Welcome, readers! Welcome to The Humble Rumble! Join Deadshirt Video Game Editor, Kyle Herr, and plucky newcomer Yen Nguyen as they bumble, fumble, and occasionally mumble through the contents of the newest Humble Bundles. For those of you out of the know, Humble Bundles are a (usually) bi-weekly collection of PC or Android games sold on a pay-what-you-will basis. The cool thing about them is that you can decide how you split your payment among the developers, the charities that Humble Bundle supports, and Humble Bundle’s own bandwidth costs. But enough explanations, let’s get down to the main event!
What does your dollar(s) get you?
Kyle: This week’s bundle of PC exclusives comes curated courtesy of Devolver Digital. I’m not incredibly familiar with the things that they have published, but I know that one of my favorite indie games, Hotline Miami, was published by them. They’ve also published a bunch of the Serious Sam games and 3D Realms rerelease stuff.
Yen: If I remember correctly, Devolver did a special double bundle something-or-other a while back with the Humble Bundle people, so it looks like we’re going to be seeing a lot more of Devolver showing up in future deals and promotions. I guess that’s reason enough to get to know them and their games a little bit better.
The Real Texas
You got your Zelda in my cowboy nudity sim, pardner.
Kyle: I came into this game knowing nothing about it, and I left possibly knowing less. The Real Texas is kind of a 8/16-bit era Zelda game about a cowboy mired in office work that goes to England on a vacation to find adventure. Along the way you end up in a strange fantasy land where you can shoot people and gelatinous cubes to death with a peacemaker. Most notably, you can also strip naked and walk around with only a cowboy hat on. Before you ask, your LEGO man does have a wiener drawn onto his body.
Yen: That plot synopsis is giving the game way too much credit, too, since it’s all stuff you’re told in a short prologue that never becomes relevant to the actual plot of “shooting your gun at things” with possible plot twist of “fetching other things from the things you just shot.” It’s not the most inspiring of epic quests, and I doubt I missed much by quitting early, considering the boring dialogue and bland enemies.
Kyle: Honesty, the closest thing that I saw to a quest was “kill this one guy, then kill the other.” There’s also this system that reminds me of an adventure game where you can insert a command, though the only command that ever did anything was “kick.” I didn’t see the point of it beyond giving you a “you kicked it,” line.
Yen: The game immediately feels cheap and unmemorable. There’s really nothing of note to do and nothing of note happens around you. It looks and feels like early Runescape except without even the bare minimum flair of that game. Let’s just say that the game’s nature as a self-described “mashup of Zelda: Link to the Past and Ultima VI” is a description that is ambitiously wrong.
Kyle: That flair wasn’t the only thing that was stripped away! I’m talking about my cowboy pants!
Yen: And once again, Kyle mentions underwear.
Kyle: It’s called “branding.”
Cryptic Sea EP
From the arcade to the console to your personal computer.
Kyle: Here we have a collection of two games and a demo for a third. This thing seems like it was pretty hastily cobbled together as it has no frills and the Skate or Die-inspired game Skate or Don’t wouldn’t even run. I just hammered every button on my keyboard and it wouldn’t start up. Then there’s Volta, which is basically Tetris, but bouncy and about matching colors rather than completing rows of blocks. The demo is for Touring Car Legend which is supposed to have all kinds of racing physics, but it looks like those old RC car games and it didn’t really hold me for too long. Plus it was just a demo.
Yen: Yeah, considering that Skate or Don’t was completely broken, you can kind of guess which choice I went with. Volta told you nothing and then expected you to play a puzzle game that acted in no way, shape, or form how you would expect from a game that looks exactly like Tetris. Touring Car Legend seemed like the most presentable of the bunch, though it felt awfully dated in its design for no reason at all.
Kyle: I can’t say that I really had fun with any of these, let alone would pump quarters into them if they were in an arcade. Back when arcades actually existed, that is.
