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.

Self-Reflection Sunday: Managing my Inner Mule

One of my least favorite things about being a responsible adult is the sheer amount of things that need doing that always seem to get in the way of the things I most want to do. Jobs, housework, family obligations, all the things we need to do to care for our bodies; it all drains our energy and fills our hours, and most of us are stuck with scraps, trying to cobble together space for the things that rejuvenate us and bring us joy. Some folks are lucky and have a lot of overlap, but the rest of us simply make do through giant swathes of our lives.

But this is a universal problem, and while I could choose to dwell on it, I honestly don’t see the point. When things feel overwhelming and unsustainable, I will usually set my mind on a life tidy, of sorts. Toss out the things that don’t serve, fill the spaces those things leave behind with other things that prove more functional, or at least more satisfying.

What I don’t have the solution for is this: what do I do when the thing that is forever getting in my way is … me? I’ve been in a bit of a slump for awhile now, and the common denominator seems to be that I am stubbornly blocking my own progress. How do I manage my inner mule, that part of me that knows that if I just do the thing I will feel good about it, but that won’t let me start?

Here’s a great example, doubly so because I actually figured the problem out and implemented a solution. I had a cross-stitch project, that I had worked on through about the halfway point, sitting on my desk, untouched for almost two full months. There was nothing I could tell myself that would get my butt into the chair and that thread into my hands. I was bored with all my own excuses for why I couldn’t possibly work on it.

Finally, at the tail end of last month, I talked myself into working on another small project; something that would stitch up fast. I wasn’t sure if, maybe, the hobby had run its course for me, and that was why I was so resistant. But after kitting up something new, I barely put it down until it was done. I still wasn’t sure if that was a fluke, so I did it again, and I realized that it wasn’t that I didn’t want to stitch – I just didn’t want to work on that project anymore.

So, I took it off, the frame, gathered up all the parts, and put it away.

A post from my Mastodon account that says:  

Sunk cost fallacy is a bitch - I just kept thinking "I'm over half done. I've spent a buttload on materials.  Changing what's on the frame is a hassle." but I didn't touch it for over a month.

So, if I pick it up again, fine.  If I don't? That's also fine.  I packed it up carefully, and we'll see if I get the urge.

Since then, I’ve done over 7000 stitches. I’ve been sneaking off to my desk to do a little bit of stitching every time I have a spare few minutes. As it turned out, it wasn’t the hobby I was tired of, but rather, the project I’d been attempting to force myself to finish.

While I’m glad to have that problem solved, it has created a new one. My downtime activities are grossly out of balance, and I had been so sure I was finally finding a good rhythm. Now, my donkey-brain keeps telling me that this one thing, that yes, I am enjoying, is the only thing.

My donkey-brain and I are not friends, for the record.

More than 2/3 of the way through the month, and ManicTime tells me I’ve logged less than three hours all month in World of Warcraft. I’ve hardly touched my Steam Deck this month, and the only game I have had more than a passing interest in all month long has been my co-op game night pick, Sun Haven. Including my March wrap-up, this will only be my fifth blog post this month. Instead of moving forward in the direction of finding a better cadence for all things blog-related, it has instead gotten far worse than it had been for the past few months.

Later today, I am going to have a meeting with myself, and I’m not sure how it’s going to go. Perhaps the balance of things is still shifting, but I’m also not loving the feeling that I’m ignoring something that is, in fact, important to me.

Quick Look – Here Comes Niko! (#PlatforMonth)

Full disclosure: Here Comes Niko! is a game I never would have purchased (and certainly not at its asking price of $24.99). It’s a rare platforming game that draws me in as I’m not very proficient in the genre, but this was in a bundle I bought around the holidays, and I always at least look at the descriptions of bundle games to see if they’re something I might like.

The store page description of Here Comes Niko! definitely made it sound like it was right up my alley, despite the genre. And it is indeed cozy, but I’m not entirely sure I would have classified it as a platformer, myself. Instead, it felt more like a collectathon puzzler, which just happened to have some platforming mechanics to it, which just made it all the more appealing to me.

