June 2022’s Choice is possibly one of the most well-rounded game collections ever offered by Humble Bundle. This package’s highlight is Star Wars Squadrons, a five vs. five space flight sim based in the Star Wars Universe. It’s an excellent multiplayer game for when you need to squad up and shoot some stuff.
But Star Wars Squadrons isn’t the only tier-1 product of this Choice bundle since we also get Phoenix Point. It’s a turn-based tactics game made by the creator of XCOM, and you’re part of a resistance group trying to stop aliens from wiping out all of humankind. You play on a dynamic battlefield with ever-evolving threats that require new and innovative methods to defeat.
The games have the polish and depth of a modern AAA release. But they were made on a smaller budget and scale, so they cost less than the typical $60. Despite that fact, the eight games in June 2022’s Humble Choice add up to a total retail price of US$220, which is $22 more than last month.
Besides the premium stuff, Humble Choice for this month also contains some nice indie titles. Like I am Fish, a simple but incredibly fun platformer in which you try to get a fish into the nearest body of water. Because of the diversity in game genres and overall quality of games, I give the June 2022 Humble Choice a respectable 4 out of 5 rating.
Star Wars Squadrons
|Genre||Space Combat Flight Simulator|
|Rating||Steam: 68.28%Metacritic: 79%Google: 86%Average: 77.76%|
|My Personal Rating||4|
The cool thing about Star Wars: Squadrons is how it strikes a balance between fun and complexity. The game is clearly not a simple arcade-style shooter in space. But a proper combat simulation in which you have to modulate engine thrust, learn how to evade missile locks, get on your enemy’s flank during dogfights, etc.
However, the ease with which you can execute these maneuvers is what makes Squadrons so accessible to the general gaming populace. And you don’t have to worry about finding out all of this stuff in competitive multiplayer since there’s an excellent story mode to ease yourself in. Squadron’s plot takes place after the destruction of Alderaan, with Vader ordering the Imperial Navy to hunt down any survivors who escaped the planet’s demise.
Commander Lindon is leading the Imperial task force assigned to eliminate Alderaan refugee convoys. Helix Squadron finds a refugee group and engages them, but Lindon changes his mind and decides to protect these people instead. He turns on his own team. Meanwhile, the refugees put out a signal to Rebel forces, who send Echo Squadron.
Echo Squadron successfully repels the Imperial Navy force, and Lindon defects over to the Alliance. He shares several secrets of the Imperial Navy- their ships, technologies, tactics, etc. As a result, the Alliance treats him like one of their own and promotes him to be the captain of a New Republic Cruiser.
However, Vader won’t take this betrayal lying down and sends Terisa- one of Lindon’s former protégés to find and kill him along with the Rebels he is assisting. This is a short synopsis of the main storyline in Squadrons. It’s not a very long campaign, but each mission is extremely engaging and full of action.
You can play this game with a variety of input systems- keyboard & mouse, controller, or even a flight stick. Think of this game as a product of the detailed flight simulation from Elite Dangerous combined with the point-and-shoot mechanics of War Thunder. Star Wars: Squadrons is filled with tons of lore and trivia from both the original trilogy as well as the extended universe.
Most of the excitement felt while playing this game comes in the form of close-quarters combat with other fighters. There are a total of 8 aircraft types in the base game, four on each side. Missions involve bombing runs, escort, squad-based dogfights, and more.
Engaging an enemy aircraft feels quite exciting the first time you do it, and the experience rarely gets boring even after you’ve done it several times, especially considering that each aircraft type has its own internal cockpit layout and custom flight console. The UI and HUD change depending on which aircraft you’re flying, as it conforms to the actual internal cockpit layout and console design.
Once you’re done with the single-player story mode, you can jump into multiplayer. Granted, the game doesn’t have a lot of players anymore. But thanks to cross-platform, you and your buddies can group up on the same server for some flying action, irrespective of whether you own a console or PC.
