Humble Monthly: September 2019

Entering around round of Asheron’s Call mania, there’s a passing fair chance I’ll stop being tempted by every new shiny that passes my way. For a little while at least. Although on reflection, I have actually been fairly good at not impulse purchasing as much stuff as I might normally of late. The last thing I bought was Remnant: From the Ashes and before that… I don’t even know, but it’s been a while!1

Anywho — August’s headline titles are now here, Squad and Save the Spire. Squad I’ll be keeping for myself, but Save the Spire I already own so I can gift the copy to my son. :)

As for next headliner for October?

October Headline Title

Battletech

Recent reviews put the title at ‘Mixed’ on Steam — from people upset about bugs still existing a year post launch, to tabletop players unhappy with some of the translated elements. It probably also doesn’t help that the DLC has been particularly well received, either.

I kickstarted Battletech on the strength of the devs work on the Shadowrun RPGs and for my part I have no regrets. As someone not intimately familiar with the Battletech TTRPG, I found this variant to still offer a depth of customisation and tactics in play. After the initial weeks I never ran into any further crashes or gamestopper bugs — and I’ve picked this up to play a few times since it came out.

Perhaps best of all, it is incredibly moddable with unofficial expansions and total game overhauls being released. So if you haven’t picked this up yet and turn based tactics games fit within your wheelhouse then this is an easy recommend within the context of the Humble Monthly, even if you end up liking nothing else in the bundle.

But that’s probably a good thing — given it is the sole revealed headliner at this stage!

Revealed Titles

For a wonder, I only own one of these already — Distance. Distance might actually have been my first early access style purchase. If it isn’t, it’s right back there. As to what it is? Well… ‘Stunt Racer’ only begins to explain it. I mean… Your car can fly. But layer on top of that too an actually interesting story reminiscent of Tron, as you race deeper into the core of a corrupted system with weirder and weirder artifacts of this corruption appearing as you go.

At times it borders on the feeling of a horror (although there is nothing particularly scary about it — maybe better to say it is good at creating a sense of tension in both story and gameplay).

Of the others, I’d be most interested in trying out Mothergunship. It’s an FPS-roguelike basically, with the gimmick of the game being the crafting of the most preposterous multibarrel weapons you can imagine.

“Don’t worry recruit, sometimes life just takes a few tries.” xD

God’s Trigger could potentially be interesting too — it’s a top down ARPG style thing, where the story seems at least at surface level copied inspired by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens. You play as an angel and a demon out to stop the apocalypse by ending the four horsemen. (Who are bikers.) … Yep.

That aside, it does look like a potential spot of fun — but I just don’t think it’ll bust high enough up the list of things I want to play on the backlog to see the light of day any time soon.

Humble Monthly: August 2019

The revealed titles were my last bastion of hope for value out of the August bundle. As noted last month I already owned both of the headliners — Kingdom Come: Deliverance and Surviving Mars. This was a bit worrying, given it has been some time now since the revealed titles provided anything I’d truly wanted.

I noted back in May that a large part of the value of Humble Monthly to me is the mini-Christmas effect it delivers, of opening a box of goodies and finding those things you had secretly — or perhaps not so secretly — been wishing for.

It had been a while since Humble Monthly had delivered that from the Revealed Titles, and was holding on as an active subscription by the power of the headliners alone.

At last, the trend of opening a present containing only underwear and socks has been busted. A small squee of excitement may even have been heard from my general vicinity. And better still, the headline titles for next month ain’t too bad either!

So let’s start with those.

September Headline Titles

Squad

Squad rates very well on Steam, and has been seeing a constant stream of fairly significant updates since it first made an appearance back in 2015. It’s been in my core gaming group’s ‘Will we, won’t we?’ list for quite some time.

Looks like ‘Will we’ wins, thanks to next month’s bundle!

If you haven’t crossed paths with Squad yet, it’s a military shooter that aims to fall somewhere in the middle of the difficulty/complexity curve of say, Call of Duty and ARMA. Conceptually this sounds an awesome niche to try carve out in the market, so I’m curious to see how well it achieves this and which end of the complexity spectrum it leans toward.

