Hello and welcome to a new gaming feature for SpoilerTV. If you’re a PC gamer you’re probably familiar with Humble Bundle, a games company that gives you bundles of PC games for prices with a portion of their items going to charity. You can adjust your payment to choose whether you’d want the charity, Humble Bundle itself, or the game developers to recieve the most money of your payment, and in exchange you get themed bundles both of games and ebooks. Their premiere service is the Humble Bundle Choice, a selection of 8 games each month gifted to you of varying genres, quality and rating – including, if you’re lucky, triple A games. Their current non-monthly bundles are available for a limited time and include Baldur’s Gate games, a cosy collection and a cyberpunk playground. It’s got all fans covered. But this month’s choice is special – there’s so many great games it feels unfair to be only able to cover a few of them; mainly due to other commitments like real life, work and film reviews – it’s a busy month as ever for me personally; but I did have the time to sink between 5-10 hours into each of these games and pick up the basics of them. It’s a quick overview of all of their services and whether they’d work for you, based on the rating system that SpoilerTV employs.
The full list of games that are available on Humble Bundle Choice include – in order of what they’re listed on the site: The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice Edition, Temtem, Yakuza 4 Remastered, Roadwarden, Kraken Academy!!, Merchant of the Skies, Ozymandias: Bronze Age Empire Sin and Shotgun King: The Final Checkmate. You can buy the full bundle here should you wish, and it’s a really neat bundle this month because not just of the variety but also some major fan-favourites: Yakuza 4 will suit any fans of the series, The Outer Worlds: Spacer’s Choice includes all the DLC for a repackaged release of a major title, and Roadwarden is a particular fan-favourite. 4DX fans will love Ozymandias too, and the last 3 I’ve all decided to cover for this release as I feel like these games are where my interest is mainly going to lie. This is going to be a monthly series for as long as I have the time to play at least 3 games of the bundle for that amount of time – and hopefully set aside to continue the ones that I’ve played the previous month as well. If you’re interested in the full bundle you can click here to see its contents, and if you’ve played any of these 3 games you can let me know in the comments below if you agreed with my takes, and if you have played any that I didn’t get around to from this month, what did you think? Remember you have until the first Tuesday of the next month to get the bundle with a variety of payment plans available – I’ve left a link here for you.
The Outer Worlds is a kind of choose-your-own storyline RPG game in the mould of Fallout and others of its ilk and fans will find themselves at home in this Spacer’s Choice edition, a game that includes all the DLCs for it. It takes you – a nameless survivor of the colony ship called the hope – fleeing Earth – into the far future, where you get the chance to find out what’s happened to humanity in the time since. Instead of a utopia you get a dystopian where the corporate, post-capitalist board runs a galaxy in disrepair and ruins. What follows is a mission to find the other colonists to rise up and revolt against the board and you get plenty of choice in how you go about this. The Outer Worlds takes its time to get you going; a small-scale entry world gives you the choice between aiding the revolutionaries who have left town to fend for themselves or a desolate, run-down corporate board-owned town where its people are dying of sickness. On paper the answer seems simple: help the board – when faced with the first of the games many choices; but it quickly becomes apparent that right throughout the game the easy choice isn’t always the right one and choices have consequences.
The game runs a bit like Mass Effect by way of Fallout You can put your characters together and assemble a team. I recruited Vicar Max and Parvati almost instantly on one world; and there’s a plenty of an option for more – the supporting characters are lively, well-characterised and as you progress you unlock a new sidequest for them. You’re thrust into the unknown and it lets you explore the galaxy with DLCs included and a slight remastered upscale to give this an edge over its original version. It’s probably not worth replaying if you’ve played the first one and found it ok but there are plenty of different options, playstyles and weapons for you to choose from with enough variety to customise your character effectively. I do think the game’s setting and lack of depth kind of hurts it though, it could have been more fleshed out – but for a 30 hour complete playthrough it’s nice to get a smaller game especially if you’re burnt out with the open world releases – and more focus could’ve helped the story stick to its narrative as it does lose track quite quicky. More variety in the faction dilemmas could’ve helped too – there’s not much surprise in the choices which is a bit of a shame and hurts the depth, it ends up leaving everything feeling the same no matter what world you go to. The faction system helps: it gives you the option to see who’s friendly and hostile depending on your choices as the game progresses. The combat is how you make it – it’s up to you to have the ability to switch up the weapons because the game doesn’t do much for you. It’s very much one-note enemies with little variety; cut and paste and not many creative boss battles if at all.
