First Tuesday of each month, Humble provides a curated list of games that are yours to own forever if you’re a Choice subscriber. Usually, the majority of these are indie titles but occasionally you get a gem in the form of AAA games. For this month, the standout title is Borderlands 3 (and 7 other games).
For February of 2022, you’re getting a total of 8 unique games (one of which is the AAA masterpiece Borderlands 3). If you add up the retail prices for all 8 games (and include the Director’s Cut DLC for Borderlands), it comes up to a total of US$202. Overall, I give this month’s Humble Choice a rating of 4 out 5.
So, should you get a Choice membership for this month? Which games are on offer? Let’s find out (spoiler alert- it’s worth it for Borderlands 3 alone).
|Genre||Action RPG, Looter Shooter, Open World|
|My Personal Rating||4|
From February’s Humble Choice selection, this is the game everyone really wants. I believe the few bucks you pay for a monthly Humble Choice membership is worth it for Borderlands 3 alone. It easily provides a few hundred hours of gameplay, due to its open-world looter shooter design.
Plus, this game has been getting constant updates in the form of season passes and DLCs. Take, for instance, the Designer’s Cut and Director’s Cut- both of which are available in Season Pass 2. Combining both passes; you get 4 campaign DLCs that contain additional story missions and challenges (plus new skins and collectibles).
But what about the base game? For someone who wants a story-driven shooter experience, I feel the base game contains more than enough content already. The main draw of Borderlands 3 is its insanely wide variety of weaponry, many of which are fundamentally different in terms of mechanics.
The series’ trademark art style is also back along with all the witty humor and quirky characters. No, it’s not exactly cel-shaded even though you might think it is. For their latest creation, Gearbox uses hand-drawn textures that are scanned and colored in Photoshop.
Then, they use customized software that applies a special outline that makes everything look like it’s straight out of a graphic novel. And if you actually play the game? They knocked it out of the park, it feels nothing like any other shooter on the market.
Every quest is lovingly crafted to maintain your attention as you go from one location to another in search of items to collect. And unlike previous Borderlands games, you aren’t limited to Pandora. There are some really amazing planets you can visit, each with its own unique biome and culture.
A party of up to 4 is supported, and there are different classes to choose from. Each with a different skill tree, and a new “Action skill” that is at the top of each tree. You will enjoy grinding for XP to upgrade skills, it never feels boring for a second thanks to all the variety in enemies and weaponry.
Borderlands 3 Director’s Cut
|Genre||Action RPG, Looter Shooter, Open World|
|My Personal Rating||3.5|
On its own, the retail price you have to pay in order to purchase a copy of this DLC isn’t worth it. You get a few hours of cut content and behind-the-scenes stuff that shows bloopers and concept art. There is an additional questline with Ava solving an interplanetary murder mystery.
And the main course- a raid boss called Hemovorous the Invincible. It may seem like a good amount of content, but you can get through all of it in a few hours. For the same price, you can get the entire base game if you find it at a discount.
It’s a nice thing they included it alongside Borderlands 3 in this month’s Humble Choice. You do need the base game to take advantage of this DLC. And there are some class mods you can’t use unless you also have the Designer’s Cut, which is quite annoying.
A lot of the content in this DLC is balanced around extra items and skills that you don’t get in the base game. Meaning, you will run into a wall with your base game characters, even if they are high level. But if you’re a huge fan of Borderlands and want to see more Ava, this DLC can function as a decent add-on to go with the regular game.
|Genre||Card-Based RPG, Adventure, Turn-Based Tactics|
|My Personal Rating||4.5|
One of the games in this month’s Humble Choice that really stands out from the rest. Both in terms of atmosphere and gameplay. Black Book is a roleplaying game mixed with a card brawler, set in a dark fantasy world where you play as a Slavic sorceress.
Your player character is a young girl called Vasilisa; she is born into a family of witches. And it’s written in her destiny that she too, will become a powerful wielder of dark magic like everyone else in her family. However, Vasilisa has her own dreams and aspirations.
She wants to marry a man who loves her, not because she is a powerful sorceress but because of her character. However, fate decides this marriage can’t happen and her lover ends up dead. Vasilisa realizes his death was unnatural and is determined to find the culprits.
There is an ancient artifact called the Black Book which can grant any wish to whoever opens all 7 of its seals. And Vasilisa plans to revive her lover with the power of this book. The game plays like an adventure RPG, but combat is done via cards.
You banish demons to the underworld, talk with countryfolk, and explore various Slavic folklore legends in Black Book. The game looks beautiful with its hand-drawn art and also features some nice soundtracks. There is also a morality system combined with player choices during quests that can affect your endgame.
|Genre||City Builder, Space Colony Sim, Construction & Management|
|My Personal Rating||4|
Per Aspera is what would happen if you took Anno, scaled it up to managing an entire planet… and set the whole thing on Mars. With real-time strategy combat added in, since there are secretive enemy forces lurking around on Mars. They send combat drones and use turrets against you.
