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.

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.

Happy New Year, everyone. I survived all end-of-the-year debaucheries intact! ◕‿◕

With that we're moving on to the next point which would be the very first Report of 2020. I uninstalled some games languishing on my HDD for way too long and installed Stories: The Path of Destinies on a whim. Little did I know it would be exceedingly short, even with my dabbling into trying to complete it through and through, so that's precisely what I'm bringing you this time around. With holiday vacation time I watched even more shows so there's that in Multimedia along with a very short Pathfinder story.

Also finally got around to organizing those old reports on my profile page in unified fashion so it's much easier to re-visit older entries with bigger banners also making it more convenient to use with smartphones. Still drawing a blank with what to do regarding the actual profile page so this will have to suffice.

Certainty ( Fantasy, 2010, 28 pages )

Ever wandered what happens to a fallen paladin after the fact in mere few dozen pages? Well, Certainty offers a certain take on the subject and damn if it's not compelling enough to read in a single sitting. Pretty straightforward as stories go, but I think that focused nature of the work only helps in story delivery as our maybe paladin Ederras decides to go to the Worldwound, place in the north where demons perpetual do battle on mortals and only convicts or those out of luck go to as means of staying alive, in the effort to make amends for some earlier, unknown event that made him lose his faith. This is Pathfinder so it helps to be familiar with some geographical terminology involved yet even without such knowledge this is absolutely worth reading. Good way to end your short story leaving me wanting for more especially because it was accomplished in mere two dozen pages or so.

The Witcher ( Fantasy, Action, 2019, 8 episodes )

Contrary to some pre-release footage and dubious production news, I am certainly pleased to say The Witcher turned out a rather solid effort. Keep in mind this is the second adaption of the silver-haired monster slayer's adventures as far as TV series go because there's the original Polish take on Witcher, though. Show is also eminently improved if you're already a fan of the source material. It will make certain mistakes changes stand out even more, for it but with general knowledge of the time frame and events adapted herein you'll have a much easier taking making heads and tails from a non-linear narrative creators went with. Not that I'm complaining or anything because provided you pay enough attention it will just build up the suspense for the overarching Cirilla plot between Geralt's standalone exploits as he comes across some key characters. In fact, I would say this is one of those cases where releasing the show in standard episode-per-week format would've probably built up tangible fan speculation compared to now usual binging where viewers get over it quickly. Not that either would've affected Henry Cavill's terrific linchpin performance as Geralt far upstaging all other actors OR show's budget paired with some rather absurd costume design at times. Or Netflix practice of clearly splitting single works into multiple seasons with cliffhangers that I've grown to utterly despise... and surprisingly weak soundtrack. It came off sounding like a soulless Witcher 3 knock-off with few notable tracks standing out. All in all, I would recommend The Witcher differently depending on who you are – for fans of the books I would say it's easily recommend and something to check out, while others just might get a fantasy romp with somewhat fractured narrative before it brings it all together in the last two episodes.

The Mandalorian ( Science Fiction, Action, 2019, 8 episodes )

Creatives occasionally produce something for the property you've been asking for forever, but never got. The Mandalorian is that answer to age old “Why does everything Star Wars have to be a space opera involving the Jedi?” question which has thankfully now been heard and answered beyond books/video games as a domain. Idea behind the show is kinda self-explanatory – we follow a Mandalorian, turns out not to be a race but rather a creed if you haven't been keeping up with all that Expanded Universe stuff Disney made defunct, as he takes on more and more dangerous bounty hunting from the Guild... until one day he accepts a peculiar one involving remnant Imperial forces and recovering a certain asset, alive or otherwise. Small, green, masquerades as space wizard. So begins the story of our stoic, can't-take-my-helmet-off-in-public protagonist as his conscience forces him to take on a parenting role drawing from his own murky childhood. Show operates on adventure-of-the-week premise as Mando meets people who will eventually help him in the finale when it all ramps up and embraces almost this spaghetti western approach. Ironically, I would say finale was relatively the weakest part because it broke away from the established format and had to give in for major action scenes as well as enable future story developments, but don't take that as a negative. Payoff is worth it.

Aha! For once the holdup was in the multimedia section. I finally got through STAR WARS - The Force Unleashed: Ultimate and I loved it so much I didn't even bother with the DLC so this is going to be a fun read... and yes, I sure copied that title in full. Speaking of non-game stuff, I got around to watching some shows and finished a second book in a long running SF series that still awaits my full attention. Hope you enjoy this pretty brief holiday offering and for once I didn't cheap out with some stock “Happy New Year” banner because I got my regular template down by now. Still cooking up some enhancements for 2020, though.