You play as Niko, the only human in an anthropomorphic animal world, and you’ve just started a new job as a professional friend. What does that mean? It means everywhere you go, you find someone who needs help, and help them. On each island you visit, there’s a handful of folks who have a problem, and also, have a coin burning a hole in their pockets. Collect enough coins, and you’ll be able to ride the train to the next island.

Folks who come in expecting a tight platformer are going to be outrageously disappointed by this title, however. The platforming is super floaty, unpleasantly floaty even. However, for players who are more interested in a cozy, combat-free collectathon experience, Here Comes Niko! just oozes charm. Each island is full of folks to chat with, puzzles to solve, and minigames to beat.

There’s plenty of things to collect on each island, and exploration is delightful, but some of the activities feel a little rough around the edges. The fishing quests, in particular, are outrageously irritating, and although I completed the one on the first island, I can see myself skipping them going forward if there are enough other coins to be earned. And normally, I love fishing in cozy games.

I feel like you get a pretty solid idea of what you can expect in the first few minutes, and if that gameplay loop works for you, you probably have a fun 6-8 hours ahead of you. Personally, I liked it more than I expected to, but that’s really because it leans heavily into the cozy and not very much into the platformer. On one hand, this is absolutely a game I can see myself going back to in short bursts until I’ve completed it, but it’s also not the type of game I feel compelled to fire up every time I have a few free minutes.

Quick Look – Founders’ Fortune (Humble Choice – April 2023)

I have a long wish list on Steam, and I’m still surprised when something on there shows up in the Humble Choice. Of course, that wish list has an awful lot of city builders and colony sims, since those are a couple of my comfort genres. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to take a look at Founders’ Fortune this month. This colony sim with a cartoony aesthetic retails for $21.99, and this is the first time it’s appeared in a bundle according to IsThereAnyDeal.

I’ve loved city builder games for as long as I can remember, and colony sims since I bought Rimworld when it released on Steam back in 2016. At first glance, Founders’ Fortune looks like a pretty casual take on the colony sim genre, but it’s graphical style is most definitely a trap. So is its rather meager tech tree. I initially dove in on the normal difficulty, expecting to make mistakes, of course, but I wasn’t really expecting a challenge.

I was wrong. I was very very wrong.

Time passes very quickly in Founders’ Fortune, so your colony is going to be in for a really rough time if you spend too many early game days figuring things out. You are only given two colonists to start, and there are way too many tasks that need doing to mismanage them. In order to attract other people to your colony, you will need to build a bonfire, which is easy, but also fulfill enough of your current colonists’ wishes to hit a satisfaction threshold. The wish system, to me, felt ripped directly from later iterations of The Sims, and once I mentally made that comparison, I couldn’t shake it.

Probably my biggest gripe trying to learn the game is that the “tips” which tell you how to play the game seem to disappear into the ether once you’ve viewed them. I’m used to games in this genre having a huge help screen with all kinds of little details, but Founders’ Fortune expects you to immediately commit to memory the way things work. I am frequently guilty of clicking through pop-ups before I’ve fully processed what they say, and I found myself unable to add any further colonists to my initial colony because I glossed over the tool tip of how to interact with newcomers. Oops.

At this point, I elected to re-start on the easiest difficulty option, and promised myself I would pay better attention to the tutorial-style pop-ups.

My second attempt was definitely better, but I also picked a sub-optimal starting location. Since I was still mostly trying to get a feel for the game, I just rolled with it, but I very nearly ran out of food since there were no apple trees in a reasonable range, and I didn’t get my farms producing before spring ended. The seasons could really use a couple more days.

As your colonists do the same job, they will start to gain ranks, which you will need to spend on further perks. A lot of this is fairly unintuitive, and I have to admit I still don’t understand if the benefits of being able to wear a master outfit is worth the two points and the hassle of making them. It is clear, however, that once you have enough colonists to allow them to specialize, there’s a definite upside to doing so.

