Oh boy, this month’s Humble Bundle is a real heavyweight package. If you haven’t played Mass Effect before, stop reading and go get yourself a Humble Choice membership right now. And if you have played the Mass Effect trilogy, you are probably interested in a remastered collection featuring the 3 base games along with 40+ DLC packs.
On top of Mass Effect Legendary Edition (a full-price AAA release), you’re also getting Desperados III. Which is possibly the most unique combination of genres I have seen in a long time. It’s an isometric real-time tactics game featuring a wild west setting and squad-based combat with team members who have special skills (much like MOBA characters).
You are getting 8 games to own forever, one of which is a remastered trilogy. The retail pricing for this collection comes out to a total of US$262, $60 more than the last month. In terms of sheer value for money, it’s hard to beat March 2022’s Humble Choice.
With underrated gems such as Nebuchadnezzar and Man of Medan accompanying AAA legends such as Mass Effect, I rate March 2022’s Humble Choice 4.5 out of 5. Desperados III is almost a AAA game in its own right since it features a level of visual detail and polish only found in AAA titles. Combine that with Mass Effect Legendary Edition and March 2022’s Humble Choice looks like a must-buy.
|Real-Time Strategy, Stealth, Western
|Steam: 93.75%Metacritic: 86%Google: 93%Average: 90.91%
|My Personal Rating
Alright, this one is really good for two important reasons. Firstly, it’s a western action game with stealth elements. Secondly, the retail price for Desperados III is pretty close to what you pay for a full-fledged AAA title.
I wouldn’t classify Desperados III as a AAA game, but it isn’t a AA either. The answer lies somewhere in between. And you’re getting an amazing deal even if you remove every other game from this month’s Humble Choice.
Desperados III alone is worth the price for a month’s membership. Oh, but the goodness doesn’t stop with the discounted price. Imagine if X-COM was set in the wild west and featured characters from Borderlands- that’s Desperados III in a nutshell.
It has some truly excellent level design that lets you utilize objects within the environment to assassinate enemies (reminiscent of Hitman games). And even though all the action takes place in real-time, you can use “tactical pauses” to give your squad orders. Chaining up orders lets you do some really fancy stuff.
Like killing an enemy, and automatically hiding the body in a ditch because you had given the order beforehand. Oh, and talking of a squad- you’ve got plenty of quirky characters to choose from. Each one even has their own special abilities, similar to characters in a MOBA game.
You play as returning protagonist John Cooper, and the story is a prequel to Desperados. This is a standard tale of revenge, with a few twists here and there. John Cooper has a few cool abilities, like a knife throw which is the only way to instantly kill an enemy from range.
You can also toss a coin, using it as bait to attract enemies into your preplanned murder circle. One of the best feelings in Desperados 3 is dropping multiple enemies in synergy with your squad. You will have to do this quite often because enemies are arranged in a way that their field of view overlaps each other.
So either you take them out in the correct order to avoid getting detected, or you assassinate everyone simultaneously. You can quickly dispatch mobs using Isabelle who is a voodoo puppet master. She can tie the fates of two enemies, so whatever happens to one also happens to the other.
Mass Effect Legendary Edition
|Action RPG, Sci-Fi, 3rd Person Shooter
|Steam: 91.19%Metacritic: 86%Google: 96%Average: 91.06%
|My Personal Rating
I’ll be honest, I am going to recommend March 2022’s Humble Choice solely because it contains Mass Effect Legendary Edition. No, seriously- forget everything else in the bundle and play this excellent trilogy if you haven’t already. From a monetary perspective, you’re already getting an insane deal since this is a full-price AAA release.
But recommending this collection based on price alone would be doing it a massive disservice. You see, Mass Effect is the kind of game that doesn’t get made anymore. This is from back when Bioware was at its prime, firing on all cylinders. The first two games are genuinely good sci-fi RPGs.
And the 3rd Mass Effect is still playable as a 3rd-person action shooter even though it doesn’t hold a candle to its predecessors. So, what do I like so much about this game series? Let’s start with the very first Mass Effect- my personal favorite (and also the one game most deserving of a remaster).
Mass Effect 1
Mass Effect 1 is an exceptionally well-crafted science fiction RPG. It has mature characters with well-written dialogue. And the whole game feels like it was inspired by sci-fi classics such as Star Trek.
Right from the main menu music, you know you’re in for something special. The gameplay isn’t as fast-paced or action-focused as Mass Effect 3, and there is no cover system or power sliding. But you don’t need any of that, because the weapons feel amazing by themselves (this was before heat clips).
And Shephard is a character who’s endlessly customizable. You can choose whichever class you want (Soldier, Adept, Engineer, Vanguard, etc.). And after that, you can choose a specialization that gives bonuses to any one aspect of your character.
There are builds that facilitate stealth. Some builds let you rampage through squads of enemies like a hulking beast. And if you want, there are builds for sniping enemies from a distance.
Once you choose which playstyle you want, Mass Effect lets you craft your own narrative by giving you Paragon and Renegade morality options. Depending on the dialogue options and choices you make, you will gain Paragon (good person) or Renegade (bad person) points. Once you gain sufficient points on either side, you will open up exclusive dialogue options that give you unique outcomes to each quest/ NPC interaction.
