Humble Choice – January, 2021

Another year means another month means another Humble Choice. It’s 2021 and alas, it’s time to turn a new leaf. Since Humble Choice has been the most consistent series of posts, I was thinking of making it its own category and basically leaving them like that. Initially, I was thinking of adding a sub-category under the Gaming Journal but I’m honestly not happy with how that’s named and organised and I’ll have to change everything somehow anyways eventually… For now: New Category called something along the lines of “Humble Lich” (Name to be changed) and that should make it more organised in general. 

Alas, what’s up with this month’s Choice? Well, it returns to its roots by giving us a lot of value with just twelve games instead of fourteen like last month. Apart from that, I’ll have to link Naithin’s post and other bloggers’ posts later as well… but they’re not out yet, so there’s that.

Here’s my ranking of them:

RankGameDeveloperGenre
1Pathologic 2Ice-Pick LodgeRPG, Survival, Thriller
2Ancestors: The Humankind OdysseyPanache Digital GamesRPG, Open-World, Survival
3Tales of the Neon SeaPalm PioneerAdventure
4MinoriaBombserviceRPG, Adventure
5Song of HorrorProtocol GamesAdventure, Horror
6Warhammer: ChaosbaneEko SoftwareHack n Slash
7DeleveledToasterfuelPuzzle
8The Ambassador: Fractured TimelinesTinydino GamesAdventure
9Vampire: The Masquerade
Shadows of New York
Draw DistanceVisual Novel
10Total Tank SimulatorNoobz from PolandStrategy, Action, Simulation
11Not TonightPanicbarnSimulation
12PC Building SimulatorThe Irregular CorporationSimulation

Now, as you can see I placed Pathologic 2 right up there on the first spot because I love the setting and the idea behind it. Its tutorial is played on a stage, the story is dark and disturbing, and the game seems to be rather challenging. UltrViolet wrote about this game the other day and it seemed more than interesting, so this was the most certain title on this list. As for the other games, it was hard to rank them in any way…

Take the second space for instance, where I’d make room for Tales of the Neon Sea, a rather interesting neon-styled adventure with pixel art and a cyberpunk setting and… you can play as a cat apparently… Uh, so this title looks very interesting and I’m looking forward to *eventually* playing it but Ancestors has been on my wishlist for ages now and looks like something that I’d really enjoy. In Ancestors, you basically take control of the ancestors of humankind and try to survive, explore, expand, and evolve to become the humans we know today. 

Next up we have Minoria and Song of Horror. I don’t know the Minoria games that came before this one as I’m uneducated in the genre, but the graphics looked cute and the game’s combat looked cool and it kind of reminded me of Hollow Knight, so I placed it up there. Song of Horror, on the other hand, is a title that I’ve seen a bit of now and then while watching KingArgaroth (go follow him!) play it on Stream. It’s a bit of a Horror-Adventure with puzzles in it and I honestly can’t remember the story, which is a good thing because I’d like to experience it myself eventually. I’m not the biggest Horror fan, which is why I ranked Minoria higher than Song of Horror but from what I’ve heard SoH is great!

Alas, we get to the hard part. I’m not entirely sure what to say about the other games as I don’t really care about them. I mean, I already own a few Warhammer games, which is why I’m looking forward to giving Chaosbane a go eventually… but Deleveled seems like just another gravity-based puzzle game… or rather a game with a different world that is on the other side of your world… and I’ve seen that formula in a lot of other games as well, so I’m sceptical about this game. 

The Ambassador seems interesting to a degree but I’m not a fan of the art style and I also think that I know at least three other games that are older than this title with a similar premise, which is worrying. As far as Vampire goes, I’m not a fan of the franchise, so I placed it rather low as well. It’s gonna be another title to give away to people that actually like it a lot and can’t understand why I’d not like it.

Total Tank Simulator could be fun but it also be just not my cup of tea. Judging from the description and the art style alone, I don’t really have an opinion on it, just yet.