Your colonists also get reward points as you fulfill their wishes, which you can spend on additional traits, use to get rid of negative traits they might have come with, or to slap a band-aid on if they’re sick, hurt, or just really grumpy. These seem to be fairly easy to come by, at least in the early game, so it’s probably best to use them to buff up colonists early on, since that seems to be the point where most colonies will either succeed or fail.

I have yet to get far enough to see how the other systems actually impact gameplay. There are traders, which probably are useful, and enemy tribes, which I’m guessing are somewhere between mildly irritating and completely terrifying, depending on the difficulty you choose and how much effort you put into weapon production. There is also mod support, and around 50 mods currently available on the Steam Workshop.

All in all, I’m not sure yet how I feel about this one, and I’m not sure if it’s because I haven’t given it enough time and attention, or if I just am unwilling to admit I don’t care for it because I really want to like it. I also haven’t had a lot of experience with games that feel simultaneously like they’re overly complicated and utterly bare-bones. Right now, I’m leaning in the direction of it being okay, but not terribly impressive. If you like colony sims (and are okay with the overly cutesy aesthetic) then it’s worth a spin if you’ve already decided to pick up this month’s bundle for some of the other titles, but as implied by it being the 8th title in the bundle, it’s unlikely too many people will pick up this month’s choice primarily for this title. That said, the total cost of the bundle is only about a dollar more than the historic low for Founders’ Fortune, so if you’re really interested in this one, and have at least a passing interest in at least one other title in the bundle, it might be worth it for you.

Quick Look – Sun Haven

I bought Stardew Valley right when it released in 2016, and I’ve put a lot of hours into it since then. I’ve dabbled in other farming-focused life sims in the meantime, but nothing really grabbed me in the same way. By the time I started my most recent playthrough, the game had been updated a handful of times, with a new end-game goal – reaching perfection. Having now completed that milestone as well (both in a solo save and co-op one), I haven’t really had the urge to go back to Stardew, but I’ve kept looking for another game that might scratch the same itch while also giving me something new to accomplish.

When I picked up Sun Haven, it was very very early in the Early Access process. I played for about two in-game weeks before deciding that – at least for me – the game needed far more time in the oven. But I was interested enough not to refund it – instead, I put it back on the shelf to wait for a full release.

About a month ago, that 1.0 finally dropped, and the timing couldn’t have been better. My co-op partner and I were just finishing up the game we’d been playing, and we were both ready for some farming. Right from the beginning, it’s clear that Sun Haven isn’t going to be a carbon copy of Pelican Town.

Which is not to say that a lot of the mechanics don’t feel familiar, as a Stardew fan. You find yourself with a plot of land, some rudimentary tools, and a handful of seeds and then, more or less, allowed to proceed in whatever manner brings you the most joy. That said, Sun Haven leans hard into the RPG side of things with skill trees and so many quests (both trivial and … not so trivial) you might get overwhelmed if you’re the type of player who can’t stand to let a quest fester uncompleted.

Of course, co-op night is only once a week for three hours, and I decided to start a fresh solo save as well, to acquaint myself with the parts of the game (i.e. mining and combat) that I tend to spend a lot less time on in co-op, which has also given me the opportunity to screw around some without worrying about messing up the co-op save. I am pleased to report that I – mostly – haven’t managed to screw up my solo save either, although I never have any significant amount of money for more than a day or two. Seeds are expensive!

I’ll admit, it’s been a bit frustrating at times. There are bugs. Lots of them. Thankfully, none have seemed to be game-breaking thus far, but it also means the game sometimes feels unfinished, despite being advertised as 1.0. While I’m nowhere near the end of the “main story” myself, I’ve read the reviews that say that it ends too abruptly. There are things in the game that seem to serve no purpose at all, at least, none that I’ve found yet, and – perhaps most irritating for me personally – there is no easy way to keep track of what items you have yet to donate to the museum without going through multiple load screens to look at the collections.

