For the month of April, Humble has put out some real bangers in their Choice bundle. You get Ghostrunner, which is an excellent first-person cyberpunk hack ‘n’ slash. Anyone who was disappointed by the lack of swordplay and poor melee combat in Cyberpunk 2077 will absolutely love this game.
Then, there’s the Destroy All Humans! (remake) that was released in 2020. Even if you didn’t play the original PS2 version back in 2005, this game holds up very well on its own. It’s one of the most engaging sandbox games you’ll play, with a whole bunch of wacky weapons and superpowers at your disposal.
You’re getting a total of 8 games this month, with AA titles such as Ghostrunner that rival AAA releases in terms of polish. The retail pricing for April’s Humble choice comes out to a total of US$215, which is down $47 from the last month. But the March bundle is a tough one to surpass since it contained both Mass Effect Legendary Edition and Desperados III.
Sure, this month’s Humble Choice doesn’t have any 60-dollar AAA titles. And that might feel like a loss in value to some people. Especially when compared to last month’s package.
But I still rate it 4 out of 5 because there are so many excellent AA and indie games. You see, what really matters is having fun- not the production budget or marketing hype. And Ghostrunner is easily one of the most innovative games in recent memory.
Destroy All Humans! is also an excellent game, ideal for gamers of all ages. Especially if you love sandbox games similar to GTA or Just Cause. Finally, there are the indie gems such as Chicken Police and Rogue Heroes.
|Cyberpunk, First-Person Action Platformer
|My Personal Rating
Ghostrunner is probably the most desirable of all games in this month’s Humble Choice package. And Humble even features it alongside Destroy All Humans! as one of two “premier” offerings for the April 2022 Choice selection. Every month, they have around 6 to 9 games on offer for the Choice bundle.
At least one or two are AA/ AAA games with a very high critical review score. While the others are indie or older games with decent to above-average reviews. This time, Ghostrunner seems to be the top dog (even though it isn’t priced like a AAA game).
So, does it hold up to further examination? Let’s find out. Firstly, this is very different from your typical cyberpunk action game.
Instead of a shooter, it’s a ninja hack ‘n slash. Think Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance, but set within a dystopian cyberpunk world. And the protagonist doesn’t get a health bar, he just dies in one hit to literally every enemy attack.
That’s right, you get one shot by even a simple pistol hit from any of the interchangeable enemy NPCs standing around every street corner. So how do you combat this seemingly fatal weakness? Through insane amounts of mobility and an awesome katana that slices through just about everything- living or mechanical.
Sure, you die in just one hit. But so do enemies. And they have extremely dull AI for the most part which makes it easy to flank their positions once you get a hang of the movement in this game.
You are going to die a lot in Ghostrunner, trust me on that. It isn’t uncommon for people to die 50 to 80 times in their first hour of gameplay. But the game has plenty of checkpoints and load times are short, so you always regain progress right before your death.
This game encourages a trial and error style of gameplay. With each subsequent attempt, you get one step closer to figuring out the optimal path through a group of enemies. And you eventually get some pretty cool abilities that allow you to blaze through large groups of enemies.
Ghostrunner punishes you for not moving. And it rewards you for timing counterattacks. If you use your sword properly, you can reflect enemy projectiles right back at them (just like Jedis with their lightsabers).
Even the world around you is deadly, forcing you to think before you leap. In that sense, this game feels like a mix of Super Meat Boy and Hotline Miami. Because it’s filled with traps and environmental hazards at every turn.
There are giant shredder wheels, floating walls, mines, sentry robots, etc., and you have to be aware of their positions to make it around each level. Dodge environmental hazards, kill enemies, progress story, and repeat. The game isn’t very long, even the average player can complete it within 8 hours.
But during those 8 hours, you get a solidly written narrative and some really awesome cybernetic ninja action. There are no extended cinematic cutscenes or 2-hour tutorials. This game doesn’t hold your hand or tell you exactly how to do things, and that’s something I like about it.
Is it hard? Definitely, but that makes it all the more rewarding once you start getting the hang of things. Plus, it has really cool art design and synth-wave soundtracks that I absolutely love.
