Arby's Backlog Hell Arbiter Libera’s profile

~ Let's Get Some Games Done ~

An Ongoing Exercise in Clearing the Backlog Extraordinaire

Nothing special here for now, really. Just my updates divided for somewhat navigable lists using the artwork I used when updates were originally published with all now updated to current art assets fitting to match 2019 updates and also easier to click on if you're using mobile. Maybe I'll add more to the "homepage" at some point, but this is serviceable for now.

I'm back and it only too me two weeks this time. There was a different game in the pipeline for this update, but it being a JRPG put a stopper on that. Those tend to take a while. Devil's Hunt was my idea of taking it easy. A diversion, if you will. Not one to disappoint a review had to be written regardless of game quality. As if to freshen things up I also finally go through an overlooked anime series, though.

Enjoy the read and stay safe.

Mushishi ( Fantasy, Mystery, Drama, 2005, 26 episodes ) + TRAILER

I remember watching bits and pieces of it over the years, but I only recently saw Mushishi to completion.

Show's episodic anthology format lends itself well to watching random episodes yet seeing it as intended really made me realize what a gorgeous show it is. Not just from the visuals point of view, even though its picturesque landscapes with moody atmosphere absolutely deliver on that front, but more due to manner in which this entire package is presented. We follow Ginko, a Mushi-shi in semblance of the 18th-19th century Japan where backwards villages in the shadows of mountains are still aplenty while some technology has started to creep in, as he endlessly travels the countryside dealing with Mushi related problems. What are Mushi? This very question is raised about half dozen times in the show and definitive answer is never given, but they're a sort supernatural "basic life" on a different level from what we know. Mushi-shi are primarily scholars dealing with situations occurring when Mushi interact with the world; be it with humans, animals or just plain nature. It's given a folk beliefs and traditional Japanese legends outlook and how many seem to have come from unexplained Mushi that most people cannot see so strange things are just happening randomly as far as they know. For example, a young girl's voice causes rust to appear in her entire village or there's a secret price paid for a good harvest while everyone else is having a bad year. Lots of confused villagers making bad decisions out of superstition and refusal of good advice.

Major point Mushishi likes to lean on is that Mushi aren't really evil, they just do what they do because it's their incomprehensible nature which is the reason Mushi-shi have dedicated themselves to cataloging and understanding the unknown. Ginko himself is somewhat special in that he believes outright killing the cause is rarely a solution to problems and will endeavor toward amicable resolutions as he draws on his font of knowledge and huge box he carries around. While very few episodes are actually CENTERED on the protagonist I'd say he gets strong characterization over the course of the series - Ginko is someone who will always go out of his way to help if he can, almost in spite of his laid back personality. Show even sheds some light on backstory and some questions I wondered about. Like how someone traveling on foot keeps in touch and knows where to go urgently. Well, Mushi-shi found practical uses for all the varied Mushi out there. If there's a single defining characteristic of the show it's how, well, subdued and grounded it is. I assume this is the kind of thing that lead people to dismiss it as dull, but in my opinion it's simply not a spectacle meant to dazzle you but rather be a slow burn designed to entice you in with outlandish mysteries. Fact each episode is book ended by a brief summary of what happened after the fact, sometimes even months and years later, is that perfect cap I want on a story that anime almost never deliver on in this obsession to keep the status quo intact. Many are bittersweet, some tragic, but those just make the heartwarming endings stand out all the more for it.

As far as negatives go I'd say there's almost surreal level of sameface going on in a way I actually thought some were returning characters at first. You get used to it and based on what I've seen after the fact it's more or less staying true to manga, though. Trailer is also the very definition of misrepresentation and show is almost its exact tonal opposite. Definitely not a show for everyone, but I loved it.

Looking back on it I'm embarrassed to admit to myself just how long it took to cover Metro 2033 Redux with a proper review I wanted it to have. This is also where I'm unable to blame the virus craze, though. Here it is finally... and luckily for me I'm no completionist so one playthrough will suffice. Just to rub some salt into the wound I also had time to watch some anime and coincidentally they covered about 30 years of the industry.

