Zac's Back(Log) AuthenticZac’s profile
My backlog problem started around 2012, when I started collecting far more console-games than I would ever have time for. That said, they were still games that I still had intentions to play at some point in time. Realistically speaking though, I will probably only get around to playing a quarter of them.
I will endeavor to update here about twice a month on the games that I have completed, or at least attempted to play.
The following tables are reserved for games that I have actually beaten;
|Game name||Console||Degree of Completion|
|Road Not Taken||Steam||15-day career + "perfect" spouse.|
|Full Bore||Steam||Everything but "no collection" achievement|
|Lego Movie: The Game||Steam||100% achievements|
|Lego Marvel Superheroes||Steam||100% achievements|
|Tobe's Vertical Adventure||Steam||Story Completion(Toby) + All Collectibles|
|Binding of Isaac: Afterbirth||Steam||1001% achievement|
|Broken Age||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Munin||Steam||Everything but Speedrun Achievement|
|Swords & Crossbones||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Hack n Slash||Steam||Story completion|
|Dungelot||Steam||Campaign Completion (Paladin)|
|Thomas Was Alone||Steam||100% Achievements|
|The Inner World||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Terrian Saga KR17||Steam||Story Completion (Hardmode + Genocide)|
|JumpJet Rex||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Towerfall||Steam||Campaign Completion (Quest Mode)|
|Castle in the Darkness||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Quantum Conundrum||Steam||Story Completion + All Collectibles|
|Sam & Max S02E01||Steam||Story completion|
|Stacking (+DLC)||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Chaos on Deponia||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Sam & Max S02E02||Steam||Story completion|
|Goodbye Deponia||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Lego: Jurassic World||PS3||100% Trophies|
|Assassin's Creed: Rogue||PS3||Story + Most "Activities"|
|Bard to the Future||Steam||Story Completion|
|Kill the Plumber||Steam||Everything but Speedrun Achievements|
|Outland||Steam||Story + All Collectibles|
|Fort Meow||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Loot Hound||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Sneaky Sneaky||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Mad Max||Steam||Story+All Areas Liberated + All Upgrades|
|Game name||Console||Degree of Completion|
|Turmoil||Steam||Story (51% shares)|
|Knightmare Tower||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Card City Nights||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Evoland 2||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Ronin||Steam||Both Happy/Sad Endings|
|Shovel Knight: Specter Knight||Steam||Story + All Collectibles/Upgrades|
|Pickers||Steam||Campaign + All keys|
|Punch Club||Steam||"Big Fight" route + Dark Fist|
|Rex Rocket||Steam||Story + 98% collectibles|
|Adventures of Pip||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Aquatic Adventure of Last Human||Steam||Story + All Upgrades|
|Shadow of Mordor||Steam||100% Achievements (Not counting DLC)|
|Valdis Story||Steam||Story + All bosses + 100% Crew + 100% items|
|Steamworld Heist||Steam||Story (Veteran mode) + 100% reputation|
|Guild of Dungeoneering||Steam||Story Completion|
|Boomtown Deluxe||Steam||Completed a full "campaign"|
|Death by GameShow||Steam||"Story" Completion (50/50 missions)|
|Ghost 1.0||Steam||Story Completion (Survival) + All Souls/Alarms|
|Ori and the Blind Forest: DE||Steam||Story Completion (hard mode) + 100% Collectibles|
|Hyper Light Drifter||Steam||Story Completion + 100% Collectibles|
|Dex||Steam||100% Achievements (With "Overlord" Ending)|
|Slime-San||Steam||"Story" Completion + 100% Apples + Boss Rush|
|Hot Tin Roof: Cat that wore a Fedora||Steam||Story Completion (All cases solved) + 100% collectibles|
|Anna's Quest||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Stories of Bethem||Steam||Story + 100% Collectibles/Side-missions|
|Adventures of Bertram Fiddle||Steam||Story Completion|
|Hollow Knight||Steam||100% completion (not achievements) + "Good" ending|
|Epistory||Steam||Story Completion + 100% Collectibles|
|Ni No Kuni||PS3||Story Completion|
|Alwa's Awakening||Steam||100% Completion|
|Game name||Console||Degree of Completion|
|Cat Quest||Steam||100% Completion|
|Rise & Shine||Steam||100% Completion|
|Dust: An Elysian Tail||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Shovel Knight (Shovel Campaign)||Steam||Story + All collectibles/upgrades|
|Shovel Knight (Plague Knight)||Steam||Story + All collectibles/upgrades|
|Super Puzzle Platformer Deluxe||Steam||All levels completed + Challenges|
|Arclight Cascade||Steam||"Campaign" Completion|
|Pixeljunk Eden||Steam||Main World (Levels 1-10) 100% Completion|
|Kevlin and the Infamous Machine||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Sparkle 2 Evo||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Bit Dungeon II||Steam||Campaign Completion|
|Just Cause 3||PS4||Story + 100% Liberation|
|Stardew Valley||Steam||100% Museum/Fish/Community Center, + Max Friendship|
|Yonder: Cloud Catcher||PS4||100% Trophies|
|Southpark: Fractured But Whole||PS4||Story + 100% collectibles|
|God of War (2018)||PS4||100% Trophies|
|Watch Dogs 2||PS4||100% Trophies|
|Dragon Quest XI||PS4||Story + some post-game|
|Nier Automata||PS4||Story (Just Route A)|
|Game name||Console||Degree of Completion|
|Monsters Ate My Birthday Cake||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Spider-Man||PS4||100% Trophies (not counting DLC)|
|Infested Planet||Steam||100% Achievements|
|Borderlands GotY||Steam||[Roland] Story + 100% missions (+all 3 Story DLCs)|
|Borderlands 2 GotY||Steam||[Gaige] Story + 100% missions (+All 4 Story DLCs)|
|Borderlands: Pre-Sequel||Steam||[Jack] Story + 100% missions|
|Tales from the Borderlands||Steam||Story completion|
|Middle Earth: Shadow of War||PS4||100% Trophies (not counting DLC)|
|Ratchet & Clank (2016)||PS4||100% Trophies|
|Horizon: Zero Dawn||PS4||100% Trophies (+100% Frozen Wild DLC)|
|Knights of Pen/Paper 2||Steam||Story + 100% quests|
|Steamworld Dig 2||Twitch||Story+100% Collectibles|
|Batman: Telltale||PS4||Story Completion|
|Sound Shapes||PS4||100% trophies (not counting DLC)|
|Rogue Aces||PS4||100% trophies|
|Stories: Path of Destinies||PS4||Story Completion|
|Tearaway Unfolded||PS4||100% trophies|
|Yoku's Island Express||Steam||Story+100% collectibles|
|Majin & the Forsaken Kingdom||PS3||100% Trophies|
|Telltale's Batman 2: Enemy Within||PS4||Story Completion|
|Dishonored 2||PS4||Story (Hard/Emily/High-chaos) + 100% collectibles|