And well, as far as Not Tonight goes, I don’t really think I have to say too much else. I had to google the studio to make sure that they didn’t work on Papers, Please… but it’s a separate studio. It’s a game that utilizes the Papers, Please formula… five years after Papers, Please came out… but it’s not as “Soviet” as the original game but plays in a dystopian British setting where Brexit failed and where you’re a… Bouncer? I mean, according to reviews, the game doesn’t really add a lot to the formula apart from being a bouncer and being able to sell drugs to people in line… and the Brexit of course, but I guess I’ll have to see for myself if it’s just a rip-off or if it feels like a different game. I mean, a lot of games share similarities or are based on the same idea. *winks at Rogue and the whole roguelike-genre until my eyelashes start bleeding* But that doesn’t have to be a bad thing, inspiration is important… It turns into a problem when people make money off an idea without adding anything to it or without even trying. So, I don’t know if that’s the case here or if it’s going to feel like a different game or like a rip-off. I’ll have to see for myself.

At last, PC Building Simulator seems like it’s just not up my alley. I mean, I have built one PC… and it was interesting… but I don’t want to do it again unless, of course, it’s IRL. I just don’t usually enjoy simulation type games where you do mundane tasks without any form of expressing creativity. I mean, House Flipper at least leaves you the option of having fun and wrecking the house or doing a little bit extra for the job… Euro Truck Simulator is weirdly relaxing and rather enjoyable… PC Building Simulator could also be quite relaxing but I’m just not enough of a technical person to play it, I think. 

Alas, there are a lot of games that I have strong and positive opinions of while there are also a lot of games in this month’s Humble Choice that I have negative opinions of… and there are titles that are just not my cup of tea. It’s a weird mixture but I think it’s still a Choice that is worth grabbing, especially due to the first six games in my ranking up there. I feel like there is a lot of value to grab there.

If you’ve enjoyed this post, let me know what your ranking would be like. Do you think you’ll go for this month’s Humble Choice? Do you pass? What’s your opinion on “Not Tonight”? 

Cheers!

This post originated on Indiecator and was first published on there by Dan Indiecator aka MagiWasTaken.

Steam Game Festival: Autumn Edition – Part 2

Today, I wanted to take another look at some other demos. 

Just like yesterday, the Steam Game Festival Autumn Edition is still a thing and it’s going to be a thing for another few days, so make sure to check out its page for some more information and some cool demos. 

Neurodeck

Neurodeck is a difficult card-based Roguelike Dungeon Crawler with a psychology-theme. Dive into your psyche, challenge your fears and face your phobias to defeat them through the power of life-inspired cards.

The game feels alright. You have to balance your two main stats: Your sanity and your stamina. To play cards you need to invest action points that refresh each round or get refreshed using card effects. As you use different cards, you require different costs of your stamina. Your Sanity resembles your Health pool and can be restored using hugs and snacks and other card effects. Most of the time, you’ll fight phobias (enemies) that inflict status effects such as Sorrow (lock cards for a turn at the end of your turn) or Anxiety, which I find quite interesting overall…

…but for whatever reason, I don’t like Neurodeck too much. It is very strategic but it doesn’t feel as strategic as Slay The Spire or Ring of Pain, for instance. You have traits and equipment that you can get throughout the run but the game does poorly to explain those systems. Combat feels a bit too slow, despite it being similar to Slay The Spire which feels quite a lot faster and more strategic. I should like Neurodeck but for whatever reason, it is not my cup of tea, which is totally fine but just something I noticed over the course of half an hour or so. If you wanna try it out, you can download the demo over here

Ponpu

Ponpu is an action-packed party game that is heavily inspired by Bomberman. Play as one of four different ducks (?) and bomb your way to victory. Since I don’t have a second controller, I wasn’t able to play the local co-op and hence, only tried out the Store Mode that features a whole world with different areas, levels and bosses.