Mass Effect 2
Mass Effect 2 is more of the same, but this time you have special “loyalty” missions for each of your squadmates. And you go around the galaxy, recruiting new squad members. Some squad members are even added through DLC.
The ending of Mass Effect 1 is carried over into Mass Effect 2 via save files, so you can continue your storyline (or rebuild your entire character). And the ending of Mass Effect 2 rewards you for making correct choices along the way. If you do the loyalty missions for squad members, they will grow a deeper bond with you and unlock special skills.
Mass Effect 3
Mass Effect 3 is the one that everybody blames for having a poor ending. But I believe the rest of the game was mediocre as well, not just the ending. The gameplay feels like a poor attempt to copy Gears of War.
This choice results in a 3rd person cover shooter. Instead of a tense, and atmospheric sci-fi RPG. Key elements like stats and skills have been simplified in favor of flashy action moves that feel cheap.
The graphics aren’t much of an improvement over Mass Effect 2 (some areas look worse than Mass Effect 2). And it feels like your actions have no real payoff at the end. Overall, the worst game of the trilogy (but still better than Andromeda).
In the Legendary Edition, you get remastered versions of all 3 base games. Along with 40+ DLC packs that add extra content, characters, and missions. The games are updated with modern graphics and have better UI (along with a couple of tiny gameplay tweaks).
Nickelodeon All-Star Brawl
|Crossover Fighting Game, Platforming
|Steam: 78.41%Metacritic: 63%Google: 86%Average: 75.80%
|My Personal Rating
It’s like Smash Bros with Nickelodeon characters such as SpongeBob and Patrick Star. Now, you don’t see a whole lot of fighting games like this one. Sure, there is a new Street Fighter or Tekken every so often.
But because Smash Bros absolutely dominates the platforming brawler scene, few other companies even try to put a product in this segment. That is until someone decided to get a Nickelodeon license and develop a game in which you can make SpongeBob fight vs Ninja Turtles. I was pleasantly surprised by how good the graphics are.
This game manages to make the transition from 2D cartoon characters to 3D really well. And while it certainly isn’t worth the retail price unless you have friends to play with, you can grab it on Humble Choice. If you ever need something casual to chill out between sessions of Mass Effect or Desperados, this is it.
If you’ve ever played Smash Bros, the rules are quite similar here. You want to knock your opponent off the fighting stage in order to win. And certain stages contain environmental hazards that either side can use to their benefit.
You have basic mobility such as run, jump, dash, double-jump, etc. All movement takes place in a 2D plane, and combat is done via a mix of light/ heavy attacks. Some characters have ranged attacks that throw projectiles, but beware- enemy characters can grab these projectiles and throw them back.
If a fighter is taking damage and losing health, they will be knocked back even harder by enemy attacks. This gameplay mechanic rewards a more aggressive fighting style, although blocking is still quite easy. Strafing lets you attack and move away from an enemy at the same time, without changing the direction you’re facing.
The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan
|Cinematic Horror, Survival, Choice Driven
|Steam: 71.78%Metacritic: 75%Google: 84%Average: 76.92%
|My Personal Rating
After playing this game, you’d never guess that it was made by the same developers that did Until Dawn. Because while that game was a more stereotypical slasher horror filled with quirky characters and occasional campy humor, Man of Medan is horrifying. So much so, that I don’t recommend playing this game alone unless you’ve got friends in co-op.
There are some nasty enemies, combined with top-notch body horror and gore effects that make you want to puke. It’s a very cinematic game, almost feeling like a walking simulator at times. And much like Until Dawn, the story has several branching paths that are selected through your choices.
You get to decide who lives and dies, as well as the manner in which it happens. Visually, the game feels like watching a horror B-movie. Thanks to some good acting the dialogue sounds believable, and the characters are portrayed realistically with great motion capture.
Plotwise, you start out with a flashback of a WW2-era US battleship that’s on a mission in Manchuria. It stumbles into uncharted territory, and the crew finds themselves surrounded by supernatural creatures that seemingly appear out of nowhere. Then, we jump into the current timeline where a group of friends is setting out for a diving expedition.
As they are preparing for the adventure, their boat gets hijacked by a bunch of pirates pretending to be fishermen. And these guys force you to help them find the hidden Manchurian Gold treasure. Guess where this treasure is?
That’s right, the SS Ourang Medan- a freight ship you saw in the prologue. And this ship is filled with all kinds of nasty paranormal activity. You escape your captors, trying to find a way out (and possibly some of that elusive treasure).
Red Solstice 2: Survivors
|Tactical RPG, Real-Time Tactics, Shooter
|Steam: 69.75%Metacritic: 64%Google: N/AAverage: 66.87%
|My Personal Rating
Red Solstice 2 is a game with much potential but executed in a manner that leaves a lot to be desired. It’s essentially X-COM but in real-time. Instead of aliens invading the planet and forcing an international paramilitary organization to be formed, humanity is instead being eradicated by a virus.