|Guacamelee 2||Steam||Story (Good end) + 100% collectibles|
|Ni No Kuni II||PS4||100% Trophies (Including All DLC)|
|Game name||Console||Degree of Completion|
|Undermine||Steam||"Final" (As of .40) Boss defeated|
|Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep||PS4||Terra (100% Journal), Ven (Story), Aqua(Story)|
|Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance||PS4||100% Trophies|
|Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Fragmentary Passage||PS4||100% Trophies|
|Steamworld Quest||Stadia||Story Completion|
|Uncharted 4||PS4||Story (Hard-mode) Completion|
|Kingdom Hearts 3||PS4||100% Trophies (Excluding DLC)|
|Ori & the Will of the Wisps||Steam||Story + 100% collectibles|
|Creeper World 3||Steam||Campaign Completion|
|My Time at Portia||Steam||Story + 100% Museum|
|Gato Roboto||Steam||Story + 100% collectibles|
|Wuppo||Steam||Story + 100% collectibles|
|Dandara||Steam||Story + 200% collectibles|
|Borderlands 3||PS4||[Zane] Story (+DLC 1)|
|One Step From Eden||Steam||"Pacifist", "Neutral", & "Genocide" Completions|
|Game name||Console||Degree of Completion|
|Journey to the Savage Planet||Epic||100% Completion|
|Star Wars: Fallen Order||PS4||100% Trophies|
|Enter the Gungeon||Steam||"Past" Completion on all 4 main characters|
|Enslaved - Pigsy's Perfect 10 (DLC)||Steam||Story Completion|
|Neon Abyss||Steam||Both "Final" (as of 1.25) bosses defeated|
|Book of Demons||Steam||Campaign Completion (Archer)|
|20XX||Steam||Campaign Completion (Nina)|
|Detective Gallo||Steam||Story Completion|
You’d think with quarantine, I’d have more time to work my way through my backlog, but my gaming habits are still as slow as ever. In fact, started Kingdom Hearts 3 back in March and am still slowly working myself through it (which is funny considering how quickly I ran through Birth By Sleep earlier this year, but more on that below)
(Jan 1-May 1)
- Undermine - At time of playing, I purchased all of the available upgrades at the shop, as well as beating the end-boss multiple times. It has since had a few updates, but none that really give interest in returning anytime soon. The game, while fun at first, slowly ends up turns formulaic once you get used to the mechanics, and for a rogue-like/lite, that is a death sentence. The elements of a good rogue-like is replayability, giving you completely unique runs each time, however with this game, the bosses are all the same, the item pool is somewhat small, there is minimal synergy with the items, and more often than not, you will be going for a "gold run" thereby allowing you to buy out all the shops with minimal effort. Good for the first 20 or so hours (which isn't bad), but it does end up rather repetitive after reaching the end the first few times
- Kingdom Hearts: Birth By Sleep - It had been a long time since I last played a Kingdom Hearts game, so after a quick refresher on the lore (KH 1, 2, CoM and 358 days), I decided to dive back into the universe, starting with one of the games that I had previously missed out on, Birth By Sleep.
With this game, I can say without question, it is by far my favorite in the franchise. The story as a whole was solid, intertwining the 3 main characters adventures as they hopped around from planet-to-planet. Now for some, having to play through the game three times (once per character) to get the full story may seem daunting, because, yes, you are revisiting the same worlds on each of the playthroughs, but the experience feels completely unique each time, as your playstyle for each of the characters is completely different. Even if a majority of the abilities can be learned on each of the characters (Magnet OP), their core fundamentals are different -Terra focusing on heavy hitting melee, Ventus with quick strikes/magic, and Aqua being almost purely magic (oddly enough, hers is the most satisfying). On top of the different skills that you will be utilizing, many of the worlds will have vastly unique level designs as well, so even if some areas do look similar, you will soon be exploring brand new locations within those worlds.
Finally, one of the other big pluses that I give this game, and this is kind of mixed with the fanbase, is the crafting of abilities. Upon killing enemies, you get material than can be used to create new/more powerful abilities to use, and if you know the right recipes (from your previous characters' playthroughs, or from a chart online), you can create some extremely powerful moves/magic fairly early on in the game - No need for hours of grinding/farming required for that one skill you loved using on your other characters... Something that Dream Drop Distance failed hard at.
- Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance - Here comes the polar opposite of BBS, in what may potentially be the worst KH in the franchise. I could go on and on about how badly written the story is in this game, but I don't really have the time. Suffice to say, this game retcons certain story elements of past games, and bits of this game get completely disregarded in future entries.
This game is supposed to act as a bridge between 2 and 3, but fails miserably in every regard. First, the introduction of flow-motion, which completely breaks, coincidentally, the "flow" of this game. With infinite wall-jumps, you can access any part of any map from the beginning, so future skills like glide/double jump are completely worthless. This also means that many of the maps were designed to be large to accommodate this new feature in the game, but in reality, the emptiness just makes the game feel unfinished. Next, you have the "drop" mechanic which switches your characters after set periods of time, and doesn't really add much to the game since you can easily reset the timers with consumables. If anything, it just feels like a waste of time, even more so post-game when you are swapping between the characters dozens of times to find a specific portal. Which brings me to the next, and possibly biggest flaw of this game - the skill-unlocking system. In order to unlock a move/magic skill, you must find the recipe & material to craft a summon (with some material being very rare/in those portals), fight MANY battles with said summon for them to gain experience (or burn boatloads of candy in a repetitive minigame), and then put that XP towards the individual summon's skill tree/map (and if you want their passive abilities, you must keep them in your party... Passives that were permanent buffs in Birth By Sleep). It is a mechanic that is "supposed" to encourage you to constantly change your summons, but in reality, is an extremely slow process that discourages you from expanding your available deck.
