The RPS Bargain Bucket: Sea Sales

By Cassandra Khaw on March 1st, 2014 at 1:30 pm.

Hello! I bet you were worried there’d be no bargains (plushies) this week. Sorry about that. Family tends to want to monopolize your time when you haven’t seen them in a while. Anyway, it looks like the year is slowly beginning to ramp up. New games and announcements seem to pop up every time I turn around. GDC is barely weeks away. All around me, I hear games journalists sharpening their metaphorical blades, ready to engage in a gladiatorial write-to-the-finish. Or something. This week’s plushie, which looks like it might sorely be in need of larger living accommodations, is courtesy of one Jason Kruta, who failed to include their RockPaperShotgun username and, as such, must be referred to by name.

Humble Indie Bundle II
Pay at least $4.68 / £2.79 / €3.39 to get everything

The way certain organizations keep going, it sometimes feel like I’m recommending the same bundles over and over again. Which is, in a word, frustrating. Because there’s only so many ways you can write, “Yay! !” before you want to hit things with a squeaky mallet. That said, you need the Humble Indie Bundle 11. I know I mentioned it last week, but this is a fabulous bundle consisting of a genuinely diverse selection of games. There’s everything from platforming Luchadors to brain-teasers like Antichamber and Fez to multiplayer insanity like Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine. (The Swapper’s great too, but it’s a moody little thing.

The 2K Essential Collection
$29.99 / £19.99 / €29.99
Okay, so. If you crinkle your nose up at this bundle, I’m afraid we can’t be friends. I enjoy indie games as much as the next person, but this is delicious. Sure, BioShock Infinite might be more bacon than the perfect portabello mushroom pizza but there’s a reason as to why so many people seem to guiltily enjoy it. And don’t get me started on Borderlands 2. For a while, it was all I played. Mindless? Sure. But oh-so-entertaining. Similarly, XCOM: Enemy Unknown and Civilization V are more than likely to swallow up your time. My only point of contention with this entire bundle? The fact that they labeled it so demurely. I’d have gone with, “The 2K Goodbye-Free-Time Collection.” (P.S: Discount codes are your friend: OQE4LG-WEQPSE-SMCME1)

Frozenbyte Collection
$5.24 / £3.74 / €4.49
Speaking of familiar faces, here’s a bundle from the guys over at Frozenbyte. At this point of time, the Trine franchise might well be my most (accidentally) evangelized series. But I suppose there’s a reason for that. While it’s not the most affecting game you’ll play this week (or this year), it’s beautiful, co-op experience riddled with some fun puzzles and some potential for mischief. As for the Shadowgrounds property, I’m not really sure. Do you enjoy top-down shooters? If so, this might be for you. Reviews certainly seem approving, if not outright glowing. (Anyone have experience with this?)

Waking Mars
$1.99 / £1.19 / €1.44
Waking Mars is an odd one for me. I’m a little claustrophobic so any game which requires me to wander through tight, subterranean levels makes me nervous. But the game is, however, smart and atmospheric and oddly reminiscent of The Swapper. Except without rampantly abused clones, of course. However, that isn’t Waking Mars’ selling point. No, Waking Mars’ main thing is that it turns you into an intergalactic gardener without instigating any amount of silliness. It’s thoughtful, and weird and completely unafraid to beat you over the upside of the head for any demonstrations of stupidity. Actually, read this Wot I Think.

Simon the Sorcerer
$1.79 / £1.07 / €1.29
Ah, don’t you remember the good old days of adventure games and puzzles that barely made any sense at all? Simon the Sorcerer was one of the banes of my early life, though largely in the same way that the old Monkey Island games were. I thoroughly enjoyed the humour in it, and at its current price, it may well be worth picking up for old-school, point & click aficionados. (P.S: The sequels are all available for cheap on GOG.com right now.)

Also of note:

Groupees’ Scandinavian Bundle – $1/£0.60/€0.72
Besides the fact that it’s only a dollar, this bundle gets my vote because of The Journey Down: Chapter One, a somewhat underrated point & click adventure.

