I really wanted to join in last year’s video game challenge but I didn’t really even find these forums until last summer, and I didn’t have much time for video games last year anyways. But I really want to work through my backlog this year!
I’m doing Classic, either Casual or Easy (depending on how much time I end up having). I’m gonna focus on the Seven Basic Plots and Pile of Shame (tho I have a few more groups highlighted).
Game 1 - Fe (Seven Basic Plots: Overcoming the Monster)
I was excited for this ever since it got announced at E3, I finally bought it on my Switch last year, and decided it would be my first game this year. It’s fairly short, and there’s some difficulties with the controls, but frankly no more than most AAA games have nowadays, and overall it was very worth the price. Super pretty and intriguing, one of those games where you get as much from is as you’re willing to put into it.
I actually followed the devlog and dev twitter for this as the game was being produced, and bought it the day it came out, and just just let it sit there in my Steam account for practically a whole year. I actually don’t play many dating sims, and even though I like visual novels when I’m in the mood to play a game those usually aren’t my go-to, so that’s probably why I put this one off.
It’s very fun though, and there’s tons of video game humor (it takes place in an alternate history 20XX where the video game crash of 1982 never happened, and arcades are a BIG business)! Loved all the characters, and some of the twists this took on the dating sum ‘genre’ (like the fact that you can opt not to participate in the romance aspect of the story if you don’t want to - there’s plenty more going on).
Bought this and another of Freebird Games’ titles on sale a few years ago, it’s short so I downloaded it onto my laptop about a year ago and STILL just got around to playing it now.
I really liked the story. The gameplay itself was a little clunky, there’s some bugs in the controls that made certain aspects of the game feel tedious or frustrating, which is enough to keep me from rating this well. And there’s certain aspects of the story itself that I didn’t fully grasp. But I liked the concept - doctors traveling backwards through a man’s memories to piece together his life, for the purpose of reconstructing everything to give him his dying wish of the perfect life he wanted. It was a really fun backwards way to tell a story, and there are a few gut-punching reveals accomplished this way.
Game 4 - Cadence of Hyrule (Seven Basic Plots: Voyage and Return)(eh. I’m counting it)
Took me a while to get into this one - I played a few hours of the original Crypt of the Necrodancer last year and… died a lot. Luckily, after dying several times, I got the hang of the beat and how to navigate. I really liked the changes in this game: the overworld, the ease of finding diamonds, the fact that potions and shops exist. Mostly it’s a really fun game! Beat it in 9 hours (and 21 deaths!) which is higher than average but par for the course for me.
This game has a reeaally pervasive Tetris effect, just a warning. I just beat it but I’m really excited to play second story mode (minor spoilers, but it lets you replay the game as the villain!)
I had so many games I desperately wanted to play that I actually put them all through a ranking algorithm to figure out which was I was most anxious for, and Aragami came out on top!
This ones really interesting, and I like it a lot, but I don’t think it’s a new favorite or that I’d be anxious to replay it anytime soon. I like how the stealth mechanics worked out (I enjoy stealth games in general) and while there’s a few kinks, it still seems really well programmed for an indie debut.
The story (I’m all about story) is… good? But feels like it could be VERY good, and is lacking. Like, they definitely had a really great story there, but then struggled a bit to get all the pieces together in a logical way. I completely sympathize, and I can tell that what they were going for was a pretty meaningful narrative. This is one of those games where if you read all the in-game text you see a fuller picture, but the cut scene dialogue explains everything you need to know to follow what’s happening.
Game 6 - Marvel’s Spider-Man by Insomniac (Comedy)
This was my first quarantine game, so I probably played through it a lot faster than I otherwise would have because of that. I can easily see why it was an immediate hit when it came out, so I’m not gonna bother leaving too much of a review. I didn’t get to play the DLC because I was borrowing my brother’s copy, but perhaps in the near future. It’s one of those games I wouldn’t mind coming back to in order to 100%.
Game 7 - Animal Crossing by Nintendo (There is no plot)
I got the ‘end credits’ a week ago so I figured it’s about time to add this to my list. Everyone’s playing this, it seems, so there’s not much that needs to be said. It’s my first Animal Crossing and I loved it. I wasn’t a huge fan of how I felt I needed to play the game ten hours a day for those first two weeks, but now that I’ve ‘beaten’ is the draw is dissipated and I can just check in to do dailies whenever I’m in the mood. What a perfect quarantine game!
Game 8 - Drawn: The Painted Tower by BigFishGames (Pile of Shame: Game from 2010 or older)
I’ve been doing a video game bingo card for this year, so I pulled this game out to cross off the ‘oldest backlog’ square and get my 5-in-a-row. It’s not the oldest game in my backlog but the game that’s been in my backlog the longest - my brother bought this CD for me as a birthday gift, and I just never bothered to actually play it until now.
It’s a short and sweet point-and-click puzzle game, not a game of the year or anything but certainly fun enough for a slow day. The CD I got also has its sequel, which I might also get around to playing (though I won’t count it as its own square - the games only about 3 hours to play anyways).
I haven’t been playing many video games lately so I’m trying to get back into it.
Game 9 - Dear Esther (…the plot makes no sense)
I had a lot of feelings about this game as and after I finished it, and they were all dashed by basically confirming that the developers were making it all up to sound cool. In the game you explore around an island, triggering narration at certain points (which is entirely out of order, due to the exploration), and it seems deep and meaningful, like a strange poem where you can almost grasp the meaning… and then I looked up the VO script, where the developer comments were all about how they wanted it to sound weird, so the audience would see meaning where there wasn’t. I think I’m mostly annoyed because they could have done something really cool with this concept, and instead (…of hiring a writer who knows how to tell stories…) they BS’d it.