Slay the Spire

Deckbuilder Card Game meets Roguelike in some mutant lovechild of the two. If X-MEN taught us anything though, it’s that not all mutants are bad.

And this one certainly isn’t, although I will admit that the trailer might make it difficult to tell. It has the coveted ‘Overwhelmingly Positive’ rating on Steam, and for good reason. Sadly for me, I bought this in the last Steam sale. (Although after my initial purchase post, so it isn’t included in that list.)

But it does put me in position to say this thing is fantastic. It also recently came out on Switch which would be the perfect platform for this. The Humble Monthly pack will of course provide it for PC, but at the very least it might give you a taster to see whether the Switch version investment is worth it for you.

Revealed Titles

Ever wished your Metroidvania game had a little more… pinball in it? Wait, what do you mean ‘No’? Well, hopefully now that you’re thinking about it you can’t imagine anything better.1

Yoku’s Island express is this, and it looks fantastic. I’ve been close to pulling the trigger on purchasing it multiple times but has been exactly the sort of title I expected to eventually show up in the Humble Monthly. And here we are!

It’s another that I could see appreciating a lot on the Switch, actually. And if that’s you too — it is also out on that platform.

The others are of less interest to me, and less likely to see play time.

Rising Storm 2: Vietnam might though. It is from the Red Orchestra team, and sports 64 player online battles. It came out in 2017 though, so I’d have to take a squiz and see if there are any local and populated servers still.

The Adventure Pals and Almost There are both platformers. Adventure Pals wears its reference shamelessly on its sleeve across name, visual style and content, but for all that looks potentially the more appealing of the two. Almost There bills itself as a 100% dexterity based platformer, letting you have almost complete control over even aerial movement. It’s a low-fi but modern effects visual style which puts me in a mind of Geometry Dash a little.

Swords and Soldiers II is… well… It’s a sidescrolling RTS.

None of which the trailer adequately answered for me. So I had to turn to a let’s play.

Turns out this was originally on the Wii-u and didn’t garner a lot of attention there. More importantly from a gameplay perspective, RTS might well be overselling it. It appears that you cast skills and summon units essentially from a hotbar setup.

To the Humble Monthly Steam category graveyard, with ye then! ;D

Humble Monthly: July 2019

The June bundle was one of the few I paid for early in order to gain access to Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice early. I then ended up putting it aside most of the month anyway in favour of Moonlighters (also in the bundle).

I’ve now given Hellblade a try and oh my. I’ll almost certainly post more on it later, but even just up through the first major boss encounter (there is a choice on first actually, I went with Illusion)… Unmissable gaming experience I think.

Which makes it a either a shame, or of no importance — depending on the perspective you choose to take — that the rest of the month’s bundle is… Less than amazing.

But first, what’s been headlined for the coming bundle?

August Headline Titles

Kingdom Come: Deliverance

I invested a good number of hours into this when it came out early last year, but hoo boy it was rife with bugs. I’ve been keeping an eye on the patches that have since come to rectify the situation and it seems now might be a good time to give it a go.

If you don’t already own it, the humble bundle for the coming month is likely a really good bet.

Surviving Mars

Safe to say I won’t be paying early for this bundle. I own Surviving Mars already as well. It’s developed by the guys behind Tropico 5, but published by Paradox and seemingly following their DLC model. (I.e., early and often).

How much that bothers you is up to you. I find it makes it very difficult to get into their titles after they’ve been out in market a few years — but as a player who gets in early (and I’d still say that’s the case here) the frequent updates and adaptations to the gameplay is really quite appreciated and can extend the game’s lifespan well beyond normal.

Revealed Titles

OK, maybe I was a little rough in my opening. Mechanicus looks like it might actually be worth a look. Seems to be a Turn Based Tactics game ala XCOM. And what might surprise you — it certainly surprised me, being a licensed Warhammer game as it is — it has been well received and rated ‘Overwhelmingly Positive’ on Steam.

…I just didn’t think that happened for WH licensed games.

Anyway, Road Redemption is the remake of the old-school Road Rash. I feel that if you played the original this one is likely going to be an amazing nostalgia trip. But I didn’t. And this looks relatively unappealing me as a result, I think.

