Posted on February 19th, 2017 by | Leave a comment

Holy crap there’s a lot of games in the Humble Freedom Bundle. I’ve taken a short break from MMOs to play all of them this week. I’m glad to say that there aren’t any bad games in the bundle, but sad to say there’s not enough time to play everything fully. As we live in a time of plenty for video games, I’ve sorted all of the games into four tiers to help bundle buyers figure out what to play.

Platinum Games

Everyone should try these out.

the witness

The Witness – WOW! In the Witness you learn how to solve puzzles by completing other puzzles with no instruction. Often times you’ll need to be very observant of your surroundings. Never seen a puzzle game like this.

Stardew Valley – Sandbox builder with dungeon crawl and relationship simulator elements. It’s a better and more modern version of Harvest Moon. The game’s not very challenging, but it is without equal in its genre.

Mini Metro – At first it doesn’t seem like much of a game. After you lose your first game you realize how incredibly deep and challenging the simple gameplay is. It’s essentially a logistics simulator that can be played in a number of ways at a pace that’s right for you.

System Shock Pack – System Shock is a good game but more of a “Silver” quality nowadays. System Shock 2, however, is still perhaps the best FPS/RPG around (with mods). The FPS part hasn’t aged well, but this game holds up due to a great antagonist, fantastic character customization, and tons of atmosphere.

Gold Games

Genre fans definitely should play these and most people probably should.

invisible inc

Invisible Inc. – Showed me that stealth is way better as a tactical RPG than an action shooter. The turn based nature removes waiting for guards to finish their routes and lets you get to core enjoyable element of stealth games. Tons of puzzle solving and creative/critical thinking. Rogue-like randomization provides a ton of replay.

Super Meat Boy – The gold standard for platformers. The levels are short, interesting, and diverse. It’s tough as nails but the deaths rarely feel unfair due to slick controls. Very funny cutscenes to boot.

Octodad: Dadliest Catch – This game sounds incredibly dumb but is actually hilarious. Performing mundane tasks with no dexterity (because you’re an octopus) is surprisingly fun. Great dialogue too. You’ll love it or hate in 10 minutes so give it a try.

Subnautica – Not everyone got this, but those who did and like builder games and exploration need to play these. There’s some Early Access issues (bugs, sound quality, endgame content, etc.), but it’s worth playing now.

Super Hexagon – Do you like testing your reaction time and awesome techno chiptunes? Play this.

The Stanley Parable – Choice as a gameplay mechanic. There’s a lot of freedom that’s not immediately apparent. Discovering that en route to 20 different endings is a unique experience in The Stanley Parable.

The Swapper – Puzzle platformer with genuine horror elements and a good story. Honestly, one of the best atmospheres ever in a 2D side scroller. Cloning puzzles are rarely this good, but everything is well thought out in The Swapper.

Guacamelee – Play as a luchador in this metroidvania brawler with co-op. It’s a unique concept, as long as it works. Luckily, Guacamelee puts it altogether in a package complete that oozes theme at every corner with its dialogue, visuals, and music.

Hand of Fate – In Hand of Fate, players build their upcoming adventure through a deck of cards. The player then encounters these in a random, board-game-like layout. The brilliance here is that players can then adjust decisions based on what they know is left in the deck. The action combat is pretty generic, but the short fights don’t drag the game down much.

Silver Games

Genre fans probably should play these, while others will install just for a rainy day.

guns of icarus online

Guns of Icarus Online – Unique team-centric FPS of manning a Steampunk gunship to bring down opposing airships. The downside is you really need everyone working together so it’s not great for pubbing. The population is also very weak for a multiplayer game.

GRAV – Sci-fi, survival builder game with randomized planets. Sadly doesn’t get updated much but has a good base. Hopefully developers will come back and re-focus on the game’s strength: building more dangerous co-op encounters and tools to combat them.

Song of the Deep – Metroidvania submarine game with a cute story. The narrator is fantastic, and the story moves at a good pace. Map markers keep you from getting lost. It’s a very solid lighter metroidvania, but doesn’t do quite enough awesome things to make it a must play.