The processes of terraforming Mars might seem simple at first, but it’s really hard if you get things done in the wrong order. Of course, you need to decrease CO2 levels and increase oxygen levels for humanity to thrive on the Red Planet. So you build some production facilities to artificially create O2.
Great, but then you realize that atmospheric oxygen levels are too high which is reducing the efficiency of photosynthesis. Or maybe you’re going with a natural solution, using genetically engineered shrubs and trees to eat carbon dioxide in exchange for oxygen. Until oxygen levels hit 60% and even a light spark turns your entire plantation into a smoldering patch of ashes.
You also have to deal with the ice caps that cover a giant portion of Mars’ surface. Your AI can create super-advanced tech facilities that research micro-suns that will melt these ice caps. Or you can take the more subtle route- nuking the aforementioned icecaps (because, why not?).
Melt too much, and the ocean levels will rise to a point where entire cities drown. Causing your human colonists to pack up and leave in droves. If you don’t melt enough, there won’t be sufficient water (again, causing people to leave).
If all this isn’t enough, Mars itself is fighting against you. Dust storms, meteor showers, etc. will ruin your day if you haven’t built the facilities to deal with them. Oh, and creating all these manufacturing facilities/ drones requires you to conduct significant mining activities.
You have to dig up aluminum, iron, carbon, etc. from the crust of Mars. Then, you build processing plants to turn these ores into usable materials. Don’t forget about food production either, humans need it to survive on Mars.
Just Die Already
|Genre||Open-World Sandbox, Adventure|
|My Personal Rating||3.5|
Living your final days out in a nursing home watching terrible TV shows and eating worse food is no way to end your life. Surrounded by boring old people who are constantly rambling on about their families and the good old days. In Just Die Already, some geezers decide that they have had enough and break out of the prison that is their nursing home.
This is a co-op game you can play with 3 of your friends, each controlling a different retiree. Your goal? To cause as much mayhem as possible before dying, going out in a blaze of fame and glory.
Why are these octogenarians trying to rampage through the city instead of taking their meds and watching TV? Well, no explanation is provided (or needed). You’ll be far too busy experimenting with the sandbox world that is filled with interactable objects.
Just Die Already has an excellent physics engine that produces some really hilarious ragdoll effects in combination with believable explosions. So if you want to blow stuff up, race cars, and engage in armed combat with thugs while playing as grandpa/ grandma- this is the game for you.
For your playground, you get an entire city that is filled with unique areas. Each zone has its own enemy types and objectives, much like GTA or Skyrim. The game has a cartoonish art style with some characters that look really weird.
Odd-looking character models work perfectly because this is a game in which you control nursing home patients rampaging through a city. The gameplay isn’t exactly polished for what many would describe as a GTA clone. But in truth, this game feels closer to Just Cause or Gary’s Mod than GTA because of how the characters and quests are designed.
Before We Leave
|Genre||City Builder, Resource Management|
|My Personal Rating||4|
Before We Leave is very different from most other 4X strategy games because it features no combat and has a significant focus on the story. You are rebuilding a lost civilization on some planet in outer space while also discovering its past and the events that caused its downfall. You can colonize multiple planets surrounding your home base to share resources between them.
As you build new facilities to mine ore and build factories, you will bring in settlers from all corners of the universe. And while a significant chunk of your time is spent researching new stuff, you also find out about the ancient technologies used by previous civilizations. Trading and resource management constitute a majority of all activities within Before We Leave.
If you want a relaxing city builder that can be played while doing other things, this is it. Whether you’re a family man with kids or a busy entrepreneur who’s constantly on the move, this game is quite entertaining without requiring much focus/ time commitment. And it actually looks pretty neat for what is essentially an indie title built on the Unity engine.
This game appeals to a broad spectrum of players, ranging across all age groups. Some play it for the sci-fi narrative and aesthetic while others want a city management sandbox set in space. No matter your preference, there is something in Before We Leave that will appeal to you.
It is indeed possible to build your very own story as you play along, depending on how you colonize planets. The game knows that people will try to roleplay while creating their unique style of civilization, so it keeps the existing narrative minimal. You can switch between planets with 6 unique biomes, and there are scenarios that add extra challenges (such as a post-apocalyptic setting at the start).
|Genre||Post-Apocalyptic Adventure, Walking Simulator|
|My Personal Rating||3|
A surprisingly good concept that is spoilt by poor narrative choices and clunky game mechanics. Paradise Lost is what many call a “walking simulator”. It’s one of those narrative-driven linear games in which you go from A to B while reading audio logs and interacting with inanimate objects.