Rome: Total War Collection – $1.45 / $0.87 / €1.05
Is this the entire collection? Like, the whole nine yards? I can’t tell with these things, sometimes. There always seems to be a missing expansion somewhere. That said, if you’ve been hankering to get your strategy gaming nostalgia on, you might like this little discount.

__________________

« | »

, .

79 Comments »

  1. Casimir's Blake says:

    Thanks to this, I’ve been put off bacon for life. And everything Ken Levine says or does.

    • Rizlar says:

      People are too hard on Infinite. It’s still an enjoyable romp that absolutely drips with character, atmosphere and spectacle. The story is great as a piece of hokey sci-fi. It’s exceptionally pretty. Honestly people just ask too much of it.

      And everyone likes bacon.

      • RuySan says:

        The game has a 94 metascore rating. I don’t think are being hard enough on the game.

      • SuddenSight says:

        For me the game seems to be a victim of over-hyping. I remember for the first month or so after it came out, all I heard was “Best Game EVER!” and “Completely redefines shooty games” and such comments.

        I must say it is a very impressive game, but the hype-train got a little carried away.

      • Sharlie Shaplin says:

        Infinite was too hard on me, I got lost on the sky lines! Literally on rails and I couldn’t find my way. My confidence was destroyed.

      • KawaiiDysphoriaWitch says:

        I think the reason everyone hates it is a response to the ridiculous praise it got on release. It’s a mediocre FPS with good art design and bad writing that it insists on shoving in your face. On top of that, it’s got a racist “the black revolutionaries are really just murderous savages” twist to create a false equivalency between system racism and people fighting against it.

        • Shadow says:

          That racism bit is a rather suspect argument. The game’s most likely resorting to the old cliché of making revolutionaries turn out to be the same as or worse than the regime they overthrew. It wasn’t an ethnic rebellion. That their leader is black doesn’t suddenly make the whole concept racist.

          That’s honestly a pretty dumb conclusion, and I commend the devs on their choice when they could’ve alternatively cowered before the ever-present crowd that’s always dying to cry racism. Heavens forbid anyone non-white being portrayed as a villain.

          • The Random One says:

            No, it was an ethnic rebellion. I see your point, though, and I believe what you are saying is what Levine tried to say with the story; however, due to the charged themes of racism that are put forth all throughout the game, this isn’t what the story ends up saying. It seems disingenious to me to imply that Levine or Binf was actively trying to imply black people are evil or that they would oppress white people given the power to, but it’s a perfectly sound reading to what the story ended up being like.

            (Now sit down while I tell you of my fan theory that says that black people are evil in the end because alternate realities aren’t actually alternate realities, but rather created on the spot by Elizabeth, and because she’s a sheltered white girl who’s been spoon-fed racism her entire life and who’s naive enough to believe the propaganda she sees when she is free she creates a world in which that propaganda is true.)

      • Lemming says:

        I think people asking that the shooting aspect of the game is at least as good as its predecessor isn’t asking too much at all. But no, it’s waves of morons in cricket padding that charge towards your gun like headless chickens.

        • malkav11 says:

          Its predecessor being Bioshock 1. If you’re taking that into account and still think its combat wasn’t as good, I guess that’s a matter of taste but I would heartily disagree. Despite the numbering, Bioshock 2 is not a part of Bioshock Infinite’s lineage, having been developed separately by a different studio during Infinite’s lengthy gestation, and I think people that are expecting Infinite to have built on what Bioshock 2 was doing are being unfair to Infinite. (I mean, it’s perfectly fine to like 2 better than Infinite, but they’re siblings, not parent and child.)

          • Lemming says:

            Never played BS2. I was referring to the original Bioshock, yes. The combat was better paced, and built around smaller encounters, with the enemies feeling like they were wandering around the ruined city, rather than spawning out of a hole in the ground en masse. If Binfinite had followed a similar pattern, it would’ve held up far better. The fight on the airship was the only place the enemy ‘waves’ didn’t feel out of place.

          • KDR_11k says:

            It seems perfectly reasonable to expect games to live up to the standards set by older games, even if those games were developed by other people. Following the doctrine of NIH leads to the kind of nonsense that Nintendo does. When consulting with game developers Nintendo’s Wii U designers asked them to elaborate on that “XBox Live” thing because they’ve never used it.