The visuals bring the worlds of The Outer Worlds to life in a grand, stylistic way but there’s not really enough to separate it from the competition: it’s enough of a game to create its own look and feel for the worlds but there’s nothing about The Outer Worlds that helps make it stand out – everything feels a touch too interchangeable regardless of the planet.
The sound runs effectively and the loud clunks and crashes of the combat really allows for an intense experience; the voice actor work is on point and the dialogue from the characters in the cut scenes can feel a bit monotone at times but it does a good job at letting you know more about who these people are and helps you provide context for choices – with more creative voice work depending on certain performances lending in its favour to add to the experience; for example – I only learned that one character was more horrible than he actually was after I killed him which only made me feel better about killing him. The sound effects of the combat are stunning and really visceral and do a great job at enhancing the experience: the stuns really work, and the first person shooter style does a long way to immerse you.
On my PC – a fairly decent laptop, there were the odd moments of glitches and freeze-ups particularly in combat but I’m sure with a stronger PC or even a console these issues would’ve been removed; other than that The Outer Worlds is able to run smoothly with a stunning output, combat is fast and slick and the story is engrossing enough to have my complete attention. There’s no gameplay breaking bugs and the overall result is a smooth experience.
The option to enlarge text is available along with the ability to switch up the opacity in subtitle backgrounds; you can find interactive objects with ease and the game does an effective job at guiding your way forward with clear objectives signal markers. Story mode is the game’s easiest difficulty and it does a good job at giving you a way in if you want to enjoy the story without much of a challenge; and the varying difficulties of the game build around that.
Despite its setbacks there’s enough about The Outer Worlds to like – it’s engaging, fast paced and entertaining: the world-building loses steam when it gets past a certain point and it can feel repetitive but like most RPGS it’s what you put into it, a pretty thrilling experience when all is said and done that deserves its own place in the gaming pantheon. The characters are likeable and well acted; and there’s plenty of missions to keep you there on top of that – with a choice-based structure that puts you front and centre in the narrative. More depth would’ve been useful to truly flesh it out but for what it is it’s a real accomplishment, and the fact that there’s enough of a game here to make it worth the investement really is something that’s worth the price of the bundle alone; just for this – anything else is a bonus. There’s a solid 30+ hour game here.
Roadwarden is the kind of game that many people on the surface mistake for a visual novel. Entirely designed by one developer it’s a text-based role-playing game, which requires a lot of storytelling from the off: you explore and change a hostile grim realm by your actions. It’s a blend of the two in reality – a role-playing game/visual novel format that sees you explore a lonely peninsula in an attempt to unify the tribes, bring commerce and establish trade with the merchant guilds for your actions.
Playing Roadwarden is essentially reading a book. You get a “choose your own adventure” narrative – you can go east or west to start off with, but the game recommends you go west – and gives you clues on where to start your playthrough. I played the safe bet and went west – and you’re met with a barn, where you can do quests for the owners to build up friendship with them, and then you go onto the next village. The map is hidden but as you traverse more you can unlock more of the world – and as you do you encounter more dangers and mystical objects, a tree that you can give offerings to but you only find out what those offerings are until later when you question the right person. It’s got all the classic RPG elements that make it great – you can customise your character, improve their strengths – give them names; as is a theme, I named all my characters this month after Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta because I have no sense of immersion.
The game challenges you – you need to find comfortable sleeping quarters or you will take damage at night. You can press on but you’ll be drained and a wreck without comfortable shelter. The passage of time wants you to complete the game in 40 in-game days or less – and the extra stakes are there to get your task done and done quickly. Here dialogue is key: and the narrative is believable, carefully chosen and skillfully done. It grounds these characters in reality and makes you want to befriend them and find out more about them: the writing is absolutely terrific. Your deduction skills improve or weaken based on what you remember from elsewhere; and it’s a game that requires you to pay attention.
Characters are not above telling lies and you’ll only find out later: making a guess-work game crucial. You’re in the position of the outsider here; the alien – the invader, and characters make their attitude known towards you because of that. You can do jobs for the locals for goods and services which is key as much of Roadwarden is an exchange-based game; you’ll need to raise funds to buy weapons and food, and accommodation so you get a good night’s sleep and are recharged the next day.
The visuals for a text-based novel make it look like the map you’ll see at the start of a 1,000 page fantasy book that’s the first of a trilogy. The calmness of the narrative and the mood make it for a false allure – the main body of text takes up much of the screen – and it can feel a lot like a giant wall of text; but the map on the side gives the game its colour: it changes and moves depending on what location you’re in. We don’t see character faces or names but we get a rough idea of what they’re like – one example paints a close to fifty, taller than most people you’ve seen in your life, broad shouldered with a brown hair and short beard. This is the kind of surface-level detail that introduces the character and you learn more about them – like a book, you’re imagining most of the game’s visuals in your own head.