Walking simulators don’t have to be boring or unintuitive, as is demonstrated by games such as What Remains of Edith Finch. Paradise Lost isn’t quite as good as that, but it’s no slouch either. Definitely a nice little extra to go along with Borderlands 3 and Per Aspera.
The world of Paradise Lost is set in an alternate universe where the second World War continued all the way up until 1960. Nazi Germany somehow manages to come up with a functioning nuclear weapon. They were developing it in secret, and the allies couldn’t put a stop to their research this time.
Both the US and Soviet Russia apply pressure on Nazi Germany. Who then release an entire batch of their doomsday weaponry on the European continent. The result is that Europe has now been turned into a radioactive wasteland, much like the world of Metro.
Some 20 years later in the 1980s, a Polish nuclear holocaust survivor called Szymon is wandering through the wasteland. He is merely a child, looking for his mother who disappeared under mysterious circumstances. However, Szymon stumbles upon something along the way- a Nazi underground bunker.
As you find out later, the Nazis unleashed their nuclear weapons on Europe and immediately vanished into their network of underground bunkers. They still lurk down there in the darkness, like demons, after completely obliterating everything. But you won’t ever fight one of these guys.
Instead, you spend most of your time walking between rooms and inspecting file cabinets for clues on the whereabouts of your mother. There are audio logs you can listen to and contextual prompts that let you interact with objects within your environment. Unfortunately, the combination of a slow walking speed and inconsistent story pacing dilutes the entire experience.
|Genre||Action RPG, Music-Driven|
|My Personal Rating||4.5|
It’s similar to any other open-world role-playing adventure game in the sense that you have a ton of activities and interesting characters. There is a twist though- combat and random encounters are done through dancing showdowns instead of gunfire or fistfights. Much like other rhythm games, you have to synchronize your moves to the beats of an upbeat soundtrack (mostly techno in this game).
You play a puppet who’s missing an arm, trying to retrieve it from the clutches of some really bad people. Along the way, you’ll have some weird challenges thrown your way. The game uses a retro art style, featuring pixel graphics that fit in very well with the overall tone.
But don’t go in expecting a generic plot from some 90s action-adventure game in which the good guys beat the bad guys. There are quite a few twists and turns to keep things interesting. The innovative gameplay combined with tight pacing that keeps the total playtime under 8 hours helps this game score an excellent 4.5/5 in my book.
|Genre||Restaurant Management, RPG, Casual|
|My Personal Rating||4|
So, if you’ve ever taken an interest in cats or happen to be a cat owner you might have heard of the Calico. Any cat with a coat comprised of 3 different colors is considered a Calico, irrespective of the breed. Typically, at least one of the 3 colors is white.
But what do cats have to do with this game? Everything actually, since you play the manager for a cat café. The game has a very cute aesthetic, with cel-shaded graphics and really pretty character models that look like they came straight out of an anime.
This is one of those slice-of-life games where you deal with everyday stuff. Such as talking with people, managing your business, buying produce from the store, etc. The goal is to gradually build up your cat café by upgrading the furniture, bringing in new animals, attracting a wider customer base, making better recipes, etc.
Apart from the cats, you can also customize your human character. Much like you would in the Sims, Calico lets you choose from a variety of clothing and accessories. Shoes, hats, handbags, hairstyles, clothes, etc. are all customizable and you can even change the physique of your player character.
For a cat café, the cats are the main attraction. And how do you get new cats? Well, it’s quite simple- you simply befriend random cats in the wild by playing with them.
And every single animal you see out in the wild can be interacted with. Cats, rodents, birds, etc., are all equipped with their own AI and will happily play with you. You can even ride cats or capybaras.
Your café is located on an island, and you’ll find all sorts of interesting characters who can be interacted with. Construction workers, farmers, witches- you can talk with each one of these locals who will provide you with tips/ challenges. Completing these interactions will open up new parts of the map, along with additional gameplay features.
If you are new to Humble or aren’t familiar with their Choice service, it’s basically a subscription model. You can go for a monthly membership or annual membership, the annual one is more cost-effective in the long run. If you subscribe for consecutive months, you get special discounts (you can read all about it here).
This month’s Humble Choice covers a wide range of genres including AAA looter shooter, strategy, city-building simulation, and adventure RPG. Even if you don’t care about the indie titles, Borderlands and its Director’s Cut can provide multiple months of entertainment. Plus, if any of your friends already own Borderlands 3, you can now play co-op with them.
Granted, the retail prices are set by the publisher when a game launches. And you can almost always find these games for much lower on Steam or GOG just a few weeks later.
But the Humble Choice membership costs a literal fraction of the retail prices (less than a 10th of the combined retail price). And even if you look at discounted prices, the Choice membership cost is lower. You are getting an excellent collection of games for cheaper than anywhere else while donating to charity at the same time.
If you found this article useful, you may want to save this pin below to your Gaming board.