September Humble Choice

It’s September 6th (with some edits from September 7th) as I write this, the first Tuesday of the month, which means the Humble Choice has just dropped. What’s in the box?

Crusader Kings III is an easy get. I probably won’t actually play until it’s got a good few more expansions under its belt, but this gets me the base game for, like, $5, and I won’t say no to that.

Just Cause 4 is another easy get. I love the Just Cause games, they’re the sandbox games that most seem to get what a sandbox is about: You are in a cool place doing cool things while wearing cool outfits. Just Cause 3 and 4 have kind of stumbled on that last one, with Rico gravitating more towards looking like a pretty ordinary 40-year old dude except for the part where he’s hookshotting up to a helicopter gunship while firing a grenade launcher at tanks, and it’s not as good as representing cool places as Assassin’s Creed or Far Cry, but it absolutely nails the “doing cool things” part, and unlike Assassin’s Creed games, it knows exactly what it is and gets you to the good stuff in a hurry.

The Dungeon of Naheulbeuk is a lighthearted adventure RPG of some sort. Sounds like fun, I’ll give it a whirl. It’s yet another video game adaptation of a semi-obscure fantasy story, which the Dwarves was, too, and I wonder if maybe a bunch of mid-size studios are digging through the obscure books (or, in this case, radio dramas) that they love hoping to be the next Witcher. Sounds like a long shot, but as long as the resulting games are made with genuine love for the source material, it usually works out alright (for me, at least – Longes strongly disliked the Dwarves). If I can pitch my own favorite B-tier fantasy novel series to the developers who aren’t reading this anyway: The Dark Profit Trilogy is ripe for a video game spin-off story. The main plot would be a mediocre choice for a game, but the setting in general is perfect for video game adaptation and has plenty of room for side stories.

Forgive Me Father is in the genre that we are for some reason calling Boomer Shooters even though Boomers fucking hated DOOM. I have to assume it’s part of our general policy of erasing Gen X from history. To any future historians who end up reading this, I wanna make sure you guys are aware that the generation in question didn’t get referred to as “Generation X” retrospectively because their true name has been forbidden, they were always called Generation X. Anyway, so far as I’m concerned the shooter genre began with Half-Life and the promise of being a Lovecraftian entry in a genre specifically known for its lack of subtlety sounds only more eye-rolling, so I’m giving this one a pass.

Crown Trick is a rogue-like RPG with some kind of combo-focused turn-based combat system. I have way too many games in my backlog already to be weighing myself down with roguelikes unless they have a really compelling hook, and this one doesn’t, especially.

Descenders is a “fast-paced extreme downhill biking game,” which I’m sure sounds exciting to someone. There’s a certain visceral thrill from watching the gameplay .gifs, but I know this is a game I’d toy with for forty minutes before getting bored and walking away from forever, and there’s plenty of other games that will hold my attention much longer.

Industria is a first-person, story-driven, atmospheric shooter about someone getting lost in a parallel dimension on the day the Berlin Wall falls. It’s not really clear why the fall of the Berlin Wall is relevant to the story, and the gameplay .gifs suggest it’s a lonely, industrial atmosphere, not the thronging crowds present at the fall of the wall. On the one hand, this feels like it picked a famous event from the 80s to hook its story onto despite minimal relevance, and the whole thing scans as just a little bit pretentious. On the other hand, it says it’s about four hours long and How Long To Beat suggests they’re rounding up, which means I can play it start to finish on a workday, I’m going back and forth on this one, but its promise of short length has won me over. I can get it out of my backlog quickly, so even if it turns out to be mediocre, I probably won’t have to grapple with whether it’s bad enough to be a Regret. I really like atmospheric first-person shooters, and I don’t want a reluctance to add to my backlog to keep me from playing games I might really love.

EDIT: I don’t want to make a full post about Industria, since I ended up playing only about a third of it, so I’m backing up here to say that it’s about being sucked into another dimension and so far as I can tell from the first hour and a half the fall of the Berlin Wall indeed has nothing to do with it, and that instead the plot about an insane rogue AI from our dimension trying to kill everyone in that one.

But more importantly, there are certain sections where it causes my processor to chug to the point where it loads about 1-2 frames per second, these sections are not lacking in enemies, and even on normal mode (as opposed to hardcore) this game is punishing enough that you can’t run up to enemies and spam “attack” and still win, which means the game is pretty much unplayable. Its atmosphere is pretty well done (even when the graphics are turned all the way down to try and alleviate the processor lag – it didn’t work), but the game’s first big “reveal” is that your colleague Walter Rebel is secretly the same guy as this other dimension’s last leader Walter Rosenhal, which comes as a surprise to your character but should’ve been bleedingly obvious to the person who tells you, since that guy knows that Walter and protagonist Nora are the only two people to have come from another dimension and that Nora is wandering the streets shouting the name “Walter.” It makes sense Nora is taken offguard that the last leader of this dimension wasn’t even native to it, but her friendly voice with a radio connection should’ve been able to piece this together immediately.

Anyway, Normal Mode is far too punishing with resource scarcity, especially regarding health, considering that they went to the trouble to make a Hardcore Mode. I shouldn’t be dying and reloading four or five times to get through a section of your story-driven, atmospheric shooter when specifically playing on the mode designed for non-hardcore play. Admittedly, the point where I quit and uninstalled came because the game’s difficulty was combining poorly with its technical issues, but I was getting pretty annoyed with the difficulty even in sections of the game that ran smoothly.

/edit

Shapez is an abstract automation puzzle game. A key part of the enjoyment for automation games for me is building cool stuff, so making it abstract is a killing blow to my interest.

That’s technically four new games, although CK3 doesn’t go into my backlog for realsies until I’ve built up a DLC library large enough that I feel I can get a complete-feeling playthrough out of it, and Industria is only going in because it’s promising to get itself back out quickly (EDIT: Which it did, though not well). Between that and a Humble Bundle of games I picked up but didn’t write about, I’ve pretty much totally wiped out progress against the backlog made in August.

I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, every game in the backlog is a game I would someday like to play. If my backlog is still growing despite my efforts to more consciously chip away at it, then that means there’s games in there (mostly the longer ones) that I will never see. On the other hand, my backlog is growing because the Humble Choice continues to deliver me games that I do, in fact, want to play. If I end my Humble Choice subscription, that just means I either miss games that I want to play or else go back for them later and buy them at a higher price.

Back on the first hand, maybe I should be more choosey about games like Industria, that give me mixed feelings. I added Parkitect from that Humble Bundle to my backlog, but really, how many theme park tycoon games do I want to play in my life? It might be just one. This has prompted me to take another look at my incomplete list and remove both the Escapists games from it, because I played half of the first game and didn’t like it, and on reflection they made it onto my backlog list during the original roundup through a combination of me really wishing a fun prison escape game existed and the fact that I was pushing through like 500 games to find out which ones I wanted to play, so I wasn’t giving a whole lot of consideration to each one. That review of the backlog only caught those two games, though.

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