Humble Bundle with Android 7 Review
Reviewed by: Guest_Jim_*
Reviewed on: October 23, 2013
Has there ever come a time that you had money to spend, and you want it to be for a good cause, but want something for yourself? Well the good folks at Humble Bundle are looking to help you with the new Humble Bundle with Android 7, a 4+2 bundle of games and soundtracks.
For those that do not know, Humble Bundle is a company that puts together digital media bundles to sell using a pay-what-you-want model that can directly benefit charities and/or content producers. Exactly how much the charities and content producers benefit is completely up to you, but you are encouraged to pay more than the minimum. For this bundle, Anodyne, Greed Corp, Incredipede, and Ticket to Ride can be had at any price, along with four soundtracks. To also receive The Bard's Tale, Worms Reloaded, and their soundtracks, you have to beat the average sale price.
Purchasing the bundle gets you DRM-free copies of these games for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android, with one exception for Android. Worms Reloaded does not have an Android version, but Worms 2: Armageddon is its Android counterpart. You also get Steam keys for each of these games, if you like using Steam to manage your library.
Now the question is if any of these games make the bundle worth buying on its own, and what of these games are the best? Well, that is why we are reviewing them. Unfortunately, because the bundle is only available for a total of two weeks, I cannot spend the time to completely play each game. Instead I play enough to feel confident that I can write a competent review. This could take half an hour or multiple hours, depending on the game. As the bundle includes Android versions of these games, I will also play them on my Verizon Galaxy Nexus, which you can read a review of at TalkAndroid, a sister site of Overclockers Club: Verizon Galaxy Nexus review – Does it live up to the hype?
With all of that covered, on to the reviews!
Anodyne is a puzzle adventure set in a 2D world, similar to games of the Legend of Zelda franchise. Indeed, some of the UI elements are obvious imitations of the Zelda games, which is nice as that makes it easy to recognize what everything is. Of course the 16-bit graphics also lend themselves to the imitation.
You are Young, the Chosen One, and with the guiding help of Sage you are to protect The Briar from The Darkness, using your trusty broom. Yes, your weapon is a broom. While a broom may not seem to be a very good weapon, it suffices, and it allows you to move around dust piles. These piles can be placed to block certain hazards and can even be used as rafts for travelling across water. Without the dust piles, you will gradually sink and drown, but it takes long enough that you can get around.
As you play you will pick up special keys for unlocking large gates and cards that unlock other large gates. The card-gates require you have so many cards to open, and not any specific cards.
Saving is done via checkpoints that you are able to step on, but you have to interact with them to actually save. You cannot just run over them and expect them to save anything. All interactions are done with the same key, C. Of course you can reassign that key on a computer, but the default for talking to people, attacking enemies, and interacting with objects is C. On my smartphone the button is actually labeled C as well.
The default movement keys are the arrow keys on the computer, which works pretty well. The Android version, however, is different. A virtual joystick is shown on the screen, by default, but also by default you can just touch the screen to indicate the direction for Young to move. I found myself going back and forth, depending on the scenario, as I found the virtual joystick to not always be responsive. Part of that may be because of how close it is to the edge of the screen when in landscape.
Anodyne does have the interesting feature of being able to run either in portrait or landscape on an Android device. Switching aspects changes the layout of the screen, as portrait mode puts the controls on the bottom, while landscape splits them to the left and right of the game window. On the computer though, it appears the only option is portrait, which can have an odd side effect.
When the game has its resolution option set to integer scaling or stretched, it is pillar boxed, sort of. The black sidebars I do not believe are being actively rendered as black, but are instead just empty areas. I believe this because the notification boxes from Steam would leave trails as they slide away. You can see them in the PC screenshots. In windowed mode, there are naturally no sidebars. By the way, you are able to control the integer scaling of the game, and make the window smaller if you wish. Personally, I believe it scales quite well and will just leave it at its current 6x setting.
