March 2020 Humble Choice Overview

Published: Wednesday, March 25, 2020 - 12:00 | By: Luigi Savinelli
Social Distancing Edition

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.

It looks like the entire western world started to follow suit with Italy about the rules to follow during this emergency time. This includes not leaving your home unless it's strictly necessary and maintaining social distancing at any given moment. For a while, everyone will have to spend way more time than usual between the walls of their houses, so why not spend some of that time by playing some quality games? In this month's Humble Choice selection, we can pirouette guns a-blazing in My Friend Pedro, race at the top of the Formula One championship in F1 2019 ,and reminisce about the days where we were still able to be side by side with strangers with Planet Coaster.

 
 

My Friend Pedro

If you’re one of the few people in the world that never found themselves tied in the basement of a butcher’s shop with a flying banana telling them to go on a rampage and kill a bunch of mobsters, My Friend Pedro is a close enough representation of the situation.

In this side-scrolling action game, our nameless main character will have to traverse the levels with the unique intention of killing all the enemies in its way in the most stylish way possible. Toss a pan in the air and shoot it to have the bullets ricochet into the gangsters, slide down the stairs with a skateboard and kick it in the face of an enemy before shooting two of his friends, all while pirouetting in the next room.

The mechanic that sets My Friend Pedro apart is the possibility to use two guns to shoot in different directions at the same time. Just aim to an enemy, press a button and one of the guns will be locked in position, leaving you free to aim freely with the other one. This mechanic, united with the highly acrobatic movement system, makes My Friend Pedro all about that action.

Why pick My Friend Pedro?

  • Extremely satisfying action gameplay
  • Gives room to the player’s creativity on how to approach each room
  • Very stylish presentation

Why skip My Friend Pedro?

  • Levels are quite short
  • The technical side is quite underwhelming

Read our review of My Friend Pedro here.

Planet Coaster + World's Fair Pack DLC

Indie developers have a knack for taking genres almost forgotten by the mainstream software houses and put them in the spotlight again. Management games didn’t receive a lot of love from AAA publishers in the past few years, but, for the joy of the genre fans, smaller indie teams came to the rescue by giving us games like Two Point Hospital, Cities: Skylines and, of course, Planet Coaster.

 

Planet Coaster wears on its sleeve the inspiration from games like Theme Park and Rollercoaster Tycoon and puts it to work masterfully. The game gives to the player a gigantic array of tools to build their dream theme park. There are so many assets for an aspiring park manager to choose from that it can even be overwhelming, especially if you skip the campaign and go straight for the sandbox mode.

Between terrain modeling and a great choice of shops, rides, and everything in between, everyone will be able to build and manage the park of their dreams. And if there’s something missing, there’s a very active mod community, and their work is available straight from the Steam Workshop.

Why pick Planet Coaster + World's Fair Pack DLC?

 
  • A must get for fans of park-building games
  • The building system is an absolute blast
  • Great campaign and challenges

Why skip Planet Coaster + World's Fair Pack DLC?

  • The management side of things is not as well put together than the building part
  • Needs some micromanagement for the staff and research

Read our review of Planet Coaster here.

F1 2019 Anniversary Edition

For fans of the sport, the F1 series needs no introduction. As the official video game of the 2019 FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP, F1 2019 is the last game in a series that has been for years the go-to for those who seek the most realistic possible simulation of Formula 1 races.

In F1 2019 ,the player will have at their disposal all the official teams, drivers, and all 21 circuits from the 2019 season. This time, the career mode will have a twist compared to the past. The player’s career will start from the F2 championship, and they'll have to rise to the top of the category before stepping up to the big leagues of the F1.

F1 2019 offers the best simulation of this motorsport and joins it to a stunning visual presentation with all the cars looking absolutely gorgeous.

Why pick F1 2019 Anniversary Edition?

  • If you’re a fan of Formula 1, you will adore this
  • Technically impressive

Why skip F1 2019 Anniversary Edition?

  • If you’re not into racing games at all, this is not for you

Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark

Final Fantasy Tactics is considered by many a masterpiece in the tactical, turn-based RPG genre. Despite that, for some reason, there are very few games that are able to replicate its gameplay formula successfully. Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark is one of the titles that doesn’t just manage to recreate that gameplay but also improves it in many ways.
The battles of Fell Seal: Arbiter’s Mark take place in wide areas with different kinds of terrains, elevation, and environmental features to be wary of. Positioning your units will be essential since suffering blows from the side or the back deal bonus damage. The player has to take advantage of the feature of all the available classes in order to outmaneuver the enemy and come out on top.

The game offers a wide variety of options to tailor the gameplay to one’s preferred strategy. There’s a deep class system that allows units to have their own class, subclass, and passives so that each warrior can be different than any other. With the many equipment items and abilities, the player can be sure to be able to create the perfect party of adventurers for their way to play. Add a great story that's reminiscent of classic video games and a beautiful presentation with gorgeous pixel art, and you have the perfect game for the strategy-inclined gamer.