          • malkav11 says:

            If they’d ignored the lessons of games that were out when they started, maybe. But again, Bioshock 2 was being developed at the same time Infinite was, it simply came out first. And the expectation doesn’t seem to be, from what I’ve seen, that Infinite should have learned from Bioshock 2 because Bioshock 2 was part of the FPS genre that came before it and thus part of the general design space that should have been taken into account, but that Infinite was a direct heir and should have built directly on the accomplishments of 2, which is not accurate or fair.

        • headless97 says:

          Poor combat has been a problem with the Shock series since the beginning. System Shock 2 at least had some RPG chops to back it up. Bioshock improved the combat somewhat but really lacked in the RPG department. Now Infinite apparently (I don’t own it) has weak combat and RPG. The only thing it has going for it is the visual design of the world which greatly benefits from being one the only mainstream shooters with color.

          • Gargenville says:

            Yes but the other ‘shocks had the good taste to not take their mediocre combat systems and stick them into a game that plays like a roving match of Serious Sam.

            To be ‘fair’ a lot of the setpieces are just mind numbingly boring and straightforward to the extent they wouldn’t be any fun even if the game had excellent shootfeel, movejoy and brainfun (these are scientific terms).

          • Sharlie Shaplin says:

            I actually played System Shock 2 after Bioshock, and found SS2 to be a much more engrossing game, I couldn’t stop playing it till I finished it. I was too into I-War and Deus Ex to notice anything else back then. :)

      • Kentauroi says:

        I actually enjoyed BI well enough, especially the early Booker Elizabeth relationship. I had quite a few issues with it but I came out feeling like it was simply ok rather than rage inducing.

        What annoyed me was more the ridiculous amount of praise it got. I remember driving to work and hearing an interview on CBC with Ken Levine about its “deep philosophical themes” and wondering if I’d played a different game than everyone praising its story. Once the hubbub died down though the bitterness went away pretty quickly, unlike say Mass Effect 3 which can to this day trigger angry rants.

      • KDR_11k says:

        It’s the hidden items that killed the game for me I think, the constant search for those upgrade potions and money to buy upgrades with. Completely killed the pacing (and likely the reason everybody hated the Comstock Mansion part because they already combed the whole city for secrets before trying the door) and generated a constant worry that if I actually did what the game told me to I’d end up underpowered later on.

        As a result I did not find the game fun.

    • Blackcompany says:

      Infinite is a shooter that’s a blast to play for the first two hours and fun for the first four or so.

      Unfortunately, it lasts at least twice that long.

      To add insult to injury, the plot and setting are completely blown by the run-and-gun, kill everything that moves game play. What you do is so completely at odds with everything else about the game that it just…kills it…for me. Thrown in a truly annoying companion character who tries to toss me coins every 45 seconds and repetitive arenas full of enemies I have seen a hundred times and…I’m still struggling to even finish the mess that is Infinite.

      • Gap Gen says:

        “In 1857, George Fitzhugh argued that slavery should not be abolished in the United States. Writing of what would happen if society were to abolish slavery, he argued that “the riots, mobs, famines, heresies, superstitions, infidelities, and revolutions of free society prove that this competition, antagonism, rivalry, war, and anarchy are begotten by such society, without any hopes of settlement or permanent peace, order, subordination, faith, or contentment.” In BioShock Infinite, when slavery is abolished in Columbia, this leads to riots, mobs, famines, competition, antagonism, rivalry, war, and anarchy, without any hopes of settlement or permanent peace, order, subordination, faith, or contentment.”

        Sick burn.

      • zain3000 says:

        Which translates to approximately 7/10 on the Wang-o-Meter.

    • fish99 says:

      And just for balance I thought it was great. I don’t get why people would hate the game just as a backlash over the high scores it got from the written press. Do people really sit there thinking to themselves ‘the press told me this was a 94% game, but to me it’s only 80%, so I’m gonna make myself hate the game like it’s a 5% game’. To me it’s sad to judge a game because you got yourself too hyped.

      I went into Infinite with no expectations and not much enthusiasm, and to my surprise I really enjoyed it. It’s a fun game, with decent if a little repetitive combat, an interesting story and a cool world. It’s also a visual treat.