- Kingdom Hearts: 0.2 Fragmentary Passage - Not much to say about this one, since it is a much shorter experience, mostly created as a way to introduce the new magic system, which worked rather well. I enjoyed my time with Aqua in BBS, so I was glad to get to play around with her some more. Sadly, many of the spells were removed and replaced with just elemental attacks. The only real nitpick I had was that the wardrobe didn't really do anything - as you play through the game, and complete certain objectives, you unlock different clothes for Aqua to wear, which never serve as anything more than mere cosmetics.
- Steamworld Quest - For whatever reason, this one just doesn't quite click with me the same way the other Steamworld games did. That's not to say that it was bad, as the gameplay was alright, but that's kind of the problem - it didn't really excel anywhere. The story felt familiar, and while there were some nice synergies/combos with the cards, nothing really stood out as unique. The only thing that felt even remotely different was mid-game when you could upgrade cards without increasing their casting cost. But that alone isn't enough to make me too excited about it. I don't know, I think I just yearn for another Steamworld Heist
- Uncharted 4 - Low point for the series. Between the introduction of Nate's brother ("the long lost brother that was never spoken of before"), and the grappling hook ("the long lost tool that was never spoken of before"), it feels like Nate was hit rather hard on his head by a boulder during one of his adventures, and must have forgotten his pre-UC1 days. The game is also very slow to get started, with the first 7 or 8 chapters having barely any gunplay at all, mostly sticking to platforming and walking/talking. When it finally does get started, the game encourages you to go stealth, which I do have to commend it for trying, but without the bottles/bricks from the Last of Us (Naughty Dog's other modern IP), it's far easier just to mow down the militia (and unlike Last of Us, there is no shortage of ammo). There are a few interesting encounters in this game (like being dragged behind a car), but for the most part, nothing on par with the bar that was set in the previous games.
It’s been a minute since the last update, so just quick and dirty game impressions from the last 5 months
(May 8-July 31)
- Ratchet & Clank - Huge fan of the R&C series (despite only having played the PS2 games), so enjoyed this quite a bit. Good remake of the original game with some nice quality of life improvements. Wasn't too keen on the story changes, but some of the different weapons (which I hear were from the PS3 titles) were fun to play with.
- Horizon Zero Dawn - Good setting, fun gameplay, but very limited inventory/weapon system. After coming off R&C that had a weapon wheel and about a dozen weapons to choose from on the fly, being so limited sucked. There were unique weapons to play with (trip wire, gust gun, anchor wire, flamethrower, etc.) but only ever allowing 4 equippable felt unnecessary (especially since most of the bows had very minor differences)
- Forager - Fun and very addicting game to turn your brain off to and manage. Biggest downside was at the time of playing, once you started getting off the ground, everything became too easy (since playing, there is a new, harder mode that I haven't touched). Farming for some items at the end did take multiple hours, but I feel like if you make enough machines to automate stuff, it might be expedite the end-game items
- Knights of Pen/Paper 2 - Never played the first Pen/Paper, but did enjoy this one. Never took itself seriously, and had some nice classes to play around with. Biggest downside I felt was the limited skills per character. If there is a Pen/Paper 3, I hope they allow for more choices when leveling.
- Teslagrad - Fairly standard metroidvania - Didn't really bring anything special to the table. There were only a few upgrades, most of which were maneuverability to get around puzzles. In fact, I feel like this was more of a puzzle game than a metroidvania, as there weren't really any combat encounters. (also, game crashed and corrupted my save right at the end, sooo can't speak on the final boss/ending)
- Batman: Telltale Series - In a large part, I enjoyed it. It was no where near as good as Tales from the Borderlands, but was still a very solid story that had quite a few interesting takes with the classic Batman characters. However, I must add once again to these telltale games the caveat of "illusion of choice". And it seems even more apparent in this than in Borderlands, as on multiple occasions, I made specific choices, only for other characters to act as though I had chosen the opposite path (ie Alfred getting upset at brutalizing a thug, despite my choice to specifically not crack the guy's skull in a prompt; or deciding not to tell a cop about something, only for Dent to act as though I did)
(August 1- October 20)
- Stories: Path of Destinies - Starts off alright during the first few paths you take, but ends up getting very repetitive after about the 5th or 6th path. They keep adding new enemy types to challenge you, but button mashing works for just about everything, even moreso when you begin to level up the slowdown abilities. At that point, you are just trying to rush through the levels to reach a "new" ending/to unlock a part of the key for the true ending (which again, is the same level every...time)
- Forma.8 - Surprisingly good metroidvania with an actual challenge. Certain chase areas give you little room for error, and in the actual overworld, enemies pack a hell of a punch, KOing you in a few quick hits. Well designed, although I do wish that there were faster methods to travel. You get a few upgrades to increase your speed, but it still feels rather slow
- Rime - It touts itself as an adventure/puzzle game, but to me, felt more like a walking sim with interactables. The story itself was well done, with some aspects of the narrative being rather subtle (get the collectibles). The puzzles, however, never really required any real thought, as it feels like it is guiding you the whole way through.
- Tearaway Unfolded - Charming little 3D platformer. Geared towards children, so never really any challenge (aside from the optional gopher sidequests, which aren't too brutal), with checkpoints-a-plenty. Keeps adding new abilities to keep things from getting stale, and is very creative with the use of papercraft for everything (take a hint, Lego, who use non-lego objects in their games!). There is even a good amount of customization, with the game asking for you to cut/design certain objects that will appear all throughout the game. My only real gripe with the game was that all the confetti you gathered had no real purpose outside of stickers/camera filters. In a 3D platformer, you expect the collectibles to be useful for... something (level unlocks, abilities, alternate paths, etc..), but in this, whether it is from completing quests or 100%ing a level, it is always the same confetti, and never gets used for anything outside of cosmetics.
