Many people subscribed to the Humble Monthly Bundle tend to ignore a bunch of the games that come with it each month, and I’m not exempt from guilt there. Whether it’s a huge backlog of games to play or the lack of a desire to try something new or unusual, we end up skipping some potentially great titles for the bigger names on the list. That’s what I’m here for! This monthly list is aimed at going through every game released in the bundle to give it a go and inform you on whether it’s worth your time. Keep in mind that (aside from the early releases) many of these mini-reviews are first impressions and are not indicative of the full experience. Now let’s get into it!
Genre: Shooter, RPG
Online, Co-op, Competitive, Multiplayer
Odds are if you were interested in this game, you’ve already played it – especially since it was one of the early releases, but here goes anyways.
Destiny 2 is far from perfect. The main story is fairly short and a lot of content was clearly squirreled away to be released in DLC later on. Already, that’s a huge strike against it.
But even with that, it’s still a fun enough game… if you have friends to play it with. I was fortunate enough to have a buddy come along with me on the ride, but even though we had a good time playing through it, I definitely got the sense that I wouldn’t really be enjoying myself at all if I were playing it by myself. It’s a fairly generic RPG shooter at its core, and not much else. Sure, there are some elements from it that you can’t find as easily elsewhere in the genre like PVP and dungeons (which, to be perfectly fair, I enjoyed a lot), but you’re pretty much better off playing something like Borderlands or maybe Warframe instead.
Genre: Adventure, 3D Platformer
Single player, Co-Op
Yooka-Laylee is Banjo-Kazooie. It’s also NOT Banjo-Kazooie. A game made out of love for a long-forgotten franchise (at least by industry), this 3D adventure tries much too hard to be what it originally spawned from. Don’t get me wrong, it serves competently as a spiritual successor to Banjo-Kazooie, but it keeps so closely to the formula that it doesn’t feel like it has any life or identity of its own.
It’s a fun enough game, but if it’s going to follow in Banjo’s footsteps so closely, then it needs to be compared to the older games. I didn’t own an N64 as a kid and didn’t grow up with the series, so it’s more than nostalgia goggles when I say that Yooka-Laylee just doesn’t quite hold up when compared to the original. The levels aren’t nearly as fluid or easy to explore, and the controls just don’t feel as smooth. That said, the levels are beautiful in their own way and the composers did a wonderful job scoring the music for the game.
Is it worth playing, though? Well, if you liked Banjo-Kazooie or just happen to like collect-a-thons, then yes. Just… don’t hold it to too high of standards. Mainly what it did for me was make me want to go back to play Banjo. Hell, it even got me itching to play more of A Hat in Time (which is a much better game in my opinion even though it’s more akin to something like Mario Galaxy).
Acceleration of SUGURI 2
Genre: Bullet Hell, Fighter
Single player, Multiplayer Versus
This is one of the more unique games in the line-up. A mix of shoot-em-up and fighting game, Acceleration of SUGURI 2 (which I’m just going to shorten to AS2 for this) is a surprisingly fun anime-styled game that I honestly didn’t expect to enjoy going in. Fighters are not the kind of game I generally enjoy, and the same goes for shoot-em-ups to a lesser degree, and yet I found myself both having a good time as well as playing somewhat competently once I got a handle on things.
There are a couple of rough things here and there, though. The translation of the dialogue isn’t very good from what I’ve seen in the story mode, and the font can be eye-melting (don’t dwell on the options menu for long), but despite that and a somewhat lackluster 2D art, the characters you can choose from are (mostly) unique and fun, and this is definitely a decent game to break out and play with your friends. Even if you don’t like fighters, you still could end up having a really fun time!
Bear With Me – Collector’s Edition
Genre: Point-and-Click Adventure, Mystery, Story
I’ll say it off the bat: This game might need more than a first impression to really give a solid review. That said, what I played of Bear With Me was actually an intriguing and immersive experience. It won’t be easy to get into right from the start, but give it a bit of time and the real mystery starts to seep in to the story.