Using the A-button you place down explosive eggs that either detonate after a while or when they hit something. Using the B-button you shield yourself, stunning enemies in the vicinity and propelling your egg forward so that it either destroys the environment or damages enemies. 

Since it’s heavily inspired by Bomberman the gameplay doesn’t feel too innovative. What’s really great about Ponpu, though, is the hand-drawn art style, the weird but cool music and the enemy and character design, that I personally enjoyed a lot. If you search for a game to play with friends, I’d reckon that Ponpu could be right up your valley. The single-single player-campaign was quite nice. The other modes include a paint battle, coin battle, death battle and some other modes that you may know from Bomberman already. You can find the demo and wishlist the game over here.

Webbed

Webbed is a physics-based 2D Puzzle Platformer where you swing through the trees, spin sticky webs and make friends with bugs – Oh, and you play a very adorable spider!

I’ve been following Webbed for some time already on Twitter and was quite excited to finally play it this time around! Despite my big fear of spiders, I really like the design of the critter that we’re playing and – worst case – you can still turn all spiders into blobs using Arachnophobia mode. The demo plays a day before the events of the actual game (that should come out in 2021) and features you getting to know the controls and the different bees, flies, moths, ants and other insects that inhabit the demo-forest. You can swing and fly through the air, eat bugs, collect pollen for the bee next-door. You also get to spin your own webs in a very nice fashion and while there is not much to do in the demo, it certainly is still a lot of fun to play as a spider and actually be nice and not pop up in some corner of the room and be disgusting and horrifying and whatever. 

Anyways, you can find the demo and wishlist the game over here! I highly recommend it to you! Lots of fun!

Xuan Yuan Sword VII

Being developed by Softstar, I’m not sure if this is still an Indie Game or not. Either way, Xuan Yuan VII Sword seemed interesting as its demo was available during the latest Steam Game Festival and as it seems to combine Chinese mythology with Action-RPG mechanics.

Play as Taishi Zhao, a calm and reliable swordsman who accidentally got involved in a tragic fate and now has to start a journey to find out about the truth. At first, I thought that this game was really nothing special combat-wise. You have your light and heavy attacks. You can parry. You can dodge away… felt like the classic Action-RPG-experience to me… but then I got introduced to the Martial Arts Stances that unlock different variations of your heavy attacks with bonus effects and special attacks that have a cooldown. On top of that, you have different skill trees and trinkets that you can equip and change to customize your play style. Also, a glimpse at the inventory reveals that your weapon apparently consists of multiple parts that may be exchangeable, improving different aspects of your weapon. Overall, I really enjoy the demo. While the story feels generic and slow, combat is actually a ton of fun! 

So, after an hour, I was able to play through the tutorial and the first boss fight as well as some other small fights. The story feels generic at first but the loading screens tease different empires and mythological aspects to the story that I’d look forward to, personally. Combat was where the game really shines and in case, you wanna play it yourself, go visit the store over here.

F.I.S.T.: Forged In Shadow Torch

F.I.S.T. is a challenging Metroidvania Action Platformer where you play as a rabbit with an exoskeleton and you battle against enemies. Story-wise, you’re playing as Rayton, a former resistance war soldier who’s been living in seclusion ever since the Machine Legion invaded and colonized Torch City – a city inhabited by animals. After his friend was forcibly arrested, Rayton gets his weapon back and gets ready to strike his enemies with an iron fist! Literally!

The demo shows you two out of three weapons but oh boy, it feels so good. You can either hand out high single-target damage using your fist or you slash through enemies using the drill, featuring high AoE damage. The fist is a lot faster while the drill is able to fix you up with some nice damage if you manage to hit a few targets. Using heavy and light attacks, you’re able to perform powerful combos, grab enemies and throw them away, as well as stun-lock enemies when you time your attacks right. Overall, really satisfying! The Dieselpunk aesthetic of the game (powered by Unreal Engine 4) just looks stunning, especially when you perform some powerful combos on enemies and successfully trigger some of the stunning animations that come with them. 

