Humble Choice: May 2020
Alright, so I’m a little late on this one. The new choices came out a couple of days ago now but dangit I really wanted to get the top five most/least viewed posts out and out together. In that time, Magi put his thoughts up over on The Indiecator and are worth a look for a second opinion too. :)
In terms of how I feel about this bundle? Bit mixed. But there’s enough to it that I won’t be putting it on pause despite owning one of the big draw cards and previously considering the other in a rather negative light. It’s also the first bundle where I can’t even pick a full set of 10 games that I’d like to add to my library. There are three I’d rather not add at all. Although one of those admittedly is riiight on the edge.
Getting ahead of myself a wee bit though; that’s for later!
Also, as always, my prioritised list below will pretend I don’t own any of the titles and run from most preferred at the top to those I will skip on at the end. With this in mind, my top three are clear. Top five even. After that… A little digging is going to be required. :)
My Picks for May 2020’s Humble Choice
1) XCOM 2 (+2 DLC)
Do we even need to do the official description thing? I mean, there’s really no question. If you don’t have this yet — use this month’s humble choice to fix that fact. We do? *sigh* OK then.
Official Description: XCOM 2 is the sequel to XCOM: Enemy Unknown, the 2012 award-winning strategy game of the year. Earth has changed and is now under alien rule. Facing impossible odds you must rebuild XCOM, and ignite a global resistance to reclaim our world and save humanity.
It’s not much of a secret that XCOM 2 is a favourite of mine. Both as a standalone game and as a series more generally. If I had to go to a desert island with limited access to games, it would certainly be amongst them then, too.
As to the why? I think mostly because it allows for an experience resembling an emotional rollercoaster. It has the knack for getting you invested in the characters you control (particularly when you start customising them, earning them nicknames, new armour elements, etc)!
And while perhaps not everyone will appreciate the fact your characters can die, especially when there is a layer of RNG sprinkled over things — the strength of XCOM 2 as a story generator is incredible. Add to this the modding community which has got behind the game and there is endless hours of entertainment here.
Still — it’s not for everyone. It can be tough, even on the easier difficulty settings. So if you’ve avoided it for those reasons you personally still may wish to. But if you’ve been on the fence more because of how well XCOM 2 has held up its value (read: price) over the years — now’s your chance.
2) Jurassic World Evolution
Official Description: Place yourself at the heart of the Jurassic franchise and build your own Jurassic World. Bioengineer dinosaurs that think, feel and react intelligently to the world around them and face threats posed by espionage, breakouts and devastating tropical storms in an uncertain world where life always finds a way.
At launch, it would be fair to say I was not at all taken with Jurassic World Evolution. There was little challenge to the tycoon/park management aspect as you would’ve had to actively been trying to go brankrupt to come anywhere close to doing so — and the creative building elements so strong in their earlier title, Planet Coaster, were also missing.
It seemed they had an OK base of a game to work with on the management side of things at least — I just hoped that they would.
From one of the top rated Steam reviews at the moment:
Wow. This game has improved DRAMATICALLY since launch there is way more content, way more things to do and see and the management side has been greatly deepened.
All credit to Frontier for sticking with this game after releasing it being a movie tie-in game I’m sure most people expected them to just walk away after release.Manic221’s Steam Review
So colour me pretty interested in giving this another try!
3) Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War
Official Description: Warhammer 40,000: Gladius – Relics of War brings you to a world of terror and violence. Four factions will engage in a brutal war for dominance over the planet’s resources. In the first turn-based 4X strategy game set in Warhammer 40,000 you will lead one of four unique factions.
A turn-based 4X game in the Warhammer 40k universe? Well OK then. I could be tempted by some Civilisation set here.
Although apparently never quite enough to pull the trigger on purchasing the game.
Having kicked off another bout of Civilisation VI just recently, it’s also pretty timely!
4) Rise of Industry
Official Description: Put your entrepreneurial skills to the test as you create & optimise intricate production lines whilst keeping an eye on the all-important bottom line. As an early 20th Century industrialist, grow your empire & adapt to an ever-changing business landscape with unexpected events that could lead to boom…or bust.
I sometimes get on a bit of a tycoon/management game kick. A while ago, that was Transport Fever. Most recently it’s been a pretty heavy return to Cities: Skylines.
Entirely possible that this comes up next. :)
5) Niche: A Genetics Survival Game
Official Description: Niche – a genetics survival game is a turn-based strategy game combined with simulation and roguelike elements. Shape your own species of animals based on real genetics. Keep your species alive against all odds, such as predators, climate change and spreading sickness.
I’m going to be honest here. Through in an element of genetics and evolution to a game and at the very least you’ll have my interest. And honestly, that explains about 90% of where I’ve placed Niche at the moment.
