"I haven’t played many [insert genre] games but..." Joe’s profile
Intro: My Steam account began with Football Manager on Christmas Day 2010 which was my main addiction for many years… FM11 remains my most played game which I can’t ever see being overtaken! In recent years I’ve tried to branch out, perhaps for my own sanity, however there are a lot of gaps in my video game knowledge.
Prior to Steam a few games I loved are Insomniac’s Spyro trilogy, the first three Harry Potter games, GTA San Andreas, Guild Wars (possibly my favourite of all time), Maplestory (yes), Puzzle Pirates (yep), Runescape (yup), Toontown (quite a few years ago I swear) and World of Warcraft (Wrath of the Lich King). I really liked MMOs! Just like having a backlog in anything, like music, books, or films, I try to look at it positively knowing there’s so much I’ve yet to uncover that I’d potentially think of as fondly as the above or those in my five star list.
“Revisit” is full of games that I’ve previously played and want to go back to, either due to low achievement %, completion attempts, new updates, or some content I missed like a story branch that I want to experience.
“Priority” is really just there for me to see all the great games waiting in my backlog, at this point I’ve come to realise I am a bit of a collector and I can’t help myself when I see a good sale! Of course my aim is to try every unplayed game in my library however these are the ones that I’m likely to prioritise.
Ratings: I’ve created three lists to categorise my recommendations with a rough rating of how much I enjoyed them, if there’s no stars provided it means it wasn’t my cup of tea.
Years: To track my progress I’ve labelled everything the year I’ve beaten it or in the case of endless games when I first properly got into them. When I joined this site in October 2016 I wrote my intro and have mostly left it be, dropping Football Manager was the right choice yet it still feels like I’ve got a lot to catch up on! I switched from using my laptop to a gaming PC in February 2018 which has allowed me to run the more recent titles.
My non-Steam backlog:
- Battlefield 1 [Origin]
- Beyond: Two Souls [PS4]
- Detroit: Become Human [PS4]
Dragon Age II[Origin] - 2017 Dragon Age Inquisition[Origin] - 2018
- Fe [Origin]
Flow[PS3] - 2017 Flower[PS3] - 2017
- God of War [PS4]
- Gravity Rush [PS4]
- Gravity Rush 2 [PS4]
- Heavy Rain [PS4]
- Horizon: Zero Dawn [PS4]
Journey[PS3] - 2017
- The Last of Us [PS4]
Mass Effect[Origin] - 2016 Mass Effect 2[Origin] - 2011 Mass Effect 3[Origin] - 2016
- Mass Effect Andromeda [Origin]
- Mirror's Edge Catalyst [Origin]
Red Dead Redemption[PS3] - 2018
- Shadow of the Colossus [PS4]
- Spyro Reignited Trilogy [PS4]
- Titanfall 2 [Origin]
- Uncharted: Nathan Drake Collection [PS4]
- Uncharted 4: A Thief's End [PS4]
- Unravel [Origin]
- Unravel 2 [Origin]
Oct/Nov/Dec Progress Picks: Dark Souls, Deus Ex Human Revolution and Frostpunk
Whoops it’s been a while! My last post covered September and I wish I could blame Rocket League again as a reason for not much to write about… but I’ve actually made some steady progress and played a few games that became instant favourites, I just fell behind a month when I wanted to finish Dark Souls (of course that took way longer than expected) before doing the writeup, and then the more I finished and had to write about the more daunting it became lol. So it’s Christmas holidays, end of the year, there’s not really a better time! I’ll try to get back on track with the smaller monthly roundups.
As you can tell I’ve tried something different, because of the number I wasn’t sure how to organise it so went with sorting by rating to break up those black bars… I wasn’t a fan of using 15 game boxes like usual so I’ve gone for review tabs, I’d appreciate any feedback on whether this is an improvement! I much prefer not having to hide text but the alternative would have broken the internet and led to the end of the world, sacrifices have to be made. I’ve played a few too many bleak games :P
But I also played Spyro!!! I still haven’t used my PS4 that much, I’ve created a non-Steam backlog on my profile to help remind me of everything else I need to play… but I bought the reignited trilogy almost straight after release and it’s everything I could have asked for, so much childhood nostalgia, absolutely fantastic!
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September Progress Picks: Project Cars, Horizon Zero Dawn and too much Rocket League
It was always going to be difficult to match August’s progress but it feels quite disappointing in comparison. It’s easy to pinpoint the issue, Rocket League! I’d forgot how addictive it is with 5 minute matches that provide an illusion of time control… there’s always another match that must be played as you did so well previously and need to keep it up, or you lost and you can’t finish on a downer, and look it’s bed time and I haven’t done any backlog assassinating. To shift the blame I was surprised to receive a really kind gift that allowed me to get the Rocket Pass which rewards levelling up with new items, so I guess it’s their fault! :P Anyway I’ll try to get the balance much better in October, I did manage to finish all three of my Play or Pay challenges which is the priority as well as making a start on Horizon Zero Dawn so that’s something!