Phoenix Point: Year One Edition
|Genre||Tactical Turn-Based Sci-Fi Action|
|Rating||Steam: 70.72%Metacritic: 72%Google: N/AAverage: 71.36%|
|My Personal Rating||4|
XCOM: Enemy Unknown was praised for mixing things up with its randomized spawn locations and enemy types, meaning each playthrough was different even on the same map. The came XCOM 2 with actual procedurally generated maps that took things one step further. Procedural generation allows for infinite possibilities as you can get completely unique combinations of modules and elements, resulting in map layouts that might never be seen again.
Why am I talking about XCOM? You see, the creator of XCOM also made Phoenix Point. Think of it as an evolution of the tried-and-tested XCOM formula, with some innovative features bolted on to make things more exciting than ever before.
You’ve seen procedurally generated maps and randomized spawn locations/ enemy types. Now get ready for a dynamically evolving enemy AI that analyzes your combat style and counters it from one battle to another. As a result, you might find the initial battles predictable and methodical.
But things quickly stumble into the chaotic and dangerous territory once the aliens figure out your patterns. Then, you need to start changing up your own style to keep them guessing. Of course, this won’t matter as much once you learn how to avoid unnecessary fights through “diplomatic” means.
The world of Phoenix Point emulates that of a grand-strategy game such as Civilization. You’re trying to survive and collect resources while dealing with several factions. Each of these factions has its own unique interests and cultures, so you must take varying approaches.
Sometimes you strike peace deals with a group. Other times you assassinate one of their leaders to prevent a military operation. You can also infiltrate opposition political/ military leadership and cause coups to destabilize and weaken their strongholds. XCOM was a tactical combat simulator in which you were only concerned with defeating alien squads on the field.
In contrast, Phoenix Point is an entire strategy-sim that plays out globally. Plus, the combat system has received a few upgrades compared to XCOM. You still have a turn-based system with randomized chances, meaning soldiers can miss shots.
However, there is a skill-based element that has been added. After ordering your unit to shoot at an enemy, they will aim for center mass by default. However, you can also take manual control during the shot and select individual body parts (similar to the VATS in Fallout).
Depending on where you shoot, hit probabilities can go up or down. You can choose to hit center mass and drop a target or disarm it by blowing away a limb. This system also applies to vehicles, so you can target various parts like wheels, turrets, sensors, windows, etc.
They will evolve to counter your playstyle if you always go for the same part of an alien. For example, let’s say you always headshot enemies by taking manual control. Eventually, you’ll see aliens with hardened armor on their skulls.
The aliens evolve within a very short time. And this means that you have to change your equipment load-outs before each mission in addition to changing tactics.
Call of the Sea
|Genre||First-Person Puzzle Adventure|
|Rating||Steam: 86.42%Metacritic: 78%Google: 94%Average: 86.14%|
|My Personal Rating||4.5|
Maybe you want a slightly more casual gaming experience rather than a hardcore tactical grind (like Phoenix Point). In that case, give Call of the Sea a try- it’s got this soothing art design and soundtrack that automatically makes you feel relaxed as soon as you boot it up. Plus, the game is literally set on a Southern Pacific island and doesn’t feature any combat, so you can rest easy.
Most of the stuff you do in Call of the Sea involves walking around, looking for clues, and solving puzzles. You play as Norah Everhart- a woman searching for her husband Harry, who’s gone missing ever since he left on an expedition. He went out looking for a rumored miracle cure to treat his wife, who’s suffering from a chronic illness that can’t be fixed with any existing medical procedures.
Norah dug around, asking friends and contacts about where her husband was last seen. She eventually traces him to a small island east of Tahiti. Eventually, Norah finds an abandoned camping site that her husband and his fellow explorers used.
This is the 1930s, so there are no cellphones, GPS devices, or fancy satellite maps. This means Norah has to walk around and look for clues manually. While you’re doing this, one thing that immediately jumps out is how otherworldly this island is.
It doesn’t have the typical trees and fish that you expect. And the design for many flora and fauna here seems borderline Lovecraftian. Not in a horrifying way; instead, it’s fascinating to look at the various types of aquatic lifeforms and land creatures roaming around.
