Tired Bird Plays Video Games Skiah’s profile

Hi there. I’m Jin. I’m a middle-aged disabled gamer with health issues and very poor time management skills. If my life was a time management game, I’d still be stuck in the first level. I’m happy to be a member of Backlog Assassins, and I hope that a little organization and accountability will help me actually do things - and enjoy doing them - again. If I can develop good habits with one hobby, it should be possible to apply it to others, right?

Some Notes:

  • The most important reasons that I am here hinge on simple concepts: to have fun, to curb or at least manage my terrible collection addiction, to actually play the games I have in my library instead of just letting them sit there, and to develop some semblance of my lost executive function.

  • I’ve realized that I am really not an achievement hunter. I would have been when I was younger but I do not have the hand strength and stamina an average person does. I have to wear braces to type and use a controller. I often have to rely on dictation software to type at length. I get fatigued quickly as well, and have to take frequent breaks. Between my limitations and the huge library I want to work through, getting perfect games is just not a practical goal for me. Playing the same game repeatedly on harder modes, trying to accomplish some insanely difficult feat, or going through a story again just to select every option or play every choice - will slow me down and ultimately spoil my enjoyment.

  • If all achievements can be accomplished in a single play-through or I just want to play again because the game was really fun, I may seek different achievements - but being a completionist in this regard is just not worth it to me. Of course it varies from game to game but the hardest, most grueling achievements are not something that will ever tempt me. The value of achievements to me is that they can be used to give an overall idea of how far I have progressed in a game, and nothing more.

About me:

Gamer Game Collector RPG Lover Stargazer Birdwatcher Bookworm Plant Lover Artist


Astronomy Space Exploration Physics Time Travel Complex Stories The Void
Robots Horror Paranormal Psychology Philosophy Music

These are all elements that are guaranteed to drag me into a game kicking and screaming all the way, though horror games and psychological stories usually wreck me. Its a weird thing, I have no idea why I can’t seem to stop myself when I should know better.

★ Also my favorite person is David Bowie, in case you couldn't tell that already. ★

BLAEO Goals:

  • Breaking through the blockage of having such a large inventory, that I can never decide what to play.
  • Organize, once and for all - instead of wasting all my time thinking about organizing and how to accomplish it.
  • Appreciating my diverse inventory - instead of being overwhelmed by it, allowing it to sit - unused and unloved.
  • Correcting the habit of fliting from game to game so much that I can’t stick with anything.
  • Committing to using my time well, so I can play games to the end like I used to.
  • To finally enjoy gaming again.

Finally Posting the Rest of the Games I Finished in 2018

(As it turns out I remembered I actually had a google doc for ease of copypaste so I had a lot of this already written. Whew! :D)

  • Stranger of Sword City

    224 hours playtime

    44 of 44 achievements

  • Where Angels Cry

    5 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • MatchyGotchy

    12 hours playtime

    20 of 20 achievements

  • Sickness

    20 hours playtime

    10 of 10 achievements

  • Let`s not stay friends

    8 hours playtime

    14 of 14 achievements

  • Higurashi When They Cry Hou - Ch.5 Meakashi

    17 hours playtime

    16 of 16 achievements

  • Elminage ORIGINAL

    134 hours playtime

    no achievements


    90 hours playtime

    22 of 22 achievements

  • Higurashi When They Cry Hou - Ch.6 Tsumihoroboshi

    22 hours playtime

    15 of 15 achievements

  • The Painscreek Killings

    16 hours playtime

    33 of 33 achievements

  • Zero Escape: The Nonary Games

    76 hours playtime

    38 of 38 achievements

  • The Land of Pain

    13 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened - Remastered

    15 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Conarium

    19 hours playtime

    26 of 26 achievements

  • Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth

    16 hours playtime

    no achievements

Stranger of Sword City [07/01]: ★★★★★★★✰✰✰
A great grid based dungeon crawler. It certainly won’t win over anyone who’s not a fan of the genre, but it has some really interesting features like the way class change works, allowing you to develop your characters to fill multiple roles. The most important thing for me in these kind of games, is the ability to use your own images for characters, and this one is one of the best I’ve seen in this capacity, requiring different pictures at different resolutions for various screens in game. Its stylish and fun but the story is a bit lacking, and the plus gameplay sounds great in theory but involves a lot of ridiculously overpowered enemies and boils down to a tedious grind. Turn based RPG grinding is something I usually do not mind at all, but SoSC could have been a bit better in the late game aspect, as there is very little reward for many extended hours of play. I loved it overall but it’s really for fans of the niche and not for those looking to just get into this sort of game, or expect something more than the basic wizardry type format.

Where Angels Cry [07/13]: ★★★★★✰✰✰✰✰
An odd point and click game and not a HOG as it might seem. (The sequel actually is a standard HOG though). There is some object finding involved within some scenes but this is more like getting item A from the screen you’re in, to fulfill task B without any genuine HOG gameplay. Its dated looking but the premise is really interesting and the story is pretty good overall. But it’s known to be glitchy and require restarting if you don’t do certain things in the dev’s expected order. I didn’t have this issue but I backed up my single save often just in case. The ending, I’d call downright sacrilegious and even though I’m not remotely Christian myself, it made me pretty uncomfortable anyway. Still worth a playthrough if you got it in a bundle maybe, but not something I’d highly recommend. It’s also rather short.

Sickness [07/05]: ★★★★★★✰✰✰✰
This is a solid, well written VN and it does everything it claims to on the box. I enjoyed it to a degree. I don’t quite know how to explain why I personally didn’t like it more without a lot of spoilers but basically it was more action based than cerebral. I expected Lynch and got Tarantino. Which is perfectly fine, even a bonus if you prefer Tarantino. It’s dark, edgy and gets into some gory scenes and taboo topics but it’s all handled competently. It just didn’t wow me as much as I’d hoped, but it’s worth reading.