Play or Pay - chosen by Verd
Homefront - To say something I used to say quite often, I haven’t played many [genre: military shooter] games so I don’t have much to compare the single player campaign with. The only Call of Duty game I played was World at War ages ago and even then I just stuck with multiplayer. I recently bought the Modern Warfare trilogy as these are meant to be well designed and I enjoyed this enough to want something the next level up, and I have Spec Ops The Line in my backlog I’ve been keen to play for a while too despite its most memorable section being spoiled for me. So I thought Homefront was fine, the final mission on the Golden Gate bridge was cool, the collectables were actually worth finding as they were newspapers of past news stories relating to the North Korean threat in addition to the fictional events that enabled them to occupy the United States by 2027, it was quite interesting to read about, if nothing else the game’s intro is worth watching lol, here’s a link. The AI was clever enough with its attempts to flank you and used cover properly, it didn’t seem unfair unless you were playing on the hardest difficulty (yes this may in fact have been perfect preparation for Dark Souls, for anyone else who played it I wish the church and supermarket section never existed), there’s a bit of variation in the 9 missions with a stealth section if you can call it that where you just need to follow someones instructions for 10 minutes, a few sniping segments, and one where you control a helicopter and need to protect a convoy. I probably wouldn’t recommend buying it, I own it from the first bundle I ever bought back in 2012, but it’s worth playing if it’s in your backlog.
Project Cars - I found this to be much more enjoyable than I expected. My experience in the racing genre only really comes from the Dirt series, Rally was fantastic and it’s great to see a sequel announced, so actual track racing with pit stops was something different for me. The career mode is great, you choose from 8 different tiers, I thought it made sense to start at lowest and work my way up, and in each tier you drive different types of cars from Karts to Formula 1. There are also extra challenge events you unlock in your calender each season by winning races, these offer a break from using your current car all the time with a wide variety from the Ariel Atom to a Ford Focus. In terms of locations I also have to give the game a lot of praise, it takes you all across the globe, although I can’t say I’m familiar with any of these real tracks it must be cool for actual fans of motor sports. There’s changable weather too, this is probably a standard feature but I liked how foggy mornings would clear up as the day went on, or what were perfect conditions turn into a nightmare when it decides to bucket it down right near the end and everyone’s got the wrong tyres to deal with it! I read some reviews complaining about the realism of the driving but I quickly got used to it and didn’t have any issues after a few laps with each car, admittedly it took me a while to get used to the idea of the most powerful vehicles needing to be at quickest speeds in order to have any kind of grip when you’re turning, so it’s not a good idea to go full throttle after just coming out of a corner. Forza Horizon is way too expensive for me at the moment but I would like to play more racing games in the future.
World to the West - This is an adventure game that gives you control of four different characters a few chapters in to get around the world and do some treasure hunting. The major downside is you can only control one of these characters at once, you can only change character at the totems dotted around the map (which can be a pain to find again), and each character must activate the totem in order to use it for fast travel, so it means a lot of the game is taking the same path four times with some slight variation that requires you to use each of their unique skills in order to get to the next screen. The combat really isn’t great but can thankfully be ignored most of the time by running past enemies and there’s no XP system only money drops that can be gained from treasure chests instead, the currency’s only use is for battery locations that need to be found for the achievements and health boosters that give one of your characters another bar of health. There are boss fights however these are a cakewalk and only one required a second attempt. Yeah this doesn’t sound like that much of a positive review… but I did like the art style, the music was nice in places, and it reminded me of the LEGO games which I love with that discovery and reason to explore with each character to access new areas. So overall I did find it fun and I’d recommend it but I felt a bit disappointed at the same time, I may have preferred if it was less open world and more level focused like the beginning of the game where you’re forced down certain paths only using one or two characters instead of four, that’s how the LEGO games work, and then when you want to explore you’ve got freeplay and an easy way to just switch characters around with a press of a button, instead of finding the totems that aren’t marked on your map even after finding them.
Next month - chosen by Traqie
It’s an exciting time when the month ends to see what new challenge my picker has in store for me, however my heart may have sank a bit seeing Dark Souls appear next to my name! I know it’s meant to be a must play but honestly I’ve always been worried I may not have the skill or patience to finish it, which is thankfully something that doesn’t happen often as I hate abandoning things part the way through, I can only really think of Furi and Hotline Miami 2 and I mean to give them both a second shot when I’m feeling brave enough. So being challenged was likely the only way I was ever going to click play, and still those two minutes gametime were from opening it up, seeing the menu and thinking no not today. I’m sure the difficulty is exaggerated!!! Delighted with the others, Remember Me is something I’ve been eager to play for a while, I’ve been listening to the soundtrack for it since it came out, and Headlander looks fun too, I saw a positive review for it on here recently.
August Progress Picks: Fallout 3, A Hat in Time and Red Dead Redemption
August was another productive month of backlog assassinating, it feels like I’ve regained that enthusiasm for gaming! I also have some news that I’ve finally upgraded my PS3 to a PS4, I couldn’t resist with all the amazing exclusives playstation has, plus the upcoming Spyro remaster may have something to do with it! I definitely want to use my console more, I’m torn between the Last of Us remaster (never played the PS3 version), starting the Uncharted series, God of War or Horizon Zero Dawn?
Play or Pay - chosen by Verd
A Hat in Time - Yes this really is that much better than Yooka-Laylee! I had so much fun with this and it was great to see the news of upcoming DLC to look forward to as I wished it was longer. I was surprised by the amount of variety in the different worlds which kept it fresh with completely different themes, the final one, Alpine Skyline was my favourite and not just because it looked amazing jumping around above the clouds, it was great to have a big free roam level with some decent platforming challenges. The boss fights were well designed and I loved the Snatcher in particular, the voice acting on that guy is hilarious, FOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!