- Yoku's Island Express - I am no pinball wizard. In fact, it's probably been about 20 years since I last played a pinball game, so for that reason, I was totally expecting to get frustrated at this game... And yet, found it to be surprisingly forgiving with the shots it required to reach certain areas. Even someone like me was able to get into the groove of the "machines" fairly quickly. There are certain areas that do require a bit more precision, but for the most part, those are for the optional butterfly "collectibles" (which as far as I know, don't do anything, and the one achievement I didn't go after).
- Majin & the Forsaken Kingdom - Interestingly enough, despite appearances, this game kind of plays like a 3D Zelda/metroidvania. As you progress through the game there are collectibles to increase your health/magic, and after each major zone you get an upgrade that helps you defeat a boss, and allows for you to access previous areas' collectibles. The combat is decent, if simple, and despite the fact that your Majin gains "new combos" as he levels up, they never really change how combat encounters go. Puzzles, too, are never too difficult, usually just requiring you to use the new element you had recently gained to destroy/move objects. The final boss was probably the highlight of the game, with multiple phases that tested everything you had learned
- Telltale's Batman Season 2: Enemy Within - A big improvement from the first game (minus the graphical issues) in terms of story and gameplay - combat encounters actually felt more engaging. The dialog choices also felt more in tune with how Batman would respond to specific circumstances (especially how I was playing the Batman/Gordon relationship). The "illusion of choice" also seemed to not be as prevalent in this one as the first, with choices having a real impact on how the game progressed. The only exception to this was the very final scene with Alfred, which, funnily enough, despite all the other liberties they took with the Batman characters, seemed completely out of character with how he acted (no spoilers). And speaking of character liberties, the version of Joker that I ended up with (yes, there were multiple... Like I said, choices seemed to matter more in this game) was probably one of the most intriguing takes on him I have seen, and yet, still managed to feel true to how he would behave.
- Dishonored 2 - For the record, I never played the Dishonored 1 DLC, so some character interactions did seem a little more confusing than they probably should have. Despite this, the gameplay was extremely solid, and what I feel like every stealth game should strive to achieve. Multiple different paths to the same goal, multiple different methods to achieve it, extremely fun abilities that allow you to go about it in a multitude of different ways. Then there are bonecharms that further augment your character further to open up those choices even more... This game gives you choices, and they are given in spades, and that is just by default. Apparently in the options menu for difficulty, you can adjust enemy AI and other aspects even further. The only negative marks I can give, is that when you spec into a skill with runes, you are locked into that skill for the remainder of the game, with no way to respec. I feel like a game like this that allows for so much customization, you should at least be able to do so on the Dreadful whale (this way you aren't breaking the game, respeccing mid-level)
- Guacamelee 2 - A metroidvania that doesn't take itself even remotely seriously. I'm sure the humor will land for some people, but despite being a fan of referential comedy (I loved Evoland afterall), I can't say I enjoyed the writing that much (my only chuckle was from a temporary upgrade). The gameplay was solid, with some fun movement abilities, though overall was a bit on the easy side - button spamming my way to victory at almost every encounter. The only real difficulty came from the optional key areas, which was more of a platforming/quick thinking challenge - outrunning a gravity field while quickswapping between different maneuvers.
- Ni no Kuni II - Comparing this to Ni No Kuni 1;
Pros: Improved combat encounters - In dungeons, no more 10 second transitions into/out of combat. It all happens instantly (overworld battles still have the transitions though); Improved Combat - Combat itself is now real-time, so no more quickly going through menus to choose attacks/spells; More weapon choices - Diablo-style loot system means far more weapons/armor to choose from, and on hard mode, enemies essentially become loot pinatas; Better main character - He's in no way perfect, but is no where near as annoying as that dense brick Oliver from the first game; Better sidequests objectives - In the first game, about half of the sidequests involved going out to find emotions (of which, you could only ever have 1 of each in your locket), in this, less than half require you to simply have a certain material, and again, with enemies being loot pinatas, you should almost always have the object required. The rest of the time, the sidequests involve combat against mini-bosses
Cons: Worse story/writing - Just a poorly written mess. We have one main character who is transported out of his world for a reason (no spoilers), and is very laissez faire about the whole thing. You have another character that the writers desperately want to be the next drippy, but falls incredibly short. You have a majority of your team who feel more like background characters, never really supporting the story once they join (except for one of them). You have two massive biomes that are completely neglected/unused in the main story (I don't count the 3-minute fetch quest). You have an entire chapter's plot point seem to be thrown out the window by the end of it (seriously, wtf Hydropolis). Then you have a terrible ending that tries to be further explained in the DLC that doesn't even add much that wasn't already inferred; Much less voice-acting - It is actually quite jarring how much less voice acting is in this game. Important scenes will occur, you will get a single sentence from a character, then suddenly, animation gone and plain text; Lousy mini-game - There are two mini-games, one is a city-building minigame that, while simple, works as a nice way to get materials for crafting. I personally had no problems with this one, but can see why others would. The actual bad mini-game is that cheap attempt at an RTS, skirmish battles. Scattered throughout the overworld are dozens of skirmishes (some tied to sidequests) that are completely optional... But are also pretty essential for grinding through, if you want your skirmish-team to be an appropriate level by time the 3 or 4 required story-related skirmishes pop up (which, btw, has no effect on your regular fighting team); Much easier game - Even on hard mode, the game seems to be fairly easy. On insane, however, enemies will have no problem one-shotting you. There are a few difficulty spikes (broadleaf, for example), but it never seems to be too much to handle. In fact, because you can pause the game to heal yourself at any time, even if you encounter an enemy who hits you with a barrage-attack, you can take a few hits, pause/heal, then take the remainder of the barrage. The DLC further trivializes the difficulty with one of the "methods" you learn, turning your mages into complete monsters
(May 2-May 7)
- Middle Earth: Shadow of War - Two years ago, when I played through Shadows of Mordor, I had nothing but high-praise for the game, with only minor nit-picking geared towards the difficulty (far too easy). Last year, when I posted my first impressions about this game, I really only commented about the difficulty modes having night and day differences (with hard mode having enemies who became immune to nearly every attack far too quickly). Now, I feel like whatever I would have said about this game is being marred by my final couple of days with it
In the year-long break since I last laid waist to the hordes of Uruk, a few things had been changed - loot boxes removed, the final mission's length being chopped in half, and some new "prestige" skills, but getting back into it, it also seems like there were some other changes to the game, or at least, some things I didn't notice during my last foray into middle-earth - the glitches. By the Gods, was the game littered with them these last few days, ranging from captains with no heads, to the camera zooming away during executions (or Talion's model disappearing during executions), to Talion's inability to target certain platforms to jump to (or jumping to platforms I didn't want him to jump to), to constantly targeting the wrong Orc when attempting to drain/dominate (or heal in the case of allies), to allies idling during combat (side-stepping, back and forth), to counters just not registering properly.
