Digging Through The June 2019 Humble Bundle

What’s the Humble Bundle got for me this month?

First off, the good: Duskers is a game where you pilot robot drones to scavenge derelict spaceships that are now full of some kind of alien xenomorph thing. They’re clunky, slow, and so far as I’ve gotten, unarmed, so the game isn’t about shooting them, but rather about using motion sensors and remote door controls to trap them in harmless rooms while you pick the corpse clean and hopefully figure out why everyone got killed by xenomorphs.

911 Operator is a ton of fun for like two or three hours and is then repetitive and boring, constantly disappointing me with its traces of good gameplay but never quite having enough content to deliver a full experience. I like that you can import Google maps data from your own city to play anywhere (not only is Salt Lake City available, but even tinier towns like Provo and St. George, the latter known even in Utah as “the place that is between Salt Lake City and Las Vegas”).

The problem is, there’s a career mode that uses pre-fixed cities, but which interacts with those cities as unique cultural or geographic entities so non-existently that I don’t see why it’s not possible to play the career mode on city maps of your choice. The only difference between career mode and free mode that I can discern is that in career mode you are guaranteed to get each 911 call once with no repeats and in a specific order, which seems like something you could’ve done with any city, and would’ve been a great way to get each call while still personalizing it to wherever you happen to live. The calls are pretty well voice-acted (with a few exceptions) and often pretty compelling. Oh, also you change cities so quickly in career mode that the entire mini-game of accumulating money by responding to emergencies so you can buy new vehicles and hire new staff is basically meaningless, because you won’t have enough money to buy up even one new team.

Overall, 911 Operator is kinda fun but This Is The Police is the same thing, but better, and there’s two of those now. Probably only worth checking out if you really like TitP but have mined out those first two games or if you really like the idea of directing fire engines and ambulances in addition to cops. As it happens, I do really like that idea, so I had plenty of fun with it, but I can definitely recognize its flaws.

The big ticket item was Call of Duty: Black Ops 4. I don’t care about military shooters, like, at all, so I haven’t even redeemed it. I guess drop by my Discord (link up top) and let me know if you want a free copy, ’cause I don’t want mine. Likewise, Red Faction Guerilla Re-Mars-tered comes from the seventh generation console shooter school and I just don’t care about that genre. I appreciate the pun but I’m not going to bother playing.

Paratopic is an atmospheric horror game using early PS1 graphics. Imagine the first Silent Hill with worse art direction. I forgave that kind of thing in Resident Evil and Silent Hill because there was nothing better, but it’s 2019. If you can’t climb up to at least PS2 level graphics, you can’t do atmospheric horror.

Finally, Pool Panic is a game where you knock a cue ball around with the digital billiards gameplay you’ve probably encountered before, except the cue ball is a character and you have to navigate him around environments. The whole thing has a vaguely Rick and Morty-esque aesthetic, but I make no promises as to whether it will have Rick and Morty-esque ideas or humor. And that show’s aesthetic is actually pretty terrible.

The Humble Monthly is hit and miss. Usually each bundle will have at least one game that’s worth playing no matter who you are, but will also have some amount of junk. The monthly costs between $11 and $12 a month depending on how much you buy at once, and most entertainment turns out to be worth somewhere between $3-$4 per hour, so if you have even four hours of fun with any given Humble Monthly, you’re breaking even. For June, naturally if you care about either of the big games you’re set, but I think Duskers and 911 Operator together are probably worth it even if you don’t have my peculiar fascination for saving the city through the power of judicious resource management.

July’s headliner is Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice, which is one of those “experience” games where whether or not you want to play it depends largely on whether or not you want a window into the mind of a schizophrenic Pict. I do think it’s neat how it uses our willingness to assume the existence of the supernatural in a historical setting to get us to blindly accept what turn out to be psychotic delusions.

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