MatchyGotchy [07/29]: ★★★★★✰✰✰✰✰
Bright and colorful little clicker/idle game with a space theme which was why I downloaded it. Its really cute but there is very little to do, and the last achievements really make it overstay what would be a quick fun little game otherwise.

Higurashi When They Cry Hou - Ch. 5 Meakashi [07/30]: ★★★★★★★★★★
I’m not even going to try to explain, unravel or otherwise quantify any Higurashi chapters anymore. I might rant over how stellar it is when its all over. I fully expect to. If this series lets me down I’ll be crushed but I honestly don’t see that happening. The quality of writing, this amazing story and the ranting and raving with my friend over our conspiracy theories that still don’t quite explain it, have made this one of the best things I have ever read, in any medium.

Let’s Not Stay Friends [08/02]: ★★★★★✰✰✰✰✰

It’s a decent otome if you have absolutely nothing better to read, but it unfortunately falls into the “short VN” pitfalls that are so hard to avoid, and since its an otome, that makes those failings even more obvious. Its way too short and shallow for the romances to have any meaning. The world building is really interesting, there’s a lot of cute and colorful art, the dialog is decent, the characters are okay if a little cliche. But being a short VN with 98% of the entire storyline taking place in a single day, it’s just too hard to feel invested in anything that happens. Sometimes a really short experience can be amazing and get the job done in a flash, especially if there is a plot twist. But that’s a really high hurdle to overcome when the story’s focus is love. I’d like to see what this little team could pull off with a longer narrative and might even pick up more of their work in the next sale. Though there is a much bigger potential caveat. The reason that this game is passable at all is because someone with a competent grasp of English kindly volunteered in the forums to make this game feasible and her work is apparent. The character profile screen was obviously not sent to her to review, and its such a mess of gibberish I can’t imagine trying to slog through the whole thing with that level of nonfunctional English. Hopefully the creators can learn from this and make sure to have English editors on staff to finalize future works as well, or it will be a disaster.
Elminage Original [08/13]: ★★★★★★✰✰✰✰
I actually enjoyed this one but it’s a bit of an oddball. It’s a dungeon crawler/wizardry-like game that in many ways is quite basic, but tries to make up for that with unique customization options, allowing you to control everything from character names, portraits, spell names, and even the in-game soundtrack. As I’m a huge fan of party based dungeon crawlers in general, there was a lot to enjoy here. The enemies are super weird and the odd translations give it a very strange feel and perhaps charm. I love the fact that absolutely every enemy seems to have at least a weapon and armor equipped, so you can steal some hilarious items (with art, stats and everything else) such as a snake’s tail or a dog’s bark. It’s even more interesting when you run into enemies that are particularly weird because monster eq seems to be mostly unique to the specific monster. I found myself wanting to steal everything at least once to see what in the world I got.The main problem here is that the further in you go, the tougher it gets but the incentive to keep moving forward steadily decreases. I was able to to have fun with the entire regular game and the post game dungeon, but the so called super bosses can only be challenged by looping the entire game over and over again, even without great grinding spots.

Honorable mention to my poor bishop for the fear status he’d acquire from failing to ID an item:

“YOU TOUCHED IT!” Classic.

Clannad [09/04]: ★★★★★★★★★✰
A really great VN that made me cry several times. It’s a classic and it’s easy to see why. However, it’s a bit older now and maybe not the definitive masterpiece it once was, as there is a lot more competition for that title now than at it’s release, but it really touched me. It’s absolutely a slice of life story through and through, and at a hefty expected 60-100 hours for full completion, it’s definitely not for someone who needs more unusual exciting situations for a story to keep their attention. To describe it as briefly as possible, Clannad comes down to a narrative exploring the many different definitions of the concepts of both “love” and “family”. It’s a tearjerker at times for sure, but it never feels exploitive in that goal, or that it’s reaching too hard in order to be sad for sadness’s sake. All of the melodrama even in its most excessive, is believable. I docked a star because I found some characters incredibly unlikable (and not in the “this is supposed to be a villain or antagonist” way) we’re supposed to fall in love with and overlook violent, hateful personalities – I’m assuming for the sake of fulfilling a trope – and some distastefully written content that seemed to serve no purpose and would have been best left out.

Higurashi When They Cry Hou - Ch.6 Tsumihoroboshi [10/08]: ★★★★★★★★★★
Another Higurashi, another triumph I couldn’t explain without a 10 hour monologue to try to somehow relegate how we even got here in the first place.

The Painscreek Killings [10/18]: ★★★★★★★★✰✰
A really fun murder mystery adventure game that is at its core, a walking sim. You’re examining a cold case in a small town that now lies abandoned. What made it really fun for me was all the clues and items found along the way, and how much solving the mystery yourself is baked in as part of the experience.

Zero Escape: The Nonary Games [10/20]:★★★★★★★★★★
Two absolutely amazing VNs in a single package. I loved both of these to bits. Clever, mystifying and unique. Its hard to say much without spoiling the whole ride but imagine if the Saw movies were about quantum mechanics, and Jigsaw was a talking rabbit.

The Land of Pain [10/21]: ★★★★★★★★✰✰
A very creepy, slow burn sort of horror walking sim. Its very Lovecraftian in its delivery with a vague, pervading sense of dread. Its a small indie game and is only a few hours long, but incredible for what it is.

Sherlock Holmes: The Awakened [10/23]: ★★★★★★★★✰✰
Sherlock and Watson. Classic blokes. Classic mystery solving. …Except its not elementary, its a Cthulhu cult. A strange mash-up but it totally works here.

Conarium [10/30]: ★★★★★★★★✰✰
If you’re still reading, can you see that I decided to play everything in my backlog on a certain theme, that i could get my grubby little fingers on? ITS LOVECRAFTIAN HORROR! This time in an adventure style game. The atmosphere and tension are so thick you could cut it with a knife, and the story is great. Its meant as a direct continuation of an actual story written by Lovecraft and I think they did a really good job with the plot. It seems like a plausible direction to take, and the writing is enjoyable.

Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth [10/29]: ★★★★★✰✰✰✰✰
Its Lovecraftian. Its really Lovecraftian. And it doesn’t reference just our man octopus man himself. Its a great story, a wonderful game and a worthy homage to the lore. The lackluster rating is because this was one of the most frustrating gaming experiences of my life because of bugs, freezes, crashes, glitches and an entire slew of issues that really tarnished the experience. Honestly, if I wasn’t such a fan of this mythos and starved for more takes on it, I probably would have given up, which is a shame. Polishing and patching would have made this an easy 8 to 9 for me probably but as it stands a 5 is almost too generous considering how many times I had to wait for the world’s slowest loading screens as the game ate my evenings by chaincrashing.

Long Overdue Updates (Part 2, Apparently):

The last post I made here was a long overdue update. And as it turned out, I ended up being gone ever longer than the first time. In that time a lot happened. I had fairly extensive oral/facial surgery (that “dental appointment” turned into something much larger in the end), had complications from being on strong antibiotics for so long, invited a house guest that ended up staying several months (thank you for being with me through all that), got 2 pet uromastyx lizards, and unfortunately lost someone I really admired since I was a teenager. I typically am not so affected by celebrity deaths in general but this one hit me hard, on the level of Isaac Asimov, David Bowie and Stephen Hawking.

This mix of a lot going on (both good and bad) led me to having very low energy, not completing that many games and generally not feeling like doing all the work it takes to write up a mini review here for the ones I did finish. But I did at least come here and move a game to my updates list fairly often (probably forgot a few) so I have some semblance of a record.

I love keeping up with games I’ve completed since my steam inventory is so massive its one giant junkpile, and I also just enjoy being around here. I’m doing really well right now but I still feel a little low on energy so I might just post the games as is and not say much (if anything).

But then again I have a few absolutely stellar 10/10 experiences in this time frame so I don’t know. Time will tell what format I end up using. But I need to at least shove the ones I’ve finished into posts before it gets out of hand.

Hope everyone has been well, it’s been far too long.

Long Overdue Updates:

I was on a real roll there for a long time but renovations slowed me down, along with other things and now I have some serious health issues going on and I’m currently spending most of my time in bed or at my desk, while I take massive doses of antibiotics and waiting for my next dental appointment on the 9th, thanks to some complications from a very naughty wisdom tooth (man I’m a little old for this nonsense, or so I thought).

But this long drawn out process and limited energy has lead me to playing a lot of VNs now and in the future, which is really perfect and I’m glad I found this genre a year ago and have been collecting them avidly ever since. This stupid tooth problem might drag on for a very long time and might even lead to me having teeth pulled and pieces of my jawbone surgically removed, so I’m thankful to my wonderful family and friends supporting me, and for having something engaging but easy to do right now. It might be rough for a while but my spirits are high, considering I have been in awful recurring pain for many months that remained a mystery. Though it might be unpleasant in the days to come, I have faith I’ll have real relief and be back to normal on the other side of this.

That all said, I have several months to cover but not a lot of updates until recently, so let’s begin!

  • Her Lie I Tried To Believe

    2 hours playtime

    no achievements


    24 hours playtime

    44 of 44 achievements

  • The Magical Silence

    2 hours playtime

    1 of 1 achievements

  • Abandoned

    5 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Elizabeth Find M.D. - Diagnosis Mystery - Season 2

    9 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice

    15 hours playtime

    14 of 14 achievements

  • Tales of Maj'Eyal

    462 hours playtime

    257 of 1746 achievements

  • Higurashi When They Cry Hou - Ch.1 Onikakushi

    21 hours playtime

    14 of 14 achievements

  • Higurashi When They Cry Hou - Ch.2 Watanagashi

    20 hours playtime

    15 of 15 achievements

  • Higurashi When They Cry Hou - Ch.3 Tatarigoroshi

    21 hours playtime

    16 of 16 achievements

  • Higurashi When They Cry Hou - Ch.4 Himatsubushi

    11 hours playtime

    8 of 8 achievements

Her Lie I Tried to Believe [04/04]: ★★★★✰✰✰✰✰✰
A short kinetic novel. Hm, what to say about this… strange mess. It’s a bit unrealistic in the most jarring, unpleasant and immersion breaking ways (instead of fun ones you can overlook or even enjoy, it’s hard to explain what I mean without spoilers but ack). It’s a glaringly harsh picture of violent mental illness, abuse and toxic relationships, and it’s a wild ride. But the thing is, is that there is nothing gained in the resolution of the story, no food for thought, no substance to the reveal (though it really -is- a strong twist), no redemption or accountability (there should have been one or the other), etc. It didn’t have a strong ending either because the reveal had no conclusion. Granted, there doesn’t have to be a “point” of a story to make it worth telling, its just in this case I don’t feel like I gained anything for choosing to experience it, if that makes any sense. Its very gritty, grimy, dark and violent, especially in the case of sexual violence. And after the huge reveal and the conclusion, it just ends. If the impact of it all had been explained (especially in a compelling way), that could change everything. But since that’s not there the end reaction as a reader was just “oh, its over”. Such unpleasantries could have actually made a really impactful and cerebral story, uncomfortable social commentary, view of mental illness, or just campy romp — depending on the handling, but HLITtB has the grace of a sledgehammer. Everything seems to have a single point — plain old shock value, at any cost.

Verlies II [04/25]: ★★★★★★★✰✰✰
Excerpt from my steam review: Punishing, wicked roguelike gridbased dungeon crawler with active combat that requires timing, strategy and actually landing your mouse cursor on the enemies as you swing. Lots of ways to combine your skills and create the build you want. Has a few interesting puzzles, one at the end of each level. This game does all it can to work against you, so that you really do feel you accomplish something every time you make it just a little further. But there are many ways to die, and permadeath is what’s at stake if you fail.

