February 2020 Humble Choice Overview

Published: Monday, March 2, 2020 - 11:00 | By: Luigi Savinelli
Avoid the pandemic, play games

Along with all of the good that Humble Bundle already brings to the table, they additionally offer players the chance to pick up to nine video games per month from a curated selection (10 if you're on the classic plan). Varying from popular titles to indie games you’ve probably never heard of, Humble Choice generates a diverse curated bundle to help establish the most paramount game libraries. In addition, every subscriber automatically receives up to 20% off titles in the Humble Store. You can’t beat the facts, folks—that’s one heck of a deal.

Considering the worldwide worry about the coronavirus, it is accidentally fitting that the frontrunner of this month's Humble Choice games is a post-apocalyptic survival/city builder. One thing is for certain: Whether you buy into the panic, this month's games will keep you entertained for quite a while. After all, it's good to have something to do in case of quarantine.

 
 

Frostpunk + The Rifts DLC

As far as strategic city builders game go, Frostpunk is one of the most original and unique around.

The player takes the role of the ruler of an enclave of survivors in a world that is going through a calamity called “The Great Frost," an ice storm that engulfs the entire planet and brings death and destruction. The duty of the player is to create a new city around a giant heat generator that will hopefully guarantee the survival of what might be the last beacon of human civilization.

Despite its bleakness and lack of colors, Frostpunk offers a gorgeous, if crude, aesthetic. The art style and the sound design really reflect the hopelessness of the situation and create the perfect background for the events of the game.

As the city ruler, the player will have to manage every aspect of the city’s activities, and this calls for very difficult decisions. Will you enforce 24-hour shifts in order to keep the generator running or allow citizens to rest? Will you add sawdust to the daily soup in order to save rations? Will you build schools or force kids to work? Frostpunk is really good at pushing your buttons and forcing the player to make questionable decisions in order to survive.

Why Pick Frostpunk + The Rifts DLC?

  • One of the most engaging city builders around
  • Awesome art and sound direction
  • Will really make you question your morals

Why Skip Frostpunk + The Rifts DLC?

  • The structures look very similar and kinda blend together
  • Sometimes random events can be overly punishing

Read our review of Frostpunk here.

Pathfinder: Kingmaker

Tabletop RPGs are designed to make the impossible a reality. The players are gifted an incredible amount of freedom to survive adventures of any kind where anything can happen. For obvious reasons, when a tabletop RPG is transported into the digital media, many constraints need to be added to the player’s agency. For this reason, video game RPGs usually focus a lot more on the adventure and the combat and less on activities that are much common when playing with pen and paper. Pathfinder: Kingmaker narrows that gap between the digital screen and the DM screen by giving the players the possibility to rule their own kingdom as part of the adventure.

 

Just like in regular Pathfinder, in Pathfinder: Kingmaker you can create a hero from scratch by choosing from a pretty big selection of available classes and races of the Golarion setting. From there you will assemble a party of up to six characters in order to raise your claim to the territory called the “Stolen Lands” and found your kingdom’s capital in it.

The gameplay is real-time with pausing and is, all in all, a pretty good transposition of the Pathfinder system in video game form. Sometimes it feels like it tries to be too close to its pen-and-paper source and, as a result, at some points, the combat feels a bit sluggish. The good thing is that once its gameplay clicks, it’s really satisfying. The developers are continuing their quest to bring tabletop to the virtual world in a sequel called Wrath of the Righteous.

Why pick Pathfinder: Kingmaker?

  • Fans of the Pathfinder franchise will love this recreation of the official “Kingmaker” Adventure Path
  • Managing your own kingdom is really satisfying. The capital’s appearance even changes depending on the player’s alignment
  • Great characters and dubbing

Why skip Pathfinder: Kingmaker?