As for the others… eh. Love is Dead has a bit of a ‘cute’ premise I guess. Seperated by undeath as zombies, re-unite your family in a puzzler type environment. 60 Parsecs is a point and click adventure, which if done well can be right up my ally. This one is rated well — so I’m not saying it doesn’t — but the art style is quite a turn-off to me. And then NAIRI is a visual novel.

Humble Monthly: June 2019

For last month’s introduction, I spoke a bit about how there seemed to be less ‘quality’ titles willing to go into the Humble Monthly. Even though I was talking mostly about the non-headliners, I still had a bit of a giggle when CoD was revealed in that pack. ;)

Originally, the version of CoD to be included was to be the Battle edition, which includes the core multiplayer experience and the battle-royale mode ‘Blackout’, but not zombies. At some point over the month, this was upgraded to the standard edition — so Zombies ahoy!

July Headline Titles

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice

Legitimate excitement at seeing this included. It has been in my steam cart on multiple occasions, just never at a time when I was quite willing to indulge my impulse-purchase side over and above the possibly more rational, ‘But I have scores of games still untouched already!’ side.

I think I will have to make time for this one. Perhaps I can finish Nioh (incidentally, another Ninja Theory title As SpiderProvider correctly pointed out in the comments below, these are not from the same studio!) this month before the bundle lands.

Moonlighter

Moonlighter reminds me a great deal of Recettear in concept, although some of the execution looks quite different. You are a shopkeeper by trade, adventurer by night. With a bit of the social and town systems of Stardew Valley possibly thrown in there too.

Moonlighter recently had a ‘Switch’ announcement, which for this style of game is by far my preferred platform. Something about the style just lends itself so well to the more portable nature of the Switch. Plus I suppose when I’m at the PC I typically want to be playing something a little more demanding.

Even so, it’s another one I’m quite happy to receive and take a little look at, to see if I do want it on Switch. As unfortunately, titles there are typically much pricier than their PC counterparts.

Revealed Titles

911 Operator after a quick look actually seems like it could be pretty decent. It had never crossed my radar before, but it came out early 2017 and looks to have been fairly well received at the time. It has a nice touch of being able to download any city map in the world to play on. I wonder if it has some integration with Google Maps for this? In any case, not sure if it’ll surface to the top of my ‘want to play’ list sufficiently to find time for it, but it doesn’t look bad.

Duskers also looks interesting. This one had crossed my radar in the past, but I never quite pulled the trigger on purchase. It’s a game at least in part played through a command line console. … In spaaaaace. You’re in control of a series of drones, investigating a derelict ship. The crew is gone without a trace. Signs of damage throughout. Most of the power is down. But something is moving in there.

Of the revealed titles, those are the two most likely to get a look-in. The others will almost certainly be straight dumped to the ‘Humble Monthly – Never Played’ steam category. ;)

Red Faction is a series I missed in its hey-day, but the remastered — sorry, remarstered edition doesn’t look especially compelling to me. I think this series though was the forerunner for the hyper-destructive 3D environments before there was a Just Cause.

Humble Monthly: May 2019

Wandersong was included this month, either a late reveal headliner or an early reveal part of the main package depending on your point of view. Humble has done these mid-month reveals before, but just not while I’ve been doing this write-up. I think going forward I’ll simply include them in the ‘revealed’ titles section.

The last few months (longer, really) I’ve been typically interested in the headliner title and then found the late reveals to be universally disappointing. Don’t get me wrong, for $12 / mo getting even one title you want is enough from a financial justification point of view. At least if it was something you could consider as something you would have otherwise bought anyway.

But that’s just looking at it from a perspective of value for money. There is also the more psychological aspect. The mini-Christmas effect of opening presents! It’s been a while since I’ve had that from a non-headliners.

In an otherwise rather innocuous news post on Wandersong about fixing achievements, I think the answer why this is the case was given. There is an impression amongst developers that being in the Monthly Humble Bundle results in more down-ratings on their games. The Wandersong dev was expressing surprise that this didn’t happen in their case.