Man, I avoided this one for a long time because despite it hitting all my instabuy tags, I had the impression that it’s absolutely terrible and it’s really not. But it is weird, and probably very niche. I think a lot of the bad reviews are from people not getting what they expected initially and leaving before fully understanding the gameplay. This game absolutely hates you but I had a blast playing it. I beat it with the strongest character and it was tough. I may revisit this with someone a little less capable since I understand what’s expected a lot better, but it’s actually quite a fun game.

The Magical Silence [05/07]: ★★★★★★✰✰✰✰
Short and very interesting storybook art. For a 10 minute game I liked it, but WHY did it end like that? >.<

(Through) Abandoned [05/08]: ★★★★★★✰✰✰✰
Intriguing and very creepy. An hour long experience I enjoyed. It ends on a cliffhanger but fortunately there’s a part 2.

Elizabeth Find M.D. - Diagnosis Mystery - Season 2 [05/29]: ★★★★✰✰✰✰✰✰
Pretty standard low budget HOG game except the setting and required level of suspension of disbelief was off the charts, lol. I enjoyed the medical element solely because it was hilariously bad. One example: I have a patient, -in the hospital- I will point out, who needed blood drawn. Instead of getting a syringe from… you know, inside the hospital, I had to go to a remote farm, find some pruning shears and cut an overly large cabbage. Guess what was under it, in the dirt? That’s right, a syringe. (I’m sure it was sterile, what could possibly go wrong. Trust me, I’m a doctor). Extra points for dressing a wound with an ace bandage instead of gauze. I’m sure the slow impending squeeze action will do wonders for that head injury.

The real reasons for the low rating are actually a bit more problematic than the downright silliness though. I actually enjoyed how ludicrous the patient care was. But there are only 3 short cases to solve, and combined its still not longer than the average game of its type. It’s nothing great to look at, actually it’s downright ugly. I would give it a pass on aesthetics since this modern medical setting might have made whimsical prettiness difficult, but not a single screen was pleasing to the eye in any way. Very low res and cheap looking. The music was passible but there’s not much variety. And it has 3 major shortcomings in gameplay. 1 — There are only a few locations and the required objects seem to be random. Meaning after you’ve visited it the first time, you’re going to end up with half the things you need being repeated on return visits. 2 — While I understand more than one patient might need blood work plot wise, the very brief and scant puzzles also repeat. 3 — Some of the locations are also repeated in the 3 cases, and adding this to point one means you probably picked up the same roll of tape a dozen times. And this is where it comes to a sickly conclusion. I won this game on steamgifts, and I hope the creator got it in a bundle but on the steam store this game is listed for 19.99 LOL. I have no idea why. You could buy a huge collection of the 1.99 to 2.99 HOG games for this price, and the quality is about the same. Or 2 Artifex Mundi HOGs with much higher production values and quality in all areas. I’m not even gonna get into what you could do with a bundle or steam sale but this game is incredibly overpriced.

Honestly I liked it well enough for what it was, like enjoying a B rated movie because its corny. It really is so awful storyline wise that its amazing. But at the same time this particular B movie charges premium red carpet admission for some odd reason. I don’t regret a moment of time spent but I’d never pay full price for this farce. I enjoyed it more than the stars show, but at the same time I can’t give it anything higher without losing all credibility lol.

Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice [06/25]: ★★★★★★★★★★
I put this right below SOMA in regards to importance to me, which says all I need to say if you’ve ever heard me rant about SOMA. Deep, thoughtful, terrifying, tragic and beautiful. It’s an absolute triumph of storytelling. Every moment feels tense and vital to survival, with a permeating sense of lingering dread that never truly goes away. Because even when there seems to be a reprieve, you’ve long since learned not to trust the quiet. As far as technical things go, it’s also a triumph. I’m not sure how to describe the way this game looks, because I don’t think its a flat, easy “this game has the highest quality graphics ever”. I’m sure its not. But there’s something about the art direction and style that impressed me more than I think anything ever has. The facial rendering and expressions, as well, were unlike anything I’ve ever seen. The audio is… impeccable for what it sets out to do, that’s for sure. And the music, while sparse, always elevated the experience tremendously. Especially in long combat sequences. I won’t say much about the story because the story is everything, here. But it is a mature, honest and gritty representation of pain, isolation, and grief. It also respectfully tackles topics most devs wouldn’t dare touch. After finishing the game, you can watch a making of sort of featurette from the main menu, and this addition really shows how much care was put into trying to get things right. It’s a masterpiece.

Tales of Maj’Eyal [Never]: ★★★★★★★★★★
I’m putting this here now because I feel that if I don’t, I may never get the chance. The heat death of the universe may come before 100%ing Tales of Maj’Eyal, but I think I’ve done enough to make a post.

I have two ways of approaching a very special game experience, my personal masterpieces, basically. Because while both categories really matter to me, they are at odds with each other. One type is reserved for things like SOMA and Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice (VNs go here too), where the story touched me or even changed me in some way. An immersive narrative experience that lingers, and hopefully makes me see something in a new light. You can replay games in this category if you wish, but it will not be the same as the first time around. Story is everything and these games absolutely must be at least moderately linear or the narrative is sacrificed.

The other type is the opposite of this. There can be storytelling, world building and lore, but the gameplay itself is the wow factor. This is where Desktop Dungeons goes, with my 1000 hour playtime. I find games that fit in this category very rarely.