Now, most of these were fairly benign, but when dodge-counters stop working (oddly, don't recall any issues with parries - just the dodges), and you are attempting to fight off dozens of enemies, some of which whose combination of perks can one-hit KO you, it ends up ruining the experience. The weird thing is, out in the wildlands, the counter issue rarely occurred. From what I could tell, it mostly seemed to happen during siege/defenses, when there were a lot of enemies on screen. So who knows, maybe this was just the PS4 not being able to keep up? Dunno, but whatever the underlying cause, it definitely soured my final take on the game, which is all the more upsetting, considering how high I regarded the original.
Been a while since my last update, but no fear, for I have been slowly tackling the backlog(which currently stands this tall). No long reviews this time, as too much time has passed, and my memory ain’t what it used to be (ain’t what it used to be). But onto the games of the last year;
A year in review
(May 15-December 31)
- Owlboy - Fun little metroidvania. Little lacking in abilities that you would normally expect from a metroidvania, but it stayed fresh throughout
- Stardew Valley - Spent a good chunk of time maxing out my farm, which I enjoyed. The biggest mistake I made was at the start, choosing the fishing-farm. On the one hand, it allowed me to segment my farm animals from each other, and put the chickens/ducks and cows/sheep/pigs on their own respective islands, but it also took up a whole chunk of land I could have otherwise spent on actual farmable crops.
- Yonder: Cloud Catcher - Expected something in the vein of a stardew valley, with more concentration on exploration... Nothing like it. Felt like a chore the entire game, traveling across the world so slowly, collecting random crap. There is an image of him on some hovercraft, so I was expecting to get something to speed up movement the entire game, and nothing
- Sundered - Difficulty scaling seemed all over the place in this one. Lots of fun with the skill tree, and felt easy for most of the game, then there was a massive difficulty spike near the end, then became easy again
- Southpark: Fractured but Whole - Classic southpark humor, but felt more like you needed knowledge of the series than the first game. Also, the final hour or so just kept going and going, and not in a good way. Good gameplay though. The first was a little easy to abuse the system with (the effect damage kept stacking to insane levels), so was nice to see this one more balanced
- God of War (2018) - Game of the Year. Between story and combat, was amazing. Biggest flaw - not enough bosses. For a game series that was built on huge spectacles, you kind of expected more, and aside from the first and final, there weren't really any in between
- Watch Dogs 2 - Well, the story was improved upon the first, but that's not saying much. Still a lackluster game with interesting gameplay mechanics.
- Dragon Quest 11 - I said Southpark went on and on near the end... This game did that but the entire way through. Multiple points in the game, you felt you were reaching end-game territory, only for it to say "Nope". No spoilers here, but this is the type of game that has no DLC, but honestly felt like chunks could have been split off into separate paid DLCs. There were one or two interesting twists that I was more than a little surprised at, but for the most part, was a fairly template RPG story. The gameplay more than made up for it, with some characters having some interesting skill combos (<3 Erik's Divide with a multi-hit sword). If it wasn't for God of War, I'd have called this my Game of the Year
Also, as an aside, one of the more bizarre combat mechanics, that served no real purpose, and confused me for the first few hours, was the ability to move around in combat... Walking behind enemies seems like it would give you an advantage, and allow for more critical hits, but really, it seems to just be there to allow for "cool screenshots", with no real gameplay benefit at all.
- Nier Automata - So much hype that I didn't really get behind. Gameplay had its moments, but the story dragged it down. For whatever reason, I just couldn't get invested in it. And as fun as the gameplay could be at times, with the right combo, it felt like dying was an afterthought. With an auto-healing augment-thingy, I never truly felt in danger. Now, I will admit, I didn't "fully" beat the game. I did the first Path with 2B, and about an hour of the second Path with 9S, but once I got to the camp again and needed to do the quests all over again, I gave it up. There just was no way I wanted to sit through a story that didn't grab me the first time, a second. So however good the third path was supposed to be, never experienced it.
(January 1-May 2)
- Monsters ate my Birthday Cake- cute little puzzle game. Definitely aimed more towards a younger audience, so no overly-difficult puzzles, but still, was a nice little distraction from all the action games I had been playing. If you can grab it for cheap, I recommend it. They constantly throw new monsters/abilities at you, so you never get the fatigue of sameiness that some other puzzles games tend to have.