I can kinda see why this might happen, too. People obtaining your game ‘normally’ have made a choice to buy it. They’ve seen something they like to drive the purchase. Compared to a Humble Bundle type situation where you simply will land in the hands of gamers with neither interest in anything your game offers nor your well being as a developer.

Personally I have enough to play already that I simply throw such games into a generic Steam category, never to be looked at again. I have no inclination in reviewing them one way or another. But for others who have a different motivation in being part of Humble Bundle, those who actually want to play everything they’re getting? … Then yeah, I can see this combined effect resulting in more ‘Not recommended’ votes.

I’m not sure if this is a problem with a solution, so I’m curious whether Humble is struggling to find ‘quality’ (I realise how subjective this is) titles willing to be anything but headliners now.

June Headline Title

Call of Duty: Black Ops 4 Battle Edition

The ‘Battle Edition’ seems to include most of the COD 4 experience. You get the core multiplayer mode and also Blackout — their take on Battle Royale.

You don’t however get access to their Zombie mode. For that you’d need to upgrade to a ‘full’ package.

I never would have bought COD 4 of my own accord, but I am at least mildly interested in dipping my toes in the water since it’ll be coming my way anywho. You can grab it now if so inclined, but I’ll just be waiting for my regular monthly bundle payment to process end of month.

Revealed Titles

Finding Paradise is sublime. It’s the sequel to equally beautiful To the Moon. They’re both more interactive narratives rather than true ‘games’, although there are some puzzle-light elements.

If I hadn’t played these already, this sort of title definitely would have given me that ‘Christmas’ feeling I was talking about before. If you’ve not yet played through, you owe it to yourself to do so.

Finding Paradise does tell a self-contained story, but I’d still highly recommend playing through To the Moon first. You play through as the same pair of Doctor’s and the ethics of what your corporation does are delved into a little more in the sequel.

The other reveals in this list all pale in comparison.


Humble Monthly: April 2019

In last month’s Humble post, I talked about how it serves as quite a good buffer against impulse buying. Clearly, it’s not infallible. Some titles I’m going to pick-up given enough of a sale or other incentive. The verdict from last month’s Humble Bundle Monthly was to continue the subscription, so here we are for another round.

May Headline Titles

The format of my original post worked well for starting the series where I needed to detail the headline titles of both the current bundle and the upcoming. As a continuing series though, I think the most important Headliners are those coming in the next bundle. They will generally be your decision point to subscribe, unsubscribe, or potentially even pay early for the month to unlock them immediately.

So without further ado, the newly revealed Headline Title, available now for early unlock is:

Assassin’s Creed: Origins

For $12, I could not recommend this more strongly if you don’t already own a copy.

It is the first in the modern iterations of Assassin’s Creed where the series started down more of an RPG track. Very lightly touched upon in Origins and then expanded further in Odyssey. A great place to get started into the series, too.

I do already own a copy, but I’m still excited for this to show up in the Monthly Bundle as an opportunity to give my eldest son a chance to go through it as well.

Revealed Titles

It’s another unfortunate month on the revealed titles (for me). None of these were on my radar or even in general awareness.

The most interesting of the bunch appears to be Steel Rats. It looks like a cross between an old-school side-scrolling brawler like Double Dragon and motorbike stunt game series, Trials.

Honestly though, they will probably all end up in my general dumping-ground category of, ‘Humble Monthly Obtained’. A graveyard of titles never to be looked at again absent external provocation to do so.

Humble Monthly Survives to May

It is unusual for there to be only one early access title. At least in recent history. Lucky for them, even though it is one I personally own, I still want it.

Otherwise a different decision might’ve reached this time around!

Humble Monthly: March 2019

For someone with such a huge game-backlog already, the Humble Monthly subscription might seem a bit counter-intuitive. If you’re not already familiar with it, essentially for $12/mo (reducing in cost if you commit to a longer subscription) you’ll get a bundle of games worth many times this — at least when considered against full RRP. There are typically 2-3 ‘headline’ titles that are revealed early and then a number of typically smaller titles released to subscribers when the month’s pack actually comes out.