    • Cassandra Khaw says:

      That’s .. good, I think. I used bacon because BioShock Infinite reminds me of it: superficially delicious, and bad for your heart in the long-term. :C

  2. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Soooooo fluffy
    Edit: no I meant whaley fluffy.
    That is a whale, right? Wright, whale? Anyway I love it

  3. SuddenSight says:

    I would like to put in the good word for Waking Mars as well.

    While certainly not my favorite game ever, it is nevertheless a good game and rather unique. In fact, my primary complaint is that I wish there were more games like it.

    Waking Mars is a good game to see how a peaceful exploration game can be made without resorting to Antichamber-like mysteries.

    I would love to see more developers try to copy the Waking-Mars-style ecosystem builder. Or even just a developer who could mirror the tone of Waking Mars, which manages to feel relatable and intriguing.

    • Stardreamer says:

      Far too much sci-fi in gaming restricts itself to combat and/or puzzles. Waking Mars is…different. I’d even say “unique”. Such a gentle experience, based around exploration and the love of scientific discovery, not just for discovery’s sake but for the practical application involved in opening up new areas and waking…well, that would be telling. :)

      It’s probably the first real Sense of Wonder game I’ve seen on any platform in what feels like an eon. It very quickly became one of my favourite games of all time. It’s not about overcoming adversity or challenging players in any serious way, it’s a playground for explorers and dreamers, an adventure for anyone who’s ever looked at the Red Planet and felt their mind filling with possibilities…

      Cannot recommend highly enough. Simply magical.

      [NB: Thanks to Humble 11 I've been playing The Swapper looking for a similar experience to Waking Mars, and while in the early stages it provided a little of what Waking Mars did so very well throughout, the puzzles have become nightmarishly difficult, ruining the fun somewhat. There was no such frustration in WM, only the fun of growing alien flora and fauna!]

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Sold :)

      • Windward says:

        Just to add some balance (no willy-waving intended!), I didn’t find The Swapper’s puzzles too difficult apart from a couple of good head scratchers and I don’t play many puzzle games. It took me 7 hours in total according to steam.

        • AngelTear says:

          Actually, my experience was the same, I don’t play many puzzle games, but the most I was stuck with a puzzle was around 20-25 minutes, and it was only with the very last ones. It wasn’t frustrating for me, it was the right kind of challenging and rewarding. I just finished it (and loved it) and my Steam counter says 4 hours.

        • Stardreamer says:

          I must be doing something wrong, then. Or perhaps my logic brain is broken! I don’t understand: I was progressing really nicely up the smooth difficulty curve (the game is extremely well designed) until I got to the puzzles after detaching the solar panels (I’ve about 88 energy thingies) and then WHAM! Brick wall of difficulty!

          Maybe there’s a trick or new capability I’ve missed? Because I’ve tried several and can’t see my way through any of them. :(

          (and Googling is cheating!)

          • AngelTear says:

            Trying to help you out without spoilers: The Last puzzles are all about either a) Using the smallest possible number of clones to get to the end or b) “deleting” your clones, usually by touching them – even upside down!
            They’re also about figuring out where to start, because the solution may be fairly straightforward but then you can’t clone yourself or move your “soul” around.

            Some “thinking” tips: you can try starting from the end and imagine the puzzle backwards, from the solution to where you are. You can use the buttons and the differently-coloured lights as a sort of hint e.g. if the area is blue and you cannot create clones but you can swap your soul in a certain area, you probably need to do that at some point, often at the very edge between these areas. Lastly, sometimes brute-forcing them by trying every possible approach/order is the quickest, if you can’t figure it out logically.

            Hope it helps, get to the end because it’s worth it =)
            (You’re also not far at all)

            Edit: Having finished The Swapper, I started Waking mars after your recommendation, I have to say I’m really enjoying it, but those “plants” scare me ^^”

          • Stardreamer says:

            Hello AngelTear! Thanks for the words of advice. Am just about to have another go: reassuring to know I’ve not missed anything. So glad you – and everyone else on this thread who has said they’ve bought Waking Mars- is trying the game! I could gush endlessly about it. Will be nice to have more people to reminisce with! :)

            And dinna worry about the plants! I learned to love them, even the nasty yellow ones with the pincers!

