Humble Choice: January 2022

Damnit. I just had the most wondrous dream for a moment there. I thought Humble had returned the ‘Choice’ element to the proceedings. Twelve games, ten choices. But then I woke up (read: noticed the two missing slots on the third line of four) and started cursing instead.

Not least because I’d already written this whole intro section already, including going to the effort of looking up when last the premium / classic subscription tier included any degree of choice at all. (It was July 2020 if you’re wondering.)

It wasn’t just the intro though. Oh no. I had also gone pretty far down the line with writing the rest of the post in the old-style too. At least the first three or so games were done by the time I noticed. Heck, I’d even planned a return of the section detailing which games hadn’t made the cut and would be left behind, waving sadly as I turned away probably to never give them another thought.

*sigh*

So decided to go through and finish in the old style- and I’m now rewriting this intro after having completed that process. I think what I’ll do is include both the table as I’ve been doing recently as a bit of a summary and also the more detailed look at everything below. No promises I’ll carry on doing both in future months — but if you have any thoughts or preferences between the styles, more than happy to hear them.

In any case, time to take a look at this month’s bundle! As always, I’ll attempt to rank the games in order of preference, starting with my most preferred and ending with my least preferred. Where I own a game already, I will pretend for the purposes of this list that I don’t.

Summary

More detail follows the table, below.

RankGameGenre / Notes
1Mafia: Definitive EditionModern-GTA Style Adventure.
2Midnight ProtocolHacking mini-game turned full-game.
3Iron HarvestDieselpunk RTS.
4Between the StarsNarrative Arcade Space Action.
5Rebel CopsPolice-meets-XCOM.
6Rustler (Grand Theft Horse)Retro-GTA Style Adventure.
7The Henry Stickmin CollectionPick-a-Path based on the ol’ Stickman stuff of Newsgrounds.
8RetrowaveSee your calculator-graphics driving-through-the-traffic game through a (relatively) modern lens.
9Project WinterSurvival meets Among Us. Bring friends- and then backstab them.
10Farmer’s DynastyFarming… Life… Simulator… Thing. Clearly spent most of their marketing budget on attaching songs to trailers. (The watching kind, not the hitch-to-a-vehicle kind.)
Bold titles are ones I’m sure I want. Top tier titles. Italic titles I might not bother to redeem even with the choice to do so.

My Picks for January 2022’s Humble Choice

1) Mafia: Definitive Edition

Official Description: An inadvertent brush with the mob thrusts cabdriver Tommy Angelo into the world of organized crime. Initially uneasy about falling in with the Salieri family, the rewards become too big to ignore.

Look, I’m not going to lie. I’m normally pretty hard on the Humble Choice offerings, particularly over the last year or so. But to see the inclusion of a AAA title of this ilk again is enough to bring the smallest tweak of a smile to my face. The corners of my lips may in fact be lifting in an upward direction. I’m not ready to forgive and forget the past entirely yet but this is a good start.

Also; it’s evidence that 2K does know how to produce a good remake. Making it even more inexplicable anyone over there thought it was a good idea to let Rockstar put their name to the recent GTA Trilogy re-release. Sure, that was more remaster than remake. But it was also more disaster than remaster.

Anywho, moving on.

2) Midnight Protocol

Official Description: Midnight Protocol is a tactical narrative-driven RPG with unique keyboard-only controls. Hack into servers, beat security systems and discover encrypted secrets while you try to find answers to why and how you got doxxed.

I mean… I don’t know that I’d go so far as to say the command-line interface that drives this game are ‘unique’. It has certainly been done before. Even so, I’m intrigued by what has been done here.

Taking what would normally be a mini-game in another larger title and fleshing it out to constitute a whole game of its own… Well, it might not work I guess. But the aesthetic of it all looks truly beautiful and the trailer shows just enough depth to not only colour me intrigued but actually quite keen to give it a go.

3) Iron Harvest

Official Description: Iron Harvest is a real-time strategy game (RTS) set in the alternate reality of 1920+, just after the end of the Great War. The Game lets you control giant dieselpunk mechs, combining epic singleplayer and coop campaigns as well as skirmishes with intense action on the battlefield for multiplayer fans, Iron Harvest is the classic real-time strategy game fans have been waiting for.

I can only assume that everything with wheels has been banned in this alternate reality. Or perhaps the wheel was simply never invented. Everything must have legs. Their tanks have legs. The mortar guns apparently have legs. The people still have legs, but I guess it would be weird if they didn’t. And while not explicitly shown, I assume this trend flows on elsewhere too. Water legs instead of water wheels, I bet. How do they work? I dunno, I’m not a scientist.

There are a lot of negative reviews talking to the fact that the base game only included one faction (of five) with everything else being locked behind DLC and this fact not being made clear in the sales materials.

I’m unsure whether this is still true, as it looks like it may have recently been changed. If it is still true- then I agree. It is *incredibly* unclear and the developer response to one such review basically blaming the reviewer for buying the wrong thing rankles even further.

So be aware, this version if Iron Harvest may be an incredibly stripped back version with one faction and only the first five campaign missions. If I wasn’t already guaranteed to get this bundle for the sake of Mafia: Definitive Edition, I’d certainly be trying to investigate this further.

4) Between the Stars

Official Description: Become the captain of a interstellar cruiser and cross the galaxy to save the Republic. During your journey you will have to make important decisions, improve the weaponry of your ship and fight against numerous enemies.