How does it play? What do you do? … Yes… If no further questions. ;)
From what I can tell this isn’t quite as extensive in terms of your character design as Spore — you don’t start from a single cell and evolve and you always start out as the same base animal type. But on the other hand, the advantage here is that it focuses on a single game type as opposed to spreading itself as thinly as Spore did over a range of genres — none of them done exceptionally well. (God… Spore… I might have to do a separate post on this later.)
6) MO: Astray
Official Description: MO: Astray is a pixel art, side-scrolling, action-platformer. Lead MO through mind-bending puzzles using special abilities. Bizarre enemies, threatening traps and ingenious level designs await.
Overwhelmingly Positive rating on Steam; that’s off to a good start. It is a platformer though, which isn’t a genre I typically get on well with.
Ori and the Blind Forest showed me there are always exceptions though. And… dare I say it… This strikes me as potentially a pixel-art version of a similar design and story philosophy.
Official Description: WARSAW is a challenging WWII turn-based tactical rpg taking place in a war torn city and sporting beautiful hand painted graphics. Lead a small, dedicated outfit of civilians and soldiers with their unique skills in their fight to take back the city besieged by occupying forces.
The first thing I noticed looking at this was that they spelt Warsaw like ‘WARSAW’ (exclamation marks implied), and RPG like ‘rpg’.
These people are clearly a bit deranged. Then I noticed the second thing: The art style very much borrows from Darkest Dungeon. As does the playstyle, at a surface level glance. To such an extent that I wondered whether it was a new game by the same developers. (It isn’t.) Or maybe the same artist? (Might be, but Google offers no confirmation of this at a cursory search if so.)
I liked Darkest Dungeon — but I also understand completely why many don’t. It is incredibly punishing without a depth of knowledge about the game that can only be gained firsthand by… well; being extremely punished. It’s one of those games where I’d be tempted to say it is more fun to play through for the first time with a complete guide on hand.
Will Warsaw be as difficult? Hard to say from the reviews I’ve read so far despite a number of comparisons. One of the more common refrains is to consider a merged This War of Mine and Darkest Dungeon. If true… Well; possibly this game deserves to be higher on my list.
Official Description: “The best platformer of 2019.” Horace is a huge platforming adventure which pushes the boundaries of the genre with a profound story of a small robot learning of life, the universe and Douglas Adams. Made by videogame lovers for videogame lovers!
A little while ago, for work, I was given a crash course in PR and putting together press releases. One of the things I learnt that has stuck with me is that if you want to say something not factually true, get someone to say it and slap some quotation marks around it.
…There might’ve been a bit more nuance to it than that, but it was the gist.
And ever since I’ve always had a huge suspicion of anything put in quotation marks, especially when they’re put seemingly out of place, like for example, in the lead in to the description of this game. ;)
Having said all that — being set in Douglas Adams’ universe earns some interest back. As does the fact it looks fairly fantastic in action and draws heavily on the games of my childhood.
9) Chess Ultra
Official Description: Introducing Chess Ultra; the most breathtaking chess game ever made. Experience stunning 4K visuals, seamless online multiplayer, Grandmaster approved AI and full VR compatibility.
This would actually be significantly further up my list (to the 4th or 5th place sort of area) if I could be confident of finding online games reliably. I have zero interest in playing chess against an AI — even a ‘Grandmaster approved’ one. But every few years I’ll go through an avid online-chess phase, generally through some web interface or another.
This would be… quite the visual upgrade.
But with the low number of reviews (just barely north of 400) after 3 or so years of being out, I’m not at all hopeful online games will be readily available.
The Drop Outs
Yeah… I didn’t even pick a #10 this time around. None of these three appeal.
Heave Ho is a party game and I have no inclination to play such on PC. Possibly some people have media PCs with multiple controllers instead of a console? But honestly; I struggle to see much of a target audience for their ilk on this platform.
Neoverse… *sigh* The top rated review on Steam for the game probably sums it up the best, “Slay the Spire but with boob jiggle and some really terrible features.”
Swords of Ditto, of the three, would be the most likely one to jump out of the drop outs and onto the 10th available spot. And come end of month when it’s time to make the selections (I certainly won’t be buying this bundle early), still might. It’s an ARPG Roguelike in an art style somewhat reminiscent of a cartoon.
The reason I’ve dropped it off the list for now is that it’s overall rating is only 58%, citing very limited enemy and boss variety with repetition in many other aspects of the game besides. Teetering me back toward actually claiming it after all, is the mention I saw in one review of it being a nice way to introduce a younger person to the concept of ARPGs and Roguelikes. And it supports split screen co-op. And… It can’t be any worse to play than Animal Crossing, right? ;)
This was a post for Blapril 2020, the annual blogging event (albeit usually as Blaugust), brought forward to help bring a sense of community during the challenging time of COVID-19. Blaugust is an event aiming to welcome new blogger blood into the fold and revitalise those who’ve been at it a little longer.
The Blaugust Discord is still available to join in, year round!