- Spider-Man (2018) - Another game where the story is all-too predictable. I mean, you are supposed to be some years into Spiderman's career, and know of the different villains that he encounters, and yet we are supposed to play dumb to another one that is clear as day? The Mary Jane segments were a complete drag on the action, and really shouldn't have existed in the first place. Her only good gameplay segment was near the end when she directed spiderman in a stealth segment, but even that fell flat. Gameplay wise, it was solid, with plenty of gadgets to play around with, and a good variety of enemies to fight, each with their own annoying little requirements (also, screw the flying guys). Stealth segments felt weird, especially in the warehouses, where no matter how well you stealthed, after the first few enemies, they all became aware of your presence anyways, because technically they come out in waves, and... Yea, could have been done better
- Infested Planet - This one was a bit of a surprise hit for me. Didn't quite know what to expect aside from some tower defense against hordes, but the RTS elements of it really rounded it out. Now I want more. The campaign is a bit on the short side, but apparently there is a DLC to add rogue-elements, so might pick that up at some point
- Borderlands - with a recent update to make it more user-friendly (finally, a mini-map so my directionless ass won't get lost every 5 seconds), decided to give it another go. Played it almost all the way through a decade ago as a Mordecai, but decided to give it a go with Roland this time, and had a blast with it. So much so, I ended up playing the other two games immediately afterwards.
Now, when a game has a pet/minion class, that's usually who I go for. It's why I chose Mordecai and his bird originally, and why I chose Roland and his turret this time (also why I chose who I did in the subsequent games). and while Roland's turret did help during some segments, it also felt completely useless during many others (seriously, whatever "shield" that thing is supposed to have does naught all). A motionless minion is great for when you are defending an area, but when you are on the move, and enemies are ducking behind cover, it just doesn't do enough. I think the biggest boon it gave me was the ability to run away from enemies, while it covered my rear, wiping out (or at least slowing down) my pursuers.
- Borderlands 2 - Diving right into the sequel after the first game, felt confident enough to choose a "hard" character, in Gaige. I considered Axton, but considering I just played Roland, and he seemed to be essentially the same, with only a few minor differences, went with the more "agile" pet class... But that was a mistake, as looking at her skill tree, I spent a lot of time focusing on her electric synergies, which considering the game has like 75% robotic enemies, had negligible effects. And it didn't help that since I was so focused on that build, I blew hundreds of golden keys looking specifically for those electric guns/grenades to maximize the skills. That said, once I learned from my mistakes (which wasn't until the DLC *cough*), found the Anarchy tree to be rather insane. With a one-shot shotgun, anarchy built up quickly, and all those shots just homed in on everyone I couldn't see, completely melting through them - Was great for arenas
Edit: One other nitpick I forgot to mention - I was playing through the series with a controller, but Gaige does not do well with that style of gameplay, as the loot button is binded with the same button as reloading, so trying to grab/interact with things with fairly regularly cause to to reload, thereby killing off your entire stack of anarchy, and in turn, damage. There is a skill to bypass that, but you shouldn't have to put a skill into it just so you can play with a controller
- Borderlands Presequel - For whatever reason, this one gets some hate, that I don't understand, but personally, in some ways, I actually enjoyed it more than B2. Back in the day, when I used to play FPS, I did a lot of bunny-hopping, so the anti-gravity just felt natural to me. Jumping up and raining death from above, like I was back at home. Combine that with Jack's digi-clones, and you have a match made in heaven. They had a short life-span, but having them *boom* upon spawning, then double-*boom* upon death, due to their nova-shield, made it so it felt like the fourth of July 24/7. Explosions everywhere, it would have made Torgue happy.
And that's just the one character's skills. Add in the laser guns, which I absolutely loved, the grinder, so that I could toss away useless weapons for LEGENDARIES, which have so much more of an effect than I ever realized in my time with Borderlands 2, and a story that painted Jack (The Borderlands 2 bigbad) in a completely different light (I mean, yes, he's still a sociopath, but you got to see the descent), and I question why people didn't absolutely love this game.
- Tales from the Borderlands - First off, ignore the illusion of choice, otherwise it will ruin the experience. The first two episodes, I just kept thinking "yea, but if I chose the other option, it still would have happened", but the story itself is really done well. Lots of fanservice going on, which I won't complain about, and it tied together many bits of the Presequel to Borderlands 2. All in all, an amazing conclusion to my month of Borderlands
Edit: One other thing that I forgot to bring up was Ashley Johnson's voice work. If I can praise one of the biggest highlights of the game, it was any time her character talked. Simply adorable
Another big gap with updates. Played a few games from December-January, then had a bunch of things happening that ruined my desire to play anything (intense stomach pain for a few months, followed by the illness[lung cancer] and ultimate passing of my cat, Velvet).
(December 23-January 27)
- Alwa's Awakening - I'll be honest, I can't remember much about this one. It was over 5 months ago, and was really forgettable. The only thing I can recall was that while it was a mediocre metroidvania, with nothing standing out about it. The platforming was fine, but the abilities were boring. Very middle of the road
- Cat Quest - Fun little action game. The humor was definitely hit or miss, but the gameplay was solid, if easy. Going through dungeons to get gear is rather quick, and the exp gained seems to be a bit high. It didn't take long before I was one-shotting most enemies with the spike spell+slowdown combo. I imagine hard mode is where the game truly begins, but will save that for another time
- Dust: Elysian Tail - The story and characters honestly felt like they came from a middle-schooler. None of them were likeable, and everything felt forced. When the characters weren't acting manic with their emotions (especially the underground creatures... Good lord, their attitudes changed just about every sentence), they were complete dullards. Outside of the god-awful writing though, the gameplay itself was solid. Mute the game, skip the dialogue, and the game itself is fun.
- Shovel Knight - Awesome platformer, and totally worth the praise it gets.
- Shovel Knight: Plague - The plague-knight campaign, however, felt a bit off. While
dashing around with the scythe(edit: jumping around with the explosions) was fun, it also made maneuvering around rather difficult.
- Super Puzzle Platformer - super chill game, good for just unwinding. Once you get the rhythm of the levels, it becomes very calming just jumping around and shooting.
- Pixeljunk Eden - Another chill game. Some of the later levels, however, were less so, once they introduced fluctuating gravity, but excluding those, it was a nice game
- Kevlin and the Infamous Machine - Disconected, the game. An alright point-and-click game, but I wish they had put more effort into making the levels feel more connected. As it was, it felt like a cheap imitation of Day of the Tentacle. Once you finish a time-period, it's suddenly "oh, there is a problem somewhere else now", with no real rhyme or reason to it.