The soundtrack is appropriate for the game, but outside of the game, I doubt I will listen to it again. It is not a bad soundtrack, but many of the tracks are short and likely designed to be looped. This can make going from one track to another a jarring experience. Still, its synthesized sounds are very fitting for the unusual world of Anodyne, as well as its 16-bit styling.
Personally I am not impressed by the Android version. That is not to say it is a bad game for the platform, it just feels somewhat out of place on the platform. The movement controls are not the best, and it is not quite a pick-up/put-down game, which I feel is important for a mobile platform. On the PC though, these are non-issues.
With what time I have put into Anodyne thus far, I would recommend it to anyone willing to invest time into it. The time it can take walking around, exploring the world, opening gates, and locating everything may be more than a casual gamer would be willing to spend. For more-than-casual gamers though, this is probably going to be something you enjoy, if only for nostalgic reasons. Go ahead and purchase at least the base games of the bundle for that.
Greed Corp Review:
Greed Corp is a turn-based RTS with a cartoony style and one very interesting mechanic. As you harvest resources, you damage the playing field, and eventually the damage will cause sections to plummet into an abyss. Now you have to manage troops, resources, and the map in order to win.
The story is fairly straightforward; the world this is taking place on has been abused to the point that little land mass remains. Now you are fighting for what land remains against others in equally dire circumstances.
The gameplay is also somewhat straightforward, but offers quite a bit amount of depth, due to the land-destruction mechanic. Two units are able to cause land destruction: harvesters and cannons. The harvesters will pull out resources and destroy a level to the regions around it each turn. Eventually it will destroy the tile it stands on, but you can also have it self-destruct. Doing so destroys the tile it is on, removes a level from nearby tiles, and all critically damaged tiles connected to it will topple. This chain reaction can be very devastating. The cannon can also cause these chain reactions, but at range. Still, it is a somewhat viable strategy to rush into an opponent's lands, build a harvester, and destruct it when the time is right. The necessity to think multiple moves ahead reminds me a great deal of chess.
The graphics are, as I said, cartoony, but stand up to scrutiny pretty well, at least on the PC. There you get nice looking post-processing effects and actual cracking to the critical tiles and destroyed tiles. On the phone though, the effects are toned down quite a bit. Instead of cracking the tiles, a cracked texture is applied. Also the post-processing effects are removed, which makes it noticeably darker. Still, all of the graphical elements of the PC version are present in the Android version.
PC on the left. Android on the right.
The soundtrack has a strong 50's era sound to it, almost certainly trying to prime you for the idea of large-scale production and mass-complexes for manufacture.
Personally, I could see myself spending quite a bit of time in Greed Corp, until the AI has surpassed my skill and I drop it for a while. That should not be taken as a negative, but that I expect the game to become very challenging in later levels. You cannot rely on the strategies you use in other RTSs because of the land-destruction mechanic, so you will have to adapt to advance, which adds to the challenge and fun. Can definitely recommend this game to anyone looking for an innovative turn-based RTS, so go ahead and get the bundle for this alone, but a warning for the Android version. While it is playable on a smartphone screen, the UI elements can be quite small. A tablet screen would be much better to play on.
Despite their names, millipedes and centipedes do not have a thousand or a hundred feet, respectively. Quozzle of Incredipede, though, does have some incredible feet, and muscles to match. In this puzzle game, you must control her muscles to roll, step, and throw herself to the finish line, collecting fruit along the way.
The two difficulty settings for Incredipede are Normal and Hard. Normal gives you Quozzle with all her limbs and muscles already made, just waiting for control. Hard, however, allows you to design Quozzle to solve the puzzle your way, which could require a fair amount of tinkering to get right.
The controls are just a handful of buttons for affecting the direction different muscle groups pull, as well as the mouse, for when you design Quozzle. You put these to use in the campaign puzzles or in user-created puzzles, as well as a sand box level, where you can play with Quozzle designs. Naturally the Android version relies on touch inputs.
The graphics are very stylized with a primitive, hand-drawn aesthetic, which is fitting for the wilderness we find ourselves moving though. On the PC you are able to control some of the graphics settings, which is not very surprising, but you also have some graphics settings in the Android version. You can set particle effects, vignette effects, and waving grass, to name a few.