Sometimes, I think the characters in Sun Haven lack a lot of the personality and charm of the residents of Pelican Town, but I’m still early in the game, so it’s possible I just don’t know anyone well enough yet. It also might be because there are what feel like dialogue glitches – characters you’ve done multiple quests for will sometimes act like they’ve never seen you before. There are currently 15 romance-able characters, although there are some you’ll need to progress the main quest quite a ways before you meet.

Although some of the game design choices completely baffle me, I still can’t seem to stop playing every time I have a few free minutes. I am deeply appreciative of the ability to change the speed of time (the default is 20 minute days, but 30 feels far more comfortable for me), and the fact that if you need to exit the game midday, you can with the only penalty being whisked back home rather than returning exactly where you left off.

Farming game fans who aren’t put off by the chibi-style of the characters will likely get far more entertainment out of this than one would expect for a game with a $25 pricetag. There’s a lot going on, and it’ll take most players in-game years to work their way through all the content.

In Review – March 2023

  • Make at least 10 blog posts during March.
  • Reach Level 70 on at least one more character in World of Warcraft.
  • Play and write about two games for #MusicGameMarch.
  • Play and write about one title purchased in February 2023.
  • Play and write about one title in my library.
  • Participate in the group review of the March Humble Choice.
  • Spend at least 10 hours gaming on the Steam Deck in March.
  • Read / listen to at least four books.
  • Watch at least one new-to-me movie.
  • Watch at least one new-to-me series, mini-series or season.
  • Finish the crochet scarf I’m currently working on.

When I was putting my March goals together, I was trying to go at least a bit easy on myself. Clearly, I did not go easy enough on myself. The balancing act of trying to keep goals manageable without running out of stuff to do during the first week of the month is currently on hard mode because I haven’t yet fully adjusted to working four days a week, and only barely starting to shift other responsibilities off my plate to compensate for the energy-drain of that.

I continue to be in awe of the chronic illness sufferers that manage to balance a full time job, household responsibilities, and still find little pockets of time & energy to pursue hobbies. I don’t know how y’all do it. Which is to say, if you’re one of those people handling it all, and have tips to share, I’m all ears.


The only goal I feel like I really hit out of the park this time around was hours played on my Steam Deck. I more than doubled my original goal, re-playing the entirety of 10,000,000 and You Must Build A Boat. I’ve also played through more than half of AuroraBound Deluxe, and a pretty significant portion of Potion Permit, absolutely none of which I’ve blogged about.

On co-op night, we finished up The Survivalists mid-month, and dove directly into the recently fully released Sun Haven immediately afterwards. I enjoyed Ephemerid: A Musical Adventure for #MusicGameMarch, which was short but lovely. Unfortunately, I didn’t do nearly as well with Shrug Island – The Meeting, which I bounced off of fairly quickly.

I also finished up the entirety of the Mystery PI series of hidden object games, and played a bit of the Early Access game Cygnus Enterprises, which is a mix of a base management game and an action shooter RPG, which I picked up this month on a whim. This month looks like it was one of those unsatisfying dabble-in-everything months, but really, I was completing a bunch of shorter titles.

World of Warcraft

Our guild finally finished up Vault of the Incarnates this month, and we’ve killed Raszageth a few times now. This is the point in the tier where my guildies start to itch to take down a few bosses on heroic, and where I usually dip out of our main raid until the next tier. I feel like I’ve completed the story of this chapter, and I don’t have the patience anymore for harder difficulties for a chance at a couple more item levels.

I’ve (mostly) kept up with completing profession weeklies as well as Aiding the Accord on four characters, and I made some progress leveling up my druid. I’ve been distracted by the new Forgotten Reach content that came out with 10.0.7 and it’s looking like all my alts – current and future – will be able to go into 10.1 well dressed and mostly prepared for what comes next.

Gaming Related Spending

There were far too many good bundles during March, including one on Steam which netted me 12 indie games for under $10 which I couldn’t pass up. I also grabbed the Humble Earthquake charity bundle (although I only redeemed a handful of titles), as well as the Humble Heroines bundle. I rounded that out with a three-game bundle from Fanatical, as well as a couple of specific game purchases. Add into that my Humble Choice and World of Warcraft subscriptions, and all in all, I spent $127 in gaming related spending during March, and I still feel like I got a bargain.