The full game will feature the classic Metroidvania experience with an interconnected game map and secrets but also a total of three weapons: The fist, the drill, and the whip! F.I.S.T. has been on my wishlist for quite a while already, so I was really happy about finally being able to play it! The game’s supposed to come out in April 2021 but in case you want to play the short but fun demo yourself or maybe just wishlist the game, click here!

Superliminal

Superliminal is a First-person Puzzle game that plays with the ambiguity of depth and perspective. 

Generally, it reminded me a bit of CrowCrowCrow’s “The Stanley Parable”, mostly due to the style and the Narration that the game uses. The demo lets you play the first few puzzles where you essentially get to make objects bigger, smaller, move them away or create new ones using the angle and distance that you look at them. I’m actually quite excited about playing this game myself when I get my hands on it! 

The game’s coming out on November 5th and honestly, I really enjoyed the general vibe as well as the creative puzzles in it. You can check out the demo yourself over here

Undungeon

Undungeon is a hand-drawn Action Roguelike with RPG elements where you travel between dimensions and change the world around you in an attempt to reconstruct the shattered Multiverse. I’ve been following the Instagram account for a while now and it looked really promising so far! In the demo, you play as Void, an interesting character that uses normal attacks and mines and has some other interesting abilities – and you try to find the Heralds.

The game feels quite nice actually. There is real-time combat and you essentially are able to equip different body parts for different abilities on each of the characters. While the demo has only Void as a character, the full game has six heroes (like Void) planned, as well as some other dimensions and new abilities and story-lines for each of the characters. What bothered me a bit is that it doesn’t feel too good to hit enemies or objects in the world. You strike something and it seems to just slash through it without an additional sound-effect or something that signifies that you hit the target. Personally, that’s something that I would have liked a lot more in this game. After all, the animations in combat look great! Why wouldn’t they also sound great? The story is a bit complicated to explain and I’m not sure I get it either… but I enjoy the travelling mechanic and the way that the story seems to get connected eventually with some bits and pieces that you learn through conversations. 

At some point in the game, the developer arrives and wants to talk to you. He can’t leave the game until you wishlist it, so if you want to do that or maybe talk to him in the game as well, check out the demo and the steam page over here! If you’re not convinced yet, you can also end his suffering and send him home by stabbing him in the gut. Your choice!

Castle Flipper 

Castle Flipper is a Medieval First-Person Simulation where you clean, destroy and rebuild houses in a similar fashion to House Flipper! 

At first, I thought it was by the same devs as House Flipper… but it’s not. It’s by Pyramid Games who also made Occupy Mars: The Game. The game plays similar to how House Flipper works. You’re tasked with restoring a house or furnishing it or just cleaning an area. When you finish those tasks/quests, you earn gold that you then can use to build your dream Castle… or House or whatever. The game feels rather janky, though. I cannot build up the second floor without placing a ton of walls on the first wall, resulting in a rather limited environment that House Flipper doesn’t have. The game also limits you with the resources that you have. Building materials don’t grow on trees… or rather, they do but they also run out and it’s annoying. 

Maybe it’s not fair to compare this to House Flipper but House Flipper was at least a bit more fun and left you with more creative freedom. Occupy Mars also felt rather janky, from what I remember, so maybe it’s just a thing that Pyramid Games does with its games. If you want to try it out yourself, you can do so over here. I personally didn’t enjoy it too much when I noticed how limited you actually are. 

Monster Prom 2: Monster Camp

I’m actually a fan of Monster Prom, so I’m actually quite excited about this release. Instead of the usual school setting, we’re now at a Camp and the demo lets you play two turns with 9 events and some “smol surprises”. The final game will feature 360 events, 50+ characters, 20+ secret endings, 40+ drinks, 2 prologue minigames, and lots of new special outfits! 