Day of the Tentacle Remastered – Do you like old school point and click games? This is one of the best, and the remastered version is great. If you don’t like point and click adventures, this won’t change your mind though.

VVVVV – Challenging platformer with very cool gravity mechanic. Some deaths can feel unfair because of how little of the map loads at a time and going back through the map can be a chore. If it looks fun, you’re the right audience to play it.

Nuclear Throne – Very good roguelike bullet hell shooter. It’s fast and frantic and crazy (all in a good way). The lack of automatic fire on beginning weapons is annoying though considering how many bullets you fire in a bullet hall game. Ultimately, I feel Enter the Gungeon is similar but better.

Mushroom 11 – Neat puzzle anti-platformer that’s hard to put into words. Players move goo through landscape based physics and erasing goo to reform elsewhere. Definitely worth playing if you’ve enjoyed puzzle platformers in the past.

Superbrothers: Sword & Sworcery EP  – There’s not a lot of actual game here. The music is great and some people will definitely love the experience. Just don’t expect to DO a lot here.

ROCKETSROCKETSROCKETS – Really, this is a local multiplayer only game. Use missiles, bombs, and shields to kill up to three other friends in this aesthetically pleasing, arcade arena game. It’s not a great comparison, but it reminds of Smash Brothers with rockets.

Human Resource Machine – High production value programming puzzles. I love the art style. People who like logic or programming puzzles will love HRM.

Spirits – Remember Lemmings? This is it. If not, it’s a light strategy puzzle game.

Tower of Guns – Frantic Quake style shooting with randomized levels and a number of unlockables. I thought I’d love this but the music and sound effects are way too light to really engage me.

Waking Mars – The voice acting and writing is surprisingly (mostly) good for the mediocre visuals. I guess I’d classify the genre as metroidvania puzzler, but that doesn’t evoke the right feeling for this game. Where Waking Mars earns high marks is its good pacing and continuous evolution of relatively simple core mechanics.

AI Fleet War Command – A high learning curve and a bad UI belie what is a fairly deep 4X-ish strategy game. If you have the patience and want a suitably refreshing and epic strategy game, give this a whirl.

Q.U.B.E. – Good block puzzles. Never gets repetitive. Short game with enough of a story to help things move along.

Rituals – This feels like a graphical version of Zork. If you don’t know what that is or you didn’t like Zork, you probably won’t like Rituals. Otherwise, it’s a decent and short adventure game that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome.

Beat Hazard Ultra – I kill two birds with one stone here. Beat Hazard is my go-to rhythm and shoot ’em up game. This game has been around for a while and is still fun to play in short bursts.

Chroma Squad – The Power Rangers tactical RPG with business management elements. I’m not sure yet if the script is intentionally as bad as Power Rangers, but that’s not really the core element of the game. Skip the story entirely and play this for its solid turn based squad combat.

Bronze Games

Dedicated fans of the genre might want to play these, and everyone else can skip them.

world of goo

World of Goo – Physics bridge building puzzles. You either like them or you don’t. This is more of them.

JumpJet Rex – SNES feeling platform. Where it sets itself apart is in it’s mobility and accessible short level. Players can jump infinitely, dash, and rocket jump all from the get go.

Monsters Love You! – A multiple ending, choose your own adventure monster simulator. I never found myself really caring about my choices, but there are a lot of them that slowly flesh out your monster’s character. This then plays into monster/human interaction and the ending.

Overgrowth – For as long as this has been in development I expected a bit more. Still feels like a tech demo. If you love fighting games, this is worth playing for the limb attack freedom. Otherwise, there’s just too many higher quality fighting games out there. Likewise, there’s much better parkour games available as well.

No Time to Explain Remastered – Platformer and sometimes side scrolling shooter. Nothing innovative except for the hilarious voice acted lines in their relation to the plot.

Thirty Flights of Loving – It’s 10 minute (or less) interactive story. It does a pretty good job of telling a lot in such a short time. But it also ends before you can really care about any of it.