Other Nerdstuff


I didn’t manage to finish any audiobooks this month, but I read through five titles on my tablet. After being somewhat unsatisfied with Within These Walls by Ania Ahlborn, I decided to move back to thrillers and mysteries for the rest of the month. Everything else I read was good, but If We Were Villains was the highlight for me. Who knew I’d be so enthralled with some theater-kid dark academia?

Stitchcraft Etc.

I very nearly had nothing else for the Other Nerdstuff section – I don’t think I even turned my TV on this month, so no watching at all. However, I was browsing /r/Cross-Stitch, and noticed that their theme for this month’s stitching contest was “Less than 300 Stitches”. It seemed like a good way to shake off a little bit of the rust, so I adapted a quick pattern from a perler bead pattern I found online, and stitched up a tiny Toy Story alien.

It only took about 90 minutes, and while it has yet to inspire me to get my butt back in the chair at the crafting desk, it has made the prospect a little less overwhelming.

Sometimes, I’m downright embarrassed by how poorly I react to change, and how difficult it can be for me to find my way through things. As far as that is concerned, March was more of a success than I truly expected – I’m finding my groove slowly but surely.

Nerd Girl Goals – April 2023

I am currently suffering from a pretty severe bout of procrastination. It’s something I’ve always struggled with, but that until recently, I’ve felt like I had a pretty good handle on. Sure, that means frequently grumbling “Just do the thing!” under my breath, but, hey, when you find something that works, you roll with it. Even though I’ve been trying to be gentler with my … well, let’s call them my issues, shall we? … I find I’m still acting out. It’s not even that I don’t want to do the things, I just figure that it’ll be just fine if I do them later, and then later never shows up.

I don’t think I’m quite ready to dial back on goal-setting, though that would seem to be the logical solution. I’m already squandering more time than I like to, and I’m mostly okay with not hitting all my targets. I think I just need a bit more time to get a solid handle on exactly what I do and don’t want to prioritize.


World of Warcraft

I’m not quite sure what to do with World of Warcraft goals this month. We’ve killed all of Vault of the Incarnates on normal, and I have no interest in even dipping my toes into higher difficulties. My main almost has all of her 10.0 reps maxed out. I have two alts that are decently geared and three that are doing pretty well with their professions.

There are still things I’m doing in game, but nothing I can easily put milestone markers on. I would like to get another alt to 70, but I’ve been finding there’s too many things I want to do on my already leveled characters to feel like I have enough time and energy to work on any more. Still, it’s the easiest thing to quantify, so I’ll bring that goal forward from last month and see if I do any better.

Community Game-Along 2023

It’s #PlatforMonth, which is most definitely not my genre. Ultimately, I decided to go with a pair of 2D puzzle-platformers that are both well-loved and, more importantly, short. They’re also both Verified for the Steam Deck, so that’s how I plan to play them. Assuming I play through them both, this will also satisfy my play something purchased in the prior month goal, as I just picked up Inside during March when it went on sale for around $2.

My back-up plan this month is Here Comes Niko!, which the store page describes as a “cozy 3D platformer for tired people”. Since I love all things cozy, and I most definitely am a tired person, it seems like it might be a good fit. This game was part of the 2022 Yogscast Jingle Jam, and I normally wouldn’t have given it a second look, but with the new policy of expiring keys, I added it to my library just in case.

Other Gaming

Sun Haven came out of early access during March, and having finished up The Survivalists, we’ve gone back to farming for our weekly co-op night. Initially, we found this one a bit overwhelming, but we’re starting to get into our groove now. I expect we’ll get a good couple of months out of this one.

Otherwise, I’m looking at an April Humble Choice title, and finishing up Potion Permit on the Steam Deck. I don’t expect that to be everything I play this month – in fact, I’d be a bit disappointed if it were – but it’s all I’m comfortable planning out at the moment.

