The RPS Bargain Bucket: Flash Frustration

I wrote about three games today that were, quite sadly, part of flash sales. In my pizza-birthed delirium, I made the mistake of forgetting to check if the deals would last long enough for me to transfer ownership of this column to an editor. They didn’t. So I am writing this introductory paragraph right now with my eyes carefully narrowed and a frown like thunder. Why, Gods of the Bargain Bucket, why have you forsaken me? I was aiming to introduce an authentic, one-of-a-kind Papa Moomin today as the plushie of the day, but that plan fell apart thanks to a lack of time. Instead, I am going to filch a photo from MadKatrina and show off this awesome snake on a bucket. Honestly, people, why have we not made this wonderful lady into a millionaire yet?

F.E.A.R Bundle
$7.99/£5.90/€7.40
There is nothing to fear but F.E.A.R itself. And that scraggly-haired kid who still haunts my dreams and my curtains when I’m about to fall asleep. Good gravy. BundleStars calls it “the best horror FPS series ever,” a line that I think I want to contradict. However, there’s no mistaking the fact that the series is rather good. And terrifying. And weird, very weird. (If you’ve played the games, you probably know what I’m talking about.)

Hector: Badge of Carnage Bundle
$3.99/£3.50/€3.99
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Telltale have done more than those Walking Dead games that no one will ever stop talking about. Mired in the shadows of more popular franchises like Monkey Island and Sam & Max is their published Hector: Badge of Carnage Series. Our intrepid protagonist is far from the nicest chap in town. He’s a bit rotund, a bit mean, and prone towards being quite vulgar. Strictly not family-friendly, Hector won’t appeal to everyone, but those with a hunger for off-color humor will likely find a winning partner-in-crime here.

Borderlands 2: Complete Edition Bundle
$14.99/£9.22/€11.57
I like Borderlands 2. A lot. Not because it is a particularly good game, but because it is the kind of game that you can lose hours to, because accumulating loot and talking to friends about your daily lives over the roar of plasma rifles can be astonishingly satisfying. To be fair, though, Borderlands 2 does have its moments and a stable of gung-ho female characters who will take absolutely no lip from a passing bounty hunter. (Discussion time: Is Ellie an empowering character or a cheap shot at overweight people?) I have a nagging certainty that the Complete Edition Bundle has, in fact, been cheaper at some point in the past. But, it’s here and available for those who can’t wait for the price to go even lower. Get at it?

Desktop Dungeons
$7.49/£4.61/€5.78
Desktop Dungeons was a tangential obsession for me. For the longest time, it only existed in the periphery of my world, buoyed by a friend’s fanatical interest in the game. At a glance, it resembles a standard roguelike or RPG, with simplistic graphics and a horde of monsters to kill. But, Desktop Dungeons isn’t really that kind of a game. It’s built out of puzzles, carefully disguised to resemble something different. Instead of simply requesting you mash buttons, it demands tactical behaviour and careful resource management. I know it’s been cheaper before, but honestly, just buy it already. The game is excellent.

Also of note:

Kentucky Route Zero Season Pass – $12.49/£7.68/€9.64
It calls itself a “magical realist” adventure game, but the truth is that Kentucky Route Zero is just beauty incarnate. The world beneath the caves is gorgeous, faceless, and riddled with a kind of modern mysticism. To quote someone who once wrote about it, it’s the kind of experience that “sticks to your bones.”

Quantum Conundrum Bundle – $4.74/£3.74/€4.74
Is Quantum Conundrum good? I don’t know. I’ve been told repeatedly that it is, a claim that is further bolstered by the fact it was directed by Kim Swift. On the off-chance that you’re unfamiliar with the name, she’s the lady who led the design of Portal, that little-known first-person puzzle game. On top of being pretty and interesting, Quantum Conundrum also features something called the “Fluffy dimension.” How could you not want to play it?

Dungeons & Dragons Comics Sales
Dungeons & Dragons has a comic series? I’m surprised by the fact I’m surprised. I mean, it makes sense that it exists. D&D is the barbaric, brazen heart that beats at the core of so many of today’s video games, after all. And the stable of titles looks so delightful, too. I miss the days when both men and women were provocatively dressed in nothing but strategic strips of fur. (Not really. But.)

68 Comments

  1. dethtoll says:

    Weird is right. FEAR 2’s ending remains a shining example of one of the biggest Gainax endings in video games.

    FEAR 2 is my favourite out of the series just for being frightening and weird overall.

    • HermitUK says:

      [Minor spoilers ahead]

      I found it less creepy on a second playthrough, because then you realise that 90% of the jump scares are just Alma being really bad at flirting.