2064: Read Only Memories – Visual novel masquerading as a point and click adventure game. If it’s immediately appealing then go for it. Otherwise, you can pass this up.

A Virus Named TOM – Amusing backstory aside, this is a puzzle strategy game that just isn’t that rewarding to play. I never got the “oh that was really cool” moment found in better puzzle games.

7 Grand Steps: What Ancients Begat – Board game that wanes quickly as you realize its lack of depth. Might be worth playing until you “figure it out”.

Sproggiwood – Classic feeling rogue-like that was once pretty good but has been surpassed by numerous entries into the genre. Town sim aspect is vastly underutilized.

Hot Tin Roof: The Cat That Wore A Fedora – Dat name doe. The presentation and dialogue is good, but the platformer and puzzle elements are mediocre overall. The controls can also be frustrating.

Retro Game Crunch – A multigame pack that hearkens back to the old NES days. If you grew up in that era, this is worth playing for a fresh sense of nostalgia. Most of the games are solid, but nothing in here is a must play.

Secrets of Rætikon – The art style and the first 30 minutes of this game are the best part. Afterward, things start to get repetitive pretty quickly.

Girls Like Robots – More puzzles! Like A Virus Named TOM, none of them really feel really rewarding. But if you can’t get enough puzzling in your life, here’s more of them.

Ellipsis – Feels more like a time waster tablet game. That’s not to say this minimalist fast moving puzzler is bad. It just doesn’t feel particularly fresh.

Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball – The name really says it all. I encourage everyone to try this game for 5-10 minutes. Hard to recommend playing more except for some silly multiplayer fun with friends.

Ballistick – I felt like I was playing a high quality Kongregate game here. Ballistick does stealth better than action so that’s who should really play this. Regardless, there’s better games available in both departments.

Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble – A board game with some interesting concepts that ultimately dulls fairly quickly. The graphics and basic UI in this one don’t help the cause. Don’t let the theme keep you from playing though – it’s fairly irrelevant.

Super Galaxy Squadron EX – It’s a vertical shoot ’em up. If that’s what you want to play, this will more than get the job done.

TIMEframe – Walking simulator to explore the rise and fall of a civilization through time’s rapid lenses. Conceptually sound with good music and atmosphere, it’s disappointing because you never feel like you do much. The distances between locations adds heft but also kills the pace.

Dusty Revenge – A beat ’em up with nice boss fights but regular stages that generally last too long.

Luna’s Wandering Stars – More physics puzzles! Some of these are pretty tricky so it’s certainly worth a play if that’s what you like.

Team Indie – A platformer that takes elements of various indie games to try and create several experiences in one. It works to a degree but not enough to be an enticing experience for people who don’t regularly play platformers.

Streamline – This game relies on a large Twitch community, which it does not have. Some fun parkour elements if you can actually get a game going.

Shutshimi – A horizontal shoot ’em up. It’s OK, but other than co-op doesn’t play differently enough to warrant specifically picking it over all the others.

Rocketbirds: Hardboiled Chicken – Platformer shooter that does everything perfectly fine. There’s obvious silliness, but I wouldn’t say it adds a ton to the game.

Potatoman Seeks the Troof – Clearly not a game to be played for the visuals. It’s a challenging platformer where you jump to avoid things. Nothing fancy.

Ninja Pizza Girl – The platform, parkour speed running parts are good. The rest of the game just detracts from that. Has wider appeal than most “Bronze” games, but I don’t think anything will fall in love with it.

There’s a lot of games in this Humble Freedom Bundle. I have no doubts that somewhere your opinion will differ than mine. I shot for as an objective take as I could make, and I’ll stick by these rankings. Either way, $30 for all of the above has been a great deal. Knowing that money is going to worthwhile charities is all the sweeter. The Freedom Bundle ends 2/20 at 2 pm EST. A few of the games reviewed above also are sold out. Check the full listing before purchasing if certain games will sway your decision.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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