 
  • The combat might be a little too slow and methodical for some
  • The game takes its time to really kick in full force

Book of Demons

I, for one, love myself some nice relaxing mindless hack-and-slash action from time to time. It’s satisfying to concentrate all your strategic decisions in the build alone to then explode with furious vengeance on hordes upon hordes of enemies. It is also true that this kind of gameplay loop doesn’t allow for much innovation in the genre. That’s why I find that Book of Demons is a little refreshing view on the dungeon crawler scene.

In Book of Demons, the player doesn’t jump around unleashing hell on hundreds of enemies. The main character can only move on predetermined paths and automatically attacks the enemies in range. The player can assign cards to the hero that can be passives, equipment, or spells. Said like this, it doesn’t sound like a great time, but the appearance can deceive.

Book of Demons is filled with many little details that make the game fascinating. Some enemies will have special attacks that will need to be interrupted by attacking specific icons on the monster’s model, or maybe some will explode in poisonous clouds, forcing the player to keep their distance. The game is trickier than it can appear at a first glance, so don’t be deceived by the pop-up book aesthetic.

A feature worthy of note is the possibility to adjust the length (and relative rewards) of each run in the dungeons with a slider, allowing the player to tailor the game around the time they have available.

Why pick Book of Demons?

  • It does play very differently than other dungeon crawlers
  • The visual art style is just charming

Why skip Book of Demons?

  • If you’re looking for an adrenaline-filled, high-octane action experience, this is not it

Read our preview of Book of Demons here.

Project Warlock

There’s been a return to the roots of the FPS genre in recent years. With the new Wolfenstein series and the new Doom, the developers seem to want to bring back the traditional, fast-paced shooting of the old times. Project Warlock brings this concept a step further (or maybe backward in this case) by adopting the visual style of back then as well.

Project Warlock looks and plays like someone took the game out of the '90s and polished its gameplay a bit. If not for the weird mix between fantasy and modern, one could swear to be playing an improved version of the original Doom, with all the 2D enemy sprites moving in a 3D environment.

The game plays fast, is adrenaline-filled, and is a breath of fresh air for whoever wants to relive the origin days of the FPS genre. Between this and Ion Fury, there is no better time.

Why pick Project Warlock?

  • Plays like an FPS straight from the '90s with way more polish
  • The art direction is old school in a good way

Why skip Project Warlock?

  • It doesn’t really distinguish itself from the competition in meaningful ways

CryoFall

Farming, crafting, and surviving are now close acquaintances of most gamers. Survival games had a boom a couple of years ago, and, while the number has dwindled out, many good ones are still around. CryoFall fits right into this category, with its 2D online survival gameplay with a good bunch of action.

Compared to other survival games, CryoFall is definitely smaller in scope but still offers a lot in terms of gameplay. Forced on a desolate planet, the player will have to gather resources, craft a base, survive the elements, and level up their skill trees in order to carve themselves a place in the server. Given the sci-fi setting, this can mean crafting a lance from sticks and stones found on the ground, up to have your own battle mech and flying hoverboards.

Why pick CryoFall?

  • The presence of PvE servers allow for a more relaxed experience for those who hate PvP
  • Less punishing to start than other survival games

Why skip CryoFall?

  • If you played other survival games, there is not a whole lot that you didn’t already see

Night Call

What’s more relaxing than driving in the scarcely trafficked roads of a European capital city at night? That’s what the main character of Night Call thought as well until he was almost killed by a serial killer and then forced by a corrupt police officer to investigate on her behalf.

Night Call is a noir investigation game where the player takes the role of a taxi driver that works the night shift in the streets of Paris. The point of the game is to take advantage of the role of a driver to talk to the passenger and gather clues to discover the identity of the serial killer who stalks the night. The player needs to balance these investigations with the need of our character to pay the bills and make ends meet.

Night Call offers a greatly written experience filled with interesting characters and the possibility to know more of our passengers' lives, even if it’s not necessarily related to the investigation. The art style is simple but contributes to creating that noir graphic novel tone that really makes the game’s experience pop.

Why pick Night Call?

  • Interacting with the passengers is the best part of the game
  • Pretty decent noir novel writing

Why skip Night Call?