Yen: I’d like to emphasize that these games were made in this decade. Sometimes, a love of retro gaming can be misguided. The creators of the Cryptic Sea EP seem to have weighed down all of their games with the design flaws and obtuseness of 80s arcade titles without giving their games the solid fun that made those games worth emulating in the first place.
Kyle: It’s something that the new age of retro games like Nidhogg and Samurai Gunn does well. They’re simple graphically, yet they have tons of style and very addictive gameplay. You need some kind of “wow factor” and unfortunately none of these games really seem to have that.
Yen: Nostalgia for poor controls and confusing mechanics usually comes packaged with nostalgia for the good game that existed despite those flaws. I wouldn’t say that the Cryptic Sea EP is completely without promise, but a lot more work needs to be done before these games and their 80s-throwback design will actually mean anything.
Your fate is in the jewels!
Kyle: This game was actually kind of an oddity. I went into Dungeon Hearts thinking that it would be some sort of rhythm game but it actually turned out to be a light puzzle game. Think of something like Bejeweled, where you’re tasked with matching up gems, but instead of a box, the gems move down a Guitar Hero track. You control a party of four characters with typical RPG classes and you fight monsters by combining like-colored gems. Possibly forever.
Yen: Possibly, but I don’t think my patience for super boring gameplay could hold out that long. Clicking and dragging the runes is ridiculously finicky, making the game super stressful and unrewarding to play. The idea of calculating and forming attack rune combos is unthinkable when the core mechanic is this hard to control, so you’re going to spend all of your time and concentration playing at the most basic level. It feels like a bad port of a mobile game, which: surprise! It is!
Kyle: Looks like I lied, I guess there are mobile ports in this one! Anyway, I didn’t fully understand the combo system since the game keeps introducing elements, like, ten battles in. By that point they just introduced “color rune, but square so you can’t move them.”
Yen: Don’t forget that the game insists on its massive collection of jargon right from the tutorial, making the game that much harder to just “get.” They start throwing shapes at you and referring to them as runes, strikers, and hexes, adding more terms and shapes with each new battle, instead of just making it well-paced and intuitive.
Kyle: It’s a lot like trying to learn to play POGs as a kid. Someone throws a bunch of words at you, then smacks your POGs all over the place. You don’t really know what the rules are, but you know that you want to smack their POGs all over the place. I really just wanted to talk about POGs.
Yen: Well, POGs are pretty… slammin’. Unlike this game. Final verdict: this game is not POGs.
Come on down to the thee-ay-tur for a night of gratuitous beatings. By Jove! What ho!
Yen: So, OK, I should just come right out and say that I went to school for drama, so I’m a sucker for anything that does meta-theatrical jokes even halfway well, and this game’s whole conceit easily satisfies that criteria. In lieu of a health bar, you’ve got to keep a rowdy 1800’s theatre crowd happy by being an effective British daemon hunter and beat-em-upper, or else the curtains will fall on your performance. Consider me charmed!
Kyle: I really enjoyed the setting of this game. The cheering crowd that reacts to your combos and fighting prowess was a really cool touch. I loved when they would toss hats in the air after a particularly long streak. That said, I really like arcade beat-um-ups and this one was kind of lacking in the gameplay department. I know that a lot of similar games might not have the deepest combo trees and such, but this one seems very barebones.
Yen: Yeah, this is one of those games with an overambitious parry/throw button which automatically glues onto attacking NPCs with unwavering efficiency. You end up breezing through most of the levels by spamming that button and then maybe spamming another button to clean up; the gameplay really has nothing going for it other than simplicity. Still, the stages are fairly short and it’s easy to put down when being bored with the game catches up with being excited about the presentation.
Kyle: If the presentation alone is enough to keep you entertained then you can probably get some fun out of this one. If you want a surprisingly deep multiplayer beat-um-up, you should probably look elsewhere.
Legend of Dungeon
Rave tonight at the Tomb of Horrors; bring potions.
Yen: I’m a decent fan of roguelikes, so I was prepared to do a few runs of this game to get a feel for it. It should tell you how miserably unexciting this game is when I quit nearly all my runs before permadeath found me because (1) I was lost, or (2) I got bored, or (3) I got lost and bored. Be prepared to face a barely randomized layout of mossy, stone rooms, while sometimes hitting one attack button to defeat snoresville enemies.