Despite its dark noire theme, the game itself is a very light-hearted tale about a girl and her stuffed bear. To say too much about it would likely spoil things, so I’ll leave the story aspect at that. In terms of gameplay, it’s exactly what you’d expect from the genre. Pick up items, inspect things, solve puzzles. It’s not tremendously exciting, but there is a small level of satisfaction you get from figuring out the solution quickly – those little “Aha!” moments, so to speak.
If you like games like Space Quest, King’s Quest, or Day of the Tentacle, you’ll probably enjoy this. If you aren’t a fan of the genre, you honestly probably won’t feel too bad about skipping it.
Cook, Serve, Delicious! 2!!
Genre: Simulation, Strategy, Action
Single player, Co-op
STRESS. SO MUCH STRESS. That’s what I felt from playing this game. And yet, why did I like it? Cook, Serve, Delicious 2 is very arcade-like in its gameplay, in which you have to constantly balance and manage food orders, maintenance, and supply all while customers are breathing down your neck demanding that you do things quickly. Something tells me any hectic fast food workers or restaurateurs would get a PTSD-like effect from playing this, so if you don’t like being forced to move quickly and manage a million things, definitely move on.
If you DO enjoy fast-paced gameplay, however, maybe give it a try. It’s most certainly a challenge, and I had a lot of fun playing it. It may be my go-to game of choice for when I’ve got some time to kill.
Ken Follet’s The Pillars of the Earth
Genre: Point-and-Click Adventure, Story
Based on the book of the same name, Pillars of the Earth is another point-and-click just like Bear With Me. Unlike BWM, though, Pillars tells a much more grim, realistic tale. The puzzle solving aspect is reduced to near nothing (for as long as I played, at least) with a focus on story-telling and making choices that really matter. What you do deeply affects the game.
Essentially, it plays out like an interactive book, and quite an immersive one at that. Even before finishing the prologue, I was hooked into it and focused deeply upon doing what I deemed was best. The art is beautiful as well – everything is fully voiced, and the animation is smooth and nearly seamless, with a few exceptions. There was a point where I literally saw seams between the heads and the bodies of characters, but that’s really not important.
If you like historical fiction or even somewhat enjoy multi-path stories, give this a try, but again, if the genre is very much not in your interests, feel free to skip it.
Styx: Shards of Darkness
Genre: Stealth, Adventure, Action
Single player, Co-op
Among all of the games, this is the one I expected to enjoy the most. Being a lover of the Deus Ex franchise and at least the first few Assassins Creed games, Styx seemed right up my alley. In a way, it was, but it’s far less enjoyable than I had been hoping.
The stealth aspects are fun enough, and there are a number of unique mechanics and abilities to employ, so it’s not a bad game by any means, but it just felt… wonky. It’s not as smooth as most other stealth adventures I’ve played, though perhaps I simply didn’t adjust to the controls as quickly. It’s hard to say. All I know is that I fell off cliffs or just awkwardly went face-to-face with guards multiple times in just the tutorial, and I consider myself at least mildly competent!
My biggest gripe with the game by far, though, is Styx himself. Whether it be the horribly unamusing and fourth wall-breaking death screens (which you can thankfully turn off) or the Bubsy-level of painful one-liners, he is very, very annoying and can get to you quickly. Let me share with you just one of the lines he says:
“Ah, the call of booty. Even better than a booty call!”
Anyways, if you’re a lover of the stealth adventure genre, you might as well give it at least an hour or two to try it out, but to me, I’m better off spending my time replaying something else. If you don’t generally play these kinds of games and want to give it a shot, maybe consider a different franchise first.
Subserial Network (Humble Original)
Genre: Simulation, Story
This is a… difficult game to discuss. It’s a multi-windowed “experience” brought straight from Humble themselves. Essentially, it tells a story about rebellious synthetics and your efforts to hunt them down via your own desktop. Things like e-mails and webpages are how you do your business, and it is most certainly very complicated, even confusing. To say much more would be spoiling the point to a degree.
This is not really a game to review in a traditional sense, to be perfectly honest. At least, not in my mind. Rather, this is an experience you should seek out if you enjoy complex stories that unfold via unconventional means. For anyone else who likes their plots straight forward, you may just find yourselves frustrated trying to make your way through this.
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