  • The time and money management part starts feeling like a chore after a while

Read our review of Night Call here

Shenzhen I/O

Zachtronics is a relatively known name in the indie gaming industry. He’s known for creating interesting and pretty complex puzzle games with sandbox elements, which most of the times revolve around automation or pseudo programming. Shenzhen I/O follows this formula as well with a simple premise but a good deal of layers of complexity associated to it.

In Shenzhen I/O the player will have to solve a series of puzzles by constructing circuit boards and implementing relatively simple programming logic in the components in order to transform input signals into the desired outputs. The premise, as often found in Zachtronic games, is pretty simple, and the moving parts that the player will have to manipulate are pretty straightforward as well. The game ramps up in complexity as soon as the puzzles require the components to interact with each other in a number of possible ways.

The game is not exactly an “entry-level” puzzle experience. Just think that Shenzhen I/O comes with a 41-page PDF manual which explains the various components and the basics of the programming language that they use. The game advises you to print the PDF for quick consulting.

Why pick Shenzhen I/O?

  • Zachtronics makes some of the most mentally stimulating games out there, and this is no exception
  • This game will scratch your logic and programming itches

Why skip Shenzhen I/O?

  • The high complexity might be a turnoff for many people

Eliza

As already mentioned, Zachtronics Games is best known for making high-quality gameplay-focused puzzle games. For this reason, it was quite a surprise when he announced that the next game would be a story-focused visual novel.

Eliza is set in a not-so-distant future where society is leaning towards the automation of most tasks, even complicated ones. The player follows the story of Evelynn, a woman who just found a job as a proxy for an artificial intelligence that aims to help the treatment of mental illnesses, the titular Eliza. As a proxy, Evelynn will act as the human “face” for the app, while all she has to do is repeat the prompts that appear on her headset while Eliza evaluates the behavior of the patient in order to define the best course of action.

Eliza explores the concept of automation taken to the extreme, even to those fields where the human connection should not be replaced. It is an interesting narrative experience that sets the spotlight on the nature of the human condition and our relationship with technology.

Why pick Eliza?

  • It’s an interesting visual novel that touches many fascinating topics
  • Amazing art and soundtrack

Why skip Eliza?

  • Often it feels like the game overexplains its message

Okami HD

Okami is considered by many a classic of the video-game medium. It encountered critical acclaim when it released back in 2006, but as often happens with cult products, it did not sell all that much at launch. Okami HD is a re-release of the game on current-gen platforms (and PC obviously), which is a great opportunity for those who missed it back then to experience this astounding game.

Okami follows the adventures of Amaterasu, an incarnation of a god in the form of a legendary wolf that once gave his life to defeat a great evil. Brought back to life to face a new menace, Amaterasu travels a world of fantastical creatures and weird characters in order to gather the 13 divine brushes. These brushes have the power to materialize what is drawn straight in the game world. By pressing a button, the game takes the appearance of a drawing and the player can draw on the canvas predetermined patterns with varying effects, depending on the unlocked brushes.

The game plays like a classic action/adventure with some reminiscences of The Legend of Zelda. The art style is just amazing, and the world is colorful, vibrant, interesting, and generally a joy to explore. Combat is not particularly difficult, but it’s always satisfying to finish an enemy with a quick movement of the right analog stick to slash through an enemy.

Why pick Okami HD?

  • If you missed this classic, this is a great opportunity to live the legend
  • Okami HD is an absolute delight for the eyes

Why skip Okami HD?

  • Despite the new coat of paint, the gameplay can still feel a bit dated

The Hex

Why have a single gameplay loop when you can have six?

The Hex is a satirical investigation game where the player takes control, in turns, of six video-game characters coming from six different genres. The characters are chilling in a tavern when the owner receives a call stating that someone is planning a murder that night and the killer is in that room. The player will control each of the six characters and relive their memories which are, of course, memories of their glory days as video-game characters.