You Are Under Arrest ( Comedy, Action, Drama, 1994, 4 episodes ) + OPENING

Saw You Are Under Arrest and I can definitely say they don't make anime like they used to anymore. Sure, it's a four-part OVA with more budget to go around which definitely shows in exquisite detail and animation, but I think it's more due to sheer effort that went into chase and vehicles scenes in general as well as entire team doing their research. That's not to say our two female police officer protagonists are slouches, though. Is it weird that I'm impressed by the fact anime could seamlessly merge and bounce between action, comedy and drama while integrating all three in equal measure? Maybe it goes back to how Natsumi and Miyuki aren't just color-coded archetypes and instead come off as genuine people in their own right with nuances to their personality. They take well mannered jabs at each other, but at the same time they're consummate professionals when it comes to their job. I can't help but imagine how in modern version they would be exaggerated comedic reliefs who somehow still held onto their jobs as it was pushed into the background to allow more hijinks. Not here. Second half of the OVA is somewhat weaker due to contrived drama otherwise light-hearted drama could have done without, though. Would recommend as relic of bygone days... and Yoriko is best girl.

Drifting Dragons ( Fantasy, Action, 2020, 12 episodes ) + TRAILER

Replace whales with dragons, whalers with drakers and Drifting Dragons is what you get as story soars high into airship territory. Story uses new recruit Takita as POV for the audience as she learns the ropes and play straight man to everyone's antics, but isn't limited to her alone because you really get to know what dozen or so crew members are about and some even get their own story bits for characterization's sake. Which is good because while draking makes for interesting premise it's the slice-of-life and what these people do between hunts which is really the main focus. Couple of story arcs are introduced and resolved to vary things up along the way as we see how and why they do what they do. I think characters themselves could have benefited from more background information, but you could argue they all left their old lives behind and that's the point. It would perhaps spice up their otherwise one-note nature, though. One more take I got from Drifting Dragons is I wish Japan would finally get over their notion that 20-ish frames-per-second looks good with 3D. CG used in the show ALMOST looks right, but it's this intentionally choppy animation that drags the entire affair down which is a shame because we have some pretty damn expressive characters, facially and body language-wise, compared to traditional approach where animators have to be content with only the barest of essentials. At the end of the day it feels like we got a look into regular lives of these drakers and there's no moral preaching about them being evil for what they do or anything.

Strait Jacket ( Science Fiction, Fantasy, Action, 2007, 3 episodes ) + TRAILER

Imagine if you will an alternate turn of the 20th century where magic was proven to be real and implement as a force alongside technology in every walk of life from medicine to engineering. This magic also brought forth a kind of curse where people who use it too much turn into body horror monsters dubbed Demons and lose their minds. Eventually so-called “Mold suits” were devised and using them guaranteed safe use of magic. That is, before your casting limit was reached or suit malfunctioned. Enter Sorcery Management Bureau and elite unit of Mold suit wielders who are called to action when Demons appear in kickass power armor knight suits and guns to channel their attack magic. They are called Strait Jackets and these are their stories. Sadly, I think setting and backstory, both of which OVA delivers in bare essentials, are the best part here while the actual “stoic outlaw doing the right thing regardless” is kinda worn out. Rayott Steinberg fits the role as unlicensed Tactical Sorceror at odds with SBA staff as we see three cases over the course of just as many episodes. There's personal drama involved and sort of predictable finale, but I still think Strait Jacket falls flat overall due to uninspired direction or possibly highly limited budget. Suits look great, but I think this may be a case where reading the LN in question may be a better choice due to a lot of elements simply left unexplored. Like the left-wing Ottoman terrorist group or how this variety of magic actually works, for example.

Isn't it great when you're on leave for two weeks and can't muster enough willpower to finish a single game despite essentially not being able to do all the normal things like going outside? Well, Steam to the rescue once again this time with LudoNarraCon event where indies get to showcase what they've been up to and we get play some demos on offer. Going by name alone I expected it would be more about story-driven narratives, but I biggly underestimated just how many developers shared singular fascination with detectives. So much so I played four demos about such adventures... in a row. Demos should be up until May 1st.

Beyond that I saw a few movies in my downtime and decided to chime in on those. I've finally included links to respective trailers because those will probably get you interested more than my scribbling could. Such linking could potentially be used in the future for other purposes as well. If I ever had to provide panel samples for comics or such.

She Never Died ( Drama, Action, 2019, 89 minutes ) + TRAILER

I don't know what's current status of the mini series that was supposed to be released after He Never Died, but I recently saw She Never Died which is more or less the same idea except roles are gender-bent. Considering who the main character is, and who the main character from the last movie is superposed to be, they might as well exist in the same universe. Not really a movie I'd recommend because it took hindsight to realize how much Henry Rollins added as the previous lead compared to this new STRONG WOMAN protagonist who rarely comes off as more than just loudly posturing and not as someone who would've blended into society well enough to last this long. Lack of budget and personal story investment also comes through. Antagonists were despicable enough with their ludicrous snuff premise and matter a fact behavior, though.