It is a decidedly simple game, but I could easily see someone spending many hours in it, on a PC or on an Android device. I could even see some classrooms using it to teach about simple machines, especially levers, as the physics involved are quite apparent. I am definitely comfortable recommending it to anyone looking for a clever puzzle game that lets the user be in control. Go ahead and get the bundle for this.
Ticket to Ride Review:
Ticket to Ride is based on the board game of the same name. The premise is straightforward enough: build railroads to connect different cities. The catch is that only so much track can be put down on a path, so if another player grabs that specific route, you have to find a way around, if one exists.
Players score based on the amount of track they have put down, and if they manage to connect the cities they have tickets for. Failing to connect these cities deducts points from you in the end, so be careful when you select your tickets. The game features AI opponents as well as local and online multiplayer, so you can play it alone or with friends. You cannot control the difficulty of the bots, but you can control their numbers, from one to four (so that is two to five total players).
The graphics are simplistic and meant to mimic the aesthetics of the times when railroads dominated the land. One issue I have with the graphics, though, is that it can be hard to spot the trains placed by the players. Different routes can require different colored train car cards be placed on them, and these colors are shown on the map. The pieces put down by the players, though, directly on top of these routes, are also colored (to match the player, not the route) and a few times I had to look carefully to make sure if I was seeing an open route or a claimed route. There is just not enough contrast between the pieces and the board to know at a glance which is which, in my opinion.
The PC version is played completely with the mouse, which translates very well to the touchscreen of an Android device. The only issue with the Android build is that some of the elements are placed very close to the edge, making it easy to miss them. Some of the elements are also somewhat small, making it very easy to cover them with your finger when you go to grab them.
The soundtrack is comprised of assorted train noises and music meant to emulate the sounds of the time. Honestly though, some of the sound effects get annoying after a bit. The music, however, is fitting and pleasant enough for background music as you play. Something worth noting is that when you first open Ticket to Ride, it immediately throws you into an audio tutorial of the program. You have to go to options to disable this. This, coupled with some of the sound effects, make me very much believe the entire game experience has been designed around children playing the game, and not adults.
I see this more of a time-passing game, meaning something you would play while commuting or to give to your children to play during a trip than an experience you would sit down to enjoy for hours at a time (which would likely be many games). In that regard, the Android version is great to have, especially if you have a tablet to play the game. The PC then will be a good place to practice or play some online multiplayer.
If you are not familiar with Ticket to Ride then, honestly, you can probably take a pass on it. It is fun, so do not disregard it if you get the bundle, but it does not stand out enough to recommend on its own. Of course if you already know the game and want some digital copies, go ahead and get the bundle. Though I am not familiar with the original board game version, it seems to be true to its board game origin, with some of the improvements video games offer.
The Bard's Tale (BTA) Review:
Originally released for PC in 2005, The Bard's Tale is an action adventure title filled with tongue-in-cheek humor. For example, you can talk to some drunks who break out into song, praising the inventor of beer. Naturally there is also some sophomoric humor concerning the physical attributes of the widow who owns the bar as well as an awareness of the narrator. At times Bard looks up towards the overhead camera to speak directly with the narrator.
The gameplay is fairly standard for an action adventure, though you can use either the WASD keys or mouse to move Bard around, which is nice instead of having to use one or the other. One major difference from modern games of the genre, though, is that spells are kept behind menus, so there are no quick-keys to summon helpful companions. The game does pause when you open a menu though, so you do not have to worry about being quick about it.
Something I have noticed that is good or bad, depending on how you look at it, is that many picked up items are just converted directly into money. Enemy dropped a sword? Money. Is that a bow and some arrows on the ground? Money. Barmaid's diary? Money. While it is nice how this simplifies gameplay, I am use to being able to play around with different weapons. Also I am curious what the diary would say, given the game's humor.