See ( Science Fiction, Action, 2019, 8 episodes )

This was definitely one of those slow burners I did not initially like and actually took first two episodes just to get over the silly premise before I got into it. You see, in See it's the future, something bad has happened and humanity has regressed back to a tribal stage. And everyone's blind now. Yes, this means you get an insight into a civilization that has developed in such a way sound is much more important, you use rope knots as writing and everyone's a real stealth ninja. By that I mean you have some very-hard-to-suspend-disbelief-for action scenes at times, with Jason Momoa kicking ass being the usual exception. His “scraping the glaive across the ground and keeping it close” admittedly looks very cool and I believe it every time because it comes off as a very systematic way of fighting. Not to say world is idyllic or anything because a form of tyrannical civilization under Queen Kane has persisted and it comes to odds with our protagonist as he takes in two kids with a secret that could change the world. What that SECRET could be in a society of blind people I'll let you guess. Funny thing is I wish this show was about Baba Voss who got portrayed in a very layered fashion by Momoa with backstory of his own that gets hinted at as the story goes on rather than his adopted kids, though. I ended up liking the show after lukewarm initial reception, mainly due to rather silly mass combat scene where everyone is blind and they somehow still work it, and I am excited for the second season as you have the story seemingly diverging.

The Horus Heresy II: False Gods ( Science Fiction, 2006, 416 pages )

Quickest summation of False Gods would probably be “whoa, that escalated quickly” and I'm not entirely sure if that's all positive. Continuing some time after the first novel we still follow Garviel Loken of Luna Wolves legion, now renamed to Sons of Horus, but there are more points of view involved now. Of particular note is Primarch Horus as we finally get some insight into his mindset and actions. Which is where False Gods falters because it all happens so quickly. Yes, he undergoes a dramatic experience and there are already plots underway he seems to play into (un)willingly which did not change my impressions this was a hard and fast 180 that should have been gradually spread over more material considering the type of “fall from grace” scenario, one that pretty sets the events of 40k into motion, we're talking about here. Considering how long the series turned who's to say this was a bad call, though? Good news is what's in there; action scenes, debating the morality of what is going down and Primarch guest stars, is still on the same level established in Horus Rising making this a worthwhile read continuing that plot thread.

Watchmen ( Superhero, Drama, Action, 2019, 9 episodes )

What a bizarre season show. I am referring to the fact that Watchmen the TV series, not only exists in the same continuity as Watchmen the graphic novel, but it also succeeds Watchmen the movie, via timeskip. Being a fan of the graphic novel and movie both I was kinda torn with its direction. This may be one of those cases where you're better off going in blind or at least knowing some basics like who Dr. Manhattan is/was/will be, context of “superheroes” in the setting, etc. At its core this is an action drama about residual racial tensions in Tulsa, Oklahoma involving a white supremacist group calling themselves Seventh Kavalry and now-masked police force, with superhero monikers like Sister Night and Red Scare, trying their best to figure out what the hell is going on. It's nowhere near this simple in practice as it involves a Korean genius just building a big clock, exploring this alternate world of Watchmen and wondering just where did our omnipotent blue light bulb disappear to. Despite my personal misgivings about the show, and heavy-handed comments regarding racism tying into the plot, I would still recommend Watchmen as long as you stick with it because there is a continual narrative despite what may appear as schizoid plotting.

Oh boy, it seems I've lasted another year here on BLAEO.

I'm also really satisfied having managed to put out one last update of the year without committing to any last second all-nighters. As expected going with a single review format sure helped in getting my Report count up there to formidable fifteen entries compared to last year's five so that was a well made move. Sure, there was something akin to, let's call it padding with free games and demo impressions, but it wouldn't have felt right to just disappear for ridiculously long periods of time without any activity whatsoever. Worst thing is I just kept adding to my backlog and rotating my installed games having barely finished anything. Still absolutely wish I could've been more active in the community, though. And lastly I also regret not including at least one Quizzical this year which have historically proven to be quite popular in getting a discussion going. Also, Secret Santa struck and got me a game I was looking to buying during the sale so thanks a bunch for that. :D

To cut this long epilogue short – what are your final thoughts on 2019? Are you satisfied with your output now that it's come to a close? Did you get around to completing site challenges or your own personal goals? How much money do you plan to leave at the upcoming holiday sale(s)? Do you have any tips for the upcoming year and what would you like to change in the future?

Hope you have a great 2020!

This one certainly took a long while to get out and none of the planned games ended up included. I guess I'm fortunate enough to have tried out some demos on the side so these brief snippets will have to do. It is my plan to put out at least one more Report before 2019 is over, though. Let's hope I live up to it. This time around I bring you demos for Yes, Your grace, Orphan Age and Chaos Galaxy respectively for something of a jaunt into strategy. Such a shame that particular genre hasn't been doing so well for a while now. In entirely unrelated news, I've considered sprucing up the Multimedia section with trailers for what I've watched, but weighed against it out of fear it would clutter the layout. Do share what you think about the idea.

