December’s Humble Monthly is the last one, as they’re switching over to the Humble Choice. In the Humble Choice, there’s a dozen-ish games, but instead of getting all of them, you choose nine, or ten if you’re on the Classic plan as a holdover from the Humble Monthly. So, it’s basically the Humble Monthly except you pick three (or two) games to not get. I am slightly nervous about this, mainly because I have no idea what the benefit of switching over is and business decisions that make no sense to me always make me suspicious.
The November Humble Monthly was really good for me, but mainly out of sheer dumb luck. I just so happened to have not bought any of the games in it despite very much wanting several of them. This is pretty atypical. I’ve mentioned earlier that the Humble Monthly is mainly a good way to find hidden gems, a big stack of games you wouldn’t buy separately but one or two of which might end up being your new favorites. November bundle, though, is full of stuff where you probably already know whether or not you want it, and if you really want it, you probably already do. The Crash Bandicoot and Spyro rereleases have been out in one form or another for decades, so the only people who don’t know whether or not they want these games are, like, high school students who weren’t playing video games until the PS2 era when Crash and Spyro were old news. Even then, if they’re subscribed to the Humble Montly then they’re probably plugged into the gamer sub-culture which is full of people who did play Crash and Spyro, and that came up when the trilogies were remastered and rereleased.
There’s also Call of Duty WWII, taking the franchise to exciting new time periods we’ve never visited before, but you know whether or not you want a Call of Duty game, and Shenmue I and II, the first two installments of a trilogy originally designed for the Sega Dreamcast and which is just now getting its third installment. The problem is that Shenmue I and II were only ever good because video games were still in a transitional period between the NES/Super Nintendo era when no one had any idea what they were doing and the people who made good video games were the ones who, largely by chance, had random ideas that were randomly good instead of randomly bad, and the modern era, where what works and what doesn’t is set pretty far in stone and new ideas are the domain of indie games, and even then are made with the benefit of intuitions built up since childhood. What I’m getting at here is that games like Shenmue, which are very clearly made by someone who doesn’t usually play video games, were a bit of anachronism at the time of release and are now completely out of place. The era when game developers didn’t have a long history of playing video games because video games had not existed long enough for anyone to have a long history playing them, that time is over.
11-11 is a game about a Canadian photographer in 1916, during WW1. It’s got a mechanic for taking photos and an art style where everything appears to have been painted. And also I can only use the S and D keys for movement for some reason. This means the game is playable only by rotating the camera around so that I’m facing the direction I want to go and then pressing the S key. I didn’t get very far. Hopefully I can get this glitch resolved, because the game had some fantastic atmosphere for the five minutes I spent trying to troubleshoot the bug.
Synthetik: Legion Rising is a Roguelike twin-stick shooter where you are a robot and must defeat other robots in order to destroy something called the Heart of Armageddon. I’m actually not sure you’re a robot. You definitely unlock different guns as you go and what kind of run you’ll have is going to vary a lot based on what kind of guns you get. On the one hand, I had a lot of fun for the first two runs, but on the other hand, I found myself not wanting to come back for more immediately. I’m sure I’ll play it at least occasionally in the future, and it’s definitely a good length for a cooldown game between bits of work, since a single run lasts all of ten or fifteen minutes, which means I can squeeze in two or three between wrapping up working on one thing and starting work on another.
Evergarden is a puzzle game in the same basic vein as triple town or 2048, where you combine small things into big things in a limited board space in an effort to make the biggest thing possible. The idea here is that you’re maintaining a garden, and you have flowers with between one and six leaves, with six leaf plants combining into stone pedestals which cannot be combined, and instead just permanently take up that space on the board. The way that new plants are added to the board is that, rather than combining, a plant of any size can spit a seed into an adjacent hex, which you can then grow into a new one-leaf plant by ending the turn. You have a limited number of turns to try and create as many pedestals as possible. It’s also a hex board instead of a square one, opening up more angles for combination. That’s the basic gist of it, but there’s a bunch of other little complications thrown in on specific levels (which I think might be randomly generated? There’s definitely no specific enumerated list of levels, but the starting plants and conditions change each time you boot it up again), and you can unlock new stuff with special triangular talisman thingies that come out of any pedestals you’ve made at the end of the level. If you like this kind of combine-things-into-bigger-things-based-on-adjacency sort of puzzle game, I’d definitely recommend Evergarden. There appears to even be some kind of plot, but so far it’s just very cryptic letters from “Mom” about how the garden works. Mom appears to be kind of an asshole, in that she apologizes for how confusing it must all seem at the beginning, but then it turns out she has more letters that we just haven’t unlocked yet. If you didn’t want the garden to be so confusing, why’d you lock all your letters behind mystic talisman puzzles? You could’ve just put all the letters on our desk at the beginning!
So anyway, that’s the November Humble Monthly. Sometime soon-ish I’ll take a look at the December Humble Monthly, the last one ever, and also the very first Humble Choice, which was released the same month, so hey, double prizes.