Running Down the Haul Part 2: The HIB 17 Additions!

So, we did a thing with the Humble Indie Bundle 17.  Reviewed all the games I got off it.  Then I got more games.  So now I haven’t reviewed them all.  The expansion has taken my accomplishments away from me.  Let’s correct that.

So here’s the HIB 17 review part 2, covering the games that got added to the bundle since the last post!  So sometimes the surprise games are a big deal.  Sometimes they’re not.  Very not.  This one is the latter.  But hey, maybe we can have some fun with them nonetheless.  Let’s go!

Hexcell Complete

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It’s Minesweeper.  There, that’s the review.

Okay, maybe a bit more than that.  The Hexcell Complete pack gets you the three Hexcell games.  Only played the first one, not sure what the difference between them is.  It’s a puzzle game.  A bunch of six-sided cells laid out.  Some of them are part of the pattern, some aren’t.  You left kick to mark the cells that are part of it, right click to eliminate the cells that aren’t.  Every cell that’s successfully eliminated has a number showing how many of the neighboring cells are part of the pattern.

So yeah, Minesweeper.

I have a small irritation in that I keep mixing up the right and left clicks, but there seems to be very little consequence for failure.  So there’s that.  I do enjoy puzzle games for stress release, and I could see myself coming back to this game for that, but don’t know if I’ll ever become very enthusiastic about Hexcell.

Expand

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So Expand is a ‘minimalist game’.  The developer’s listing says so, and you know, that’s pretty accurate.

Basically, you move a simple box around a simple circular maze that’s constantly shifting as you go through it.  And that’s about it.  The music is pretty nice and atmospheric.  Controls take a little getting used to.  Up and down really control your box’s position in relation to the center of the screen rather than its absolute position.

Only played a little.  Haven’t seen anything worth sticking around for just yet.  Feels more like a Newgrounds-style flash game than a full commercial release, but I’ve only skimmed the surface.

There, a minimalist review for a minimalist game.

Regency Solitaire

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Someone saw me playing this game.  So I’ve spent more time explaining that I’m still totally manly and my ability to play feminine things only reinforces this fact than I’ve really wanted to.

Probably my favorite games of these additions.  Regency Solitaire poses card games to you in between visual novel-esque story scenes going through a simple regency romance story.  The card game is simple at first, draw a card, then you can pick up one of the cards in the playing area that’s one number higher or lower than that card, then pick up that’s higher or lower than that, and so on, until you eliminate as many of the cards in the field as you can.  It does have some tech to it, though, as you unlock new abilities, new cards pop up that need to be eliminated in special ways, and the challenges grow a little bit tougher.

That said, there’s not really all that much to the game, and the story’s not exactly stellar.  Still, though, this is probably the only one of these additions I could see giving a few hour into.

So, that’s that.  Overall, nothing I think that’s really going to sell you on the bundle.  Maybe some fun things to kill a few moments with if there’s already something else you’re interested in there, though.

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Running Down the Haul: Humble Indie Bundle 17

Although it’s uncommon that I do pick up a Humble Bundle, I do follow their offerings pretty religiously.  There’s two things that I really enjoy about the bundles.  One is picking up good games for dirt cheap.  I’ve noted on here plenty of times before that I am both cheap as hell and patient like a saint, and the bundles play on both of those measures.  Even without abusing the pay-what-you-want structure, you can’t get much better than the 7-10 games for up to $10-$15 they usually have on offer, and wouldn’t you know it, they also often have ready to go games that I’ve been waiting for a price drop on since literally forever.  Yes, literally forever.  Shenanigans, don’t ask.

The second thing I really enjoy about the bundles is all of a sudden owning games I have never heard of and know absolutely nothing about.  I’ve got plenty of games in my library that I would never have bought on my own, would never have even bothered looking into, but since I picked them up by way of picking up the games I actually care about, I give them a try, and hey!  Turns out they’re pretty good.  There’s something about going into a game completely blind and still finding quality there that is just so, so satisfying, and the Humble Bundles pave the way for that to happen.  They expand your gaming horizons on the way there, too, and even when that doesn’t always lead to a perfect experience, that’s still something I really value.

Anyways, the Humble Indie Bundle 17 they’re putting out right now is the most recent one I’ve added to my collection.  Which, you know, is not something worthy of much fanfare.  But I’ve done something I haven’t done before with a bundle collection.  Something perhaps nobody has done before, judging from what I see on the internet.  I have actually played all the games I picked up in that collection.  Well, all the games that have been released thus far.  Who knows what the “new games coming soon” expansion will bring.

In any case, since I have made this monumental human achievement for which I am undoubtedly due for years upon years of accolades, I thought to share some of the glory.  Specifically, let’s go through some quick reviews on all the games in the collection.  Now, although I’ve played these all, I’ve only sunk some real time into a few of them, so this is going to be some real surface level review.  First impression stuff for the most part.

And with that in mind, let’s get into the games.