It’s a service I’m constantly on the bubble of unsubscribing from though. The prime reason I keep it is that it actually helps curb impulse spending during Steam sales. It harkens back to why I subscribed in the first place. I was tired of picking something up on a sale and then within a couple of months seeing it pop up as an included item in the bundle.

When I’m looking at a title now, I can just tell myself, ‘It’ll be in the Humble Monthly bundle sooner or later’, and typically? That’ll end up proving true. It’s put me off snap-buying enough things that I’m confident I’ve saved myself more money than I’ve spent on the subscription.1

Still, in-line with my desire to set out a history, I’d like to layout what the Humble Bundle brings my way and what I think. :)

Headline Titles

  • Vermintide II (Collector’s Edition)
    • The AAA-title of the bundle (there is generally at least one), if I didn’t already own it I would have been fairly hyped for this being in the bundle. Nonetheless, the upgrade to Collector’s is nice.
  • Earth Defense Force 4.1 (+ a bunch of DLC)
    • Had never heard of the title before this bundle, but apparently people like it with an ‘Overwhelmingly Positive’ rating on Steam since it’s release in 2016. Looks like you battle… uh… ants… but really big city-destroying ones! Has some MP options. Looks like something you could have fun with, but I’m unlikely to try it without some external nudging.
  • Cultist Simulator
    • Made by the same people as Sunless Skies and Sunless Seas, it’s an odd mix of card game and story game. There has been more than once since it came out (May 2018) that I’ve been on the cusp of buying it. But patience has saved the day and now it is mine! Of the three, this was the one I was most interested in.

Revealed Titles

Just looking over these to find the Steam links (I didn’t know what a single one of them was previously) it reminds me why I’m so frequently on the edge of cancelling the subscription.

If I bother to redeem the keys for these at all, not a one of them would make it out of the ‘Obtained from Humble Monthly’ dumping category I have in Steam.

Tower Unite looks like Second Life but if you focused it almost exclusively on mini-games. Late Shift is an old-school FMV story-game, and while it’s clearly low-budget the voice acting in the trailer didn’t put me in the mind of nails down a blackboard at least.

But I think the curators at Humble must’ve known this wasn’t the most compelling list because…

April Headline Titles

Subscribing now would get you these titles now plus the revealed titles in April. As a current subscriber I have the option of bringing forward the purchase and getting them now too — but given how much else I have on, I will wait… But nnngh. ;D

Mutant Year Zero: Road to Eden

Funcom published this one, and they call it a ‘Tactical Adventure’. It allows you to move about in real-time outside of combat, but jumps into an XCOM style turn-based combat system whenever you engage the enemy.

I hesitate to call it open-world due to all the baggage that carries these days, but it doesn’t seem to have quite the same load-in / load-out mission orientated setup of XCOM, but rather is continuous.

I’d kinda like to make some time for this one!

Absolver: Downfall

The fighter-game Absolver was one I watched at launch. I steered clear as I heard it was rife with server issues (for Oceanic players) which prevented the game from being any fun. At that point beyond a relatively short campaign that acted as a tutorial, the rest of the game was PvP.

Since then they’ve released a free PvE content expansion called ‘Downfall’. The reviews on Steam for this game are still Mixed (both overall and recent), but as an inclusion in the bundle? I’ll likely give it a shot.

Northgard

Whether intentional or not Northgard evokes recollections of the old BlueByte classic, Settlers, to me. Albeit with combat turned up to 11. I’ve fairly well burnt myself out on the RTS genre over the years though, so it isn’t a game I’ll likely spend a lot of time with.

Humble Monthly Survives to April

I’m not locked into any longer term pre-purchase deals, so I could (and have considered) jumping in and out as the headline offers appeal (or not). You get about a month’s notice of the future headline titles over which time you may decide.

But there is that distinct fear of, ‘Oh, but maybe one of the revealed titles will be something I want!’ and by the time those come along — it’s too late. That’s how they getcha. ;)

There have been months when I’ve been extremely pleased by the revealed titles as well, but it feels like it has been a while since that was the case.

With this logging now in place, a clearer picture should come (with time). :)