Why pick Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark?

  • A beautiful love letter to classics of the turn-based tactical RPGs
  • Customization options galore!

Why skip Fell Seal: Arbiter's Mark?

  • Because of its tactical nature, the game plays very slowly

Battle Chasers: Nightwar

While JRPG is a genre that comes from the land of the rising sun, it’s good from time to time to remind ourselves that we have some good ones coming out from western studios as well. Battle Chasers: Nightwar is a classic JRPG in both feel and mechanics set in the world of the Battle Chasers comic series.

Battle Chasers: Nightwar plays like a classical JRPG with turn-based combat where a party of three characters spends mana to cast spells and abilities, alternating with the enemies. An interesting twist is the use of the “Overcharge." By using basic attacks and some abilities, characters build up a red bar that can be used in substitution of mana to use the abilities, but it depletes after each combat. This simple mechanic encourages the players to make use of their best skills even when fighting random enemies without the need to nurse their mana pool too much.

It cannot be stated enough how pretty Battle Chasers: Nightwar looks. The world and the models look like they’re straight out of a comic, and the animation is extremely well executed. You can feel the weight of each punch, fireball, and sword swing your party unleashes against the enemy.

Why pick Battle Chasers: Nightwar?

  • Extremely enjoyable classic JRPG combat
  • Visually stunning

Why skip Battle Chasers: Nightwar?

  • It becomes very grindy very soon

EXAPUNKS

At this point, Zachtronics are a semi-regular appointment in the Humble Choice selection. EXAPUNKS follows the tradition of brain-twisting puzzle games with computer science or engineering elements in it with this challenging title about hacking and programming.

The main character of EXAPUNKS used to be a hacker before they got an illness called “the phage.” Someone offered them a deal: They could hack at their behest in exchange for a dose of medicine after each job. So our hero has to learn how to program EXAs (little pieces of software that can travel across networks) in order to complete the tasks assigned to them.

The entire gameplay of EXAPUNKS consists of programming the EXAs using a series of simple commands that the player has to learn by reading a fanzine (which is an actual PDF file that should be printed and consulted when needed). While the first missions are simple enough (go to a specific PC, copy a file, do not leave any trace), the more the game progresses, the more complicated the jobs become. At the same time, it becomes more satisfying to pull off a successful hacking.

Why pick EXAPUNKS?

  • As with all Zachtronics games, it’s a brainteaser of legends
  • Managing to pull off a difficult job after trying for long is intoxicating

Why skip EXAPUNKS?

  • It gets really complicated (and frustrating) real fast

Turok

Who doesn’t love the mindless rampage of classic FPS games?

Back in 1997, Turok took the world by storm by sporting an enjoyable and frenetic FPS experience where the player could explore a vast 3D world and shoot dinosaurs in the face.

Freaking.

Dinosaurs.

It’s no surprise that Turok is considered a jewel among the FPS games of the '90s. It had a vast arsenal of weapons, good AI where every enemy felt unique, and beautiful 3D scenery (at least for the time). With this version, the game has been improved with support for high resolutions, modernized gameplay, and rebindable keys among other modern quality of life improvements.

Also, in case I didn’t mention it enough, you get to shoot cyber dinosaurs in their cyber face.

Why pick Turok?

  • Any excuse is good enough to relive a this classic title
  • You get to shoot dinosaurs in the face

Why skip Turok?

  • Despite the new coat of paint, it definitely looks dated

Read our review of Turok here.

Death’s Gambit

“Soulslike” as a term has been mistakenly used to indicate many difficult games with challenging combat. In my opinion, an actual Soulslike is a game that is inspired by the Souls saga in much more depth than its challenge. Death’s Gambit is a title that can be safely defined as 2D Soulslike since much of its core gameplay is reminiscent of Dark Souls, with some interesting twists here and there.

Death’s Gambit has all the trademark mechanics of a Souls game: grim setting, challenging combat, focus on dodge rolling and parrying, and so forth. It still manages to be its own beast nonetheless with its 2D perspective and Metroidvania inspiration. With its beautiful pixel art, the game manages to capture the interest of the player, but it’s undermined by a constant deja-vu sensation as everything that the game offers has been done somewhere else, and better. Despite that, Death’s Gambit is a serviceable Soulslike with some interesting stuff here and there.

Why pick Death’s Gambit?

  • Great visual style
  • Lovers of Souls games will feel right at home

Why skip Death’s Gambit?

  • It doesn’t really offer anything new to those accustomed with the genre

Read our review of Death's Gambit here.