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Variety is the Spice of Life

I’ve been playing a lot of Middle Earth: Shadow of Mordor lately.  Good game.  One of my favorites of the very slim amount of PS4 games I’ve played thus far.  I’m enjoying this game quite a bit.  Of course, that’s to be expected.  I love Rocksteady’s Batman Arkham games, and Shadow of Mordor is exactly that with a new coat of paint.

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People have called Shadows of Mordor ‘similar’ to the Arkham games.  That is being very, very generous.  Shadows of Mordor is an Arkham game, in the same way Bloodborne is still considered a Souls game.  The combat is very much the same, down to the individual moves and the controls.  The open world nature and drastically different setting have changed the way the stealth works, but the engine operating it is still carried over.  This game may have a new property, a new setting, and some new systems to work through, but the core of it all comes right from the Arkham series.  Not ‘inspired by’, not ‘with elements of the previous game’, Shadow of Mordor is basically a sequel to the Arkham games with the license plates swapped out.  Shadow of Mordor is the child Arkham never knew about, its seed from a one-night stand and the mother lost Arkham’s number.

I’m not bothered by this.  I don’t consider it a rip-off or anything like that.  Even going beyond the rumors that Shadow of Mordor started out as an Nolanverse Batman game, the developers of both the Arkham Series and Shadow of Mordor are owned by the same company, working on properties owned and published by that company, and I really don’t have a problem with sister businesses sharing resources when they’re working out.  It doesn’t hurt that the Arkham games are some of the best of last generation, and Shadow of Mordor is one of the few games to carry that engine and really ‘get’ what made it so great.

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It does pose some difficulty for me, however.  See, there’s another PS4 game I’ve been interested in that I just haven’t picked up on yet.  Batman: Arkham Knight.  One of the games I had my eye on when I was picking up the system.  Now that I’ve already scratched that itch with Shadow of Mordor, however, I’m finding it hard to look at that game the same way, at least in the short term.  It’ll be just as good as it always was, but it just doesn’t feel as fresh to me, and the thought of moving from Shadow of Mordor directly to that game already has me worried about burning out on the engine. I still want the game, but I feel like I need a break.

With videogames, we see something similar, where games just jump on whatever genre is du jour at the time, flooding it with whatever titles they can tie to it like an angry god to a sinful earth.  Back when I was growing up, that was platformers.  Then, briefly, a wave of JRPGs hit.  After that, the industry seems to have settled in on shooters.  Doesn’t matter the specifics of it.  Other industries do that as well, one company taking a risk and finding something that works only for everyone to pile on and squeeze it for what it’s worth.  Leads to a lot of repetition.  Leads to a lot of experiences that are largely the same.

And, you know, it probably affects tastes the same way.  Just like my immediate interest in Batman: Arkham Knight has waned because Shadows of Mordor tastes the same, I imagine the endless sea of shooters, superhero movies, quirky fantasy cartoons, or what have you would start to feel a bit less enticing, too.  Once you get one filling your needs, the next, unless it does at least something to mix things up, will start to feel just a little blander.  The one after that even moreso.  The stories are still just as good as if they were taken in a vacunm, but the experience itself doesn’t have the same impact.  Starts to get like eating when you’re already full.

Milking a genre is not good business, for exactly this reason.  That’s why we start to complain when a genre gets too tropey, even if objectively the titles are better than what they used to be.  It’s dangerous for businesses in the long term, as consumers will start to look for the new flavors themselves.  Things are most fun when they’re fresh, when they’re new, when the experience feels bright.  And that’s something that a style we’ve just been seing too much of is going to have a hard time with right out of the gate.

Variety is the spice of life, after all.

The Higurashi Notes, Chapter 1: Onikakushi – Plot Rundown

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Look at this!  Isn’t this amazing!  I said I was going to do a thing.  Which, ok sure, that happens.  But then!  But then I actually did it!  How often does that happen in your life?!

In any case, here’s the first part of typing waaaaaaaaaaaay too many words talking about Higurashi.  If you missed our intro post, here’s the deal.  I’ve been playing these visual novels.  I’ve been wanting to talk about them.  To analyze them.  To dissect them.  So that’s what we’ll be doing today, over the first chapter of the series, Onikakushi.  We’re going full on for spoilers for that chapter, but we’ll be keeping things safe for all the other chapters.  We’re free on discussing chapter one, whatever we need to there, but we won’t be brushing on anything else.  Might be literally the only place on the internet to do that.

Do I need any further ado?  I think that’s enough ado.  Let’s get into the do.

So, today, we’re mostly going to be following along with the plot.  Summarizing things for those who are just joining us or could use a bit of a refresher before we jump right into the deep end.  We’ll be dropping some bits of analysis on the way, but it’ll be the next post where we really get into things.  So hey, if you’re interested in this stuff, why don’t you follow along?  If not, go ahead and wait for next time.  Do whatever works for you.  Ain’t required reading here.  But, chances are, it will make your life better.  So much better.  In fact, I’m pretty confident about that.

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