Other Nerdstuff

Normally, this section gets broken into categories too, but I’m going to back off a little. I’m keeping my read four books goal, but otherwise, I’m going to give myself a free pass this month. I’d really like to focus more of my attention on getting back to blogging semi-regularly, and seeing what space is left over for other stuff. Which probably means I’m going to watch a whole bunch of television and movies and spend hours crafting. It’ll be interesting, at least, to see how it all shakes out.

In Summary

  • Make at least 8 blog posts during April.
  • Level at least one more character to 70 in World of Warcraft.
  • Participate in #PlatforMonth
  • Play and write about one title purchased in March 2023.
  • Participate in the group review of the April 2023 Humble Choice.
  • Read or listen to at least four books.

It’s a fairly short (and very achievable) list this month, because I could use an easy win.

Though I will never keep up with a sidebar, I’d also like to start adding a summary of what I’m currently playing on my goal posts.

Blaugust Reviews – Humble Choice March 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, April 4th.

The first headliner from the bundle was Biomutant. Oddly, it’s neither the most expensive title in the bundle, nor does it have particularly good reviews. Stalking Vengeance of Cubic Creativity went all in on this title, putting in around 40 hours, and found it to be interesting, even if it wasn’t quite living up to its potential. Some components (like the character creation and the general worldbuilding) were top notch, and others (like the KBM controls and the NPC character development) were beyond disappointing. All in all, it seems to have come by its mixed rating honestly, but as long as you use a controller and are patient through an overly long intro section, it’s an enjoyable – if ultimately forgettable – game.


Paeroka of Nerdy Bookahs took on the secondary headliner this month – Jurassic World Evolution 2. Sure, it’s a more niche title, which is probably what put it into the second spot rather than the first, but if it’s game you’ve had your eye on, this is probably the cheapest you’ll be able to pick it up, and might carry the bundle for you if this is your jam. Paeroka enjoyed it, although she felt the campaign mode somehow managed to be both too short and tedious. Thankfully, the other three game modes are more engaging, although the Sandbox mode requires you to unlock maps via completing them in other modes. There are some quality of life upgrades from the first game, including the ability to build with the game paused, but it’s still a bit micromanagement heavy if that is a turn off. Overall, a solid game at a deep discount, although it has the absurd amount of DLC, which has become expected of Frontier Games, and none of that is part of the package.


For the classic JRPG fans, there’s Edge of Eternity. Naithin of Time to Loot found it to be fairly enjoyable in a comfortable way, as a player who has a history with the genre. There’s nothing groundbreaking here, and some of the edges are still a little rough, but for an indie game on a budget, it perhaps looks and sounds better than one might expect. If mediocre voice acting and animations that range from basic to disconcerting are a deal breaker, or if you’re not already a fan of this genre, it’s probably not the right game for you, but for someone looking for a new JRPG, it seems to be a pretty solid choice.


UnwiseOwl of Leaflocker struggled a bit with Hero’s Hour. Can you call a game a success if what it does it makes you want to play the game that it’s heavily inspired by? As another gamer who grew up with the Heroes of Might and Magic franchise, this was probably the game in this month’s choice I was also most excited by. UnwiseOwl found this tribute to be needlessly complex in the amount of detail that is in the factions & town management, with far less interesting combat mechanics. This homage might actually be more successful for folks without fond memories to compare to, however, since the Steam reviews are Mostly Positive.


I took Rogue Lords for a short spin, and although I loved the concept and the aesthetics, I wasn’t a big fan of the pacing. Overworld traversal is slow, combat is slow, and good lord, is the text reveal speed slow. When I play a roguelike, I want to be able to dip in for short sessions, and have to think fast on my feet. However, I may have liked it more if I approached it from the perspective of someone diving into a turn based RPG and stopped trying to rush it. I loved the dark art style, and the mechanic where you’re allowed to cheat since, duh, you’re the devil is brilliant. Depending on your expectations of the game, you’ll either love it or be bored silly. Don’t be like me, adjust your expectations and enjoy the ride.


