no difficulty from the looks of it, but also there’s nothing here that interested me.  This is one of the worst simulators I have ever played.

And we’ll move to the average tier, starting with the bottom which is Bendy and the Dark Revival.  I’m sure this game has fans, every game does but this one just didn’t excite me, and it’s mixing a game I love in Bioshock with a genre I hate, but it feels like it’s a pair of mismatched puzzle pieces more than a singular experience. 

Next up in the Average tier, we have Builder Simulator.  This isn’t necessarily a bad game, it just doesn’t stand out or warrant a ton of attention.  I’ll return, I’ll play it for 30 minutes and then I’ll go play something else.  It’s just too repetitive to dive deep on, and there’s a limit to the amount of content on it right now. 

And at the top of the Average tier is Windjammers 2.  This is the second time I tried to play this, and within 45 minutes I had my fill.  Granted maybe playing local head-to-head will be more enjoyable but there are so many games I could do that in, and I doubt I’d pick this up over so many others.

And here’s how the tier list looks after four games, we have four more to go, and those are of course the ones I enjoyed more.  

Let’s get started with the Strong Contenders.  At the bottom of this tier is Operation: Tango.  I enjoyed playing this with my daughter, and will probably keep playing.  It’s only 6 missions which is probably what holds it back, but also this was a very unique title to play through, and if you have a second player that you can team up with online this will be even better.

The top of the Strong Contenders is Behind the Frame.  I love this game, I intentionally finished it, and while I can go play the DLC, and chase a few achievements, just the experience here felt exceptional, and man, that artwork is just consistently great.     I’d much prefer 8 one hour titles if they all hit this bar, though not many do.

And this is what we have with just the final two games to go.  So let’s see which order they’ll be in.  

The bottom of the Full Bundle tier is Warhammer 40,000: Chaos Gate – Daemonhunters.  There’s a reason this game is here, it’s a large X-COM-style battler, and it’s well designed.  This could be worse, but the art design stands out, and the gameplay is tight.  If you’re not a Warhammer fan this will likely be weaker, and technically I’m not in that fandom, but I can respect a well-designed title. 

And the top of the Full Bundle price is the game I’m most happy to have in my collection.  It’s Spiritfarer.  This is a beautiful, enjoyable, relaxed, chill, long title.  There’s just so much here to love, and I’m excited to get started playing this weekend.  It’s again the character designs that stand out, but also a question of where the game will go, and how the gameplay will work.  I’m looking forward to finding out. 

And that’s what I have for this month, now I know I said this is one of the weakest months and I still believe it.  Yes if I put it next to another month it probably is the same tier levels, but the tier list tries not to focus on the price.  Once you factor in the price, how many people are excited about each title, and more, you might be able to see why I’m so down on this list. 

On the other hand, you probably disagree with me, so let me know what you think in the comments, or feel to suggest how to differentiate the best and the worst month or what metric you use to decide that. 

Now whether you agree with me or not, I will bring up one other bundle. I’ve been trying to do this just to give people an option and there’s a fantastic one right now, it is called the Feel the Rhythm bundle, and inside is 7 rhythm games.  They look good, I have heard people excited about Trombone Champ, and I think No Straight Roads got a lot of attention but for me, I didn’t know about Beat Hazard 3, and now own it.  I’ve somehow found an hour to play during this hectic week and it’s a great improvement.  Still Early access, but they have a new galaxy mode in which you can explore a nebula of your favorite music, artists, genres, or whatever.   I believe that bundle ends on May 17th, so you might have time to check it out. 

Before we go I have a short rant, I recorded this on May fourth. There’s a new Star Wars game out, which had a previous title, which would be perfect for the bundle, and … it’s not here. What were you thinking, Humble?  Come on, that advertisement just writes itself!   Ugh, oh well. 

With that said, I’m thinking making another video this month, like I said, maybe rogue-lite related, it’s something I’ve been toying with a bit so if you’re curious, consider subscribing.  It’s not a title I’ve talked about before.    Leave a like, a dislike, a comment, and share the video, all of that helps. 

If you want to see more from me, check out one of the videos on screen. 

See you next time, oh, and happy Cinco de Mayo… belated or otherwise. 

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