Game 10 - Dragon Age: Inquisition (Rags to Riches)
OK I’m kind of cheating with this one - I’ve beaten it before, I was bored and wanted to play a game I knew I’d enjoy, I spent a ton of hours replaying it before FF:CC came out, and then that happened and I got stuck in the sidequests here and… technically haven’t beaten it again yet. But I’m counting it anyways, because of all the hours I put into it this time around, and because I have beaten in before, so it’s not like I really missed out on anything.
Game 11 - Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles (The Quest)
And… OK I’m also kind of cheating on this one too, because that last boss fight is so tedious. I heard there was an update letting players skip certain cutscenes, so maybe that includes the very long final boss sequences? In which case I might actually get around to officially beating it. I rarely enjoy Final Fantasy games literally just because I can’t stand turn-based combat (it’s so slow and tedious!), so Crystal Chronicles is one of the few I can play - challenging, but not so much that it’s aggravating.
Game 12 - A Short Hike (Good for my health: It makes me curious)
This one I’m not cheating on because it’s a short easy game! Got it for free from Epic and also from the Racial Justice bundle, only about two hours to beat though there’s ton of cute little exploratory things I missed. This almost feels about the level of replayability as Journey - a game I don’t need to replay, but I’d love to do so anyways because it makes me feel good afterward. Bonus points for being a game where I play as a bird!
Game 13 - Monument Valley (Pile of Shame: 2014)
I knew I was forgetting one. I played Land’s End at a free VR Experience room during a local film festival years ago - still the only VR game I’ve played, and I’ve been dying to try out Monument Valley ever since. I recently got a Google Play coupon so I decided to use the money on this game. I don’t really need to review it; everyone who’s played it loves it. Also bonus points for birds, which was actually a delightful surprise for this title.
Game 14 - Loom (Point and Click)
This one’s been sitting in my digital backlog for at least two years, and sitting in my mental backlog since I heard that pirate in SCUMM Bar telling me about this game when I was just a kid. A streamer I half follow was playing it a while back, which finally convinced me to play it myself. I had mixed feelings at the time (I like fantasy, but find some fantasy storytelling difficult to follow) but I basically haven’t been able to stop thinking about it ever since. Definitely one to recommend.
Game 15 - Pesterquest (Visual Novel)
This one is purely fanservice for the Homestuck fans, so there’s no point in really recommending it to anyone else - the story would be impossible to follow. I run a fan quotes blog, so I had to play this to grab all the quotes I needed, but it took twice as long taking screencaps as I went as playing the game normally would have.
Game 16 - A Normal Lost Phone (Pile of Shame: 2017)
It feels like every game in my backlog came out in 2017, what’s up with that? This was delightful to play - a mix of sleuthing, puzzle solving, and LGBT pride. I feel like I can’t say much about it or I’ll spoil some of the secrets and puzzles, but its a good one.
Game 17 - AER: Memories of Old (Makes you think about life)
I’m just gonna be straightforward about this, the ending sucked. I can’t write endings to save my life and this felt like an ending I’d write if I’d completely given up on trying. It’s especially sad because the actual gameplay is so gorgeous. It plays like someone took the main concept of Journey and tried to expand it with great success - there’s amazing flying mechanics (even playing on my keyboard the flying was awesome), ghosts and animal spirits, puzzle dungeons that didn’t make me want to bash my head in, and then… it just ends. I tried looking online to see if I missed something in the ending but I can’t find any indication of that. Worth playing for the gameplay alone, though.
Game 18 - Dungeons 3 (Strategy)
Like AER this was free on the Epic Game Store. I wasn’t sure if I was even interested at first, but then I looked up and it was 33 hours later and I had done literally nothing else with my life in the past several days. I guess I was really starved for a decent strategy game. My only suggestion is to go into the settings and turn the narrator ‘chattiness’ down. The writers here seemed to think they were much funnier than they actually are.
Game 19 - A Bird Story (Protagonist: Child)
I got this and To the Moon in a bundle a couple years ago, so this was part of working through my backlog. This one was… not a game? It’s a cute short story with some interactive elements, but the lack of interactivity made the few interactive moments kinda frustrating (why do I have to click a button to walk through this room now, when I just sat and watched the character walking through this room for ten minutes?) An interesting concept and one worth exploring, just the execution wasn’t great.
Game 20 - A Mortician’s Tale (Walking Simulator)
This one I knew was a walking simulator going into it, so it wasn’t frustrating to discover. There’s a couple choices to make, but it’s mostly experiencing a short story while playing through the mortician’s job. I’m really into death positivity so this was a nice sweet experience, I teared up at least once and the ending was really good.
Game 21 - Mass Effect: Andromeda (Shooter)
I got a few hours in and thought I understood why this game had been derided so much when it came out, and it only went downhill from there. I wrote up a whole review on my tumblr blog, but it basically boils down to what I feel are issues with the industry. Could have been a really cool experience, if they’d done 50% less filler sidequests and aimed for a game half as long (and no, constant unskippable cutscenes don’t add to your game’s total playability time).
And… I’m calling it, that’s all the games I’m going to be able to play this year. 21 is actually a decent amount for me, even including all the one-sitting games. I had hoped to work through my backlog, but due to reasons (various bundles as well as discovering Epic) I mostly played games I’d bought this year. But I probably wouldn’t have played through nearly as many without this challenge.
I also created a challenge of my own back at the beginning of the year. This group of over 200 challenges can seem a little daunting to someone like me who only plays a handful of games a year, so I created a bingo card of sorts with various categories tailored to what I thought I might be interested in. I didn’t get to every square, but I got pretty close.