Blaugust Reviews – Humble Choice April 2023 Edition

I’m filling in for the incomparable UnwiseOwl again this month on summing up our group review of the offerings in this month’s Humble Choice bundle. Every month, when the bundle releases, a bunch of us get together on the Blaugust Discord and hash out which games we’re most excited about and divvy up the titles for us each to look at during the month. Some folks just take a quick look, and some really go all in, but we want to give you a jumping off point to help you decide if this month’s bundle is going to be worth it for you.

Unfortunately, despite my best intentions, this post is coming out just a little too late if you were debating whether or not to pause – the automatic charge for this month’s bundle will have already gone through by the time this post goes live. However, if you were on the fence about activating your subscription for this month, you still have a few more days before the bundle rolls over to April on Tuesday, May 2nd.

Naithin of Time to Loot took this month’s headlinerDeath Stranding: Director’s Cut. The problem is, however, it’s a hard game to talk about without spoiling the experience. Instead of trying (and potentially spoiling myself), I will give you a direct quote from the linked blog entry.

If you’ve not yet had a chance to play Death Stranding, then this month’s humble choice is beyond worthwhile. For this title alone.

Naithin, Time to Loot

That said, it’s worth mentioning that the base version of Death Stranding was given away by Epic on December 25, 2022. While the Director’s Cut brings improvements, especially if you’re planning to play on an ultrawide monitor, it might not be quite as much of a draw for someone who already has access to the content from a giveaway.

UltrViolet of Endgame Viable also played this game back in November of 2019 on the PS4, and was pleasantly surprised by it. He found the whole concept was one that felt fresh, with a steady learning curve that kept going past the first hour or so, and excellent cinematics.

I guess that means this one gets two sets of thumbs up.

Aliens Fireteam Elite was also covered by Naithin from Time to Loot – shortly after it released back in August of 2021. While it’s clearly a lower-budget endeavor, it plays well, with all the parts combining to make a satisfying and enjoyable horde shooter. This one is probably more fun with friends, but perfectly playable with AI companions. Players who are experienced with the genre might find the standard difficulty a little on the easy side, but the upgrades & perks feel good, and the moment-to-moment gameplay is exciting. It’s not a game that will change your life, but if you’re fond of the setting, and looking to blow things up with some buddies, this game will likely satisfy.

StalkingVengeance of Cubic Creativity took a look at Rollerdrome, a cel-shaded arena deathmatch game. On roller skates, naturally. Featuring only light environmental storytelling, this one is all about the gameplay. You need to master clever skating and skillful dodging, as movement is the only way to get more ammunition to conquer the competition. It starts off fairly simply, but you unlock more weapon variety and harder enemies as you progress through the campaign. If that description isn’t enough to at least intrigue you, you’ll probably want to give this one a pass, but it’s fresh and interesting enough to warrant a try from anyone who finds the concept interesting.

UnwiseOwl of Leaflocker was scheduled to take on Life is Strange 2, but sometimes, well, life gets in the way, and although he had time to play the game, he hadn’t quite managed to write up his thoughts just yet. However, he passed on his verdict to me, which I now pass on to you:

If you’re interested in trying out a narrative game (more an interactive film than a game, really) and you don’t mind a little supernatural violence, you should play this. The Life is Strange sequel lives up to its reputation and is 100% a reason to get the bundle.

UnwiseOwl, Leaflocker

If you weren’t interested in – or didn’t care for – the earlier Life is Strange titles, this one probably won’t change your mind, but for fans of the genre, it’s another worthwhile entry.

UltrViolet of Endgame Viable was not overly impressed with The Life and Suffering of Sir Brante, calling it merely average. He appreciated the artstyle, but also felt like the storytelling was a bit drawn out, and that it took too long to see the results of the choices he was making. A plus for enthusiasts of this style of game is that the developers have made the text very readable – a key point of focus in a game that is made up almost entirely of reading. While this is a nice extra in the bundle for choice-and-consequences fans, the niche genre and low retail price probably isn’t going to encourage anyone to pick up the bundle for this title alone.

Paeroka of Nerdy Bookahs played a bit of Monster Camp, and discovered that this game has no save feature. The playthroughs are fairly short, however, so for some gamers, this might not be a deal breaker. This comedic dating sim encourages replay – not only are the multiple paths to take, but you can earn currency on your play throughs, which can be used to make purchases in the meta-shop. If you don’t care for dating sims in general, this probably won’t be the game that changes your mind, and since it fairly regularly goes on sale for half the price of Humble Choice, the best case scenario is this is a fun side dish to the main course.

Magi from IndieCator wrote about about Revita, a challenging roguelite with bullet-hell elements. He was very impressed with the array of accessibility options, which allow players to modify different aspects of the difficult, although you might have to hunt for some that aren’t in the “accessibility” section of the settings. It has the unique mechanic of trading health for upgrades, which makes the balancing act of being strong enough and being powerful enough particularly interesting. It’s also got an amazing soundtrack, attractive pixel art, and quirky characters. However, Revita also seems like the game in this months Choice that doesn’t quite fit with anything else. It’s quite possibly the most challenging game in the bundle. It has good reviews on Steam, but a sub-$20 asking price. Its target audience may not have a whole lot of overlap with the rest of the bundle’s target audience, so even though the game seems to be solid, it probably cannot carry the entire month.

Full disclosure: I’m enough of a variety gamer that I usually wait until everyone else has chosen their title(s) to review, and pick whatever is left over. This month, I was super excited about Founders’ Fortune. Unfortunately, for me, the colony-builder-meets-the-Sims-mashup style game play didn’t pull me in like I had hoped it would. In a lot of ways, it felt more like a bunch of features the devs felt were interesting just lumped together without any thought of how it would – or in actuality, wouldn’t – make a cohesive game. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either, and I’d only recommend it to folks who had run out of new colony builders or who specifically were interested in the social life-sim aspects of this particular game.

In conclusion:

If you are interested in Death’s Stranding, and don’t already own it (either from a previous purchase or the Epic giveaway), this bundle is 100% worth it.

If you’d be willing to pay $12 for either Aliens: Fireteam Elite, Rollerdrome, Life is Strange 2, or Founder’s Fortune (or any combination thereof), you probably should grab the bundle.

The rest of the games are either forgettable, or can easily be gotten at a lower price by waiting for a sale.

This bundle is probably going to most appeal to gamers who like a more chill, casual experience, leaning heavily into story focused games. Challenge-motivated gamers will likely enjoy Rollerdrome and Revita, but won’t find much else here to their tastes.

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