Kyle: I don’t really understand the appeal of this game. It has pretty colors and a decent soundtrack, but I can’t imagine the multiplayer component adds much to it. I feel like it could be cool if there were hordes of enemies swarming you like Gauntlet, but the monsters seemed pretty benign and did most of their damage by simply standing next to you as you stab them over and over. I didn’t find a lot of items to pick up other than potions and the rooms all looked very similar. Plus, I could barely tell what the different potions did other than make light shows, and I drank everything I found laying on the ground.
Yen: Unlike Foul Play, this game gives you one-dimensional gameplay but without any charm to keep you interested. I agree that making the gameplay faster and the enemies more dangerous might improve the game’s feel, but its presentation is utterly broken. It’s the most bare-bones roguelike I’ve ever played and now I can know for sure that there’s nothing gained with such a stripped back approach in this genre.
Kyle: I think this was the most disappointing game of the bunch for me since I liked the neon lighting effects and usually really get into roguelikes, but this one just had no heart. Which is sad because this concept could have made for a really fun four player dungeon crawler.
I think the title may be a joke.
Kyle: Much like the name implies, you’re going to be crushed a ton in Krunch, over and over and over again. The premise of this game involves a bunch of robotic orbs escaping from some kind of murder factory but quickly floating through a series of mazes with rapidly closing walls and a health bar that depletes the faster you sprint. I have to say this may have been my favorite of the bunch, if only for feeling a bit like Super Meat Boy.
Yen: I, too, was reminded of Super Meat Boy and my own precision platformer of choice, VVVVVV. The game seems to play well and starts off much more forgiving than those other two titles, though I quickly got stuck once I reached my first set of insta-death hazards. It should be noted that I’m not very good at these types of games, but I had fun with it.
Kyle: It’s a very reflex intensive game, but I feel like it probably has a lot of fun to offer if you stick to it. However, I became very frustrated and also put it down after 15-20 minutes. Out of this bundle however, this is definitely the game I plan on picking back up.
Yen: I might pick it back up at some point as well. The frustration I felt was in line with every other precision platformer I’ve tried, so it wasn’t like the game was ever too hard. Even though there’s no story or hook to really grab you right off the bat, the levels are well-designed and fun to look at, with a nice focus on good color palettes.
Kyle: Plus it came with a digital comic book that I didn’t bother looking at! I bet it tells you about the lives of the little robo-orbs or something! I’m not sure where it is though, I think it’s probably in the game directory, but I wasn’t very thorough in that regard. But I do agree that there wasn’t much of a presentation to this game and that’s probably exactly why you get a comic to help explain what is going on.
Should you go for the average or stick to the cheap seats?
Kyle: I definitely think that this bundle is probably worth hitting the average, at least more so than the last one we reviewed. That being said, this one had three tiers and neither of us put in the $10 to hit that last mark. If we did we would have unlocked Tower of Guns, a procedural generated game that looks a lot like Quake or Unreal Tournament in that you collect a lot of crazy guns to shoot at bigger guns while jumping around on platforms. It looked alright but we didn’t think it was necessary. I did enjoy the games that we played way more than all the cell phone games from last time.
Yen: I found that most of the games we played this week had less polish than the mobile games from the last bundle, but the hidden gems of this group are easily better than last week’s highlights, even if they are a bit rough. If Foul Play or Krunch sounded like things you might want to try out, you’ll be getting a healthy discount on both of them when you buy into the bundle for $6. However, if you’re looking for a bundle with good value at the lowest level, you should save your dollar for another time.
Kyle: Agreed, with this bundle go for at least the average, or don’t bother with it. The low value games aren’t really anything to write home about. So I think that about says it all for this bundle. Anything else that needs being said, Yen?
Yen: I just hope the next bundle involves more POGs and more underwear; for your sake, and ours.
Kyle: If only we lived in such a just world. See you next time folks!