For anyone that doesn’t know Monster Prom: It can be best described as a competitive dating sim. You are tasked with finding a date until Prom Night – and to do so, you go to different places and talk to the person that you like and eventually, you may end up with them liking you and going with you to Prom. Oh, and the cast of characters mostly consists of monsters, demons, and other interesting personalities! 

In the demo, you essentially play a four-player game with two rounds aka 8 events that you do by selecting different places and by making different choices. In one scenario, we got lost in the woods and were about to starve, so Damien wanted us all to cut off our arms and eat it for the sake of survival. Luckily, a pizza delivery person stops by and is completely lost. We have to convince them that this is the place that she’s looking for… so instead of convincing her, we end up doing the creative/bold way: By glueing animals together and sewing a heart to one of them. There we go! For whatever reason, it worked out just fine and I got boldness and creativity for it! These stats are important as they influence the way you react to different choices and scenarios. On top of that, you can get away with certain choices when you’re bold, creative, charming or smart enough. Just like in real life! 

Honestly, I love Monster Prom’s concept and everything. The conversations are fun and intriguing. At times it gets weird, sometimes it’s hilarious or just plain cute. Highly recommend the first game here (remind me to link back the review here once I’ve finished editing it!). The demo for the second game that, quote on quote, is coming out “SOON!” can be found over here – so check it out and wishlist it yourself!

Ring of Pain

Honestly, I love this game way too much and I’ve only played demos so far… it’s another card-based roguelike-ish dungeon crawler set in a dark and horrifying world. 

We already interviewed Simon Boxer from Twice Different more than a year ago at last year’s GamesCom and we even took a few other looks at the game so far, so I’ll just refer to those posts in case you want to see some screenshots and more information. Generally, this game didn’t change too much. The animations are a lot more polished and the stats and different items got changed a little bit here and there, so overall, it’s still difficult but satisfying and very much up my alley! Highly anticipating this title!

If you want to check out the demo, you can do so over here! Check out my other posts on Ring of Pain if you want to! 

Black Border

Black Border is a political game where you’re tasked with controlling papers at the border. The game is heavily inspired by Papers, Please and… I feel like it’s a rip-off.

And I don’t like to use the word “rip-off” or “copy” or whatever, but the systems, the speech, the rules, and even the responses feel like they were copy-pasted into the game from Papers, Please. The developer mentions that they are “inspired” by Papers, Please and they prompt the player to check the original out themselves… but I just don’t feel like playing a game that has no identity and that is just there to try and copy what another game did. 

Black Border is a Papers, Please rip-off that wasn’t even “better” or “as good”, so I’m honestly not a fan of it at all. You can try it out yourself if you want to over here. I’ll also link you Papers, Please over here so that you can play that yourself. Surely, while the styles are generally different, Black Border just doesn’t seem to have any new ideas to bring to the table, which is a bummer. It’s essentially a skin that you purchase of a different game – with the original game looking and being better. I’m sorry if that sounds harsh but… it looks and feels like a copy and I’m not a fan of plagiarism.

That’s essentially it for the Steam Game Festival Autumn Edition!

I wanted to try out a few other games. After all, Stronghold Warlords, Undying, Pumpkin Jack, Dwarfheim, Haven, Manifold Garden, Say No More, and Backbone looked really interesting. There are a fair few titles that are on my wishlist that also are available as demos during the Festival and honestly, it’s just way too much for me to look at. I’ve got a few other posts that need to get finished in the next few days and I’m not sure if I have the time to look at those. If I do, it may also be too late and the Steam Game Festival may already be over… I’ll see what I can do about it! 

Either way, I hope you enjoyed this post. I hope you play and maybe even wishlist some of the games here! Also, stay healthy! My city has become a Corona-Hotspot and I don’t want anyone else to also get restricted! Stay at home and wear your mask and stuff!

Cheers!