The game’s sound is relaxing when it needs to be, sharp when it needs to be – in the village and the wilderness it changes; you get a sense of the hustle and bustle of the village life when you’re making your choices and the sense of wilderness and scale when the sound changes. It’s purely atmospheric and does a great job at immersing you in the world.
Roadwarden is a pure mouse-based game, you can change the difficulty to determine how long you have to complete your mission with the default being 40 in-game days, but on the lowest difficulty there isn’t a time limit. Text can be a bit overwhelming at times but there is a high contrast, and there is also a deaf-support enabling setting which gives you important audio in more than just the standard format.
Not a text based novel but a rpg. It’s fully immersive and entrancing and your choices really matter here. It’s rich; based on the ideas of connection in a broken community and really shines because of that. The performance is optimal and runs really well on PC – it doesn’t take a high-end device to run it. It’s smooth, stylistic and visually impressive: a real mastermind of a game that just flat out works, one of the best of the bundle. If you like The Witcher you’ll find yourself right at home here, and you’ll almost certainly have never played a game like it. Magical, entrancing – escapist fantasy of the best possible kind.
About the game: Ozymandias is a 4X strategy game set in the bronze age that reminds you of Catan or Civilization 6, it’s a bite-sized Civilization 6 essentially. There’s 4 resources that you can use to upgrade your civilization – knowledge (essentially science), money, food, power – you can use food to expand and money to trade for other resources. It’s kind of self-explanatory – you can invest your military into making it bigger and expand as you go along to conquer whatever map you prefer.
The gameplay feels streamlined so that you don’t spend hours playing with it. It’s a fascinating way to reduce the bloat of say, Civilization 6 where a multi-person playthrough could take you weeks especially if you went a religious or domination victory, pretty much any victory. The food tap uses your food to grow cities, and build new ones to conquer land: flags cost more the far away you move encouraging tall building to start with – and makes you choose where you place your cities. There are hex grids compromising of different sorts of terrain and you can select your knowledge tab to see each terrain’s yield.
Like most 4DX games it’s important to manage your economy and you can choose what percentage of your wealth is spend acquiring knowledge, food or power at the end of your turn and you have to keep it in check. Hills and Cities allow for the best sort of wealth exposure to recruit armies and fight battles. Power can make other enemies feel threatened if your might is bigger than theirs; and you can spy on rivals to improve their strength. Your cities project power of their own and can expand your Empire.
Victory conditions come in quick and fast: you have the option to choose your win conditions, if you don’t, the game will pick a selection of 7 wonders and when you complete them you will receive crowns and you need 7 crowns to win. It’s a fun set -up compiled in an easy to use way where everyone takes their turns at the same time and the game processes them – it can be played online or solo. I started with the story campaign: a fascinating intro where you’re playing as Egypt.
This is a bronze-age game so expect bronze-age visuals; in a good way not in a bad way. The aesthetic is good, the parchment-esque maps are suitably effective and stylised. The world map is huge and the cities are smaller-scale than Civilization without the expansion per tile which means that the scale is really felt – the expansion is key here and the game really delivers.
The sound performance provides a calming relaxing soundtrack that you can easily have on in the background or put your own podcast or music over should you prefer; but it really adds to the immersion and creates a world that evokes the charm and engrossing nature of it.
The performance of the game is smooth, quick and easy to get your head around. The turn based strategy game resolves itself how any 4DX game would and it runs smoothly without any issues on a standard PC – producing simple but well-designed graphics with ease.
There’s a similar scale of Accessibility to pretty much everything in Ozymandias that you’d expect from 4DX games – keyboard shortcuts are provided and the ability to end your turn at a sequence speed can be enhanced or decreased; and you can enable a windowed mode should you wish. Various volume controls can be turned up and down and you have the option to turn the terrain info on or off, along with the hex numbers – to aid playability. There are also a wide variety of languages available for you to use.
For those without the required patience for the time-sink of a longer 4DX game, this is a great first step. Easy-to-learn but hard to master mechanics and a fun tutorial I’m an instant fan, and will be returning to it over and over again. The rich atmosphere of the game pulls you in and the various mechanics keep it fresh, thrilling and addictive: if you’ve ever wondered what a game of Civilization could look like if you completed it in an hour; look no further. The replayability value is there in spades and it feels tailor made for 4DX fans waiting time between the new Civ games.