  2. Anthile says:

    The Quantum Conundrum bundle is actually a hidden two-pack since the season pass includes the full game plus DLCs and soundtrack. Otherwise it’s an alright first person puzzler that tries a bit too hard to be Portal but never quite gets there.

  3. JFS says:

    Great, now I finally bought Kentucky Route Zero. Hope it’s good. Also, what is up with the videogaming world, that every day sees more 80%-off-super-mega-sales than anyone could ever hope to follow… I really wonder who still buys games full price on release day.

    • Blackcompany says:

      I can relate to the sentiment about buying at full price. I realized this weekend that Skyrim is the top selling game on Steam, due to its being on sale. My first thought was to wonder who in the world is interested in Skyrim at this point and does not already own it.

      A lot of people, I guess.

      • soundsofscience says:

        Skyrim is 75% off on Steam this weekend (US only, perhaps?)

      • LTK says:

        The number of potential customers for any given game is virtually unlimited. You see that with bundle games as well: a popular bundle providers exposure for an unknown game, which often increases sales afterward instead of cannibalising them.

      • JFS says:

        I guess people like me, who wait till it’s discounted, GOTY and all bundled up ;)

      • Shuck says:

        I’m interested in the game and still don’t have it. I have such a backlog of games that are unplayed that games don’t get purchased until I actually am going to play them. Which means, that before that happens, the game will have gone on sale multiple times until it’s a fraction of its initial price. Given how easy it is to develop a huge backlog of games, and how many people seem to have them, I’m also surprised people buy games when they’re first released.

    • cthulhie says:

      People who want to support the game?

      Which I totally realize reads as self-righteous and I honestly don’t mean it that way and I realize it’s speaking from a position of financial privilege that I have enough disposable income to hold this position… but yeah. I think it’s important to financially support the things I want to succeed. Of course I’m not talking about Skyrim, which is doing just fine.

      But anything smaller-scale I will specifically pay full price and buy reasonably early if I think it’s unusual enough that it’s not a given that its creators will be able to enjoy artistic freedom to create weird games. Our even keep making games at all.

      • Shuck says:

        Given how may people get angry when a game ends up in a bundle soon after release (because they just bought it for the regular, often small, price), I’d say that people who want to support the game are in a (tiny) minority, unfortunately.

        • pepperfez says:

          Which is extra silly, because whenever I see a repeat in a bundle I want I can take a deep breath and say, “Well, at least I’m supporting the devs,” and then I don’t have to be upset. It’s great! It feels even better than anger!

          • Shuck says:

            It is very silly, especially since, if you care more about getting a game for as little money as possible rather than supporting the devs, you’d wait to buy the game, as games almost inevitably are increasingly reduced in price over time.

          • AngoraFish says:

            Game devs aren’t charities. Good games generally sell well, which is the traditional method of paying the bills, rewarding excellence and encouraging more good games to be produced. I don’t feel any obligation to pay more than I need to for a game, and if you happen to personally disagree there’s nothing stopping you from buying a couple of extra copies.

            And I doubt anyone is going to begrudge a 50% discount six months after release, but day one bundles sure are disrespectful to early adopters when preorders are generally (until recently, anyhow) offered at a “discounted” price.

            To put it another way, it’s not a stretch to describe the supposed preorder “discount” as a blatant lie, or at least a selective untruth – and it certainly is a pretty good way to destroying whatever goodwill your company might currently have.

          • cthulhie says:

            @AngoraFish: Leaving aside the assertion that good games generally sell well (I just– I– what defines it as– okay, I’m going to put it down and walk away), I don’t actually like good games. I like games that I like. Which are often buggy or poorly produced or have some significant and inarguable deficiency that, for whatever reason, doesn’t bother me too much. I’m not saying everybody in the world has to like the games I like; I’m financially stating that there is an audience that likes this and would like to see more of it and am hoping that’s enough to keep the studio afloat.

            It’s more akin to highly ineffectual patronage than consumerism. I essentially do it for the same reason I vote, which has nothing to do with whether my vote has an impact. Again, full acknowledgement that not everyone has the spare income to do this. No judgement!

            except for the neo-social darwinistic perspective that equates success with some objective notion of quality even indirectly gnaaaaarrrrrrrrrrr….

    • Anthile says:

      Kentucky Route Zero is one of the best games I have ever played and it’s not even complete. No regrets.

    • J. Cosmo Cohen says:

      Yeah, who buys games at full price? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha…

      …when does Wasteland 2 come out? It’s, uh, for a friend.