The graphics do not appear to have been upgraded much since the game's original release. When I first saw the graphics in fact, I immediately and accurately guessed its age. However, it does support widescreen resolutions, so you do not have to settle for pillar boxing, and offers some graphical settings for both the PC and Android versions. One interesting graphical mechanic is a bobbing as Bard moves around, because as you walk your height changes. You do adjust to this eventually, but it is different from the smoother camera movement you find today.
I am not sure what to say about the soundtrack, beyond that it is completely aligned with the game's humor and setting. Though the Beer song stands out, that is the temperament of all of the music.
I am definitely having fun with The Bard's Tale and will do my best to make time for playing it more. The experience it offers is definitely entertaining, even if it has some curious mechanics in it. Would I recommend it to others? Most certainly. Is it worth beating the average for? If you want to have a game that makes you laugh, or at least chuckle, then the answer is definitely yes. If not, then you need a better sense of humor.
Worms Reloaded (BTA) Review:
Ever wondered what the invertebrates under our grass do? Well, if this game is to be believed, they are waging a less-than-epic war with occasionally epic weapons. Why? Who knows, but pick a side and start blasting!
Worms Reloaded and its Android counterpart, Worms 2: Armageddon, give you command of teams of worms armed with various weapons that you must use to explode your enemies, or push them into the water. If it sounds easy, it is not, as getting the right angle and power for the weapon requires a lot of skill and/or practice. In the beginning of the campaign missions though, it is not that bad, but eventually you will want to tear your hair out as the AI worms can attack with perfect aim, timing, and power. The switch from stupid AI to genius AI is also pretty sudden, so you cannot expect to just smoothly improve and overcome.
PC on the left. Android on the right.
While that is definitely an issue for single player, multiplayer is a different story as human inaccuracies and incompetence are shared amongst every one. With people as your enemies, you may occasionally see worms blow themselves up because the rocket they were trying to fire just hit part of the landscape the player did not think was in the way. The AI does not make such mistakes. Also the AI knows what every weapons does, which is a luxury you will not have without a cheat sheet or extensive studying.
The graphics are cartoony, which is to be expected when worms are the playable characters. They will squirm, jump, yell, and explode all in a comical way you would expect to see on a Saturday morning cartoon show. (Well, maybe not a modern one. Have not watched any of them for years.)
The soundtrack is more ambient than anything, which is no doubt because the player's focus needs to be on the gameplay.
My recommendation for these Worms games are only to buy them if you are going to play with a friend. The single player is just not going to be worth it for most people, in my opinion. The ridiculousness of multiplayer, though, could easily make this game worth the money, especially if you can talk and laugh at each other while you play. So beat the average to play with a friend, but not just for yourself.
So what stands out of this 4+2 bundle, and does any one game make the bundle worth buying on its own? In my opinion the best games of the bundle are Anodyne, Incredipede, Greed Corp, and The Bard's Tale. They each offer enjoyable experiences, based on what I have played, and are almost certainly going to be worth your time, if you purchase the bundle. Incredipede and Greed Corp are both innovative takes on their genres, so if you like puzzlers or turn-based RTS games, you will want to play these. Anodyne is a well-constructed return to 16-bit adventure games with a healthy sense of humor, but requires some time investment. The Bard's Tale is a dated game, but is also well designed and has a mildly inappropriate sense of humor that can bring a smile to your face (or an eye roll).
Ticket to Ride and Worms Reloaded are also enjoyable, but there are some qualifications to my recommendations for them, which is why I do not consider them the best of the bundle. Ticket to Ride feels like it has such a strong focus on children that an adult may not enjoy it as much, without some familiarity with the original board game. Of course that could make it a perfect game for your children to play on a tablet. Keeping Worms Reloaded from being one of the best games in the bundle is that its AI can be so ruthless and unforgiving that single-player will eventually shift from fun to futile. Multiplayer, however, is where it could easily shine, so if you have a friend to play with, play with them. Maybe even buy the bundle for them, so you can play together.
Altogether, the Humble Bundle with Android 7 does not disappoint with either the base games or the beat-the-average games. There may be some concerns here and there, but nothing so serious as to make the bundle not worth buying.