Mini Impressions: Humble Monthly May

Another month in the books, and here we are with a new bundle of games in our Humble Monthly Subscription. This month also marks a year since I started using the service, and I believe that was fairly close to when the company started providing it. I know I missed a couple of months at the very beginning before deciding to see if it was worth the cost. I feel like over the course of the year I was able to check out a large variety of games, including titles that I wanted, some that were still expensive to buy otherwise, and some that I had never even heard of. Some were early access, some were full release, and some were AAA titles that I wouldn’t have expected to get at such a value. Some of the games made me wish I hadn’t bought them already (great titles I already owned have been included over the past year) and others made me glad that I never bought them for full price. Overall I feel that the service is a boon, being around the same price as a Netflix subscription for a handful of decent games each month. I always find at least one that is worth the $12/month entry fee, so any others are a bonus. I only started reviewing the bundles each month (my opinion on these titles that is) a few months back, but I’m sure some of you might think that it seems like I’m always bitching about some portion of the bundle (probably am) but I honestly feel like it’s worth the money. I always have gifts lying in wait for gamer friends, some I gift for no reason, and some I have others stashed for a rainy day. Games that I’m not interested in or already own go into this pile. Others get played and I share those experiences here, while commenting about owning such and such game or having no interest in another. I’m overly honest that way. Still, I would recommend this service because overall each game is pennies on the dollar compared to their MSRP, there are some neat surprises from time to time, and giving the extra loot away feels pretty good. Your mileage may vary.

Let’s get on with the games, shall we? The list this month:

Dirt Rally
Inside
This is the Police
Undertale
Metrico+
The Turing Test
GoNNER
Super Rude Bear Resurrection

Early unlocks for the month were Dirt Rally and Inside. I played both and have opinions. This is the Police, GoNNER and Super Rude Bear Resurrection were the titles that appealed to me this month, so I’ll be able to comment on them as well. I did not install Undertale, Metrico+ or The Turing Test as they all feel like games I wouldn’t enjoy, and I’d rather save those keys for friends. Speaking of which, if you check out the list at the bottom of this page you can check out the games that have been included in past bundles and if we’re friends and you see a game on there you might want, drop me a comment. If I have the key still I’ll send it your way.

Dirt: Rally

I hadn’t played a game in the Dirt series before. Apparently it dates back to the turn of the century, but I hadn’t really even noticed until the third game was out. At some point, Humble provided a free key for Dirt 3, which I redeemed but never played. Ditto for Dirt Showdown. Rally came out last year, and Dirt 4 is on the way this year. Apparently it’s a thing. I really wanted to like it too. The game ran great and looked beautiful. I enjoyed the fact that the career mode felt like playing Gran Turismo, where you start out with a shit car, make money, upgrade it, and eventually buy better cars and qualify for more difficult events. However, in Gran Turismo this is all done on asphalt. Rally racing appeals to me, I’ve watched events and one of my favorite cars of all time is a Rally car (WRX STi), but playing this game didn’t do it for me. I’ll be uninstalling this and I don’t think the predecessors will be getting much time out of me either.

Inside

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Inside took me completely by surprise. I had never heard of it, and it doesn’t look like my type of game. But it was gripping right from the start. A beautiful art style with great depth of field, yet still played on a 2D plane. It is very atmospheric, and there is no dialogue to the point I got in the game, so the story unfolds before you in a way that says it all without saying anything. I really enjoy this one and look forward to seeing more of it.

GoNNER

I have no idea why the title of this game is stylized the way it is, but I have no control over that now do I? A rogue-lite platforming shooter, it has a very strange art style and direction. It looks interesting enough in it’s minimalist way, but can sometimes become confusing. It appears that you can buy different upgrades between deaths, and though it wasn’t too challenging, it wasn’t something that I could see myself putting much time into.