Then I finally bought and “tried out” Tales of Maj’eyal. At about 450 hours later, all I can say is, this game is an outright 10/10. I’ve unlocked a lot of races, classes and hidden talent trees, but there are still many more. I’ve played both campaigns. I’ve beaten Normal. I’ve beaten Nightmare. I’ve had very strong Insane runs, and I’m in the middle of one as I write this. But after that there is Madness, which few people have ever conquered. And I can also switch from recommended Adventure mode with a few lives, to true roguelike, with a single life and no take backs on any difficulty. And look at my achievements. I’ve barely made a dent in them. I’ve also barely scratched the surface of my playtime hours, most likely. This game is addictive for me in a way I can’t explain, it seems to fill my every gameplay wish even if I myself wasn’t aware of what those things were before I discovered it.

I had it in my inventory for a while but never got around to it, because despite having it at the top of my WL for a long time, I saw there was a new DLC on the way so I just waited. Then came Forbidden Cults. The Lovecraftian eldritch expansion. Well, that sealed the deal. Lol. Nothing can bait me like eldritch horrors.

So all this playtime is recent, since that release. This is already getting long, so I’m going to get to the point.

This is the absolute masterpiece of the genuine roguelikes (I love roguelites as much as the next fellow and they can be just as hard as roguelikes but its not the same thing. At all.). In terms of depth, strategy, race and class options, lore, depth, dynamics, challenge and fun, I don’t think I will ever see a roguelike I love nearly as much as ToME. Its blown my mind. It might have taken the ultimate offer of lovecraftian void horrors as a playable option to get mt to fish this out of the depths of my backlog, but it was worth it. I have never racked up hours this fast in anything ever. Will it stand the longevity test and continue to captivate me, and will I ever get past this current difficulty spike?

…I’ll check in in another 400+ hours. And hopefully I will have another difficulty level win under my belt by then. The last thing I want to say about ToME is that it is absolutely not all RNG based. RNG can and will screw you sometimes (tt can also totally be on your side), but this far in I can see that almost every death was a mistake, something avoidable or something I could have mitigated. It’s my fault I was nosy and opened that vault knowing I could die. It was my fault I went into that higher level zone too soon. It was my fault that I tackled that rare spawn 20 levels higher than me instead of running. I think the thrill of “this is a bad idea that can make or break me” is what makes this game so fun, honestly. And I have a bad habit of challenging fate: for fun and profit or at the cost of an incredibly valuable life.

Higurashi When They Cry 1-4 [06/30]: ★★★★★★★★★★
Uhhhhhhhhh. Lol. UM. Excuse me, WHAT. I’m confused beyond measure and happy about it, but I can’t begin to explain the massive amounts of w-t-f I am feeling, and I think the only people that understand how I can like this are the people that have played this series, possibly also in the fact I have stopped at 4, specifically.

I don’t know what to say that can somehow quantify this, hope to explain it, justify it or make any sense of it, even if I spoiled it all right out of the gate. Whatever you think you expect about Higurashi is wrong. All I can say for now is my friend has bought the series too, and I have deliberately stopped before the reveals begin.

And the pencil scribbles I have taken through this wild ride, aren’t helping me as much as I thought. I have to go back and review and take notes of other things that seemed less valid at the time.

Originally I would have rated this series quite a bit lower, because I really did not like the so-called slice of life bits at all, because the writing is off putting, offensive (way too many sex jokes considering the ages of the characters but that’s the only point I don’t concede, but at least it’s all dialog and not… worse), inane and absolutely… a slog to get through. …I hated it. In the first episode, I almost stopped honestly. I kept checking the reviews in shock, thinking there is no way these glowing reviews are about this embarrassment I’m suffering through. But I made myself persevere, and when the tables turned it seems like the writing improved by at least 500% in all areas. There was actually a feeling of dissonance in me when it changed. It was like a transition from the worst middle schooler’s first attempt at writing, to a true master horror writer’s creation with no warning that in itself made the creepiness heightened, no doubt. I smugly thought this was just bait and switch ala Doki Doki (I know HWtC is a lot older but it’s a comparison that makes immediate sense), but my friend actually pointed something out this morning after finishing with Ep. 1, that makes me see the silly bits in a whole new light. I have to go back… Regardless, even if I stand on that thought of “this should have been rewritten to not be so nauseatingly bad even if it is more than a ruse” in the end, wouldn’t change my 10 now. The rest props it up that much, somehow.

Technically, it’s an episodic kinetic novel mystery in 8 parts (6 currently released), with 4 building up questions and 4 to answer them. And this mystery is something that’s posed to the reader to solve, meaning the game is not in the video gameplay, but in the attempts to solve the puzzle. But nothing is what you think, even when you think you know it all. It’s so fascinating, oh my god. But the build up is twisted, disgusting, terrifying, dreadful and gripping. Is it a curse? Will of the Gods? Malicious demons? Zombie outbreak? Ghosts? Infection? Mental illness? Government conspiracy? Time travel? Quantum continuum breaking into pieces? The mob? Disgruntled children? Jealous admirer? Revenge motivated? WHO KNOWS. :D

…Because I can prove, and disprove, all of them. Don’t ask how that’s possible. I am perplexed, and confused and any time I have a quiet moment I feel my brain reverting back to solving the puzzle. The only reason I don’t recommend Higurashi to absolutely anyone that will listen, is because it’s dark, so dark, and covers a lot of harrowing material. Its tense, shocking, grotesque… but I don’t feel any of it is not well crafted and with specific reason and meaning. I can only hope the answer arcs don’t disappoint, but I can’t imagine they would. This is the real deal right here. And I don’t mind waiting for my friend to catch up, even with her tight schedule because that will just give me more time to review and ponder.

The biggest, goriest of all riddles. And it does it all without a lot of fancy, high quality polish. Just some backgrounds, character sprites, mood music and amazing writing. Its as basic as can be, and it doesn’t need to be anything more than that, to succeed.

I might have been unable to do as much as I would like (in many areas) recently, but I can’t complain with finishing strongly enough to have 3 10 stars in a row at the end. Eventually I’ll no doubt pick a dud, but I’m really happy so far. See you next update!