Kluwes of Many Whelps played a few hours of the 3D platformer, Demon Turf and was not only satisfied by the game play, but really enjoyed the soundtrack. This quirky title features 2D sprites, placeable checkpoints instead of static ones, and optional collectibles to hunt down. The levels are short, but well designed, and the game comes with a full second game mode called The Tower. In The Tower, you climb until you die, but you carry over permanent upgrades in between attempts, which is a neat cookie to toss towards fans of roguelite platformers, but without the procedural generation bits. Kluwes actually liked the game enough to recommend the full bundle purchase based on this title alone – which is a pretty big thumbs up, I would think.


Magi of IndieCator tackled this month’s horror title, the deeply disturbing Golden Light. This procedurally generated FPS survival horror is not for the faint of heart or the weak of stomach. Once you dive into a fleshy hole in the ground to save your love, you never know what you’ll encounter. You can go in guns blazing, and destroying everything in your wake, but this infuriates the living dungeon you’re in, making everything harder. Not everything is what you expect, and there’s bits of story scattered throughout if you look hard enough. However, the bosses are bullet sponges, and it’s easy to make fatal mistakes in The Gut, which will put you back at the beginning of the level. This game will be most appealing to fans of tense body horror who aren’t terribly concerned about whether or not the gameplay feels fair.


Because I really want to like creature collection RPGs, and since I have yet to learn that they frustrate the hell out of me, I spent about half an hour with Monster Crown. This might actually be the most niche title in a bundle that seemed to have more than its share this month, because really this is probably only going to appeal to Pokémon super-fans who have run out of other stuff to play. It seemed perfectly serviceable, but perfectly serviceable also means “nothing special”. It’s also rather short, and several Steam reviews complain about lingering bugs. Maybe it gets better, I don’t know. As is typical of games in the last slot, this isn’t the game that most people will pick up the bundle for, but for creature collector fans, it might provided a dozen or so hours of fun.

In conclusion, if you’ve been waiting for a deal on Jurassic World Evolution 2 or Biomutant (and you’re comfortable enough with the quirks of these two titles), this bundle is definitely worth grabbing from a cost perspective alone. Otherwise, unless you’re really excited about two or more of this month’s indies, there’s just not enough genre overlap in the March bundle for most people to make it a good value, although Kluwes makes a strong case for Demon Turf being this month’s hidden gem.

Personally, I actually considered skipping this month’s bundle, before I remembered that I never skip them. After all, I never know what I might be in the mood to play tomorrow.

Quick Look – Monster Crown (Humble Choice – March 2023)

There’s no question about it – Pokémon is a cultural phenomenon. Even if you’ve never played a single Pokémon game, you can probably identify one or more of it’s signature creatures. And like every other type of game that makes a big impression, there will be many who try to make a game just as good – or better, even – than the original. Monster Crown is another creature-collecting RPG which is heavily influenced by the Pokémon games, and because of this, I might be the absolute worst person to be taking a look at it.

This darker, more mature creature collector has a retail price of $19.99, and will take around 13 hours to complete the main quest, according to HowLongToBeat.

Despite being of approximately the right age to have had a Nintendo childhood (or at least, Nintendo teenagerhood), I did not grown up in a console kind of home. Sure, I occasionally dabbled in Super Mario Bros or Duck Hunt while visiting friends, I didn’t own my first Nintendo console until the Switch, and the only Pokémon games I’ve ever played were Pokemon GO! on my phone, and New Pokémon Snap, which is definitely not a creature collector or an RPG.

So why am I always trying to get into creature collection RPGs? I honestly couldn’t tell you. Maybe it’s the fact that the people in my life who love them are so passionate about them. Maybe it’s just because I want a horde of cute little monsters to help me take over the world. However, the fact remains that, other than a lingering infatuation with the Siralim series of games and a mighty obsession with pet battles in World of Warcraft, I have bounced hard off of every creature collection RPG I’ve ever played. This is why I was not the right person to take a look at Monster Crown, but also why I couldn’t stop myself.

The monsters are better than the maps, by a mile. Maybe two miles. Seriously, the map is awful.