The developers definitely read old adventure novels by H.G. Wells and Jules Verne while doing the questline and story for this game. Because it gives off a feeling of danger, thrill, curiosity, and optimism- all at the same time. There seems to be a remnant of some ancient civilization lost to the pages of time, and you have an opportunity to unearth its mysteries.
|Genre||Story-Driven Isometric Cyberpunk RPG|
|Rating||Steam: 79%Metacritic: 72%Google: 90%Average: 80.33%|
|My Personal Rating||4|
In Gamedec, you’re a detective who prowls around inside virtual worlds looking for all sorts of messed-up people. It’s a cyberpunk RPG set in Warsaw during the near future, with themes of transhumanism and film noir. There isn’t any real confrontation or combat, much like Call of the Sea.
And every location in the game isn’t a techno maze with gadgets and electronics. In fact, you are often transported away into a virtual world that looks like a jungle or ancient Mayan Civilization. It almost feels like you’re playing a mix of Tomb Raider + Sherlock Holmes.
Everything starts at the character creation screen, like an old-school RPG, with tons of customization options and stats. You have to select one out of several personalities that will determine the dialogue choices available during conversations. Skill trees also vary depending on your chosen personality.
By participating in conversations with witnesses, suspects, etc., you’ll earn XP, which is used to open up new nodes on the skill tree. These will then unlock further dialogue options. You don’t have to look for clues or concrete evidence before presenting your case or asking questions. You can go in totally unprepared and wing it if you want.
Be warned that dialogue choices have permanent consequences in the branching narrative path of this game. So while you certainly can go along by intuition and guesswork alone, it’s not recommended. At least if you want a good ending out of the several possible outcomes.
|Genre||Action-Adventure, 3D Platformer|
|Rating||Steam: 90.16%Metacritic: 71%Google: 96%Average: 85.72%|
|My Personal Rating||4.5|
It’s like Dark Souls, and Crash Bandicoot decided to have a baby. Pumpkin Jack mixes the action-packed hack ‘n slash combat system of the former with the cartoonish graphics and playful world of the latter. It’s a modern 3D platformer, something we don’t get a lot of anymore.
And the best part is that it’s actually good while simultaneously managing to defy the norms set by your typical platformer. For starters, your player character is actually the bad guy. The Devil himself sends you to fight defending forces employed by humans who are trying to undo his curse.
This curse has created hideous monsters who roam the world, terrorizing humans and destroying stuff. These creatures are like braindead zombies- they attack just about everything that crawls, walks, swims, or flies. And they will attack Jack too since he looks like another monster to them.
On top of monsters, you’ll also be attacked by human defenders who know that the Devil has sent you. Jack is a pretty interesting character, with a carefree yet confident attitude who knows he’s here to do a job and takes great enjoyment in killing stuff. Your primary weapon is a scythe that you sweep around you in giant swinging motions.
Jack can also roll and dash to get behind or around enemies. He has a mix of single-target and area of effect moves. There are sections in which you play various minigames or engage in side activities to freshen the mood after slaying dozens of foes. As you progress, new weapons and skins will be available to unlock.
Siege Survival: Gloria Victis
|Genre||Medieval Survival Simulator, Fortress Defense|
|Rating||Steam: 79.14%Metacritic: 69%Google: 88%Average: 78.71%|
|My Personal Rating||3.5|
Siege Survival is a game in which you’re trying to prevent hordes of marauders from entering into your medieval city. If they do, there’s going to be plenty of butchering and plundering. Countless innocents will lose their lives and property.
You must gather resources and construct various defensive structures to stop these barbarians. Think of this game as a survival strategy combined with resource management. Most of the time, you start out in a partially occupied zone with starving party members.
In order to function, your workers and soldiers require food which is going to be in short supply. And if they can’t gather resources such as wood or ore, you can’t fortify your base. Animals such as pigs and hens can be reared, but they need to be fed and watered; otherwise, you won’t be able to extract any meat or produce from them.