April Updates:

The last (I really absolutely hope so) round of home improvement, renovating, remodeling and deep cleaning our ancient old farm house, came to pass this month. I still have a bit to do, so this last push will continue through May but this should be the end of it. It’s a huge project my entire family (which is just me and my folks) have been doing in an on again, off again fashion for about 2 years.

That said I only completed 2 games this month, though I did spend what downtime I had outside of these 2 games, in a couple of really long games I’m no where near done with. Since I do have the dates saved for the games I did beat, I’m just going to add them as a preface in next month’s update, which will hopefully have me cleaning out a bit more of my bloated inventory instead of hardwood floors. :D

I’m really just putting this update here to check in, and to avoid skipping a month. See you all on the other side of my time with a calk gun, putty knife and a paintbrush guys, and game on in my absence!

March Updates:

I think I did quite well this month, especially with finally 100%ing one of my fav games with some tough final achievements. There were some hit and miss titles but overall I’m pleased with my progress since I didn’t have much time in the last week of the month.

  • Flower Shop: Winter In Fairbrook

    8 hours playtime

    9 of 9 achievements

  • Creature Romances: Kokonoe Kokoro

    7 hours playtime

    6 of 6 achievements

  • Analogue: A Hate Story

    8 hours playtime

    14 of 14 achievements

  • The Grand Ball

    4 hours playtime

    11 of 11 achievements

  • SoulCraft

    12 hours playtime

    41 of 41 achievements

  • Legend of Grimrock

    66 hours playtime

    40 of 40 achievements

  • Age of Enigma: The Secret of the Sixth Ghost

    15 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Leaving Lyndow

    4 hours playtime

    7 of 7 achievements

  • Red Embrace

    5 hours playtime

    9 of 9 achievements

  • Arvale

    38 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Voodoo Garden

    24 hours playtime

    33 of 33 achievements

  • Her Story

    8 hours playtime

    13 of 13 achievements

  • Gazing from beyond

    14 hours playtime

    13 of 15 achievements

  • Highway Blossoms

    11 hours playtime

    17 of 17 achievements

Flower Shop: Winter in Fairbrook [03/01]: ★★★★★★★✰✰✰
An improvement over the first game in the initial delivery of “unlikable main character grows as a person” themes. Also the farming sim portion makes a bit more sense as the money threshold determines regular/special ending for each character rather than locking you out of romance if you do a good job raising plants.

Every character was likeable this time around too, and something about the game in general just came across to me as very kind hearted and pure spirited. I really enjoyed it.

I’m not sure about any of these Winter Wolves games at full price as they can be rather short (though I never buy anything at full price honestly) but I’m quickly learning I enjoy their work a lot as a general rule.

Creature Romances: Kokonoe Kokoro [03/06]: ★★★★★✰✰✰✰✰
An all around “meh”. Its short which is okay, its meant to be, but even so, it could have been written in a lot more interesting way. The basic writing is competent, but it feels like the dialog is off. In a lot of places I felt like people talking were a lot more immature than they should have been, seeming more like middle schoolers than high school seniors.

If the voices had been remotely creature like, it would have made the experience better, but the buggy love interest sounding like a 4 year old girl huffing helium made me turn the voice acting off . I got it on sale but I’d honestly recommend waiting until its 90% off or in a bundle lol.

Analogue: A Hate Story [03/07]: ★★★★★★★★✰✰
A unique VN with a fresh and interesting style and premise. But it also made me feel sick on more than one occasion and I don’t think any VN has affected me the way this one has. The story is something else. I don’t think any game has ever provoked angry crying out of me before, lol.

Maybe it’s because I have more than a passing interest in the historical inspiration for this game (hell, the name I’m known by is a reference to an ancient Korean dynasty name — but was in use about 1500 years before the one reflected in the game). To get back on topic and also summarize, A: AHS is basically an old, specific Korean dynasty reimagined in a future setting, and I suppose it got a lot of the things that might not have been apparent to someone who doesn’t study ancient East Asian history, correct. The Joseon revival period is one of my least favorite eras and I guess this game really hammered in why that’s the case.

The anger this game made me feel has nothing to do with any lacking on its part though, rather -the story provoked anger as opposed to my being mad due to shortcomings. It’s incredibly well done. Its almost all reading however, in a way even most other VNs don’t quite embody, as 95% of the game is reading logs and letters left behind by long gone inhabitants of an ancient spaceship that’s spent centuries floating through the void, unmanned.

The Grand Ball [03/09]: ★★★★★★✰✰✰✰
A short VN of a few hours that can be completed in a single session. This one is set during a ball in victorian era England and is full of the classism, political intrigue and snark one would expect in such a setting. Its well researched and a lot of fun — though obviously not as deep or developed as a longer story would be. I enjoyed it.

Soulcraft [03/10]: ★★★★★✰✰✰✰✰
Grindy basic of the basic mobile hack and slash. It works, missions are quick, it has a functional story, customisable upgrades, and all of this combines into something that’s probably of better quality than most mobile ports. Achievements work but seem a little buggy, most pop after doing a mission post-accomplishment or quitting and returning.

I’d have given it a higher score if the last achievements hadn’t been so far from what is needed to complete the game. I grinded most of those 1 million souls after there was absolutely nothing else to do. The game isn’t terrible but 100%ing it really makes it overstay its welcome, and it’s ultimately a pretty forgettable experience.

I fully admit the only reason I selected this game for my play queue was because I accidentally unlocked one “starter” achievement when I checked out the game months ago and wanted to at least even out a lot of my 1% games in my average.

Snow White Solitaire: Charmed Kingdom [03/10]: ★★★★★★★✰✰✰
This game isn’t going to win any awards for innovation, but if you like solitaire and jigsaw puzzles you could do a lot worse. Its bright, colorful and pretty, the setting, art and music is really nice and it’s one of those games that’s great to play while winding down for bed. I played this here and there each night for quite a while until I completed it, and I enjoyed doing so.