INFRA - The last game of the month which delayed this post was INFRA, I never expected this to be so long! It’s not without it’s flaws, firstly I think it’s too long, the game inconveniences the protagonist by forcing him to take the long route round every single time, meaning there are a lot of detours and it did start to get tedious when the metro tram I was supposed to take back to the office decided it wanted to fall through a fragile floor mid journey instead, meaning about ten hours of extra underground before getting where I needed go, and that’s one example of many. The city of Stalburg is falling to pieces, with your job being to check for any structural faults and you’re given a camera and flashlight to document it, things turn out to be much worse than expected… it makes for an intriguing story when you piece together why the city is in the state it is and I liked reading the conspiracy documents you can find in areas you shouldn’t be, the nature taking over look to the decaying buildings was also great to look at, and it was interesting how it appears the developers acknowledge feedback from the first episodes as you find many more batteries for your equipment, including a battery shop and being provided with a new flashlight with some amusing dialogue in the final episode. It is a puzzle game and I did have to look for help on many occasions which I’m not ashamed to admit as the game has you fixing a nuclear power plant at one point! Overall I really liked it but you need a lot of patience and if you’re going for achievements good luck without a guide. That one I’m missing requires an entire replay which was nice to discover right at the end lol.
Little Nightmares - This was simply fantastic, while the game made me constantly feel uncomfortable I can’t help admiring the levels themselves with so much detail in each scene and I wanted to know more about this place I was trapped in. The only criticism was some of the platforming which could be frustrating at times and it was occasionally difficult figuring out how to proceed when it wasn’t clear what can be interacted with in the backgrounds and foregrounds, it’s hard not to compare it to INSIDE which I think was solely 2D and I can’t remember having as much of an issue because of it. But as a consequence the areas felt more open and made finding secret areas an especially nice reward. Like INSIDE the chase sequences were very stressful, the enemies that you need to avoid look so creepy and repulsive that you’re not in any doubt which direction you need to run in these parts - anywhere away from them!
SUPERHOT - It’s easy to see why it was talked about so much, it is a really well done idea and so cool seeing the replays in normal speed of a successful level completion. I found some of the later levels to be a decent challenge that took a few attempts and felt satisfying to beat once you’ve learned all the enemy spawn points, what weapons can be found where, and when you need to turn around to avoid a bullet in the back. Recommended! I’ll spare you from reading the usual stuff…
Fallout 3 - I think the biggest turn off for me playing this sooner was all the talk of technical issues that made it apparently unplayable, thankfully that’s not the case, maybe I was just lucky but I followed a great guide on Steam and had maybe about 10 crashes in 40+ hours which I don’t think is bad at all, I was also very cautious and did plenty of quick saving to prevent any frustration when it did happen! So that was a big relief as I did feel guilty skipping ahead to New Vegas as my introduction to the Fallout series. I don’t think it’s as good, it’s much more linear in terms of story options and ways to finish quests, for all the complaints I’ve read about the Strip being split up into sections I much prefer that to the torture that is Rivet City and navigating all the tunnels underground Washington DC. Despite the exploration being generally less enjoyable you still encounter plenty of interesting places with their own secrets to uncover that makes the lone wandering worthwhile with a main story that takes you around the map looking for your Dad, I liked the Brotherhood of Steel vs Enclave conflict even if there was never any doubt whose good or evil, there were also some nice set piece sections I appreciated like the Behemoth and mini nukes. It features some great characters with my favourites being Liberty Prime (“embrace democracy, or you will be eradicated” - I love that quote), Moira Brown and Three Dog. I also played all the DLC, Operation Anchorage provided a nice change of scenery, the alien one was easily the worst and felt like a waste of time, with the Pitt I liked losing all my gear as if starting again as well as giving you some actual story dilemmas, Point Lookout had Desmond the ghoul whose cream suit, constant profanity directed at me and ungratefulness made him one of my favourite characters ever, and Broken Steel which is absolutely essential as I can’t imagine the game ending as it does without it, plus it was nice to put on a firework display.
Red Dead Redemption - It only felt right to play this classic before shelving the PS3, the upcoming sequel also provided a bit of extra motivation. It doesn’t look bad at all for a game released 8 years ago, the sunsets especially had me panning my camera around and wishing there was a screenshot button, it’s a nice bonus to see that’s an option on the PS4. The story was engaging and I appreciated the build up in taking down your former comrades even if it felt at times like I was never going to get their whereabouts after a lot of false promises. But it was the ending, or last chapter really, that was especially noteworthy for me, I don’t think I’ve ever had such unease in a video game as it just didn’t feel right after the climax, all the violence, why am I back herding cattle again!? Oh. It was also great to experience the Far Away Mexico horse ride for myself, that was special.
Next month - chosen by Verd
I think Verd must be as familiar with my backlog as I am! Couldn’t be happier to have him pick again after a fantastic August, this time games outside my priority list were chosen to hopefully provide a surprise or two. I’m aiming to play all three, maybe fit in a PS4 game, catching up on last month’s challenge to play Bioshock Infinite, and have my eye on replaying and finishing New Vegas… and I’ve just started playing Rocket League again which might not turn out to be the best idea, we shall see!
July Progress Picks: Dishonored: Death of the Outsider, Tacoma and Wuppo
Seeing as I’ve only just started Fallout 3 and the Play or Pay event has ended I thought I’d do an early post as my progress won’t have changed in a weeks time. I’m happy to report a really good month, perhaps the best in a while, with three fairly long games finished! So without jumping to hasty conclusions Play or Pay has changed my life.