198X

Do you know what the video games scene has not enough of? Coming-of-age stories. Aside from Life is Strange and a few others, there are just not many games that explore this aspect of life, at least not as much as other media. That’s where 198X comes into play.

198X follows the story of our main character, just named “The Kid,” and their internal monologue as they start wondering what life is all about. The pivotal change in the Kid’s story happens with the discovery of a disheveled arcade in the basement of an old building in their small town. The story progresses by playing the games in this arcade, linking each of the five games with beautifully drawn pixel art cutscenes.

The games are short, simple, and very well put-together. While the entire experience is pretty brief, the nostalgia prompted by the old-style gameplay, united by the '80s synth soundtrack, manages to keep the player involved for the duration of the experience.

Why pick 198X?

  • If you like a good, albeit short, story, this is a good one
  • The five games are pretty entertaining on their own merit

Why skip 198X?

  • You can wrap up the entire thing in a couple of hours or less

Niffelheim

In Norse mythology when a warrior dies, he goes to Valhalla, right? Well, according to Niffelheim that’s not always the case. Sometimes they will be required to earn the right to see the doors of Asgard.

The player will be able to choose between four warriors, with different stats of health, satiety, and damage, to start their journey. The game revolves around survival and crafting as the player will have to gather resources and build the tools and buildings required to survive the undead land they find stranded upon.

At its core, Niffelheim is not different from many other survival games. You gather materials, construct better and better instruments, and try to find your way to the next objective. The 2D perspective with side camera gives a bit of a novel flavor to the whole ordeal, and the beautiful hand-painted scenarios really bring the game to life.

Why pick Niffelheim?

  • Amazing hand-painted art
  • Pretty deep skill trees

Why skip Niffelheim?

  • The combat system is lackluster

AI War 2

The AI War franchise plot is extremely simple: a war between humanity and a malevolent AI sparked, the AI won, you control the last planet under humanity’s rule and must organize a campaign to take back control of the galaxy.

AI War 2 is an extremely well built real-time strategy game that aims to automate a lot of the micromanagement decisions in order to leave the player free to indulge in the strategic and military side of the game. For this reason, AI War 2 is much  closer to something like Sins of a Solar Empire than a 4X game like, say, Stellaris.

The game encourages the player to consider carefully their options. Attacking a planet will raise the “AI Progress” bar, which means the AI will be more aware of the human threat and will act accordingly—more reprisal, stronger units, and all that good stuff. The optimal strategy is then launching surgical, strategic attacks rather than an all-out assault to not piss off too much the synthetic enemy before being ready to face its full force.

Why pick AI War 2?

  • A great RTS game in an age where RTSs are a rarity
  • Limited micromanagement required

Why skip AI War 2?

  • Unremarkable presentation

Etherborn

Time to stretch your brain muscles and prove yourself in a sweet puzzle game. Etherborn is a short and sweet puzzle game where the central mechanic is that if you walk over a slope, the gravity moves with you, allowing the protagonist to walk on walls and fall sideways. This is the central and only mechanic of the game, and it’s used to create many mind-bending environmental puzzles.

Aside from the gameplay, Etherborn hits the player with a surreal presentation that goes from the humanoid-shaped figure of the player’s avatar to the geometrical environments. It doesn’t have a story in the traditional sense. During the gameplay, a voice interrogates the player about philosophical issues like the nature of humanity.

The only issue with Etherborn is that it doesn’t get to explore its central mechanic deeply as the game only has a handful of levels which will require no more than three hours for most players to complete.

Why pick Etherborn?

  • Simple but engaging core gameplay
  • Minimalist presentation with a pinch of philosophical discussion

Why skip Etherborn?

  • Way too short

Read our review of Etherborn here.

Space Routine

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

Space Routine is this month’s Humble Original game. It is set in a retro-futuristic cartoony universe where you will have to manage the daily life of a future family. Basically, it’s the answer to the question: “What if The Sims, but in space?”

There is a clear inspiration from The Jetsons here, both in the setting and the presentation. The game itself is pretty entertaining, as there are many events that can unfold by just taking care of the needs of your fictional family. And yes, you’ll have to deal with traffic in the future as well.

One Step from Eden Exclusive Sneak Peek

In addition to the regular selection, this month’s Humble Choice includes an exclusive demo/sneak peek to One Step From Eden, a real-time deck-building roguelite action game that will be released on March 26.

In this game, the player will collect spells and artifacts and will move in a tactical grid in real-time while battling hundreds of monsters at a ludicrous rhythm. It's definitely a game to keep an eye on as it aims to innovate the roguelite scene just as we all thought it was played out.


The ongoing situation with COVID-19 will eventually get better but it will take a while. For the duration of the emergency, it's everyone's responsibility to do whatever possible to avoid any unnecessary social interaction. So sit back, relax, and play some games. There are a bunch of great ones this month.

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
Writer

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