    • Yglorba says:

      I can think of a few categories of people:

      * People with a huge backlog of games they want to play (because they impulse-buy bundles and things on steep sales.) These people don’t get to play many games, so they thought nothing of waiting three years to buy Skyrim when it was cheap — they’re more collectors than gamers.

      * People who pirated it. Yes, really. I’m convinced that part of the reason steep sales work is that there is a not-inconsiderable contingent of people who pirated games when they were younger and had no money, and now are happy to have them Steam (both out of guilt, because the price is so low that it no longer matters to young people with decent income and no dependents, and because Steam offers a few tangible benefits over piracy.)

      • Jediben says:

        Indeed, some games are not worth the initial asking price. Reviews often cannot be trusted because reasons and the only other way this inappropriate pricing can be is discovered by piracy with the death of demos. Many pirates will buy the game once the price more accurately represents the true perceived value of the game.

      • MartinWisse says:

        Or erm people like me two years ago, who stopped buying games round the turn of the century, for years didn’t have the computer able to play modern games, then frantically start catching up from bundles and steam sales?

      • 2Ben says:

        People with a huge backlog that are more collectors than gamers: that would be me. I’m at a pointwhere I don’t even bother to register all my steam keys from Humble Bundles on steam itself, despite the process being super easy these days. I even kickstart things now and then, and I still didn’t play all that much of Divinity OS even though it seems really great.
        And I must admit, I made a big big mistake: I started to look into electronic music producing. If you’re anything like me, for the sake of your wallet, don’t. You’ll end up buying legendary VTSi after legendary VSTi, at the discounted prices of $99 each (rather than the original $249, yay, bargain!), sound libraries, effects, DAWs…
        The life of a gamer is hard, but the life of an aspiring electronic muziko is hell,I tell ya!

  4. Demon Beaver says:

    I was wondering – is the Borderlands 2 bundle sold on Mac Game Store PC and Mac?

    • popej says:

      I’m not sure to be honest. The post should probably carry a warning if it’s Mac only

    • RogerMellie says:

      The store page says: “The Complete Edition can be installed on Mac and PC”, so I think you’re good.

    • eggy toast says:

      If it’s a Steamworks game (and I’m not positive but I think it is) then any key you get will activate on Steam for the PC / Mac / Linux versions.

      • Deathmaster says:

        It does use Steamworks but you may want to know that certain keys can unlock the Mac-only version of a game. Civ has this, some versions of CoD have this too. Borderlands is not one of them yet, but it’s something to keep in mind.

        • malkav11 says:

          What version of Civ has this? I bought Brave New World as a Mac key and it unlocked the PC version just fine.

        • eggy toast says:

          CoD is a weird exception and the old Civ games have different library entries, but the Civ games do work the way I said. CoD doesn’t but they make that very clear on the Steam page.

      • ScottTFrazer says:

        Steamworks doesn’t guarantee a cross-platform single purchase. SteamPlay is a feature that developers can choose to implement that grants purchasers cross-platform availability.

        When Civ V was first released it was Windows-only. An outside company did the OS X port and there was a point when they were considering not implementing SteamPlay for that title because the porting company would potentially lose sales.

        Valve certainly encourages publishers to implement SteamPlay, but it’s not required.

  5. rusty5pork says:

    The series of Dungeons and Dragons comics written by John Rodgers (starts on the 3rd row of that sale) is absolutely fantastic. Unfortunately, it ends way too soon, but for an interesting reason.

    That series is extremely wittily written. As you read it, the party of adventurers begins to resemble a certain other ragtag group of misfits. The series ends suddenly because Rodgers was hired to write the TV show Leverage.

    Yup. The characters on Leverage are inspired by a D&D party.

    • welverin says:

      In my experience everything John writes is really good, and ends prematurely. Or should I say doesn’t end but unceremoniously ceases to continue?

      By the way, I second the recommendation for this series, starts Dungeons & Dragons Vol. 1: Shadowplague.

      p.s. John plays RPGs, such as D&D, so it’s no surprise the characters he writes come out that way.

      • Ace Rimmer says:

        *cough*Catwoman*cough*

        I kid. Rogers writes enjoyable, pulpy stuff, even if, through the magic of Hollywood, some of his movie credits have ended up a bit… you know.

  6. Pich says:

    I liked Borderlands 2 gameplay, but everytime any of the characters opened their mouth i wanted to strangle them (especially the little girl whosshername, aaaaargh)

    • welverin says:

      Tiny Tina, heathen.

    • Ryuuga says:

      Yeah for all its faults (thank god you can turn the voiceovers off), it’s a mostly satisfying FPS shoot & loot. Shame there doesn’t seem to be anyone else catering to this particular urge. Destiny seems sort of interesting, but is console only.