Play or Pay - chosen by Blue Lightning
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider - Usually by the time I’ve reached the end of a game’s story and completed everything I’m more than happy to be done with it… however with the Game of Year packages I tend to have a few extra hours of DLC content that by this point struggle to interest me, including Daud’s missions in the first Dishonored game, yet it doesn’t feel right to take a break either and lose the momentum, so I usually push myself through it and rarely enjoy it as much as the main game. Does anyone else get this? So this “expandalone” entry is absolutely perfect for me. While it’s far more limiting with less skills and no upgrade paths, it’s honestly a huge joy to return to Karnaca and there’s plenty of newness to justify this being it’s own game and not just a few levels of DLC, and it’s absolutely not a weak link either with another especially impressive mission featured here that rivals the best in the series. My favourite aspect of Dishonored are the levels and just the incredible amount of detail and reward there comes to looking and exploring everything, and this remains as good as ever here, the world is fantastic, I want to know where that street leads and what’s in that house with the window conveniently open. Dishonored joins a very small list of franchises I’m actually up to date with and I want more than anything for this series to continue even if it seems there is a certain ending to this game.
DMC Devil May Cry - I’m grateful to have been motivated to play this as there is thankfully a lot more to than just button smashing that I associate with any game that involves hack and slash fighting. Having never played a Devil May Cry game I can’t comment on what they did or didn’t ruin, Dante himself while a bit foul mouthed was a fine protagonist who didn’t get on my nerves as much I feared he would. There’s a good amount of platforming to break up all the fighting and there’s plenty of memorable sequences. I was really impressed with the huge set-piece battles and how intense things got at times, maybe that’s down to me not having much experience in the genre, and while I was terrible at the combat I still had a good time. I’m keen to play the Darksiders games at some point but I’m interested to know how the combat compares, do you have to learn combos as well?
Wuppo - Haha Wuppo. Certainly one of the most unique games I’ve played, you start as a fat blob who can barely jump (not ideal in a platforming game) evicted from the Wumhouse tasked with finding a new home. Along the way you meet several other races inhabiting the world, each with their own settlements and communities, and the main gameplay comes from finding items either by platforming, fishing, or purchasing from stores using Smurt, to complete tasks. Your health is your happiness which increases as you collect and watch films and by making others happy, which is nice. There’s a fair amount of combat too with some boss fights that you defeat with your GumGumGun, none of which were too difficult on normal difficulty although the final boss is horrible before you figure things out, very little of the game is explained to you which I suppose is fair as little makes any sense. What stood out to me was Popo City which I think you reach around the half way point, l found it strangely mesmerising seeing all the other wums going about their busy lives, it is literally full to the brim with activity, they managed to create a truly captivating world. The writing is amusing at times too although I wouldn’t call it a comedic game, more of a cute adventure full of blobs. It just feels so alive, not many games have given me that feeling.
Fallout 3 - I had previously skipped this to play New Vegas however I’ve been in the mood for a return to the Fallout world and it felt right to go back to this one.
The Silent Age - A short point and click featuring time travel and a main character called Joe that makes the game much more awesome. It reminded me of taking the pills in Fran Bow to switch between world states to progress that I liked, this time using a device to switch between present and future, and also being a lot easier to stomach.
Tacoma - I felt like the game has plenty of qualities however when it ended I also couldn’t help thinking there was a potential for it to be even better. The storytelling is nicely done, I enjoyed listening to the recordings and following people around, I liked the diverse cast of characters and the relationships they had with the rest of the crew, I liked the spaceship setting, however the story itself just felt lacklustre… making the game a lot less memorable than it could have been.
Next month - chosen by Verd
Next month is already a bit different with a trial run of 6 picks instead of 3, offering a couple of options in each length category, with the playing requirements remaining the same, that I think isn’t a bad idea… it just takes me back to the dilemma of choosing for myself again lol. I don’t know when I’ll have finished Fallout 3 so I’m going to be cautious and say I’ll try to fit in A Hat in Time, INFRA and Little Nightmares.
June Progress Picks: Enigmatis 3, Plague Inc and Yooka-Laylee
Enigmatis: The Ghosts of Maple Creek
Enigmatis 2: The Mists of Ravenwood
Enigmatis 3: The Shadow of Karkhala
Plague Inc: Evolved
Last month I was kindly given some suggestions of a few short games in my backlog I could play, unfortunately just like last month I found myself stuck putting way too many (enjoyable) hours into something else, this time Plague Inc instead of Mini Metro, and as a result there’s still The Silent Age, Tacoma and The Vanishing of Ethan Carter, that I’m keen to try to fit in at some point soon.
Action Henk - Sadly this game really wasn’t for me, I gave it a good try but I couldn’t get used to the controls, I may give it another shot in the future but I didn’t find myself enjoying it. I did enjoy the look of the levels but I’ve never been a fan of racing/time trials unless it’s an actual driving game, absolutely not in platformers.
Copoka - I had so much fun with AER Memories of Old and it made me realise how much I need to play more flying games, just like ABZU and underwater diving, if anyone has some suggestions for either of these genres then I’ll be sure to add them to my wishlist! Copoka is a bit more than just a flying game though, while you’re busy innocently gathering materials for your nest you can’t help overhearing plots of revolution and stories of oppression with armed guards patrolling the streets and propaganda being blasted from town’s loud speakers… as the game progresses so does the story and I found myself really wanting to see what happened next and what that change might bring (if any). Of course you can just ignore all that and fly around as a bird!
Enigmatis 1-3 - I only managed the one HoG series but I think I picked a good one, I felt they only improved with the third game having some lovely art with its mountainous setting. I wasn’t that impressed with the stories, like there is such an obvious reveal in the 2nd game it feels insulting, and there’s some laughably bad writing in how the main character reacts to events, however in terms of casual gameplay they were fun and easy to finish, and I liked piecing together all the evidence.