There are Martian mutants rampaging around the planet, transforming humans into violent monsters. The premise resembles that of Resident Evil but instead of an action-horror game, you get a tactics-based shooter. You have a squad of teammates, with up to 7 people alongside you.
You’ll be dropped into one mission after another, each progressing the narrative while offering a unique objective. Sometimes you’ll be doing convoy escorts while other times you enter a base and kill everything in sight. All the while, you research new weapons and armor at headquarters.
Even though this is a real-time isometric shooter, you don’t need quick reflexes or good aim. It’s mostly tactical movements and choosing the right skills/ upgrades. And once you finish all the main/ side missions, you can replay the game with a different class for an entirely new experience.
Your teammates can be AI or real humans (co-op). Some of the futuristic weapons are really cool, and the graphics are flashy. Once you finish a mission, you relocate your mobile base and scan new areas for resources/ tech.
|City-Building Simulator, Resource Management
|Steam: 76.57%Metacritic: 73%Google: N/AAverage: 74.78%
|My Personal Rating
There are plenty of city-building games featuring both fictional and real civilizations. However, this is the only one to my knowledge that features the Mesopotamian civilization. Historically, this was a part of Western Asia and is considered by many historians to be the first human civilization ever.
Built around the Tigris-Euphrates river system, Mesopotamia occupied most of the landmass we currently know as Iraq and Kuwait. This civilization was initially formed by humans gathering in groups around the Tigris and Euphrates rivers, using the fertile land for agricultural purposes. The game Nebuchadnezzar is based on a king of the same name who ruled over Babylon’s Chaldean dynasty.
In this game, you will go through various eras of Mesopotamian civilization, colonizing the lands of ancient Babylon and Egypt. You build historical monuments and grow these legendary cities into cultural powerhouses of their time. This is a game in which you can construct the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
You also control agriculture and all the minute details that come along with it such as irrigation, plowing, etc. Fishing is also in this game, and food is stored in warehouses after going through caravan routes that you plan beforehand. There is an atmosphere to this game that I can’t describe through mere words.
Everything from the houses to individual citizens is rendered in loving detail, using historically accurate models. I also love the soundtrack they used for this game, it feels otherworldly yet familiar and comforting at the same time. Suffice to say, you won’t find the same city-building experience from rival games such as Anno.
|Tactical Shooter, Co-op
|Steam: 83.29%Metacritic: 75%Google: 92%Average: 83.43%
|My Personal Rating
Police Stories is a throwback to old-school shooters from the SNES era, featuring tight combat and an amazing selection of weapons. You get a partner, in what is essentially a buddy cop story inspired by classic action movies of the 80s and 90s. If you grew up watching Lethal Weapon or Die Hard 3, you’re going to love this game.
It’s masterfully crafted to make you feel like an unstoppable force, yet challenging enough that you won’t be able to sleepwalk through each level. Besides, there is a tactical element to the shooting action. You can’t go in and blast open doors like Doom guy, or else you’ll get yourself and your partner killed.
Instead, when you do decide to make a drug bust or apprehend some common thugs hiding in a building, you must plan your approach carefully. Take the right angles, using corners and cover to your advantage. Ask your partner to drop a flashbang before entering and clearing a room.
There are a total of 18 story missions, and each one is unique. Some missions require are about hostage rescue while others require you to go inside a tightly defended enemy base and secure evidence. Along the way, you unlock new weapons and tools that make future missions a lot more dynamic.
Despite its action-focused nature, Police Stories isn’t a basic shooter in which you kill everyone that tries to stop you. As a cop, you are given the ability to make arrests. Stages are built like mazes with multiple narrow corridors and dimly lit hallways that keep you on your toes at all times.
This game feels like a top-down version of SWAT with retro graphics. It even has special segments in each level that require you to make quick decisions on the spot. Like hostage rescue and defusing bombs.
|Steam: 86.21%Metacritic: 75%Google: N/AAverage: 80.6%
|My Personal Rating
Evan’s Remains is a game inspired by classic Japanese graphic adventures. It features an art style reminiscent of retro action platformers, but the plot itself plays out like a thriller. You see, a boy genius called Evan has gone missing.
Yet a letter from him is received by a girl called Dysis, asking her to find him on a supposedly empty island. At the start, you don’t know much about Dysis or Evan. But by solving puzzles and clearing levels along your adventure, you gradually unfold the narrative and learn about what is actually happening.
The game is quite easy to pick up and learn since controls are designed to be intuitive and simple. Gradually, the difficulty ramps up and you start getting more complex puzzles/ platforming sections. The game even introduces new mechanics as you go into higher levels.
All things considered, this month’s Humble Choice has both good and mediocre offerings. Fortunately, the good heavily outweighs the mediocre. Desperados III and Mass Effect Legendary Edition more than justify getting a Humble Choice membership, just for those two.
On top of that, you also have games that usually tend to slip under the radar. Like Nebuchadnezzar and Man of Medan. Two excellent games that defy expectations and offer a unique experience even when compared to other games within their respective genres.
I love the fact that Humble chose to include both of these games along with titans such as Desperados III and Mass Effect. That way, a lot more people are likely to play them. Instead of just purchasing the games while they are on offer and eventually forgetting about them.
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