            Enjoy your exobotanical adventures, everyone!

      • phelix says:

        I just bought Waking Mars based on this comment.

      • GameCat says:

        “It’s probably the first real Sense of Wonder game I’ve seen on any platform in what feels like an eon. ”

        *cough* Dark Souls *cough*

        Seriously. Dark world of Dark Souls is filled with hidden beauty, awe, wonder and Sense of Discovery.

        Also, I liked the idea of Waking Mars, but it’s getting kinda repetitive after some time.

    • Lemming says:

      It’s a lovely game, and I enjoyed my time with it. the chatting between characters gets on your tits fairly quickly though. it could’ve benefited from being a very silent affair. It would’ve only added to the atmosphere.

    • Rufust Firefly says:

      Waking Mars is a good time–more games need infinite jetpacks and doing interesting things with growing things instead of just blowing stuff up.

    • bill says:

      I’m kinda playing Waking Mars on android at the moment, and I’m finding it pretty not bad, but not mindblowing.
      It’s nice to explore, and it’s doubly nice not to be all about tough guys shooting things.

      But… if you stop playing for a few weeks it is a pain in the ass to remember what you were supposed to be doing, where you were supposed to be going, and what the differences were between all the different seeds and zoa. (Hey, at least I remembered zoa!).

      I loved it at first, but the break kind of killed the momentum for me, and now I’m finding it to be a bit more like busy work. Plant. Collect seeds. Plant. Collect seeds.

      So kinda like gardening, I guess…

  4. Kruton says:

    That’s my whale! She’s very proud to be internet famous as part of her eventual overthrow of land-based life.

  5. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Cassandra can I ask you a question please? As the internet’s premier representative of cute in combination with gaming, do you know if there are there any good single player offline bunny farm simulators?

    Or just a non online / non-mmo game where you look after and feed imensely cute animals? Not in a creepy tamagotchi way but, you know, “d’awww” type way? Sometimes my need to nurture gets the better of me but I’m too irresponsible to have real animals :(

    • Llewyn says:

      I always assumed this was why people had cats – it doesn’t matter if you don’t remember to feed them as at least three other households will be doing as well.

    • Cassandra Khaw says:

      BUNNY farm? Specifically, no! But Neopets might be a handy thing to turn to. Also, I actually recommend picking up Starbound if you have this weird urge to cultivate digital critters. The game allows to a) capture critters and have ‘em hanging around. b) has a mod that lets you sprout chickens everywhere. c) lets you capture cute dogs in your travels d) grow a town of painfully adorable chibi, 2D characters.

      It .. feels a lot like a doll house to me, with somewhat clumsy residents that occasionally try to bungle their way out and must be protected from time to time. The NPCs will talk silently among themselves, laugh and smile and even go to bed. *eyetwitch* It’s my current go-to for stupidly cute things to nurture.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        Very sad there is no digital bunneh factory, but I might have a rummage around with starbound and it’s collectible pooches. Thanks for the tip! Also yeah peaceful fluffy things would be good. No dismembered squirrels or ninja nemo fish :o

    • Golden Pantaloons says:

      Pokémon?

      Unless of course you have a problem with pitting your cute animals against other cute animals in mortal combat…

      Pokémon X/Y has a lot of “nurture” elements as well as a lot of casual stuff like shopping, minigames etc.

    • Contrafibularity says:

      The game you are looking for is called Creatures, and to this day I am positively afraid to ever play it again, because, well, I have this nagging suspicion it partly sort of comes alive when it’s played. I will let wiki elaborate;