This is the Police

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Another game I was on the fence about. Looking at the screens on Steam, I figured it could be a fun little management game. It’s heavily story driven to start off, with a comic book like introduction, and some dialogue decisions to make along the way. The meat and potatoes of the game seems to be managing which officers you send out to handle crimes. Depending on who you pick depends on the success rate, and it seems like even making the “best” choices still resulted in loss of life — civilians and officers mostly. Half the time the perps get away. The management aspects were sort of limited, but I honestly didn’t play it that far. Those of you into management games might have better luck and find more enjoyment in it, I should have passed.

Super Rude Bear Resurrection

SRBR seems like the type of game that has a story behind it. Perhaps there is an original version of this game somewhere and this is a sequel of sorts? Reboot? Remaster? In today’s age, who knows, and though it’s a simple Google search away I don’t really care. I like this game. I’m not huge on platformers anymore, but this feels like the sequel to Super Meat Boy in the best possible way. The game plays similarly enough, the familiar mechanics are there. The graphics are surprisingly good, and done in a way that feels good but still has that cartoon feel-good aspect. The words aren’t coming out so well because it’s late, but hopefully you catch my drift. If you like old school tough platformers, this one is for you.

Overall this was a fairly solid month. The early unlock for June is a game called Stellaris, which is made by the same guys as Crusader Kings. I have CK2, which was gifted to me at some point and I simply couldn’t get into it. A more intuitive tutorial might have been helpful. It looks pretty good nonetheless so I’ll be giving that a whirl soon enough. Until next month, it’s been swell.

State of the Game: Holiday Haul Edition

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It’s been quite a while since I had so many titles to talk about at once that it warranted a SotG post, having had bigger games to sink my teeth into as of late. Still, between my birthday last month, Christmas in a little under a day and having a few bucks to spend of my own, I’ve come out with a bunch of new (to me) games to play. Not like I didn’t already have a massive backlog and plenty that I’m currently playing, but that’s okay, the more the merrier! Right? Well… I guess the jury’s still out on that one.

So I’ve been plugging away at Fallout 4 since its release back in mid-November. I really like the game, it is my GOTY after all, but I noticed after I played it consistently for about a week, I started to taper off and experimented with other games. I’ve got about 40 hours into the game, and that’s a small amount compared to people on my friends list, so I know that I’m not the quickest out of the gate, but I have started to push the storyline further to the point where I’ve hit the “twist” part of the story. I won’t spoil it for you, but I think I’m starting to push towards the latter portion of the main questline. However, I have done quite a few of the side missions and various activities along the way, so I feel like I have a pretty good handle on what the wasteland has to offer. At this point I’m ready to finish up the main quest and then perhaps load up a bunch of mods and see what other fun I can have with it while we all wait for DLC packs to come down the pipeline. Here’s some various shots from recent adventures:

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There’s a few new videos relating to Fallout 4 on my YouTube channel as well. The other game I’ve been playing pretty regularly for most of the past month is The Crew Wild Run. I am still enjoying this one as well for when I want to progress in a different fashion, and sometimes you just need a racing game. It’s nothing that breaks the mold too much but I have enjoyed progressing through the world and upgrading my cars. There hasn’t been much in the way of a challenge thus far, though I haven’t done much PvP just yet. Looking forward to being able to unlock all specs and a bunch of cars to mess around with. Here’s some more shots from fictional USA:

As far as new games go, I had some extra money burning a hole in my pocket and as soon as the Steam Holiday Sale got started I knew there’d be something I could pick up on the cheap. I ended up buying Windward, which is a sandbox trade/pirate simulator, that has been on my wishlist for quite some time. There isn’t a whole lot there when it comes to depth, but it has various elements you’d find in other RPG and Indie games. The worlds are procedural or hand made by you, along with some other various factors that you can set up such as factions and whatnot. There’s “gear” in that you can upgrade you ship (buy new ships altogether too), there’s “quests” but most of them become repetitive after a time. There’s a bit of city building, there’s exploration, and best of all you get to blow shit up with your cannons. I played it for a few hours, and recorded some video but I haven’t decided what I’m going to do with the recording just yet. Overall it’s worth the asking price, and even better on sale. If any of you have this one, let me know so maybe we can do some co-op stuff. Multiplayer seems relatively dead on the hosted servers.

