Last Call for Humble Choice December 2019 - My personal take
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With mere hours left before the next Choice launch, here are my musings about December 2019, and why I think it’s a freakishly good deal.
Shadow of the Tomb Raider
Chances are, you don’t need me to tell you whether you want this game or not. If this is you, feel free to skip this first paragraph or two. Anybody else, you’re welcome to read on. The latest installment in the Tomb Raider reboot, there aren’t many games around looking this good, OTOH the writing and story-telling are largely an example of games aping the summer blockbuster style in the dumbest fashion possible. The player is tasked with killing an army of baddies, solving gentle environmental puzzles, fighting QTEs, and collecting tons of collectibles all along, in gorgeous but not really open world settings.
Have you played and enjoyed the other two? It’s not unfair to say this is more of the same, give or take. Have you not? You might still want this for other reasons (did I mention it’s a looker).
Now, the question: should you skip this (base game only) and get the Definitive Edition instead?
Lucky you, that’s a decision that can be made later. Buy the game and play it whenever you want; unusually for the day and age, it even comes with a demo you can get off Steam. Done? Good, now ask yourself: did I like it so much that I want more? Or maybe you’re a completist? The Definitive Upgrade DLC is the one with the actual content, but you can’t buy it individually anymore: not on Steam, where the game is only sold as the Definitive Package.
And there’s a reason to buy on Steam: the game comes wrapped in one of Valve’s flexible bundles that will automatically discount the content you already own, so there’s no paying twice for anything. SquEnix at some point in the past messed up the bundle, but that’s been fixed.
The DLC was 78% off last sale, meaning the whole Definitive Upgrade she-bang came down to about $5. Other stores might have keys, old or new, lying around, though perhaps not as cheap.
If you have the slightest interest in Shadow of the Tomb Raider but somehow that didn’t transform into an acquisition yet, it’s a no-brainer as far as I’m concerned. No way to beat this much value.
One last thing: for those who care, it comes with Denuvo.
Horizon Chase Turbo
Like going stupidly fast, perhaps in a flashy car? Then this is for you. It’s a blast! With brightly colored low-poly environments and softly-shaded cars, reminiscent of the early days of 3D, this attractive pseudo-3D arcade racer inspired by the classics, from Out Run and on, is endowed with an insane sense of speed, as it should be for a racer of this kind.
It comes with a ton of different cars, of all makes and kinds, Ferraris and Lamborghinis, AE86 and NSX, American muscle, vintage and present-day, it even comes with Paul Walker’s and Vin Diesel’s cars from the early days of the Fast and Furious franchise; Mercedes, BMWs, the Classic Mini, the Veyron, the VW hippy bus, and I could go on and on. It even has a DeLorean
With a sheer ton of tracks, a variety of different modes, including an online playground, Single-player, Multi-player, split screen goodness, or Remote Play Together.
This all moves to the tune of energetic chiptune-y songs by Scot legend Barry Leitch. Swe-et!
World Tour, in some ways a long, single-player tutorial that you’ll want to go through to unlock most of the content, takes its own sweet time to get going, being very compliant about difficulty; when it finally does, it’s absolutely manic and it paves the way to the other SP modes.
The later stages will reward a player who will think about when to lift the foot off the throttle, or apply some brakes, drive around the AI cars (which are surprisingly effective), or which car to pick for a certain challenge, all without ever becoming too demanding, instead enhancing the sense of being in an actual race.
If that wasn’t clear already, I’m absolutely in love with Horizon Chase Turbo: it’s the best, most fun racer I’ve played in a long time.
If you ask me, this is the hidden gem for this December Choice.
A Dark Souls-but-2D that’s not Dead Cells, owing to a more conventional, non-randomized Metroidvania structure, and slower combat. Blasphemous will blow the minds of Pixel-art lovers away with beautiful enemy and environment designs that are lovingly animated, and supported by a haunting, minimalistic soundtrack (no metal this time around, hooray).
Critics maintain it’s a little bit frustrating (spikey traps anybody), a little same-y (both combat-wise, though there is an upgrade tree, and thematically), and perhaps too style-over-substance, nevertheless it is a world very much worth visiting, even if only for a while.
Wanna get a taste? The “time-limited” demo can still be downloaded, though you will need to use something like SteamDB.
Did you fall asleep just reading the game’s name? Well, wake up now, because under the unassuming moniker there’s likely one of the best tower defense games of the last years.
While largely following a traditional model, it spices things up by taking a page off 11 Bit’s Anomaly series, and embedding the player in the field, rather than adopting the more classic disembodied presence of top-down strategy games; it does so by giving them a space ship that can at the same time place towers and design mazes (yes, you can shape paths to your heart’s content!), as well as engage enemies in twin-stick shooter style.
If you’re thinking Factorio or Mindustry, there’s no logistics or crafting to be found here - it is a pure tower-defense experience otherwise.
Made by EXOR, them of Zombie Driver, it uses the same photorealistic art-style that I personally find a little unexciting, and sometimes hard to read (bullets should stand out more). Don’t let that stop you because, after the tutorial levels, I was already as much absorbed by the tower defending, as my first time playing Defense Grid. It’s that good!
If you’d rather get your feet wet, it comes with a demo,
Dead in Vinland
A spiritual successor to CCCP’s Dead in Bermuda, a survival-slash-management game with a narrative twist, in some ways reminiscent of King of Dragon Pass; while you don’t get to manage a tribe in Stafford’s original Glorantha setting, and all the much loved oddities that came with that territory, you get a band of survivors, all with their stats and personality traits, whose physical and psychological well-being you’ll have to take care of: in concept, not too far from Darkest Dungeon, except no dungeon crawling, and CYOA events instead, more like KoDP. Explore the island and unravel its mysteries while keeping your Viking family healthy and sane.
And yup, there’s a demo, too!
What if The Lost Vikings had only been made in the 2010s? It would have a charming, pixelated Ghibli-esque art-style and tower-defense mechanics on top of the puzzle platforming.
AND… co-op! This is both a blessing and a curse, as the tower defense phase can get a little hectic if you’re playing on your own, a trait shared with other contemporary co-op tower defense games.
Think you can live with that, then it’s good times.
This bundle is an absolute treat for pixel-art lovers: indie hoverboard racer Desert Child literally oozes style, its fantastic good looks wearing their inspirations on the sleeves: you don’t need to be an otaku to recognize the influence of one of the most iconic and celebrated anime series in history, Cowboy Bebop. Just look at that trailer!
From the makers of Hard West, comes another tactical affair in the wake of XCOM, this time set during an alternate history Cold War, and with some nods to Klei’s much loved Invisible, Inc.
Dark Future: Blood Red States
Based on a Games Workshop table-top from the late 80s, a 3D vehicular combat sim that plays in pausable real-time. Fancy some Mad Max-flavored fun, anyone?
A squad-based RTS that promises epic clashes of very graphical violence.
So that’s all for this month, folks. Still on the fence? Why not take a look the analytical post in the Discussions section. Catch you later, with the January Choice Bundle that’s launching soon.
Thanks for reading, and bye!