- Bit Dungeon 2 - The game looks like a zelda-like game, but outside of the dungeons that you explore, is nothing like it. You kill mobs on your way to dungeons, level up, enter the dungeon, get to the boss and annihilate him to unlock a piece of the door to the final area. Rinse and repeat 8(?) times. The catch, however, is that you only have one life, and if you die, it's back to square one, with each door-piece now lost. As long as you loot the caves, and buy the weapons, you shouldn't have too much of a problem.
(January 28-May 6)
- Started up Ratchet and Clank: Size Matters and played through the first few planets. Some of the controls are wonky, and it definitely missed some polish, but no where near as bad as the R&C fans make it out to be. In fact, the last planet I completed had some incredibly fun minigames (basketball, lemmings, and robot wars)
- Shadow of War - Definitely missing some of the charm of the original game (not to mention some of the OPness from certain skill combos, which have now been reduced to "either or" skills). Definitely more difficult, which is a major plus - no more attacking a stronghold, then retreating for health 10 feet away. Though, the difficulty modes need some balance. The difference between normal and hard is miles apart. On hard, orcs will adapt to your moves almost instantly, making it so you have to change your strategy against them multiple times. Some captains, based on their perks, become practically impossible though, what with their healing and invulnerabilities. Haven't completed it yet, but have yet to see the major "grind" people complain about...
(May 7-May 14)
- Just Cause 3 - This game definitely plays like a continuation of a previous Just Cause game. However, having never played any of the other games in the series, I feel as though I missed out on some important connection with the characters. Perhaps the story will better resonate with people actually familiar with the games, but for me, I didn't care for it. It also didn't help that once the whole country had been liberated (spent a few days doing this first), the story missions themselves could be completed in under 5 hours.
As for the gameplay, it was extremely repetitive and rather frustrating. Certain skills and features that should have come standard required tedious grinding to unlock (ex: After you get fast-travel, you may only use it once before restocking the feature at a supply depot... unless you spend hours liberating towns to gain access to mini-games that allow you to allocate skillpoints to increase your "max fast travel" slots...Then you have 3, or eventually 5)... After a while, once you unlock the best helicopters, and the ability to fast travel multiple times, it gets better. Having more options to liberate towns and plow through missions makes it almost worth the time investment.
Soooo, it’s been a while since my last update, but that is mostly due to the fact that the game I just finished took me about 2 months to complete. Would have completed it much quicker, but was livestreaming the entire thing, and only had time to stream Saturdays (On the off-chance anyone is interested, I archived the entire thing here).
(September 1-September 15)
(September 16-September 30)
(October 1-October 15)
(October 16-October 31)
(November 1-November 15)
(November 16-November 30)
A return to Youtube/Twitch Gaming
- Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch - Take Pokemon, change the turn-based combat to real-time, and have an amazing story made by Studio Ghibli, and that is the elevator pitch for this game. Sounds awesome in theory, and it absolutely was. Now, I will be honest and put an asterisk at how repetitive the dialog and certain side missions can become, but with how much there is to do in the game, and how well the actual story are, it's easy to give that repetitiveness a pass.
*There are over 400 different monsters to collect with various ways to increase their strength in battle (leveling, equipment, treats, owner-compatibility, element, and astrology), allowing for very in-depths strategies (that are never required).
*The story, while occasionally dipping into typical anime tropes, does manage to stray away from them for the most part, with plenty of twists and surprises to keep you engaged for the entire 50+ hour experience.
(July 16-July 31)
(August 1-August 15)
Nothing played again. Summer is always slow for me
(August 16-August 31)
Oh, right, gaming
- Epistory: Typing Chronicles - Considering the last "typing-adventure" game I played was well over 20 years ago (and it was an educational one, to boot), I wasn't quite sure how this one would play out. Turns out, these types of games have evolved quite nicely in the past few decades. One of the biggest bits of praise that I have for the game is for its difficulty, which dynamically changes based on how well you are doing in the game - type fast enough, and you begin to see monsters spawning simultaneously that are 25-30+ letters long. The fact that it adjusts itself for the different level of player is well deserving of kudos. The other bit of pure-praise I have for the game is for its style, which plays kind of like bastion with the unfolding landscape and narration.
The rpg-like elements of the game were simple, but very welcome. The leveling system was rather trivial (I maxed out about mid-way through the game), while the magic-system added something refreshing to the gameplay. Instead of just killing off individual monsters, you could use chain-lighting to kill off groups, burn one so it takes damage while you are dealing with another, or simply freeze the ones getting too close (there was also wind, but I never saw it as being useful). I do wish there was a hotkey for switching between the magic though, mostly for the sake of convenience.
(July 1-July 15)
- Bertram Fiddle - (ˢᵗᵉᵃᵐᵍᶦᶠᵗˢ ᵂᶦᶰ) - Super short point and click - at around only 90 minutes. For what it is, it was alright, but it didn't really get interesting until the final two chapters. Everything before that felt more like tutorial, just guiding you every step of the way. It's a shame that it hit you with the "to be continued" as soon as it began to find its stride. Episode two is supposed to hit sometime this month, but if the pacing of the first game is anything to be considered. I'll probably wait for a sale or a bundle before picking it up.
- Hollow Knight - It's only been a few months since I played Ori, and I believe this game has dethroned it as the king of Metroidvanias on Steam. It captures the exploration aspect of a classic Metroid to a T, has plenty of optional goodies to collect and play around with, and provides a damn good challenge that is never unfair (the only "difficult" bosses are the optional ones). And the equippable charms were a nice addition, allowing for multiple ways to approach certain areas. My only gripe with them, is that because I often found myself swapping between a few specific layouts (one set for platforming unexplored areas, one for backtracking, one for bossing), it would have been nice if the game allowed you to save some presets to go between when resting at a bench (which, is the only time the game allows you to do a few things, actually). The story was... Well, I'm going to be honest, I didn't quite follow it. Apparently it is rather deep, and I missed out on most of it, despite the fact that I interacted with everyone I encountered. I'm not a huge fan of this type of story-telling (hiding all the lore ), but to each their own - the gameplay alone had me more than invested.