      • welverin says:

        I got to play Destiny a bit during the alpha and beta, it does have a Borderlands vibe to it structurally. However it’s reception post release leaves a fair bit to be desired. So it’s absence on PC is probably no great loss.

        • Ryuuga says:

          Oh, it was not received well? What’re the complaints? Could it be they’ll patch these things, or is it something really integral to the game?

          • malkav11 says:

            The complaints I’m hearing are that there’s not a lot of content and it makes you repeat that content to a frustrating degree – like, missions that take you back to the exact same area with the exact same encounters to go somewhere you were just at and do something you could easily have done the last time around if you’d just been given the mission for it.

          • Bull0 says:

            The story is understated to the point of more or less not existing, and the missions are exceptionally repetitive. Also, the character advancement through skills and gear just isn’t really up together to the same standard as equivalent games like Diablo and Borderlands. It’s a lot of repetitive face-shooting for very little observable change – you’ll get one or two items of gear on a mission, tops, and most of the time it’ll be a duplicate of a common armor piece you already have or a gun, of which there’s very little variety.

            There’s also a lot of loading time where you just stare at your ship in flight, and that gets really tedious. All in all no, you’re not missing anything. I’ve had it all week on the PS4, I traded it in this morning having got to about level 11 and haven’t looked back. All the time I was playing it, I couldn’t really escape the feeling that I’d be having more fun playing Borderlands 2 or Diablo 3. /rant

          • Ryuuga says:

            Thanks! Was reading up some reviews of Destiny and yes, like you say, it seems to be lacking in several key aspects (such as loot, variety, personality).

    • AXAXAXAS MLO II: MLO HARDER says:

      I felt the opposite. The characters were OK, the jokes occasionally landed, but the gameplay was just ‘shoot this dude for fifteen minutes then run out of ammo and fiddle with your weapons’.

      • fish99 says:

        That’s one of the more perplexing descriptions of Borderlands I’ve read, since not even the boss fights take 15 minutes and you should never run out of ammo.

        • malkav11 says:

          Although I really like Borderlands 2, in my experience you run out of ammo all the goddamn time because guns can go through up to 6 ammo per shot, the ammo caps are pretty low (at least early on), enemies take a bunch of hits to go down, and you only get like 10-15 ammo per drop which may or may not be for the gun types you’re using. The only time ammo hasn’t been a problem for me is if I’m fighting near an ammo vending machine. I assume once you find a source of ammo regen this situation is a lot less pressing, but it’s a big pain for at least 20 or 30 levels.

          • welverin says:

            What were the relative levels of the enemies you were fighting? were they all higher than you, significantly so?

            Ammo was almost never an issue for me, but then with doing all of the sidequests and playing with friends a bit I spent the majority of the game higher level than the vast majority of things I fought so killing them didn’t take long or much ammo.

          • malkav11 says:

            Generally around the same level or lower. Occasionally a bit higher. And I do all the sidequests. That said, I haven’t been lucky enough to play with friends most of the time as the one friend that plays coop games with me hated Borderlands 2 almost immediately and quit soon afterwards.

        • Jalan says:

          Playing as the Gunzerker class can certainly offset the ammo issue a bit but if you weren’t running out of ammo at least once you were either using a gun that didn’t consume multiple ammo per shot or playing the Assassin/a class where ammo expenditure wasn’t a necessity so much as it was a supplement to whatever main skill you were using throughout the run.

          I opted for a pistol/shotgun combo as a Gunzerker and the best (at that point) pistol I had was a Vladof model that consumed 3 ammo per shot. I found myself out of pistol ammo frequently because of it. The shotgun I was using also consumed multiple ammo but I found it less of an issue on running out since it also had a scope and the spread was taking out multiple enemies in close quarters situations.

          • fish99 says:

            I finished the game twice, once as Commando (base game only) and once as Assassin (inc all DLC). I did occasionally run out of rockets, especially early game before you get most of the upgrades, but other than that I didn’t have many issues. I was farming eridium at the fruit machines for the ammo upgrades though.

            I definitely never ran out of all ammo.

  7. subedii says:

    My comments don’t seem to be posting. Odd.

    I just wanted to say (in a longwinded way) that FEAR is awesome, and plays really well even a decade on.

    • Spakkenkhrist says:

      I’ll back that up, I recently replayed F.E.A.R and it has some of the best shooting (and enemy A.I) that gaming has to offer.