I also picked up the latest Humble Bundle, due to some prodding by Eri. Episode One of Life is Strange was a part of the $1 tier, and she has been pushing me to try it. So now I can, though I haven’t yet. Also included at that tier was The Last Remnant, which is a JRPG that is sort of old but looks rather interesting nonetheless. The first three Tomb Raider games, all of which I played way back when but haven’t touched since were ported to PC at some point and were also part of the package. Lastly, a game that looks neat but I know nothing about is Murdered: Soul Suspect. They all look like their worth spending some time on, but I haven’t gotten around to any of these just yet.

Today I was surprised by my sister and brother-in-law, who gifted me a couple of games off of my wishlist for Christmas. One was the Legend of Grimrock sequel. Simcha actually gifted me the first game last year around this time, but I never beat it — I got stuck on a difficult puzzle and never went back. I was just going to let the sequel collect dust for a while and try to go beat the original before playing it, but I had to check it out, so I did a while earlier. It’s very much the same sort of game but there is a combination of outdoor and indoor zones that makes it feel better. The combat and semi-action oriented way in which you can dodge and move around feels better than the original as well. The first boss I came across kicked my ass though, so I think I’m going to customize my party when I get back to playing it. The other game they gifted me was The Evil Within, which is the game that came out last year from the creator of the original Resident Evil. One of my buddies raved about this game so I’m glad I’ll finally get a chance to play it.

Apparently the pattern of being unable to wait to give me gifts persisted, because my Dad ended up sending me a copy of Grim Dawn, which is a new-ish ARPG that is just about to full release next month. They are calling it “feature complete” at this point, but it is still tagged as Early Access for now. So far it reminds me of older D&D inspired games, Diablo II and Path of Exile. It has that dark and gritty aesthetic, but it feels faster paced than PoE. It feels more on par with Diablo II and III. Either way I played for a couple of hours, hit level 15 and called it a night, but I’m liking what I see so far. There is a system of upgrading your weapons and a devotion tree that remind me of systems from PoE. Then there’s the skill tree that is more reminiscent of an MMO really. There’s also the ability to dual-class, and that is pretty neat if you ask me. I rolled a Demolitionist, and the went with a secondary of Occultist. Basically I’m a pyromancer mixed with a marksman that has a crow for a pet. It’s weird, but cool. Here’s some screens from that title as well:

So at this point, I’m really trying to divide up my time as best I can, but there simply isn’t enough time in the day for all of this. Add in the fact that I’ve been playing League of Legends semi-regularly, Diablo III has a new patch + new zone coming, there are betas/alphas I’ve been participating in, and I have no time. That’s just going to get compounded as time goes on. But hey, that should mean plenty of content to share with you guys, right? See you soon. Oh, and I probably won’t post for a couple days, so Merry Christmas everyone!

The Gamer To-Do List: Update #5

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It’s been a little over a month since I’ve touched on my Gamer To-Do List. In all honesty, this column along with my State of the Game column are fairly interchangeable, but where this post is more goal oriented, the other is more progress oriented. Either way, I decided to roll with an update to my to-do list rather than do a SotG this week.

My list has changed to the point where it’s basically time to start a new one. When I look at my last update, I see a clear pattern: I’m not really playing any of the games on that list. I also found the “free agents” and “on hold” sections redundant, as I don’t really need to update what isn’t being actively played (or at least actively thought about). As such, I feel it necessary to deliberate on what happened with what was on that list, so for the sake of continuity here’s an update on that old list:

  1. ESO – I like the game, I really do. I just got sucked back into playing EQ2 for a time and it’s hard to concentrate on more that one MMO with any seriousness. The same can be said of GW2, Rift, and even SWTOR, all three are MMOs that I’ve played a bit and would like to hit level cap in at least, but I just don’t see it happening til I’ve done that with EQ2 first.
  2. LoL – Despite being a game I will always come back to, I haven’t been playing much aside from an ARAM here or there. The new champ got delayed and there are other champs I’d like to buy so I try to earn at least a little IP when I have a little time. I’m basically waiting for the next season to start before bothering with ranked again. So basically I have no immediate goals.
  3. EQ2 – more on this later
  4. Borderlands TPS – I enjoy the game, but like MMOs, this is one of those games that requires a concentrated effort. It’s not happening right now. Still on the eventual to-do list though.
  5. Valkyria Chronicles – Same as above.
  6. Diablo III – I ended up dying when I was nearing the cap on my first (or second) season 4 character. I have a couple of sub 20’s right now but haven’t played in a couple of weeks. Will be back.
  7. The Forest – I haven’t played it. Despite reported improvements I just haven’t been in the mood for this type of game in a while. This is why ARK and H1Z1 are also collecting dust. Plus they aren’t done, so I don’t really worry too much about it. Heavier play once these are nearer or at full release.
  8. Nuclear Throne – I haven’t played for a week or so. I still love this one and it’s coming out of early access soon (finally). I’m re-evaluating what I’m doing with my YouTube channel and/or Streaming activities. I have a feeling it will stay in the rotation, but there is no goal attached to this.

Again, I’m dropping the last two segments of the list there altogether, so there isn’t much to say about those games, save for I’m not playing them. I can also notate that I’ve added some games to the list that I didn’t own prior to my last update, along with some that I actually would have put on the list but have already completed (Original Shining Force for one).  With that said, here’s my current list:

  • EQ2 – Finish Tears of Veeshan expansion. I finished the Chains of Eternity expansion and have just entered into ToV. 
  • Wildstar – Test the game further and play with my guild Obsidian. Wildstar went F2P and I haven’t touched it since writing it off in beta. Still doesn’t seem worth a sub, but a bit of fun and feels better now than when I originally played it. My guild is also getting together for PvP action, so I wanted in on that.
  • Final Fantasy Tactics – Next retro play through. I was on a retro gaming kick for a large part of September. I beat Shining Force (again) during that time, and recently purchased the PSOne Classic FFT. I intend to play through this soon.
  • Humble Bundle 15* – Play these games more. Picked this up recently, and haven’t put enough time into the titles. I’ve enjoyed them all a fair bit to this point.
  • Warhammer End Times: Vermintide – Play the shit out of this. This is a little ways off  as I pre-ordered and release is late this month. I’m supposed to get Beta access prior to release and plan to stream it. 

That’s really all there is to it this time. It’s a shorter and more concise list, which will keep me more focused. There are still a number of games on my to-do list, though many of them require time management that is better than mine when it comes to gaming. I love the hobby, but it’s hard to keep up on everything I want to do in any given amount of free time. That’s where the free agents come into play though, and although I’m not listing them here, rest assured I have a nice, big backlog that I constantly struggle with trying to empty, particularly when I don’t stop buying new titles. What can I say, it’s the collector in me. It has been becoming easier to write games off that I’m not currently enjoying though, and in some cases the game feels better than the first time I tried it (like Wildstar). More in-depth posts on these titles will be coming along shortly.

*This includes: Sir, You are Being Hunted – Goodbye Deponia – Skullgirls – Planetary Annihilation – Xenonauts – and more coming Tuesday. 

State of the Game: Blaugust Edition #2

This week gaming patterns were weird. Today was the big move, so I knew I only had limited time beforehand to get some gaming on, but also to tie up some loose ends. Namely, maxing my rank in Black Ops 2 multiplayer as I had borrowed the copy, and finishing up Dexter on Netflix because I won’t have the service for a little while (will have to subscribe). Then there was the good old packing and actually moving, and now I’m in the middle of unpacking. Of course my computer is up and running and I’m here dutifully doing my #blaugust post because screw unpacking right now, I’m tired. Despite having less time on my hands than usual, I still ended up with a laundry list of games that I played, mainly because I picked up a Humble Bundle and also touched on some PS3 titles from the recent Plus update. I’m not going to go into too much detail with the Plus titles, because I didn’t really play them much. I tried Proteus, and it surely is a walking simulator. Despite trying to be clever by using dated graphics, the game just comes across as cheap and it’s really fucking boring. I absolutely know people who would enjoy it, but not for me, uninstalled. I also tried Fez, and yeah I have made my digs towards Phil Fish, so why not do so again? He’s a douche. Fez really isn’t all that special or inventive, and I wasn’t that impressed, considering the guy makes himself sound like some sort of God. Maybe it’s the second coming of Jesus. If Jesus was a douchy hipster, that is.