Plague Inc - I was warned by kiseli that this was “very very grindy if you are going for 100%” and he couldn’t have been more correct. I played the free version of this ages ago and there’s just something about infecting and killing everyone on the planet that is so enjoyable! :P It is strangely relaxing though, and the different disease types and scenarios offer up a few challenges that give you something else to think about, there’s zombies, planet of the apes and vampires that completely change the game in particular. I’ve reached 96% with the remaining achievements being a bit of a pain, it’s unlikely I’ll be able to fully complete this.
Yooka-Laylee - When I saw this in the Humble Monthly I couldn’t help myself from playing it straight away. With the announcement of the Spyro remasters I realised I hadn’t played a single 3D platformer collectathon since, and that PS1 series is one of my all time favourites. So that was what I compared Yooka-Laylee with as I’d never played Banjo-Kazooie. My verdict I think seems to be similar to most, it was fine and I’d recommend it since there don’t seem to be a lot of options on PC in this genre, however it was also a bit disappointing with a few things I want to moan about, these are: the incredibly irritating noises whenever someone speaks, the quizzes, the mine cart challenges, and the length of a couple of boss battles with no checkpoints. I did however like 3 of the 5 worlds, and I ended up completing it as that search for quills and pagies was something I’d missed. It’s just nowhere near the level of Spyro! I’d without hesitation buy that on release if it comes to PC.
Play or Pay - chosen by Blue Lightning
I joined the Play or Pay group as I had been a big fan of the BLAEO “Challenge Me” from the few I participated in, I seem to generally enjoy going by other people’s recommendations as I often get a bit lost going through my backlog! This will most likely be a permanent addition to the end of my posts as long as the group is running and I couldn’t be happier with the picks above, especially Dishonored Death of the Outsider. I’ve already started with Wuppo which is certainly an interesting game, and I bought some story DLC for Devil May Cry in the sale so I can try to finish the whole thing.
May Progress Picks: Game Dev Tycoon, Glass Masquerade and Mini Metro
In my last update I predicted I’d have finished ACIV: Black Flag but unfortunately I’ve struggled to get into it and I’ve put it on hold for now, alongside Witcher 3, it doesn’t feel right to try and force enjoyment in great games I should enjoy but not feeling right now. Instead I’ve mostly been trying to find games that I can play in short bursts which is something that seems to be more appealing at the moment.
I’d be really interested in some recommendations from my backlog which either have a short completion time or can be played in small sessions.
Dirt Rally - I’ve marked this as beaten which is always a bit hard to classify in non-story games but I’ve beaten the community average times, the deltas, for all the tracks and managed to overcome the dreaded Hillclimb, beating the AI to win the championship, which without a doubt goes down as one of my proudest gaming achievements.
Game Dev Tycoon - Going through my completed game list I noticed some new achievements had been added, thanks blaeo for making it easy to identify this, very helpful. A new “Pirate mode” had been added as an extra challenge where your games get pirated, resulting in considerable impact on sales unless you try and combat this with the latest DRM technology, so you’ve got less income and you need to focus technology points on security, making this a considerable challenge to an already difficult game unless you’re familiar with the best combos and you’re an expert with sliders. It took a few attempts, the start was especially difficult as it’s impossible not to go into debt, but I can mark it as a completed again and this is absolutely one of those where did the last 5 hours go that I can thoroughly recommend.
Glass Masquerade - I went through a phase of doing those jigsaw puzzles on SG a year or two ago… sadly there were some really evil people out there that would pick the most blank images that I lost my enjoyment doing them as you were just sifting through hundreds of shapes. This game does jigsaws right, it takes you around the world assembling these lovely to look at stained glass pieces of art that each took me on average 5-10 minutes to complete. Very relaxing to play with some nice music, absolutely recommend this to anyone wanting a casual game to play for an hour or two at a time.
Mini Metro - And the game I played the most this month… 40 hours in Mini Metro! Another one of those install as I have no idea what else to play and this seems like it might be easy to get into, and I was right. It starts very simple, you connect together a square, a circle, and a triangle, and from there new shapes start appearing, usually more of those first three to begin with, which act as stations, and your job is to transport the shapes from one station to another, the game ends if the shapes start getting impatient and it can get very frantic with game over clocks appearing everywhere, with things to regularly consider like the carriage sizes, multiple lines to avoid connecting two of the same shape, lines or loops, accounting for unique shapes in remote areas, and what upgrade to get each week like whether to go for an interchange for faster collecting/dropping off or some bridges to allow you to reduce pressure on a busy island circuit… reading that back I haven’t done a good job making it interesting, it’s a metro game about transporting shapes after all, but trust me there’s plenty of enjoyment to this game even it might not look like it on first glances.
April Progress Picks: Dead in Bermuda, Dirt Rally and Finding Paradise
Another short update. Despite trying several strategies to engage with my backlog, I’ve still not found something that works to help decide what to play next. My latest attempt has been to create a “genre mix” showcasing the range of games in my library, just so I can remind myself not every game is an open world RPG.
Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag - I may have been influenced by a recent trip to London to continue through the Assassin’s Creed series to reach Syndicate which I’m massively excited to play but feel like I can’t skip anything. I remember when Watch Dogs 2 came out there were stories of people living in San Francisco praising the game for how they managed to accurately reproduce the area, obviously Victorian England will look a bit different to present day London but it would still be so cool to find all these landmarks in a place I’ve actually been. I haven’t played much of Black Flag yet but I’m looking forward to some sailing having enjoyed the introduction to ship combat in III. So far so good, I’ve yet to 100% one of these as there is usually way too much side content, definitely a case where I’m glad Ubisoft avoid achievements, but I imagine this will be the big game I finish in May.