  8. Siimon says:

    Magicka + DLC is 75% off
    link to bundlestars.com

  9. DanMan says:

    KRZ: sooooo much to read! :d

  10. malkav11 says:

    Hector wasn’t made by Telltale. It was developed by a company called Straandlooper and the first episode was published on iOS before they signed with Telltale to publish the series on multiple platforms including PC. Apparently Telltale then converted the first episode to their inhouse engine and made that available for the other two installments. So it’s not a sign of Telltale’s range or anything like that, it’s just a game they liked enough to publish.

    Also, Borderlands 2 is a great game, dammit.

  11. DrScuttles says:

    You deny me Papa Moomin Plushie? Truly the Gods of the Bargain Bucket have forsaken us all. Now if you’ll just excuse me I’ll be in the corner quietly rocking back and forth and sobbing and wishing I had the moral character of Snufkin and the bravery of Moomintroll to cope with the situation.

  12. Gap Gen says:

    Humble seems to be having an end of summer sale, if that’s not already old news: link to humblebundle.com

  13. kalirion says:

    How is there no mention of Humble Indie Bundle 12?

    • Premium User Badge

      keithzg says:

      Maybe the inclusion of Gunpoint would make it feel (by way of the Crate & Crowbar) a tad ethics-violation-y? Or more likely RPS just assumes everyone and their dog’s Nexus 7 knows about any given humble bundle? Yeah, dunno, it is a slightly odd omission.

    • MartinWisse says:

      Already covered in an earlier story.

  14. Ejia says:

    Oh dear. You’re not making me play through FEAR again, no way. I realize that it’s not really that scary, but I am still a gigantic wimp who gets easily frightened. I do love the lasers and the fact that Monolith stuck in the Shogo theme in the first one.

    Also, it’s just a knit tube of fabric, but that snake is charming!

  15. Gilead says:

    The Bundle of Holding has a pretty good pen and paper roleplaying bundle still up for the next couple of days — Monte Cook’s Ptolus 800+ page campaign book plus other stuff. It’s still $25 if you want the whole thing, but I believe the campaign setting PDF is generally much more expensive than that, so it might still be worth it if you’re into that kind of thing. Which I am, so I got it.

    • malkav11 says:

      I’ve heard it’s usually $60. In PDF. Which is crazy, if you ask me.

      • welverin says:

        That is far less than the print version cost at release. $60 for the amount of content (800+ pages) and how much work went into it is quite reasonable. This pdf version includes a number of other books as well, and I do mean the Ptolus pdf itself and not the other books in the bundle.

        • malkav11 says:

          PDFs should be cheaper than the print version by a significant margin, because they are not printed and thus don’t have printing costs involved. That’s pretty straightforward, if you ask me. And I wouldn’t ever pay $60 for any PDF of anything. Short of, I dunno, a complete archive of a periodical, or an entire game line, or something. Fortunately, the bundle meant I didn’t have to.

  16. mlaskus says:

    If you haven’t bought the latest Humble Mobile Bundle(link to humblebundle.com) do it before it finishes.
    I’ve just spent the whole day playing through Sorcery! and it’s second part which I’ve bought immediately after finishing the first one.
    It’s one of the best interactive fiction games I’ve had the pleasure to play. It gives you plenty of choices, the characters are wacky and interesting, there is peril awaiting you at every turn and you need to pay attention to what you learn – because the knowledge will save you later on or maybe simply allow you to stuff your pouch full of gold.
    It’s also has some very interesting mechanics, like the sorcery system that allows you completely change how many of the encounters play out, being creative with your spells is usually much more efficient and rewarding than simply going for the most powerful ability available to you.
    The second part also comes with ridiculously inventive dialogue mechanic. A lot of the characters can play a simple but fun dice game with you. You banter while making your moves, you might be able to win easy, but going for a quick win may not give you enough time to get the necessary information out of the character. If you play it too safe though, the character will get bored and may not share anything useful with you.

    • Shadowcat says:

      So I take it from your comment that the game in the mobile bundle is the first of the four books? The trailer does mention the Shamutanti Hills at the end, but makes no other reference to how much of the series it encompasses.

      It’s kinda neat seeing some of these books making a come-back as computer games. I saw “Appointment with F.E.A.R.” on the Humble Store the other day, too.

      • mlaskus says:

        Yes, the part in the bundle only covers the journey through Shamutanti Hills, the second one is all about Kharé, the city of thieves.

  17. Shadowcat says:

    GOG.com is finishing up their birthday celebrations by reiterating all the sales, in case you missed anything:

    link to gog.com

    “140+ games up to 80% off for 24 hours! […] until Monday, September 15, at 9:59AM GMT”