I didn’t run across any bugs, issues or problems at all, and it was an overall pleasant frustration free experience. I think there’s a sequel coming that’s essentially more of the same with a focus on the dwarven kingdom. I’ll probably pick it up on sale or bundled since I liked this one.

Legend of Grimrock [03/11]: ★★★★★★★★★★
Okay so I know I played, beat and reviewed this last year and gave it a lower score (8 maybe?) but I have been working on replaying this off and on since January 1st in order to 100% it, (Including hard mode with my best friend watching me when he came to visit), knowing that Old School especially would be a huge challenge. But I knew I could do it and I did. And now that it’s over I feel much like I did when I got that last achievement in Desktop Dungeons. Bittersweet. I really do have a sense of accomplishment but I also feel like I’m saying farewell to an old friend.
I guess sharing the game with my best friend increased the nostalgia of finally finishing even more, but as I played and replayed LoG with different builds and different goals in mind, I really began to appreciate more and more how well made and designed this game really is.

And the story too, despite being so minimal, is great. I love the last boss. Who I have nicknamed Cube Zero, lol.

Though the old school no map achievement was a beast, even when using online maps to try to orient myself, since it’s so easy to get turned around… I didn’t feel frustrated even once, just challenged. Really, a positive experience and a great game. My one complaint would be the lack of skill points preventing you from playing around with builds too much but even that shortcoming is a manageable one.

A Hand in the Darkness [03/13]: ★★★★★★✰✰✰✰
Wow this VN was a bit uh, racier than any I’ve played. And yet, and well integrated into the story which was interesting. Any risque contents were text only and the VN isn’t voiced, which I honestly prefer in all ways (and I usually mute voices when given the option anyway so, no points deducted there).

While I did enjoy the story though, I still have reasons to deduct some points for a few reasons. There aren’t any changing of expressions, the CGs don’t match the other versions of the characters well, the music is rather uninspired and doesn’t match the setting, and there are quite a few errors. Oddly, 90% of them in one character’s route. That same character has a lot of problems in general (and I thought he’d be the sweet/regular one and saved it for last, hoo boy).

But I did like it, honestly. A little more polish before final release would have done some good though. It’s a early 1900s mystery set in a British boys only boarding school, and tells the tale of 4 young men and their interactions with each other as they prepare for college. With a dash of murder.

Age of Enigma: The Secret of the Sixth Ghost [03/14]: ★★★★★★★✰✰✰
I really wanted this game because its a HOG with a really different sort of painted art style and I loved how colorful it was. And I did actually really enjoy it. Though it does end on a sort of cliffhanger note. The ending gives closure but also makes it clear not everything is over, setting things up for a possible sequel I guess. The puzzles are definitely not standard HOG type fair and ranged from fun to outright challenging, which I appreciated. Though the spatial reasoning type ones drove me mad, lol. Not sure how long this took but I’m guessing 4-5 hours? I forgot to close it out on the night I completed it, alt tabbing and discovering it was still running the next morning.

Leaving Lyndow [03/14]: ★★★★★★✰✰✰✰
A short and sweet little walking sim that can be done in one session about a young woman who’s about to leave her sleepy village and head out into the world as an explorer. You take control of her last day as she says goodbyes and prepares to leave.

The farm was beautiful and I took a lot of screenshots of the area. Music is nice enough, graphics are nice (the people are very strange looking, but in an intentional way, and I liked it). I wish there had been a little more world building because I liked what I saw. Even just more reading material or dialog would have boosted the experience without a great deal of extra work.

Red Embrace [03/18]: ★★★★★★★★✰✰
Exceeded my expectation in all ways. It’s great, from the writing, to the music, to the art. Its polished and high quality, with all individual elements being top notch without taking away from the whole or being distracting. I usually don’t care about adult content at all (or deliberately avoid it unless its meaningful/tasteful/part of the story — nothing turns me away faster than just-because “”””fanservice”””” games ugh), but I would have actually enjoyed this title being a little more risque content than the pg13 it is. Taking part in a world filled with vampires and shady businessmen (that you can date), the characters are suitably sensual and its written with a perfect balance of dark and sultry, and elegantly delivered.

If there are any cons, it would be that it’s all over too soon and more worldbuilding, development, plot etc., would have been nice. But as it’s in the 3-5 hour category with a price of about 5 bucks, it succeeds at all it sets out to do. I’d throw money at a long version without hesitation.

Arvale: Treasure of Memories [03/21]: ★★★★★★✰✰✰✰
I’m torn on even trying to rate this one. There’s a lot going on here with a lot of good and bad. I actually enjoyed the last ¼ of the game a great deal more than the rest. It took that long for the story to really interest me at all. Most of the humor falls flat though there were some really good laughs, just few and far between. And the whole “memory flashback” thing, which is supposed to carry you through all the other games and be a fun story for people who have played them -and- those that haven’t, doesn’t really work. I spent a good portion of this game feeling like I was a 3rd party witnessing an inside joke I was never let in on. And those past games aren’t on steam, I think they were mobile games or something.

My next complaint is combat. I got the deluxe edition when I bought this, and it came with a super savefile which I had no intention of using, but I said to “hell with this” about 2 hours in, and restarted with the save. Even with an abundance of items and the final sets of every one’s equipment, it was still a grindfest. And I never felt a bit overpowered. The grind is weird too, I believe the real reason it felt so drawn out is that even with this equipment, every encounter still took several rounds and the entire game is slow. Slow combat, slow movement speed. It works well and is incompetent, but it felt like every single step was through a foot of snow. And even master gear didn’t include snowshoes.

