Hall of Fame Joe’s profile
2021: Backlog Progress
I managed to hit a record high of 98 games played in a year, which I can’t see myself topping any time soon, had a really good year that included some time replaying some old favourites (always feel guilty doing this with a backlog!) with a mini Skyrim playthrough to celebrate the 10 year anniversary, and two playthroughs of Mass Effect Legendary Edition which is my favourite series ever and the remaster was the perfect excuse to revisit it!
There’s really too many to go through… some highlights that I didn’t have space in the top 5 favourites below are finally playing through the Halo series, finding out how brutally hard the Crash games are… not sure that really counts as a highlight, finishing the modern Tomb Raiders (looking forward to Uncharted coming to PC!), Saints Row IV turned out to be exactly the funny game I needed at the time, KOTOR2 still proved enjoyable as a modern day experience, so many memorable indie games like Return of the Obra Dinn and Outer Wilds, and had some conclusions to long-running series with Banner Saga that I started in 2016 and Telltales Walking Dead that began in 2015 and delivered a near perfect end that made me very emotional! Feel free to ask about any, the full list can be found here.
Below I’ve listed my favourites from the year (not including Skyrim and Mass Effect), and my key targets for 2022, you might notice a lot of JRPGs… well I’ve been thinking how few western RPGs I had left so I gave Dragon Quest XI a try this year that must have been my first JRPG experience, and I absolutely loved it, highly recommend, and also Persona 4 which I’d heard so much about that turned out to be brilliant too, so my plan is to try to experience more next year as there’s so many big series I’ve not played, including Nier which I’ve had as a target the past two years that I’ve not played and since then NieR Replicant came out, so I really need to make that a priority, and 2021 seems like it was a really good year for new releases in that genre I’m excited about!
DRAGON QUEST XI S: Echoes of an Elusive Age – Definitive Edition
Ori and the Will of the Wisps
Persona 4 Golden
STAR WARS Jedi: Fallen Order™
The Walking Dead: The Final Season
2020: Backlog Progress
I had another good year making progress on my backlog, I won’t go as far as saying the end is in sight, but it’s much closer. I definitely had a lot more time than expected which helped a lot! Below I’ve picked out my top 5 favourites I’ve played in 2020, and my 10 key targets for 2021. Feel free to ask about any that I played last year, there’s 79 in total so I’ll spare the full reviews unless you’re interested in any specific games, I’d be more than happy to give my thoughts! The full list can be found here.
2019: Backlog Progress
Having just squeezed Half Life 2 Episode Two in - I know I’m a bit late but wow that cliff hanger is mean! - I thought I’d make a quick post summarising my progress this year. I set a target of 100 in April and have ended with 75. Unless I blast through 25 tomorrow I won’t have reached that, but considering the games I’ve played and replayed (a few really long ones!) I’m happy with my progress overall. It has definitely been the year where I’ve been more careful than ever about adding to the backlog, and have done several clearances of games I really couldn’t see myself playing anytime, thanks to this I find myself close to that 50% played milestone which seemed a mile off when I joined in late 2016 with around 20%! Highlights that come to mind are making good progress in the Assassin’s Creed series, I’ve got up to Rogue now, finally beating the main quest in Fallout New Vegas, a Skyrim replay, and playing more co-op games.
Below I’ve picked out my top 5 favourites I’ve played in 2019, and my 10 key targets for 2020. Feel free to ask about those I’ve played, the full list can be found here, or any recommendations from my unplayed!
Happy New Year :)
Assassin's Creed IV Black Flag
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice
A Plague Tale: Innocence
The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt
Was planning on including this at the end of my last post but the picks were delayed due to some group changes, the main one being having 3 months and 7 picks. I’ll see how I get on… currently playing the first Assassin’s Creed and plan to continue through the series with maybe one a month. Of the picks chosen it’ll be good to finally play HL2, I’m going to include the other episodes and Lost Coast which has always bothered me sitting in my library and being so short! Read Arbiters post on Vampyr the other day which has dampened my enthusiasm a bit towards it but still looking forward to it though due its setting, and Monster Hunter scares me with its estimated amount of hours to beat it, not sure what to expect having never played a Monster Hunter game!
June and July Progress Picks: A Plague Tale, Fallout New Vegas and Trine
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Jan/Feb/Mar Progress Picks: Hellblade, Skyrim and Witcher 3
So after saying in my last update I wanted to return to the more regular posts, here I am writing 3 months later again, whoops! Hopefully this’ll be the last time I let it build up so much. This is going to cover everything I’ve played in 2019, yes it’s a long one! The only progress excluded are those that were previously unfinished and I don’t have much to say about them other than I wish no achievements had been unlocked so they could have just been deleted lol (with the exception of Westerado, that was fun). I’ve done a fair amount of removing recently, after figuring out just how long (a scary amount of years) it would take for me to play everything I tried to get rid of anything I had little interest in, I’m now over 1/3 played, compared to around a 1/4 a few months ago.
I’ve also been playing around with the lists here on BLAEO and given everything I haven’t played yet a HLTB estimate to help organise my backlog, knowing that I have so many “Short” that I could finish in a session or two was a morale booster that I could make a decent dent in the unplayed if I focused on that for a while. Obviously it’s not about the number of games you’ve played, instead the hours it takes to play everything in your backlog, yet I’m still quite keen to aim for 100 to beat this year like I’ve seen a few people target as well, just to improve that pie chart.
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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!