Dead in Bermuda - I really enjoyed this when I first tried it out but found it much too difficult and ended up repeating a lot of the story and dialogue on future attempts that made the game less fun. Later on there was a blaeo post I read mentioning there is in fact a difficulty option hidden away which doesn’t make things too easy yet doesn’t punish you just when you start to feel comfortable! You control the survivors of a plane crash on a remote tropical island, looking for a way to get help and leave, while stumbling across the mysterious inhabitants that have other ideas. Each survivor comes with their own traits and existing skill knowledge, which improve as you get them doing certain activities, like scavenging, fishing, cooking, and building. At the end of each day the characters gather around a campfire and you must decide who you’re sharing the food with, and in my opinion the highlight of the game, they engage in conversation that tells you more about these people, and these relationships that form, positive and negative, depending on how morale and their health is, leads to new dialogue and character progression. It’s a great game and it was a pleasant surprise to see the developers have created a sequel, Dead In Vinland.
Dirt Rally - So what genre haven’t I played for a while? Oh there’s that rally game. Perfect. I bought Dirt 3 on a whim having never played a racing game before not long after its release in 2011. Back in the days when I could look over my shoulder and see my entire library of games neatly stacked on a shelf behind me, it naturally got a lot of playtime, even if I don’t think I was ever that good at it. Well Dirt Rally quickly made me realise how much I relied on assists in that game as there are next to zero available in this! The shorter “sprints” last about 3-4 minutes, while the longer tracks are more 6-8 minutes, imagine how nice it was in Dirt 3 if you mess up right towards the end you can do a little rewind and pretend that crash never happened… well no such time travel exists in this! So much restarts! So much frustration! Yet so much better!! It’s far more rewarding flawlessly navigating a race when you’ve learnt through painful memories those tight bends you really should slow down for. The Championships take you to Greece, Finland, Germany, Sweden, Monaco, and Wales… each having with their own personality that you need to account for, like the terrain and surfaces, or speaking from experience, don’t drive off that mountain, that keep things interesting.
Finding Paradise - I was motivated to play a SG win with the announcement of a new group, Playing Matters, that aims to encourage just that. Just like To the Moon, it tells an emotional story, with some beautiful music, great writing, humour at the right times, and that annoying RPG-maker gameplay that I wish never existed. It is however absolutely worth the time of anyone after some good story telling if you can put up with that, I can’t say much without spoiling anything but the twist was convincing and made me really feel for that character.
March Progress Picks: CHUCHEL, Dishonored 2 and The Walking Dead
Just a quick update as I only have the three games to report, hopefully my progress will be better in April!
CHUCHEL - Very rarely do I buy games near their release date as with my backlog it makes sense to wait for prices to drop, but I was in the mood for some childish silly fun and Amanita Design games, especially Botanicula, have provided me that in the past, just seeing the trailer was enough for me to think yes this is what I need! That black and orange monster thing you can see on the game’s thumbnail is what you “control” for the game, CHUCHEL reminded me a lot of the Squirrel and the acorn from the Ice Age films, with the obsession to protect in this case a cherry, I’m sure they drew heavy inspiration from that! The game itself is good, and despite being so short I think it would have lost its charm if there were any more levels. I just love how unpredictable everything is, first you have to try to decipher what the interaction options might mean, then you need to see how they might be useful in progressing the level, and then you witness the chaos that unfolds and laugh at all the unexpected outcomes from how things suddenly escalate.
Dishonored 2 - I originally booked a week off work for Easter with the idea of playing a big game from my backlog, most likely being Witcher 3, however having put 100 hours into Dragon Age Inquisition I wasn’t feeling like jumping into another open world just yet, so Dishonored 2 felt like a good choice for something different. In short, this was just as incredible as I found the first game which I also strongly recommend, please don’t skip it! The level design is impressive with so many routes to take to objectives that make exploration so much fun. I played as Corvo, non-lethal, with no detections, which made travelling around quite difficult with that added challenge, thankfully not too much to the point of being frustrating, though I’m relieved I didn’t try a no-powers run on my first playthrough! It’s absolutely worth spending plenty of time on every level, of which there are 9, just looking for bonecharms, runes and paintings as a good indicator of some hidden rooms you can find, I averaged about 3-4 hours for each of them. The difficulty can be punishing at times for this playstyle, I found the final confrontation with Delilah especially challenging and I’m sure I just got lucky in the end, however for most of the game guards patrol and look for you exactly how might expect, they look underneath tables, they follow noises, they often don’t patrol alone and so get spooked if their friend goes missing, and their vision to detect you seems fair enough that it’s hard to be mad at the game when you mess up and have to reload again, later on the witches and clockwork soldiers make things a bit more interesting too. I have to give special mentions to the Clockwork mansion, which was kind of showcased a bit in the E3 2015 trailer (which happens to be one of the coolest trailers ever!) and of course using the Timepiece in A Crack in the Slab to switch between the present and the past to navigate your way around a once luxurious mansion now in decay and I absolutely loved seeing the differences in detail between them, as well as just how clever the whole mission is with ways you can change history, this level actually reminded me of Bioshock 2 with that section where you play as a Little Sister and see the world through their eyes when Rapture was at its finest, there’s something about seeing places in two dramatically different states that is especially awesome. The game looks great and Karnaca was a nice change to the gloomy Dunwall, I couldn’t stop myself from taking loads of screenshots. And there’s a lethal playthrough to look forward to in the future which can be more relaxed now I don’t have to worry about detections. Dishonored 2 is easily one of the best games I’ve ever played and I genuinely can’t find a fault in it, even the story which I read some complaints about was fine for me, there’s something about knowing the key targets early on and working your way through them, building up to the most important, that fits really well in a game where you basically play as an assassin, perhaps one criticism would be the early resolution to the Crown Killer, I think they could have spent more time with that character and I never thought I’d say this but the Addermire Institute deserved to be a lot scarier than it was.