This one seems to be quite the interesting mix. Part arcade action space combat, part text-driven narrative adventure. From reviews so far, this particular mix isn’t landing well with everyone but I could perhaps see myself enjoying the blend.

It’s still in Early Access though and appears to have been since May 2019. Updates and progress reports seem to be fairly regular though, so will be interesting to see where it goes.

5) Rebel Cops

Official Description: Lead a ragtag squad of cops in rebellion against their town’s new criminal power and see how long you can hold out in this unforgiving turn-based spin-off game from This Is the Police. You’ll be desperately short on supplies, and a single shot can cost a cop their life.

A continuation of the story established in This is the Police (and its sequel). To be honest, I didn’t even know it had a story. I just knew it was XCOM but as Police vs. Criminals instead of Aliens.

Apparently, you didn’t do a very good job though, because in this one the Criminals have taken over. Hmmm. That does seem very XCOM-like still, doesn’t it?

I have the two original entries in this series but have only played a little of the first. They sort of fall into that pile of games I always intend to get around to and maybe one day I will — that day just hasn’t arrived yet.

6) Rustler (Grand Theft Horse)

Official Description: Become a medieval thug in a crazy open-world action game, full of pop-culture references. Complete insane quests, kill heroes, steal horses, fight guards, rob peasants, listen to some bard music, and much more! All packed in old-school gameplay style!

GTA 1 or 2 but with horses! In a medieval setting! … Sort of! I mean, the guards still ride around with red and blues flashing when you’re in trouble.

In the right sort of mood, I could see this being a decent bit of fun actually. Although be prepared for some coarse language and potentially some shonky mission check-pointing which seem to have driven a number of people to anger-posting negative reviews. Overall it’s currently sitting at 88% positive though which isn’t too bad!

7) The Henry Stickmin Collection

Official Description: The Henry Stickmin Collection is a Newgrounds choose-your-own-path classic, reborn and revitalized. This 6-game epic culminates in multiple entirely canon, extremely different endings. Each step of the journey has you choose from options such as a Teleporter or calling in your buddy Charles to help you out. Correct choices will move the story forward, but incorrect choices lead to a fail. If you get to the end on your first try, you’re doing it wrong. Failing is half the fun.

In my younger days, I remember being quite enamoured with the animated stickman fights. The mix of low-fi art to the degree of literal stick figures put into fluid, smooth motion was just something that resonated with me.

I had no idea it ever became more than that.

But here we are. A collection of pick-a-path adventures featuring ‘Henry Stickmin’. People really seem to enjoy them too — Overwhelmingly Positive (98%) for both recent and overall reviews. This might be a fun one to play alongside my youngest son. :)

8) Retrowave

Official Description: Neon lights, palm trees, synthwave, ’80s supercars speeding down an endless highway… Welcome to the world of Retrowave!

Remember those old handheld, super-cheap, calculator graphics LCD panel games? The one where your objective was to drive down a multilane highway, weaving like a madman between traffic that clearly isn’t moving to a speed of your liking?

This game is that! But with prettier graphics and an even prettier synth soundtrack. Seriously, give this a listen (and look, if you choose).

My main complaint after viewing the trailer is that I wish there was a more prominent sense of the speed you’re supposedly traveling at. But then… I guess the original versions never really had that either, so it’s very true to the source material at least!

9) Project Winter

Official Description: The perfect game to back-stab your friends. Project Winter is an 8 person multiplayer game focusing on social deception and survival. Communication and teamwork is essential to the survivors’ ultimate goal of escape. Gather resources, repair structures, and brave the wilderness together.

My takeaway from both the trailer and the description is that this is a survival game meets Among Us. … I mean, I guess Among Us is also a survival game in a manner of speaking but you know what I mean, I hope.

There’s nothing wrong with this style of game but I, personally, do not like jumping into this style of game with randoms. I far prefer to play with a group of friends and have enjoyed sessions of Among Us in this way from time to time.

If this group took an interest in Project Winter, it would shoot pretty high up this list — but given my expectation is that this won’t happen, it can languish down here near the bottom of the list. Depending on your friend group and preferences, YMMV could vary significantly here.

10) Farmer’s Dynasty

Official Description: Enjoy a unique mix of farming, constructing and life simulation that takes you to the countryside and holds plenty of challenging gameplay in stock!

Budget Farming Simulator? With life simulator aspects? … this might end up being a decent fit for the ‘But… Why?‘ series of posts.

Although the two games I’ve focused on with those posts so far have explicitly been very well received. Super popular. This one… isn’t. I mean, it’s sitting on OK reviews — Mostly Positive (78%). But it isn’t exactly hitting the same notes as the others.

Interestingly though, a later release from this publisher, Medieval Dynasty, has been on my wish list. My main reservation has, in fact, been the appearance of starting these early access works and getting them to an OK (but not great) spot and dropping them in favour of whatever their next project is in a year or two.

Honestly, that alone has been enough to make me hold fire on a purchase. I think I’ll just wait for Medieval Dynasty to land in a Humble pack, too.

Pause, or not to Pause?

Well- Mafia singlehandedly turns this into a not pause month for me.

If it wasn’t here despite my interest in Midnight Protocol and perhaps some of the other entries and I’d almost certainly give this month a pass.

Like I said while talking about Mafia’s inclusion — it was enough to create the smallest quirk of a smile. Humble Choice subscription carries on for another month then and I’m hoping we see more inclusions of this nature in the coming months.

Naithin

Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.