Since you’ve got a fighting force, they need to be supplied with weaponry. Spears, swords, shields, bows, and arrows- all of this stuff needs to be made. One of this game’s cool features is that you can carry out stealth gathering missions at night.
You do so by venturing into enemy lines under darkness and stealing goods. You can also scavenge materials from destroyed parts of the city, provided you don’t get caught by roaming barbarians. Failed to gather sufficient food for your peasants, soldiers, and workers?
They start running low on stamina and energy, eventually starving to death. Hey, at least that opens up new opportunities since you now have fewer mouths to feed, right? But be careful; too few people, and you won’t be able to hold your castle against invaders.
I am Fish
|Genre||Physics-Based 3D Platformer, Adventure|
|Rating||Steam: 74.46%Metacritic: 69%Google: 97%Average: 80.15%|
|My Personal Rating||4|
Once upon a time, four fishy friends lived happily with each other in the ocean. Until they were captured by a group of pet store owners who stuffed them into fish bowls. Now, your goal as the fish is to find a way back into the ocean.
You do this by using your globular fish bowl as a circus ball- rolling it around by swimming inside. Going from tables and shelves down into the grass and roads, from where you can get into rivers/ canals. But be careful because the fish bowl is made out of glass that doesn’t require much force to break.
A sharp fall or getting hit by a hard object is enough to crack open the bowl and leave you suffocating in the open. There are different types of fish, each with a special power. Of all the fish powers, the most useless one is the ability to shine brightly under sunlight, which the humble goldfish possesses.
You can probably guess that shining doesn’t help you reach a water body. However, other fish types do better. For example, the puffer fish can inflate itself into a ball and roll for brief periods even after the glass sphere breaks. Then, there’s the piranha which can chew its way through obstacles.
The flying fish can travel over obstacles by jumping out of water. You can use these abilities in creative ways to get out of sticky situations. Let’s say your piranha is stuck inside a narrow toilet pipe, it can bite its way out and flood the entire room.
SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE
|Genre||Time-Based First Person Shooter|
|Rating||Steam: 83.21%Metacritic: 78%Google: 93%Average: 84.73%|
|My Personal Rating||4.5|
It’s like a John-Woo action movie mixed with Matrix-style slow-motion bullet time. You can see bullets from your enemies fly past you as you run and slide past threats like a ninja. And whenever you want, you can simply stop moving, which also stops the flow of time.
You see, in Superhot, time only moves when you do. Stopping allows you to freeze everything like a still photo and observe your surroundings.
Which order you take them out in and how you do it is up to you. You can use your gun, punch another guy into bits and take his gun, or stab someone with a giant sword. As you progress, new weapons and special abilities will become available to unlock.
Time in Superhot isn’t linear. It can accelerate or deaccelerate depending on how much you move. If you only move for a short bit, you get plenty of time to react and observe. Sprinting around a lot will speed up the rate at which time flows, giving you smaller windows to react against incoming fire.
In a way, the game lets you decide how fast or slow you want to play. You can turn into Call of Duty on steroids if you wish or take things one frame at a time. And in MIND CONTROL DELETE, the levels are procedurally generated so you can have endless possible configurations for the exact same mission.
Whether you’re looking for family-friendly indie games that everyone can enjoy or hardcore strategy games that take weeks to master, the June 2022 Humble Choice has it all. And some of the games in this collection are very atypical since they use mechanics and design elements not found anywhere else. Take SUPERHOT, for example, which feels like a turn-based FPS.
Just reading that out loud feels weird; like how does one even make a turn-based shooter? You do it by manipulating how time works, and the developers did an excellent job on the execution front. Then there’s Pumpkin Jack, which is a modern recreation of classic old-school platformers such as Banjo Kazooie and Crash Bandicoot.
All things considered, I’m really satisfied to see the games presented in Humble Choice for June 2022. They are a refreshing change of pace from the standard AAA fare we get these days. Unlike most indie titles, the games in this collection are quite refined.
This means the user experience is similar to that of a big-budget title. For the most part, all of these games look great and play well. You won’t have any troubles with glitches or performance issues.