What's really great, is that the devs are continuing to update the game, planning a free content pack for sometime later this month, which is supposed to add more to the "story", multiple new bosses, and a new way to travel (which was much desired by those of us who went for the 100% >_>... not enough fast travel points)
- MGS V - Played a couple of hours of this, but I don't think I've even scratched the surface yet. My aim for each mission so far has been to go in as ghost-like as possible, but all it takes is one mistake and I end up resorting to commando, blowing out the brains of everyone that I encounter... Now, there seems to be plenty of items to buy/research/upgrade, so I'm hoping for far more options when it comes to stealth, though part of me doubts it will come close to rivaling Splinter Cell:Blacklist (which, I consider to be the bar when it comes to stealth-action)
(June 16-June 30)
So, haven’t really played that many games in the last couple of weeks, unless of course you want to count Maplestory, and honestly, I don’t think I do (though I will comment on it below). I have been assigned a couple of games to play for a “Pay Or Play” event with the Quips, so I fully plan to play either one or two of them in the next week (“Bertram Fiddle” and “A Story About my Uncle”). Outside of that, I have mostly been doing some catching up on some movies/shows I’ve been missing from the past few months.
- Maplestory - So, I took a break from Maplestory a few months ago, while waiting for the update that just recently dropped (released in Korea in December) - one that calculates all of your characters' levels, and gives you a bonus on how they are arranged on a grid-based field (level 60-99 get one block on the grid, 100-139 = 2 blocks, 140-199 = 3 blocks, 200+ = 4 blocks)... So for me, it has meant a lot of grinding on characters that I had no intention of ever touching again... And I am still not even close to being done yet, as I still have 8 characters between the levels of 100-120 left to work on (main goal is 140 on all of them, which would require 4-6 hours per character)... What is really dumb though, is that even after all this work, the power increase I would see would be minuscule. But hey, that is how most MMORPGs work, so I knew what I was in for when I started over a decade ago
(June 1-June 15)
The Magnificent Seven Six (+1)
- Slime San - I mentioned last year my love for JumpJet Rex, and really, I have the same praises to give for this game. Super tight controls, amazing soundtrack, great level designs, and just the right amount of difficulty. The only real issue that I had was with the ladders, which were kind of finicky to maneuver on. In all, there were 100 levels, each with their own ng+ (think "Dark world" in MeatBoy) that provided for a nice additional challenge. And, just like Meatboy, the game had additional characters that you could unlock, each with different abilities (double jump but no dash, higher jump but slower, etc..). Never having actually tried them out though, I can't say how much easier or difficult they made the levels, but if just going by how the levels were designed, I'd imagine the double-jump slime to be the most OP.
- Headlander - Loved this one for both it's stylistic design and originality. The humor aspect of it was rather hit or miss, but for the most part, I did rather enjoy it (I mean, in the first five minutes, I was a farting roomba!). The character-interaction was also well done, with most of the NPCs having different dialog based on whatever body you happen to be occupying. Gameplay-wise, it kind of played like a metroidvania-light, in that there were abilities to get (4 + branching sub-upgrades), with backtracking a-plenty, but the sparsity of bosses made it feel slightly... empty? In games like these, you expect bosses/large fights to cap the zones that you complete, but out of the five zones in this game, you only get the two. Being directed from one zone to the next often feels unrewarding... It almost seems enough to not recommend the game, but floating around and taking over bodies is just so unique and fun, I kind of have to recommend it (plus, <3 Richard Horvitz)
- Hue - This one kind of fell flat for me. It's the type of game that is very heavily hoping that the player is invested in the story, while throwing some puzzles at them to keep them occupied between the chunks of dialog... The problem is, the puzzles felt more tedious than difficult, and the story just wasn't enough to keep my interest. There was definitely some potential for great puzzles, but they didn't really capitalize on it.
- Hot Tin Roof - Fun game with a decent mystery. I'll try to avoid spoilers, but there are a couple of cases that you can work on, and depending on how thorough you are, determines the type of ending you will get. The game is also fairly lenient, keeping track of everything you have discovered, as well as giving plenty of hints to help you along the way. The platforming was fine, for the most part (some underground sections Felt a little too long), with a few different ammo types used to help you traverse and solve puzzles. The characters and dialog were very well written, making the characters very loveable (bubbles!).
- Anna's Quest - Absolutely loved the story on this one (the ending especially). The style felt vastly different than the Daedalic games that I'm used to, in that main protaganist is actually quite likeable (IE, not a complete asshole)... That said, the voice acting did leave a lot to be desired. There were a bunch of characters who came off as extremely flat and emotionless, which took me out of the experience on more than one occasion... It also had a few frustrating moments as well (and not just the classic P&C logic jumps), where Anna would refuse to pick up various, obviously useful items without a clear trigger indicating a purpose despite the fact that very early on in the game, she picks up something with a remark of "having no idea what it would be used for"... Very contradictory
- Chronology - Cute little puzzle-platformer. It is super short though, at about 1.5 hours, so the game feels like it ends just when it is getting started (there are a few mechanics that you only ever see once). The puzzles and level-design are well done, but because of that length, it does leave you wanting more.
- Stories of Bethem - So, I wanted to start this out by saying that the base price of this game is just $5... I mention that, because going into the game, I had a completely different set of expectations, like it being a short zelda-like experience, but this was a full-fledged 20+hour adventure, and much to my surprise, it was actually rather good! There are 9 full dungeons (plus a couple of optional ones), outfits to collect, a bestiary/museum to fill out, collectibles to discover, and a slew of side-quests to complete, so the game is chock-full of stuff to do. For the amount of work that went into this game, $5 feels like the dev undersold themselves.
Now, its not without its issues, but what problems it does have are rather minor... The monsters tend to be a little bullet-spongey, even when fully upgraded (*curses the flying whatevers*); The map-system is rather disappointing, with the overworld having no detail what-so-ever to it, and the dungeon maps being completely void of any/all markings; and certain puzzles tend to be more tedious than difficult, always requiring you to push blocks in the most round-a-bout ways (and always far too many)...