Destroy All Humans!
|My Personal Rating
This game is what would happen if E.T. from the 1992 Spielberg movie got really pissed off, and decided to kill everything that walks, breathes, or crawls. You’re an angry little alien called Crypto-137, with extremely advanced weapons who has been sent to Earth on a mission. The mission is to retrieve Crypto-136’s spaceship and body since he was captured by humans upon landing.
What was your little gray friend doing on Earth? He was sent here on a secret mission to mine human DNA. You see, both Crypto-136 and Crypto-137 are part of an extremely advanced alien race known as the Furons.
Long ago, the Furons managed to achieve immortality through advanced cloning techniques. Great stuff, right? Except, several centuries of cloning have caused some unforeseen side effects.
It has caused degradation in their genetic code and since Furons have no genitalia, there is no way to reproduce anymore. But wait, there’s hope! Several millennia ago, some of the Furons visited Earth and managed to “procreate” with primitive human beings.
So now, humans carry ancient Furon genetic material in their DNA. This is a pure, untainted genetic code from back when the aliens hadn’t destroyed it through excessive cloning. And your friend was sent to retrieve it but got captured by Area 51 agents.
Destroy All Humans! is a remake of the original PS2 game that was released in 2005. Back then, it was created as a GTA clone with some interesting twists. You have telekinetic powers, ray guns, and other advanced tools to play around with inside a massive city sandbox.
The remake has introduced some quality of life improvements and infinitely better graphics while retaining the story and characters. I would say this game feels like a mix of Just Cause 3 and Saints Row IV, with several references to 1950’s alien sci-fi movies. It’s a gigantic sandbox, with plenty of human brains to suck and objects that can be tossed around with your telekinetic powers.
In terms of weapon variety, it isn’t as diverse as GTA or Just Cause. However, the 4 primary weapons you do get are extremely versatile. Oh, and you also get your very own saucer-shaped UFO with tractor beams and lasers.
Crypto-137 can enter risky places by disguising himself as a human. You even have a jetpack for short bursts of flight. And the weapons are incredibly fun to use.
There’s an electric gun that fires arcing beams of current which bounce in between targets for increased damage. Then, there’s a mini blackhole launcher that completely eviscerates anything caught in the explosion radius. You can also upgrade these sci-fi weapons as you progress through the game.
Using your telekinesis powers, you can lift up everything from cows to tanks. And there is a transmogrify function that lets you create ammo from random objects lying around you (even vehicles). This is the main way to get ammo since you rarely find drops unless you are in a boss fight.
|RPG, Creature-Training, 2D
|My Personal Rating
Is it a turn-based strategy game or just another indie game for kids to mess around with when they aren’t busy with Minecraft? Monster Sanctuary is probably the best indie title I’ve seen in a long time. And it’s certainly up there in quality with top-tier AAA releases, at least in terms of how much enjoyment it brings you.
I would go so far as to say that most modern AAA releases don’t have this level of versatility in gameplay or freedom of player choice. And it’s a nice thing Humble included Monster Sanctuary in this month’s Choice because it really elevates the overall value. Think of this game as a mix between Pokémon and Paper Mario.
You go around collecting monsters, who can then be trained to become even more powerful. Combat involves a deep understanding of the strengths and weaknesses associated with each monster type. Every monster has a unique set of base stats which are improved through experience.
And then, you also have skill trees for each monster. These skill trees provide both stat boosts and passive abilities. On top of all this, there are item slots where you can equip weapons and accessories.
After sufficient training, your monsters become eligible for an evolutionary transformation. This can be a “Light Shift” or “Dark Shift”. Depending on which path you choose, your monster gains a new passive ability.
The best part of this game is mixing and matching monsters within your party so they complement each other. You can customize each monster for various playstyles- tank, healing, crit, DPS, etc.
Monsters are divided into 4 elemental categories- fire, earth, water, and wind. Unlike Pokémon, monsters can be affiliated with multiple elements. And this decides their weaknesses, resistances, special moves, etc.
To move around in the 2D platforming world of Monster Sanctuary, you will often have to use the abilities of your monsters. These are called exploration abilities and can help you fly, break barriers, construct new paths, etc. With a roster of over 100 monsters, there are endless possibilities for customizing your party.