The Walking Dead: A New Frontier - It seems to be popular at the moment to be critical of Telltale, or at least it was prior to Guardians of the Galaxy and the second season of Batman, however I don’t think the game deserves too much hate despite having plenty of complaints of my own. So for starters I couldn’t form attachments to any of the new characters (a massive highlight of the first season which made the deaths so hard to take) and I didn’t really feel anything from the ending, the terrible writing at the worst possible times (I never found you that candy bar), how the ending in the second season I replayed twice for barely made a difference, and of course the big one that the story demands all your paths to meet regardless of the choices you make so it inevitably makes them feel worthless! Clementine returns but not as the main protagonist, instead we are introduced to Javi and his family who ends up crossing paths with her, I didn’t mind this but it put me in an awkward situation due to how familiar we the players are of Clementine that I was being trustful and siding with her, when Javi would surely if he wasn’t being controlled would have stuck more with the people he himself knows. I still think it was worth playing for sure and I’ve yet to feel like Telltale have ever wasted my time - Game of Thrones came very close. They’re perfect to play over a weekend once all the episodes are out, and there was plenty of drama in this one, just a shame how forced some of it felt.
February Progress Pick: Dragon Age Inquisition
The last game that took me 100 hours to finish was Dragon Age: Origins, almost exactly a year ago. While I don’t consider Inquisition to be as good, there are so many positives that are huge improvements over DA:II that made me glad to have completed it, even if there was way too much filler content that wasn’t worthwhile.
It’s widely accepted that the best and most important aspect of any Bioware game are the romances. I’m kidding of course but like Cassandra’s secret love for Varric’s books, they are a guilty pleasure, as another level of roleplaying, yeah. Moving on, the cast of characters are a highlight as always, Dorian (the moustache), Iron Bull (that drinking cutscene and his “training exercise”) and Vivienne (she’s delightful, my dear) especially stood out from the rest, the party banter is as good as ever, and there are 3 different companions for each class, with their own unique skill trees you later unlock which helps give you more reasons to try out different party compositions. The party approval system was also something to watch out for as you can trigger cutscenes which reflect a hostile or friendly relationship, and speaking of cutscenes there were a few that really made me laugh which is always welcome. And it was great seeing a few old faces return, even if some were handled much better than others.
The Hinterlands… perhaps it was because this was my first real taste of a new AAA game (I’m aware this came out in 2014!) that I was so easily impressed by the graphics, or the fact I don’t think I’ve played such a big open world game since Skyrim, that helped make the exploration and massive maps more tolerable, yet I find it very easy to see why the Hinterlands has the reputation it does and why it’s advised to leave it if you’re starting to tire of it. I was shocked at the amount of side quests, it felt like everyone you met had something they wanted fetched or killed. The fade rifts dotted around the world reminded me of closing the Oblivion gates, thankfully the dragon fights in Inquisition are a spectacle that actually felt rewarding compared with fighting a few rounds of demons, I wish there had been more higher level boss fights like these that required some preparation and combat tactics. I also had an issue with the minimap being completely pointless, it shows no detail at all meaning I was frequently pausing to consult the main map. Thankfully the Hinterlands, despite being the first zone you visit, does not set a precedent for every map, many are smaller and feel like they don’t take a whole day just to establish the camps in the region, the Emprise du Lion with the snowy biome and red templars was my favourite alongside Storm Coast, Hissing Wastes was my least as it was a Hinterlands in size without anything actually in it.
Yet once you’ve amassed enough influence and power from escorting Druffalos, the main story itself is fantastic. Honestly Haven to Skyhold may be one of my favourite quests ever. It’s a real shame there isn’t more of it, they never disappointed and truly felt epic at times with sieges, time travel, and an assassination plot being the most memorable. I was looking forward to playing this and it delivered a great experience overall, maybe if I played nearer its release and had less of a backlog I’d have collected all those shards and bottles… but I’m more than content to mark this as finished and it’s unlikely I’ll return for a second playthrough as I think I’ve seen enough.
Having spent almost all of February and early March just playing Dragon Age I don’t have much progress to report on my Steam backlog, I did try to squeeze in a few short games and I removed around 100 games I realised I had no interest in, which always helps lower that never played percentage!
Last Day of June - It’s been a while since I last had my heart broken which is nice. I’ve played a few games now with sad endings, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons and The Walking Dead immediately come to mind, and this is right up there with the best. The groundhog day side to it got a bit tiring but it’s well worth it for the feels.
The Norwood Suite - And the award for weirdest game goes to… this strange first person exploration game that involves finding things (things is the perfect word here) for strangers in this hotel so you can enter their rooms to use secret passages to collect costumes parts to access this underground party… actually quite fun though!
Refunct - I asked a while ago about some relaxing games and this came up as a suggestion. The first playthrough was great but if you’re going for 100% then there is nothing relaxing about the timed achievements! Speed runs aside, I loved just painting each tile with colour and collecting cubes with that nice surprise ending.