Color Out of Space ( Horror, 2019, 111 minutes ) + TRAILER

Sat through Color out of Space yesterday. Man, this must've been one hell of a trip to watch in movie theaters, but it only emphasized what a weirdly unfilmable story they chose to adapt out of Lovecraft's entire library. This is one of those cases where advancements in digital technology certainly help in getting surreal imagery across and movie really ramps it up along the way before it overloads the visuals in the finale. Even if it boils down to "color pink started causing trouble in my neighborhood" I think movie's faults come down to uninteresting human stories and how it seemingly HAS to explain what's going on to dumb audience or they won't get it. It's not a 1:1 adaptation and there's quite a bit of expanded content here, but I have to give them credit for appropriate ending even if surprise survivor stayed sane. What a ripoff! Cage definitely brought his unsettlingly manic performance, but I couldn't really tell how much of it was acting before shit hits the fan and how much was his low energy self. I think I expected more from Color out of Space because I'd probably rate Mandy higher.

Aniara ( Science Fiction, Drama, 2018, 106 minutes ) + TRAILER

I'm not sure how a Swedish movie even got on my to-watch radar, but I saw Aniara. In a way it's exactly what I'd expect from Sweden these days: Earth's climate got screwed up and humanity embarks on massive exodus to Mars where they're making a new life for themselves. Movie follows passengers aboard the eponymous Aniara and shenanigans that ensue after a freak stellar accident leaves them without the ability to control the ship. There's a plan how to turn around, but it's expected to take two years and that's a long time for things to go wrong. Things are made even worse because there's this VR reality sort of technology called Mima that lets people relive imagery from what Earth "was like before" and people begin relying on it more and more as form of escapism which puts stress on our protagonist as she's the sole operator of said technology. There's undoubtedly some social commentary going on here and not having a female protagonist be a lesbian would have shocked me. My biggest problem with Aniara is how it manages to be on the somewhat dull side despite an interesting premise and escalating stakes. I think it's just how stoic everyone is and subdued atmosphere that only occasionally gets interjected with tense scenes. In true Nordic fashion it's more utilitarian and minimalist than anything else.

With all the Corona craze going on around the world, Croatia included, I guess it figures I would get blindsided by something new on Steam. This time it's the Steam Game Festival aka dozens of demos that are currently available for limited time only... until they presumably release them again to stay. Necessitating such a crazy endeavor meant I had to forego my usual wall of text so I retooled something better suited for a paragraph worth of text seeing as I went for simpler summaries. Tell me what you think, and these demos should still be up for a day or so still if you want to check them out.

Stay safe and enjoy the read.

I did something crazy recently when I challenged myself to the following – play through a handful of short games, which I would then proceed to review, over the weekend encompassing 7th and 8th of March. Really shocking part is I actually pulled it off somehow and now come bearing six short reviews. One lagging behind in time posted, but the game itself was finished on Sunday. What's on offering isn't my usual wall of text so pieces should be easily digestible. Have fun and enjoy the read.

Looking at my BLAEO profile almost makes me weep at times. It's been, what, almost 20 days since my last Report and in all that time I've managed to get through a four hour platformer. No excuses for life, I guess. Hope you enjoy this review of Wonder Boy: The Dragon's Trap I got on a whim from Fanatical bundle deal and off my wishlist. Nothing in non-games category for a while and looks like it'll stay that way as well.

It took an unfortunately (mis)titled game for me to realize it seems I barely have it in me anymore to play these 25 hour long JRPGs, which is relatively short by genre standards, where most of what you'll experience throughout the entire game is put on display during the first few hours. Well, this time I bring you The Legend of Heroes II: Prophecy of the Moonlight Witch. Those familiar with Trails in the Sky or Cold Steel games are apparently in luck because this one has nothing to do with those beyond some nostalgic callbacks.

Fly-over report between Thronebreaker and review I'm working on next. Just got in the mood for some demos so I went with a theme. I have no idea why it's so convoluted to find a free games on Steam not categorized as demos or F2P titles like MMORPG, MOBA, etc. Great Humble Choice just added way more games than I saw coming as well so backlog grows ever steadily.

During the recent GOG sale I simply couldn't resist and got me Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales for a ridiculously low price... had something to do with owning everything else the Witcher related on their store so discount was pretty deep. Not exactly a companion piece or anything, but I was instantly reminded of my embarrassingly long The Witcher 3 review from two years ago. I have not learned that brevity is, in fact, the soul of wit. And to make this further interesting I did a first double feature in my Multimedia section by covering a novel as well as its adaptation. Given the source material there's one just like it later down the pipeline, but who knows when I'll get around to it.

I hope you enjoy the read.