All things considered, I’d say Monster Sanctuary is definitely worth checking out. It has endless potential for replayability and is sure to hook you in once you’ve dedicated a few hours to understand basic concepts.
|Action-RPG, Top-Down Shooter, Co-Op
|My Personal Rating
This game was released way back in 2019, by a Spanish indie studio called Novarama. Ever since then, it has been receiving tons of updates in the form of features and bug fixes/ polish. The game can be pretty fun depending on what you’re looking for.
If you want a deep, narrative-driven action experience with tons of replayability then this isn’t it. Killsquad feels like Destiny-lite, a looter shooter packaged into a top-down action RPG. It has a little bit of everything, which is why it doesn’t excel in any particular area.
Gameplay involves hack ‘n slash, shooting, spellcasting, and dodging. Since this is an RPG, you also get items, skill upgrades, etc. And you will have to do quite a bit of grinding through online co-op if you wish to get better contracts and loot.
The graphics are more than acceptable for an indie title of this type, but they aren’t outstanding. Controls feel smooth and responsive, whether you’re using a mouse and keyboard or a controller. Sound effects and music are decent, but once again- they don’t exactly stand out as exceptional.
While the game can feel grindy, its contracts are fairly short and sweet. They can be done in 15 to 20 minutes, for the most part. Around 30+ contracts are distributed between 5 unique planets.
Killsquad also has some MOBA elements, since it features “hero” characters that are distributed among 5 unique classes. You start each mission at level 1 and go all the way up to 10. Progress made in items and abilities will carry through, you just start out weak at the beginning of a level and gradually get stronger.
Depending on which hero you choose, your gameplay will vary between hack ‘n slash or shooting. You’ll be able to create team comps that contain healers, snipers, tanks, etc. There are items for each of the 5 classes, along with cosmetics and talismans.
Rogue Heroes: Ruins of Tasos
|My Personal Rating
A fairly basic retro-themed roguelite adventure that’s inspired by classics such as Legend of Zelda. You are a hero who has been chosen to save the day in Tasos- a land of mystery and magic. Tasos once had an all-powerful goddess who sealed 4 malevolent titans inside dungeons.
Now, these titans are trying to break out of their ancient prisons. In the process, they are releasing minions who wreak havoc across the land. Dungeons are procedurally generated, so every playthrough you make is going to be different.
Enemy locations, item stashes, loot, etc. will all vary from one session to another. If you die, you lose all your items. However, you get to keep gems which are the currency that you need to purchase items at the shop.
Certain items aren’t lost upon death, these are permanent (you get them later, as you play through the game). There are all kinds of tools that you’ll find scattered around the world of Tasos. Like the bomb- it’s an explosive that you can drop to damage all enemies within a certain area.
You also have the Book of Beasts which is a utility item. If you last hit an enemy with this book equipped, you get to learn about their weakness, strengths, origin, etc. There are basic items like lamps, shovels, fishing rods, etc. (yes, you can fish and gather resources in this game).
If you wish, you can even plant seeds on your personal farm to grow trees. From here, you can harvest fruits and vegetables. There are bottles to store potions, which can heal or improve certain abilities.
For many of the basic items, there are glass versions that you find exclusively inside dungeons. These glass items break upon death, and will also vanish if you leave the dungeon. So use them wisely.
|Text-Based RPG, Diplomacy, Visual Adventure
|My Personal Rating
Suzerain can often feel like a life choice rather than a game. It makes you question your own beliefs and values as you encounter some of the most cunning, generous, vile, and twisted people ever written in fiction. But first- what even is this game?
It’s a political adventure with text-based role-playing elements. You don’t fight orcs with a sword or build giant monuments. Instead, you mostly engage in talks with people and sign documents.
Suzerain lets you pick your own past. But no matter which background you choose, the starting point puts you in the shoes of a newly elected leader for a country called Sordland. Prior to this, you can choose the history of your country and the promises you made before getting elected.
You get to decide if your country went through a civil war before you got elected. Or if you promised to rebuild the economy/ military. If you want, you can be an authoritarian dictator or a monarch figure.