Tiny Echo - It seems like everyone’s played this going by the activity feed when the Humble Monthly was released, it was an okay point and click that didn’t take long to finish, it would have been quicker if the movement wasn’t so sluggish. I’m usually quite patient but it felt like I was wasting my time with this one.
I want to take a short break from open world RPGs so I won’t jump into Witcher 3 right away, I was pressing V for search like I was doing every few steps in Dragon Age when I played Norwood Suite, a game which doesn’t even require any searching, that habit is going to take a while to go away! I have my eye on Dishonored 2 for some stealth fun after being gifted Death of the Outsider by an amazing friend. Other than that I recently reordered my backlog priority lists so I should hopefully have an easier task choosing in the future, surely I can’t be alone in having difficulty deciding what to play each month!
January Progress Picks: ABZU, Crusader Kings II and Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic
Firstly, I have a new PC!!! I mentioned in my September update that I was looking to upgrade from my laptop that I’ve been gaming on since 2013… and well 4 months later it’s finally bought and working! So that’s exciting and feels amazing! :D I’ve picked Dragon Age Inquisition to play next, a massively difficult choice with the Witcher 3 in my backlog too but I’ve heard reports that game actually lessens the enjoyment of some other RPGs with how amazing it is… I don’t believe that’s possible but I can’t run the risk just yet! If anyone has played Dragon Age Inquisition and has some tips for a new game without spoiling anything then that would be really helpful :)
Crusader Kings II
Night in the Woods
STAR WARS™: Knights of the Old Republic™
ABZU - For whatever reason it seems like this has been a month of mopping up some of my unfinished games. I previously avoided completing ABZU solely because I wanted an excuse to revisit it, and unsurprisingly this was also the first game I tried out on my new computer and monitor. A visual treat!
Crusader Kings II - This took up most of my time in January before I decided I’d best take a break to prevent it being the only game on this list! I had about 150 hours in CK2 and only 7% of the achievements which bothered me enough to buy some of the DLC to see what changes they’ve made and to try out new rulers in cultures and religions I hadn’t played with before to try to increase that percentage. A really fun game, I love how unpredictable it is, with it’s focus on rulers, traits, and stories, making it far more enjoyable for me than Europa Universalis which I haven’t been able to get into yet, I’ll be sure to give that a second chance sometime in the future.
Morphopolis - I’d be surprised if you’ve played a hidden object game like this one. It was quite a peculiar experience! The most important criteria for me is for any game in this genre to be relaxing and it does that with the exception of the final puzzle that seemed unnecessarily frustrating, I just want to find hidden objects! The artwork in each level is great however, and if you’ve ever wanted to play in a world of insects, this was made with you in mind.
Night in the Woods - Another replay, there are two clear paths you can take while playing this, spending time with Bea or Gregg. I think it’s well worth a second playthrough to enjoy these new scenes, but in order to go for 100% you’ll need to complete the story several more times which I wouldn’t recommend at all as I found some parts to be quite slow to go through again that I couldn’t imagine repeating anytime soon… as well as the fact that who you decide to spent time with is the only real choice the game offers. The dreams especially while lovely at first would drive me insane if I had to do them again! “Seriously?” is an apt name for the achievement.
Star Wars Knights of the Old Republic - I don’t think it’s ever a good sign when you find yourself taking long breaks between playing a game and feeling reluctant to load it up. Yet whenever I forced (that was intended) myself to play it I really enjoyed it and wondered why I was struggling so much. I find it very interesting having played some other Bioware games, Dragon Age Origins remains my favourite, to see one of their early games and what ideas and features they’ve kept doing since. I really liked in this one the journeys to the different planets to locate the star maps as it meant each planet had its own contained quests and unique feel, just like in DA:O when you’re tasked with recruiting armies with the treaties and how you visit different parts of the world, or those main mission objectives for each planet in Mass Effect. It also shares the same issues with party management and who I’m going to bring along, or rather which characters I’ll leave behind and never interact with again, it seemed strange to choose someone with a blaster or a droid for instance as opposed to a Jedi with force powers and lightsabers, maybe another slot would have been welcome as just two is quite a limitation. I found the combat to be surprisingly impressive, the fighting animations in melee are awesome and the force powers look great, there’s quite a range in abilities too. The inventory simply sucks, that was perhaps my biggest negative with the game. The story is amazing, unfortunately I already knew about the twist but it was still very much enjoyable, having the option of light or dark side means a second playthrough is a possible but I don’t think I have what it takes to be that evil… and I loved all the cinematic cutscenes too, they seemed fitting just as if you were in a Star Wars film. It’s strange having only finished it recently but already I feel almost nostalgic about the early game, running around Taris with Carth moaning every step of the way, that’s how epic the journey is as it seems so long ago. Another classic finished and no longer in the backlog, Knights of the Old Republic is still worth it even as a first playthrough in 2018, just stick with it.
Superflight - AER: Memories of Old got me in the mood for trying out some more flying games. While this is nowhere near the same level it was still fun and having unlocked all the achievements it’s there in my library for if I just want to do some flying and object dodging.
Under Leaves - It came as a nice surprise to find out this had been updated with new content as it’s quite a special game for me. I remember buying it to play after my first proper job interview as a way of unwinding and having something relaxing to look forward to when I got home as I was incredibly nervous. So having been somehow successful, for some reason I can’t help thinking it helped on that day lol. Sadly the free update didn’t take long to finish and I found it much easier than the original levels, but Under Leaves will always be a game I am grateful for existing and it’s well worth playing even if you don’t have anything scary you need to remedy…