Genndy Tartakovsky's Primal ( Action, 2019, 5 episodes )

Coming from someone who was extremely partial towards Sanurai Jack, even that somewhat divisive last season, I have to say Primal is pretty damn good. Not on the same level with former as far as I'm concerned, though. Visuals and animations are absolutely top-tier stuff, but I suppose I'm the type that needs to have some story along with the presentation. Spear and Fang, human and T-rex respectively, teaming up after personal tragedies and ending up on a journey together during which all of their cunning and strength will be tested, relies more on emoting what characters are going through and that “buddy cop” dynamic than straight up narrative. Kinda appropriate considering there's not a word of spoken dialog in the series, though. Second half has yet to be released so that's something to keep an eye out, but if some absolutely visceral action with gradually ramping gore takes precedence over something like believability then Primal is absolutely one show to check out.

Infinite ( Science Fiction, 2017, 400 pages )

Talking about this is exceedingly difficult out of fear I'll accidentally spoil something for you, but I think I would've enjoyed this SF adventure far more had I not correctly guessed the "twist" early on which deflated the rest of the novel and had the ending not been so abruptly left hanging in their air. Not in the sense it was unfinished, but rather how one huge story ends for a brief snippet that's meant to be a satisfactory conclusion. What is Infinite about? Our boy Will wakes up from cryo on spaceship Galahad, which happens to be FTLing its way to a planet deemed as humanity's next hope for survival, only to realize he has a screwdriver in his chest and his best friend is grinning over him. Except Will returns to life and has to sort out two things: why is he immortal and what the hell happened to Galahad's crew since a psycho has been loose among them? One thing to note, though - this is merely the premise. Novel quickly escalates and keeps escalating almost as if mandatory to end each chapter with a zinger and one-up the previous ones. It's not a bad work at all and would make for a good adaptation if you ask me. I highly recommend going in blind... well, after reading this.

The King ( Drama, Historical, 2019, 140 minutes )

Beware – expecting a typical action flick is liable to leave you disappointed in this particular case. That's not to say The King doesn't have action scenes, especially considering the last fifth or so is one extremely dirty and violent fight sequence it almost casually name drops, but where its real strength lies at are terrific performances and somber, almost oppressive mood. This also extends to our protagonist Henry V who looks perpetually uncomfortable just being there and I'm not sure how much of it was intentional on actor's part. Incidentally, I think it's the supporting cast that steals the show with particular stand out being Robert Pattinson of all people as the Dauphin. Somewhat inaccurate when it comes who was and wasn't at Agincourt and not presented as historical plays it's based on, I'd say this is not one of Netflix's flops and is worth checking out if you're into somewhat slower paced affair.

A quickie two weeks since the last report. As usual, there's a catch – this time I bring you four demos I tried for games I was interested in. It turns out we can still benefit from games having demos if only to save us some money and get others to judge just how poor my taste is. In order of posted impressions: Mistover, Bound by Blades, Ukhar and lastly Dry Drowning. Lest it be forgotten, like it tends to be by yours truly, there are also some brief multimedia offerings this time around at the bottom so knock yourselves out and have fun reading.

The White Company ( Historical Fiction, 1891, 416 pages )

It's kind of a shame most of Arthur Conan Doyle's bibliography has largely been overlooked or outright ignored by the masses in favor of just fawning over his Sherlock Holmes writings because this is one of those cases that should definitely get more attention as far as historical fiction goes. Archaic language Doyle uses takes a while to get used to, but I think The White Company's principal problem are kinda flat characters who wear on their sleeves what they are and tend to be one-note about it. Protagonist Alleyne, for example, kinda gets swept up in everything relatively quickly after being raised by monks and takes up war as second nature too easily simply because he has a birthright to fulfill now so he embarks on ADVENTURE, HO as a result. Characterization in general is not something I'd praise highly, but that immersive and authentic writing definitely is. You will believe this is the 14th century with all the gallantry and knighthood as you follow along the Black Prince's campaign with verbose prose and perhaps overly flowery descriptions at times as you double back to get over some forsooths and such. Since I haven't read Sir Nigel I can't exactly go into how (dis)similar the two are, but apparently they're quite close according to others.