The six characters will experience their own gameplay genre in their memories. Super Weasel Kid will reminisce of jumping from platform to platform while our wasteland survivor will fight in a turn-based tactical grid. The game also has some meta elements (the part when the platformer character started jumping over blocks of fake Steam reviews with accounts taken from my friend list got a chuckle out me) and many references to existing IPs, without ever being obnoxious.

Why pick The Hex?

  • The story has some brilliant moments in it
  • It gives an intelligent perspective over some elements of the game industry

Why skip The Hex?

  • The gameplay lacks any real depth

Warstone TD

Tower defense games had their peak back when flash games sites like Kongregate and Newgrounds were all the rage. Since then, there have been few ones worthy of note on the PC, each introducing their own gimmicks. Warstone TD is a tower defense game that will really appeal to the nostalgic people who miss the simple gameplay of the early days of the genre, but the game also has its own twists to make it palatable to everyone else.

The main gameplay scenarios are pretty classic. Place warriors of varying types on pedestals so they can kill the approaching horde of monsters with their skills, cast spells for various effects and prevent the enemies from reaching the end of the route. Between levels, though, you will dabble in a bit of city-building and management in order to unlock new units, powers, and items. Also, you’ll be able to specialize in three different skill paths, each with their own skills and way of playing. All in all, a well-rounded experience.

Why pick Warstone TD?

  • Good old tower-defense action is always relaxing
  • Nice comic-style cutscenes

Why skip Warstone TD?

  • It kind of looks like a tablet game

Underhero

Underhero is a game that allows players to live the fantasy of every employee in the world: plotting to kill their employer.

After the untimely demise of the hero of destiny while he was on his way to vanquish the dark Mr. Stitches, the legendary talking hilt of the heroes Elizabeth IV is forced to convince one of the Dark Lord's underlings to take the reins of the quest. Since the new “hero” is not strong enough to face his evil master, the little creature and the magic hilt will pretend to carry over quests for him to gain power while gathering support from Stitches’ subjects.

Underhero plays a bit like a turn-based Japanese RPG with characters fighting each other in turns. The “turns,” though, are tied to a stamina meters that slowly replenish. In order to attack, our underling will have to use a certain amount of stamina that can also be replenished by parrying, evasive maneuvers, and using items. This stamina mechanic adds a real-time element to the mix that creates a weird and interesting variation on the genre, with actions interspersed by resource management instead of turn order.

Why pick Underhero?

  • Fascinating combat mechanic which forces you to adapt your strategies depending on the enemy
  • Quirky characters and storyline

Why skip Underhero?

  • It’s really really easy

Humble Original: Tales From Off-Peak City Vol. 1

Humble Originals are extra games already included in the subscription and don't factor into the choice count.

The video-game medium often takes inspiration from other visual media. For this reason, there are quite a bit of games that have surrealism at their core. Tales From Off-Peak City Vol. 1 takes that inspiration and cranks it up to 11.

The first thing the player sees when the game starts up is something reminiscent of Bioshock Infinite. The main character is being transported via boat to a distant city by two enigmatic (and extremely weird) figures. Its task is to steal the prized saxophone of a former musician turned pizza-restaurant owner. The fact that is immediately clear is that the city is not exactly “normal.” From talking buildings that want to sell stuff to weird animated characters roaming the streets to the entire landscape making no sense structurally, the city of the game looks like it’s straight out a fever dream. This is, though, also what makes the town so interesting to explore. Who knows what crazy thing is waiting for the player after the next corner?


The world looks like a game of Plague Inc. gone haywire these days, but don't worry! Between the emotionally charged Frostpunk, the action-packed Project Warlock, the unusually meta The Hex, and all the other games to choose among this month, the quarantine will be done in a flash!

Disclosure: Humble Bundle works with TechRaptor for affiliate partnership, and TechRaptor earns a small commission off purchases made from links in this article.


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Luigi Savinelli profile picture
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Gamer since I can remember and now writer for your enjoyment. Can't say more. Those games will not play themselves