      The program was significant as it was one of the first commercial titles[1] to code alife organisms from the genetic level upwards using a sophisticated biochemistry and neural network brains.[2][3] This meant that the Norns and their DNA could develop and “evolve” in increasingly diverse ways, unpredicted by the makers. By breeding certain Norns with others, some traits could be passed on to following generations.[4] Most interestingly, the Norns turned out to behave similarly to living creatures.[5] This was seen as an important insight into how real world organisms may function and evolve.[citation needed] The norns possess simulated biological drives which give punishment when they are raised, and reward when they are lowered. The model for norns’ decision-making process is Behaviorist and based on norns learning how to reduce their drives.[6] Dickinson and Balleine state that while this stimulus-response/reinforcement process makes the creatures seem like they are goal-directed, they are instead ‘habit machines’ responding in a learned fashion to particular stimuli.[7] Mutations in the genome also occur, allowing new characteristics to appear in the population and potentially be inherited by a future generation.[8] Faulty genomes can also occur – for example, norns which cannot see or hear,[9] or immortal norns due to a hyper-efficient digestion system.[10][11] Creatures used the emergent approach seen in animats, but with the goal of more complex behaviours than locomotion.[12] Grand describes the psychological model of the creatures as being inspired by rats.[13] In 2000, Steve Grand described the intelligence level of norns as being like ants.[14] Margaret Boden, in 2003, rejected Creatures as being a form of alien life as the simulated metabolism is concerned with controlling the norn’s behaviour, not on maintaining its ‘physical’ form.[15] In 2011, Steve Grand stated that while the norns in Creatures could learn, generalise from past experiences to novel experiences, and react in an intelligent manner to stimuli, they could not think.

      See? I didn’t even make it up. And no, the fact that this is called a “artificial life simulator” isn’t just clever marketing, as anyone who’s played it can attest to. All three are available on GOG btw, if you’re more interested and less terrified than me.

      http://www.gog.com/game/creatures_the_albian_years

    • KDR_11k says:

      Harvest Moon?

  6. Kaira- says:

    I’d like to recommend the Scandinavian Bundle just because of Beastmilk’s Climax. One dollar for that album is a steal, and it’s a really good post-punk album. You can check the opening track here: Beastmilk – Death Reflects Us.

  7. elderman says:

    I’ve been playing Shadowgrounds, acquired from a Humble sale, and enjoying it. It’s a very game-y experience. The art and fluff takes a lot from Aliens and gives enough meaning to care a little bit about what’s going on, but there’s not so much that I have to engage my emotions. It’s a game to zone out with, and since I don’t have many of those, Shadowgrounds has been filling that role for me perfectly for the last week.

    Each mission takes a while, more than 30 mins I’d guess, though I take my time, and as far as I can tell can’t be saved in progress, so I do have to set time aside, but it’s good time and I turn to Shadowgrounds before I fire up more artistically ambitious games.

    • SuddenSight says:

      I will issue a warning, however, that it likes to crash on my Mac (14″ MacBook, OSX 10.7.3, bought in late 2012). Not the gaming machine of champions, but the gaming machine of I-only-have-one-computer.

      When it doesn’t crash, it takes up enormous amounts of RAM (2 GB+) and gets sluggish after ~30 minutes.

      But I agree with the above poster that it is a fun game to play when it’s not sluggish/crashing. Most of the gameplay is your typical top-down-shooting fare, with a nice enough sci fi story. There are some jump scares, if you are a scaredy cat like me.

    • bill says:

      I started playing the first one recently. It’s a little dated, and seems surprisingly understated in terms of weapons/explosions/boom-bangs. But it’s a fine little stress releaser.

      Kinda reminds me of old school shooters like Chaos Engine… although my memory of those is very very foggy.

  8. altum videtur says:

    Just wanted to say, I am honored that RPS chose to recognize me as the One True King by putting my name right there in the heading.
    Thank you.

    You can leave your gifts of adoration by the door. No need to take off your coat.

  9. nebnebben says:

    The Rome Total War Collection contains:
    Rome Total War

    Not really much of a collection then, is it?

  10. themes_and_conventions says:

    Everyone loves cute animals so will definitely be pleased to know that Shelter is pay-what-you-want here.

  11. alms says:

    Humble Indie Bundle II? Hello again 2010 :)

  12. aego says:

    Carrier Command: Gaea Mission is 90% at the moment. Anyone knows if this is (and how much) better now than at launch? Is it worth playing?

    • Stardreamer says:

      I don’t own the game (90% off, huh?…) but as far as I’ve been able to find online, via comments and official notices, patch 1.06 fixed the AI issue so the Walruses aren’t total dipsticks. They’re not geniuses, by any means, but it seems they became good enough to be playable. Can’t speak for any other issues, though.

Comment on this story

XHTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>