The world of Monster Crown is dark and dangerous, and humans have only managed to survive by making pacts with monsters, who will fight for you in exchange for … random fruit you pick for them, I guess? I’m not sure what else people really have to offer. You are the child of farmers, who have their very own monster to help out with farm work and keep the bad things at bay. Since you’ve shown interest in monster taming, your father gets you a comic book with a short quiz on the back cover, and a week later, your very own starter monster is being delivered right to your door. Seems safe.

Mmm… what could possibly go wrong here? NOTHING I’m sure.

Your mother is, probably quite rightly, concerned, but your dad hands you a map and a gift for the ruler of the nearest kingdom, and sends you out into the scary world in order to drop off his bribe. Um, ok. My new puppy friend is adorable and all, but I’m not getting much in the way of warm fuzzy feelings here.

Here I am absolutely about to attempt to pick a fight I am in no way ready for. It ended pretty much the way you’d expect.

Mind you, I’m already a bit grumpy at the keyboard controls. Surely it must be possible to make a game controller friendly without relying on the right hand on the arrow keys, left hand is for Z and X scheme that makes me dislike a game from the get go. If you’ve been playing a variety of genres with a keyboard for any period of time, I feel like this is never the control scheme you want. Maybe most folks play these types of games with a controller, even on PC, but at least the keys are re-bindable.

Combat is typical of the genre. You choose which monster to take into battle, and then your monster and the wild monster take turns trying to beat the snot out of each other. There’s a permadeath option for those hard core monster tamers, but it is off by default, thank god. You can swap to other active monsters on your team anytime it’s your turn, and if you want to add a monster to your team, instead of throwing a ball at it, you simply offer it a pact to either accept or decline. I didn’t get far, by all the monsters I offered pacts to took them.

There are wild monsters pretty much everywhere, and this is good, because you’re going to need to battle pretty much all of them to level up your team to a point where you have any prayer of beating the boss monsters. Or I could be just bad at this type of game, and most folks will triumph without issues. One or the other.

Most of these games give their critters elemental designations, but Monster Crown elects to use an even more obtuse system of adjectives. Thankfully, there are only five types, and they’re color-coded, so if the descriptors aren’t working for you, you can just make a cheat sheet with the colors. Someone please tell me I’m not the only one who makes cheat sheets for these types of games?

All in all, at least for me, it seemed … fine … if you’re into this sort of game. It felt very much like the idea of old style Pokémon I have in my head, which I realize is a terrible indication of any kind of quality since I absolutely no not of which I speak. But the bottom line is, I was bored. I felt like it was going to take forever and ever to get anywhere, especially since any attempt to flee an unwinnable battle puts you back at home, with a whole maze full of monsters to navigate through over and over again.

It certainly didn’t feel like a game that would drive someone to purchase this month’s Humble Choice, although it might be a nice bonus for creature collector fans who hadn’t gotten around to picking this one up and who cannot get enough of sending monsters to do their fighting for them.

Self-Reflection Sunday – Here, But Struggling

With just under a week left of March, I’ve only managed to make three posts this month, and I guess it makes sense. February was a harder – and shorter – month, and it was outrageously backloaded as far as posts were concerned, but I was still deep in distraction-mode. Now, the edges are feeling smoother, but I haven’t quite figured out how to best fit together all the pieces of my changed life.

It would seem that I’ve done the smart thing, and prioritized rest, which is important, but it’s come at the expense of joy and personal fulfillment. Just the past week or so, I’ve started to claw back a little energy for myself. So far, that’s taken shape in the form of more time spent reading, which is a vast improvement from earlier in the month, when all my low-energy time was just squandered away while I was resenting my own exhaustion.

I expect it’ll take at least another month or so before I start to feel like I’ve got a handle on what is – and is no longer – feasible.

I’m not entirely sure that this post even serves a purpose beyond saying “Yes, I am still here. Yes, this still matters.” Because I’d like to find a cadence that works, but I’m still not sure what exactly that is going to look like.