The game has slow pacing at the start, with very few meaningful choices that swing the narrative. However, it starts opening up after a few hours. You get more dialogue options and the partial ability to curate/ script your own speeches.
Your country obviously doesn’t exist inside a vacuum. There are both internal and external forces you have to contend with. These factions have their own personal interests that may not align with your own.
You can travel to foreign republics and establish diplomatic ties. Each location on the map has a page in the glossary, where you can read up on its history and lore. This will help you make valuable decisions, especially when it comes to building industry and farmlands.
Oligarchs, mayors, senators, etc. will need to be appeased to ensure stability within your nation. You get to choose the members of your own administration and can veto/ pass bills. Promises will be made and broken, depending on the choices you select.
|Buddy-Cop Noir Adventure
|My Personal Rating
If you’ve ever watched any classic noir films, you’ll immediately recognize what this game is all about. It isn’t trying to be a faithful recreation of those movies. Instead, it’s a parody that provides a satirical take on cliches and common themes found in all film noir.
You have the downbeat middle-aged cop who’s cynical and mistrusting. Then there’s the partner, with whom you have a long yet rocky relationship. Sonny and Marty worked on several cases together and used to be stars of their police department in the city of Clawville.
But after years of gang busts, shootouts, betrayals, and backroom politics, both of these cops have been reduced to a shell of their former selves. Sonny is an old alcoholic who just does his job for the money. While Marty is a washed-up replica who just pretends to be the star he once was.
At one point, you learn that the dynamic duo nearly killed each other while working on an important case. But they have to put aside their differences for one final job. You have all the noir tropes- a femme fatale, seedy mobsters who’re running things from the underground, corrupt officials, and regular people just trying to survive.
Most of the game is about talking with people, taking notes, and connecting dots on a map. You are trying to piece together evidence from witness testimonies and clues, to solve a mysterious case. Along the way, you meet up with all sorts of shady characters.
The game does a nice job aesthetically, with its authentic depiction of 1950s American cities and excellent jazz soundtrack. Occasionally, you’ll have shooting segments and puzzles to spice up the gameplay. I highly recommend giving this game a try if you want a choice-driven visual novel that’s based on classic film noir.
Naruto to Boruto: Shinobi Striker
|Ninja Action, Anime, Online Multiplayer
|My Personal Rating
Upon release, many found Shinobi Striker to be an incomplete and buggy mess that was lacking in several key areas. Namely, the absence of a story mode that lets you relive the Naruto and Naruto Shippuden anime. Combine that with the unreasonably high retail price, and you have a game that is very hard to recommend for 50 bucks.
But as part of a Humble Choice bundle? This is an excellent little bit of extra content for any Naruto fans out there. Even if you aren’t a Naruto fan and only watched the anime once like 10 years ago, you’ll still end up having a fun time with this game.
So, what is Shinobi Striker? Is it an online MMO or a fighting game? I feel it’s a bit of both since it has a combat system similar to DBZ Kakarot, in addition to 4-player online team fights.
This game isn’t canonically true to the manga or anime, since it’s a VT training sequence that lets you replay many scenes from the anime. But not in a continuous fashion, and there’s no overarching story. You can download “training packs” that cost real money and act like DLCs, adding events from the manga/ anime (like the final battle with Sasuke).
By winning various training battles, you get ability and gear upgrades. You can also create your own custom shinobi character, and participate in tournaments/ events to become the top ninja. The graphics look neat, with flashy animations that really bring some of the special moves from the anime to life.
This month’s Humble Choice manages to strike well above its weight class. It contains so many excellent indie games from a wide variety of genres. And these aren’t just retro platformers with 8-bit graphics, games like Chicken Police and Suzerain are actually very well-made.
The graphics on Ghostrunner (a AA game) feels indistinguishable from mainstream AAA cyberpunk favorites such as Deus Ex. And when it comes to gameplay, you’ll find yourself immersed for weeks with Rogue Heroes and Killsquad. Whether you’re looking for cyberpunk ninja action, monster trainers, or roguelite- Humble Choice has you covered.
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