American Factory ( Documentary, 2019, 110 minutes )

Chilling as all hell story about a Chinese investor re-opening a glass factory in the US, but then again what do you really expect when you let a company operate on your soil with promised freedom from any union involvement and with percentage of workers from the motherland who basically serve as overseers for the "unruly and lazy" natives? It's a disaster waiting to happen. Further amplified by the fact you maintain this American management filled with yes-men interested mainly in pleasing their Chinese owners. I mean, it's clear former GM employees who enjoyed their $29/hr got hit hard when it was reduced to under $14/hr under new management, but you have to be desperate to work in such conditions and it only gets worse over the course of a documentary. If anything it just made a case for automation. I was rather surprised and impressed that it didn't paint the Chinese as the evil overlords, but rather let their actions speak for themselves. How they come across will vary depending on your cultural background, though.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba ( Action, Fantasy, 2019, 26 episodes )

I got this one on recommendation I don't regret following through on. Definitely a visual spectacle insofar that even CG was integrated cleverly and didn't immediately pop while you're engrossed in the action itself, but I think changing the setting to something different from "Isekai Fantasy World #256" doesn't dramatically alter the show in terms of its core because it still primarily deals with fantasy elements. I like the change and avoidance of certain tired conventions like having a tacked-on Demon Slayer school or something in favor of giving our protagonist an actual JOURNEY to embark upon while he's looking to cure his sister and get some hot blooded revenge on the side. No real depth to characters yet can I really claim surprise considering how much Japan loves their archetypes? It's well produced, fight scenes were definitely the highlight and reason to watch the show alongside that pretty rad soundtrack. I liked it for what it is. Could've ended on something other than a movie cliffhanger, though.

Extremely convenient sunrise will simply have to suffice so I don't post better GIFs spoiling upcoming fights.

Nothing worse than coming back from an extended break only to have a game barely clocking in couple of hours to show for it, and that's after aborted second playthrough because I realized I don't really care for achievements that much. Game I'm talking about is Viriginia and it certainly made what I like and dislike much clearer. I also got around to finishing a novel on the side, but I think I'll put it in the next update when I have more non-game material to talk about. Little known fact - Arthur Conan Doyle wrote more than just Sherlock Holmes, forsooth.

Well that took a smidgen longer than expected. Only.. a MONTH since the last one? Damn. Where did the time go? Anyway, I bring you some monastic strife with Ken Follett's The Pillars of the Earth and warn you ahead of time it's the kind of game that needs replaying to get all cheevos if that's your thing. Fortunately, I'm lazy immune so all's good on that front. I'm also back with non-game stuff after taking a break in the last update with a healthy variety – City, Mindhunter (Season 2) and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance for your perusing pleasure. I'll probably just do bold styling for these from now on because it's easier. Openings get way too colorful if I just post the usual formatting.

City ( Science Fiction, 1952, 251 pages )

Here we have an anthology of eight stories, albeit one connected by an ongoing narrative and threaded together with a peculiar premise – far off into the future mankind seems to have disappeared and our inheritors, intelligent dogs with their robot assistants, are piecing together what these strange beings were and how they relate to their “doggish” ways from said stories as they express varying degrees of disbelief and reverence. Quality varies on story-by-story basis and I didn't really care for the earliest ones, but as it escalates it becomes more engaging as we follow a family of Websters and their successes and failures across the centuries until they almost become synonymous with the ever-elusive humans. How did dogs learn to speak and become the new masters of the planet? What will they do when another threat rises to challenge their peaceful way of life? If you take into account my solid recommendation it falls on you to give it a read.

Mindhunter, Season 2 ( Crime, Thriller, 2019, 10 episodes )

Well, second season sure came quickly. Or should I say was late to watching the original as I mentioned some time back when I talked about it. This is honestly more of the same with two major differences that bring the season down for me. First, there's the matter of Tench's autistic/killer in the making son arc I don't really care for much myself and is either setting up the obvious or supplanting expectations. Following that would be show's increased focus on just one case, admittedly notable case of Atlanta Murders, while the usual interviews and behind the scenes stuff got shafted to a degree. I preferred the first season's structure in that sense. I'd still say give it a watch with a “see the first season” asterisk attached.

The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance ( Adventure, Fantasy, 2019, 10 episodes )

I went into this entirely skeptical, but goddamn if I wasn't impressed by the end. It goes to show practical, specifically puppetry in the Dark Crystal, with hints of CG for what's just plain impossible to do otherwise really is the way to go when it comes to special effects. By the time last few episodes rolled around I was wondering if they were going to retcon the movie entirely, but alas is just typical Netflix "let's dump the entire season at once" and then make you wait for the next season after a cliffhanger ending. If you don't know Age of Resistance is a prequel to the original movie preceding the Gelfling resistance where they rose up against their Skeksis overlords in a fantastical world of Thra. Terrific story and characters which sadly end on a cliffhanger the way Netflix shows all seem to... as they trod on their way down to a downer ending the movie itself picks up at. Heartily recommended and you don't even need to have seen the movie first.

3115 games (+1 not categorized yet)
92% never played
4% unfinished
3% beaten
1% completed
0% won't play