Enough about that. I made some posts this week about games I played, being The Forest and my multiplayer match with Doone in Civilization V. A day or so after the latter post, I ended up jumping back into my single player game where I was dominating the world with Japan. I had recently defeated America, and was encroaching on the Ottoman’s land, but I instead decided to take out a neighboring city-state who was in the way. As soon as I did, all of the city-states left in the world declared war on me, along with nearly every other civ. Soon enough I was being attacked in my newly conquered lands by the Ottomans, and though I destroyed unit after unit, they eventually took one of my American towns. On the other side of my territory, the Iroquois attacked my capital, and I knew the end was near. I probably could have backed out diplomatically, and perhaps pushed for peace, but a warmonger knows when it’s time to scrap a conquest and start anew. So that game was retired. I also find multiplayer quite fun and would prefer doing that. I just need to get the damn expansions, as the base game is a little flat at this point.

As I mentioned, I picked up a Humble Bundle, this time around being the Sci-Fi weekly bundle. It’s no longer available sadly, but there are some great games in this one. I purchased the bundle for a few of the games, and haven’t been disappointed by any of them that I tried, and the ones I have yet to try are the ones I wasn’t really interested in. Make sense? I saw that Strike Vector was included, and it’s a game I heavily considered during the Steam Summer Sale, but I had checked it out on Steam Charts and it seemed to have a rather small community. As a result, I passed on it, but I was thrilled that I could get it with some other games and roughly the same price as it was on sale for then. It also appears that the community has picked up a bit, or at least it’s bigger on the weekends (duh). It’s basically a MOBA in mech vehicles. You have a small arena, sometimes it’s straight up deathmatch, other times there are objectives, but you basically fly around and blow shit up, then switch to jet mode and haul ass and try not to crash. It’s great fun, especially once you start to get the hang of it. Think a modern day descent, without the story (or single player). Here’s some shots:

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That’s jet mode. It can get pretty hairy when trying to maneuver in close quarters. Sorry it’s really hard to play and get action shots, so I’ll try to talk about this game again in the future. So the other game in the bundle that intrigued me was a very similar kind of game. It’s called Strike Suit Infinity, and it’s essentially single player version of SV, but you have really different abilities when in mech mode. It’s round based, you fight infinite procedurally generated enemies, and as you progress you get AI controlled buddies that help you out. They are seriously very similar, so I have little else to say. Here’s some shots for comparison:

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“Jet” mode
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“Mech” mode, with cluster missiles

Lastly I’m going to talk about The Fall. There are a couple of other titles I will be covering in some other post, because I’m running out of gas here. So The Fall is a recently released indie platformer. It has puzzle elements, combat, a great atmosphere, and an interested story in that it’s not traditional. Basically the game opens as your character is falling down to the surface of a planet. You, aren’t the person in the suit. You are the suit. Or the AI of the suit. One way or the other you are a suit and your human pilot is critically wounded. Mission parameters are to find him/her medical attention pronto! There are a number of on board computer systems that you don’t have access to without your human, but put your human in danger, and I, Robot stuff starts happening. I.E. you get to over ride the “rules” to save human life, gaining access to new abilities. This eventually leads to an operating weapon, and a nifty little cover battle system. And stealth kills. It’s a pretty cool title thus far. Shots:

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Anyway, that’s it for me. Til next week, Happy Gaming!

#blaugust #roundup #stateofthegame