February Humble Choice

Bonus round! Two posts this week as I get us caught up to February.

I found Pathfinder: Kingmaker to be a huge disappointment. It uses Pathfinder mechanics, and yet it’s clearly designed to be played in realtime, with combat encounters so incredibly dense that they begin to drag even in realtime and which are absolutely interminable when turn-based. The game demands a pretty steep level of min-maxing even on lower difficulties and its controls suffer from unintuitiveness born from the fact that they’re aping a tabletop game normally conducted in spoken language where having twelve options each individually very niche didn’t mean you started running out of intuitive places to put the commands on a keyboard. Pathfinder is also a system that goes hard on complexity to try and wring as much engagement out of playing one character as possible, a system which translates poorly to running a full party of six. Its popularity kind of baffles me, since I’m pretty sure it reached beyond the core Pathfinder audience.

The game in the Humble Choice isn’t Kingmaker, it’s Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous, but seeing as I didn’t like Kingmaker, I’m not bothering with Wrath of the Righteous, which was a weird AP to pick to begin with. While that one encounter hasn’t ruined it for everyone forever, it’s not a super popular AP overall, either (and OwlCat wisely chose to omit that encounter completely, but you’d still expect the fact that it has Paizo’s worst writing ever in it to factor into the choice of that AP over the many others in Paizo’s library). Kingmaker is Pathfinder’s most popular AP by a country mile, but after that I would’ve gone with Rise of the Runelords or something.

I swear I am not taking the piss when I say that Fallout 76 is part of the Humble Choice. Fucking why? They do offer it in a package with Fallout 1, so if I didn’t already have Fallout 1 I’d probably claim that one and just never install Fallout 76. I’m baffled why they bothered adding Fallout 76 at all, though.

Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales is an isometric take on the Witcher. I’ve already got three Witcher games, though, and I don’t feel a powerful need for a fourth that’s incongruent with them. This is a nitpicky thing to disqualify a game over, but I’m trying to lean on being more selective in order to keep the expansion of the backlog as limited as possible to games I will most likely enjoy.

Othercide has a very cool black-and-white noir Sin City-ish aesthetic that I really dig. It’s some kind of tactical RPG about superpowered all-female hero squads called Daughters fighting spooky monsters of some sort or another. Details on the plot are thin, so this game is selling itself to me on pure aesthetic, and if it were 5-10 hours long, that might’ve been enough. How Long To Beat says it’s 20-30 hours, though, and I don’t like the aesthetic enough to give it that much time.

Shady Part of Me is some kind of puzzle-y sort of game where you control a little girl and her shadow, and the shadow can interact with the world in some kind of way. It looks kinda cool, but I don’t much like puzzle-y sort of games.

Scourgebringer is a “fast-paced free-moving roguelite platformer” and has already committed the twin sins of being a Roguelite and not capitalizing Roguelite. It’s named after the game Rogue! That’s a proper noun! Words derived from proper nouns retain their capitalization, that’s what nationalities are capitalized!

But also, while the game looks kinda fun, I’m really over Roguelites as a mechanic. If you view a long playtime as a positive, then Roguelites are a great way to stretch limited indie resources to make a game 10-20 hours long. But I don’t want your indie game to be stretched out to 10-20 hours long! I would greatly prefer an all-thriller no-filler 2-5 hour game that nails its premise in one evening and then gets the fuck out of my backlog before I have a chance to get bored with it.

Fobia: St. Dinfna Hotel needs to see me after class about that title. Not only is the first word spelt wrong, but the name in that title looks suspiciously Welsh. It’s about exploring a spooky hotel with monsters in it, and its first several animated .gifs and accompanying explanatory text describe an investigative game that almost looked like it was in the Why Did Silent Hills Have To Die?! genre, but apparently you do have at least some ability to shoot monsters with a machine gun. I’m getting flashbacks to Industria a bit here: A first-person shooter with a mechanical focus on resource scarcity and a strong emphasis on its atmosphere and aesthetic. Industria wasn’t good, and Fobia’s longer, too, at twelve hours compared to Industria’s five. I’m putting Fobia in the backlog, but I’m also planning to play on the lowest difficulty available and drop it at the first sign of frustration. No muscling through an annoying puzzle or combat encounter in the hopes that there might be a solid experience under the rough edges, I tried that with Industria and all it did was waste an extra two hours of my time.

Five Dates is an FMV romantic comedy about a guy having zoom calls with potential dates because I guess some television-y types got super bored during the pandemic and had to figure out some way to keep their careers on life support through lockdown. Fair enough as a career move, but it holds no interest for me.

This has brought me up only to 172 games, although I’m also opening up these bundles much later in the month than usual, so I might still be at 172 when the first Tuesday of March rolls around and offers up a couple more games.

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