Vampire Hunter D ( Science Fiction, Fantasy, 2005 (English), 300 pages )

Yet another series that should theoretically tick my favorites boxes, but I'm almost embarrassed to confess how long it took me to get around to it. Why? Because for the longest time I was under the impression few, if any, Vampire Hunter D novels were translated from Japanese. Imagine my shock when it turned out all of them are read readily available to English readers. Hell, even some spin-off series appears to have been translated at one point. So let's delve into it.

Easily the most fascinating and engaging element of the novel for me would have to be its setting which happens to be a weird melting pot of ideas Hideyuki Kikuchi found cool and incorporated into one package. It's the far off future after a nuclear exchange happened and vampires, or Nobility as they call themselves, have held an iron grip on humanity serving under their Sacred Ancestor. In these millennia of rule Nobility has experimented with and advanced everything ranging from bio-engineering which resurrected many previously considered mythical creatures to sheer advanced technology like impossible materials, all combining together and solidifying their rule as cruel superiors... until they gradually withdrew and disappeared. Some going off-world, some outright committing suicide and yet others going into hibernation. While their legacy definitely looms strong humans have been reclaiming the world and occasionally running afoul of the remaining Nobility. Life on the frontier isn't easy, though.

Which is exactly where our eponymous hero D, half-blood riding on his cyborg horse, steps in as he gets rather aggressively accosted by this rather spunky girl Doris to help her out. D doesn't exactly care until she says a local Noble called Lee bit her and will come to claim Doris as his bride very soon leaving them little time. What follows is a series of escapades as Doris already has a rather pushy admirer in the form of a mayor's son, keeping this secret from Ransylvan people because they deal with vampire victims rather harshly as well as interference from count Lee's own daughter Larmica who vehemently objects to getting a new mother couple of thousand years her junior.

I think there's some dodgy translation here and there, especially the way “everyone is taken by D's beauty” comes of, which tends to mess with characterization in a sense lines generally blend together, but for something to wet the appetite this is really good in having a simple premise that gets more and more added to it without ceasing to really be simple in design. You can bet I'll check out more of the novels in the future as this was an easy enough read.

But then I remembered seeing the adaptation as well. So why not make this a double feature?

Vampire Hunter D ( Science Fiction, Fantasy, Action, 1985, 80 minutes )

I saw the movie WAY before reading the novel, but I'm blown away by how faithful it is to source material. Some minor things were excised and change and yet for the overwhelming majority of those I think they work much better for the medium change.

It's mesmerizing how what the novel takes quite a while to establish is summed up rather evocatively with the opening narration included herein: ”This story takes place in the distant future. When mutants and demons slither through a world of darkness.” All the gizmos like the electric fence which costs a small fortune and keeps out creepy crawlies from beyond as well sheer technological superiority of the Nobility which comes off as magic, alongside actual magic, is on full visual display here. I had a hard time visually what a Frontier town looked like in this post-apocalyptic setting and I think the “Wild West, but stone in place of wood” aesthetic suits it perfectly as some out-of-place technology stands out. I do regret the movie avoids referencing the Capital and human resistance outright, though. In general this adaptation tends to avoid the grander picture beyond some hints about the Sacred Ancestor and stoic D's link to him which puts him on par with the Nobility despite being a dhampir himself. While I'm on the subject our protagonist is less talkative in the movie, but comes off as more sympathetic seeing as he bonds with Doris' brother Dan faster. One notable difference is the way Rei-Ginsei is treated and is now firmly in count Lee's employ. Events don't really change much, but some key character motivation is left out as a result. Ironically, Larmica gets expanded with a single character trait making her stance on D and his employers somewhat more understandable.

Considering this is an anime movie from 1985 you clearly need to keep context in mind, but even then it's obvious budget was spread unevenly. There is gore and action aplenty with only a handful of gratuitous ones added for their own sake. Don't confuse this for a dumbed down adaptation, though. A lot of the scenes are taken from the novel quite literally down to the very finale and realization that accompanies it. What this incarnation of Vampire Hunter D does is eschew explanations in favor of SHOWING and as such succeeds at being a movie adaption. Also, fluffy '80s hair.

You wouldn't get the bloodlust joke I wanted to make here yet, but at some point you will.

An unplanned quicky seeing as I've been gone longer than anticipated. Don't worry, I'll be back with a proper review soon, but for now I got around trying out that newfangled Gothic Playable Teaser which was released free for owners of anything Gothic from what I've gathered. As a massive Gothic fan I suppose my reactions may be somewhat predictable and I didn't go into any serious depth. After all, this is a teaser and game may end up changed drastically.