However I really did enjoy chapter 4, a lot. Chapter 3 was an improvement over the first two. Even so, it was a slog. I am glad I stuck with it in the end but I would never ever suggest someone play this without the super save file. I play a lot of turn based rpgs, including the antiquated ones that inspired this and a lot of other RPGMaker games that claim the same influences, and I don’t think I have ever seen cannon fodder basic leveling fights take this long in any of them. It saps the fun out. It only became bearable when I found a great grinding spot with really inflated exp gains and dedicated an entire day to straight leveling and even then the result after I moved on was still “kinda slow”. Improved, but still a drag to get through.

With some speed changes, a little more polish and balance this could be a fun game. It’s well made and competently written. But as it is, its more frustration that it’s worth and artificially long — even though I did enjoy the later bits and am glad I made it to its conclusion, I’d have to say pass on Arvale.

Voodoo Garden [03/21]: ★★★★★★★✰✰✰
This game probably isn’t much to write home about as far as innovation goes but its colorful, cute and fun. A friend of mine gifted me this on my birthday as we were both playing Plantera at the time, and its very similar. An idle/clicker game about growing a garden but there are a few twists. Your garden is a bayou, your helpers are ghosts, and your crafts are voodoo supplies lol.

Its fun, its functional, sounds and music are okay, its pretty and I enjoyed it. No bugs/issues or problems with achievements.

Her Story [03/22]: ★★★★★★★★✰✰
…Wow. What a narrative, presented with a lot of twists and turns, and a couple of really different ways of interpreting what it all means. There’s only one answer as far as I’m concerned hehe.

(Anything I say other than talking about the quality of this game would be a spoiler lol).

Gazing from Beyond [03/26]: ★★★✰✰✰✰✰✰✰
Wow, um okay. When I bought this during the Sakura Games Lootbox Extravaganza expecting garbage.

Maybe it is a dumpster fire in the way it was released, but you can tell this game was made with a lot of heart by someone before being put through a paper shredder, even if the current state is an absolute mess. There are quite a few things in raw Chinese, progress breaking bugs in the English version you have to temporarily swap into Chinese to pass through, and the most piss poor translation ever. If this was given the beauty of well translated localized prose, it would probably be very good. And even though its butchered to the point of it being a total disservice to the original work, the story was still somehow interesting, and quite sad (when it made sense). I disapproved of Eureka and her ways, and as a character so much (along with her incestuous desperation and the theme in general of cousins in love) that I didn’t care if there was any decent end or not, but by the game ended I actually wished there was an outcome that wasn’t as tragic once things are revealed. I can’t say I recommend this hot mess to anyone in good conscience because of all the quality issues but I really did not expect this to be as enjoyable as it was.

Note: Not sure if the last achievements are unlockable or not.

Highway Blossoms [03/27]: ★★✰✰✰✰✰✰✰✰
After giving the above game a higher rating and how well praised HB is, my giving it a 2 might look like a typo. Its not. Its a 2, and 1 of that is for the amazing music and 1 for well done art.

I stuck with it but I really wish I’d just pressed auto and went to the grocery store. I thought I was getting a heartwarming lesbian romance story that was memorable and touching. But it’s all contrived, suspension of disbelief type stuff, with conflicts appearing and resolved by full on deus ex machina every s i n g l e time, plot holes big enough to drive an RV through and a full on arsenal of Chekov’s guns. No plot device is ever logical progression or buildup. The longer it goes on, the worse it gets. Also every single character is either so highly unlikeable or unrealistic it sapped any joy out of the story. This might be the most poorly constructed thing I’ve ever read. Highly disappointing. I have no idea how this hot mess is so loved. The command of English is competent, but the actual plot and story is so bad it seems like a first time writer’s project that was never critiqued before release. This is the writer’s version of embarrassing deviantart drawings.

Also applying the adult patch made the achievement pop but no scenes of any sort appeared at all. Something must have gone wrong — but I don’t care about sexual content that doesn’t add meaning to a narrative, and since I didn’t enjoy the story I won’t bother trying to tinker with it.

February Updates:

Pretty pleased with how many completed games I have here. Overall it was a great month with a lot of titles I mostly enjoyed.

  • Ashes of Immortality

    17 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • The Deed

    4 hours playtime

    17 of 17 achievements

  • Fix Me Fix You

    5 hours playtime

    5 of 5 achievements

  • Heart and Seoul

    6 hours playtime

    8 of 8 achievements

  • City of Chains

    31 hours playtime

    52 of 52 achievements

  • Outrage

    19 hours playtime

    41 of 41 achievements

  • Tibetan Quest: Beyond the World's End

    6 hours playtime

    18 of 18 achievements

  • Robin

    19 minutes playtime

    6 of 6 achievements

  • Lucy -The Eternity She Wished For-

    9 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • planetarian ~the reverie of a little planet~

    6 hours playtime

    19 of 19 achievements

  • Heileen 1: Sail Away

    6 hours playtime

    3 of 3 achievements

  • Heileen 2: The Hands Of Fate

    11 hours playtime

    15 of 15 achievements

  • Heileen 3: New Horizons

    23 hours playtime

    22 of 22 achievements

  • Highrise Heroes: Word Challenge

    42 hours playtime

    36 of 36 achievements

  • Valentine Panic

    5 hours playtime

    15 of 15 achievements

  • Flower Shop: Summer In Fairbrook

    9 hours playtime

    4 of 4 achievements

Ashes of Immortality [02/01]: ★★★★★★✰✰✰✰
Decent. Honestly. I mean, I enjoy RPGMaker games and this one is a good one. No issues, interesting skills, good difficulty, just grindy enough, no complaints. Relatively straightforward and hassle free, if maybe a little too simplistic. I liked the gothic setting and premise a great deal. My biggest complaint is that while I completely get what they were going for, some of the dialog was soooo juvenile. I understand that while not a comedy, everyone being an extreme edgelord is kind of the point. Is kitschy what I’m looking for? Satirical? Not sure. But groaning and rolling my eyes and getting annoyed is only a good reaction when the cause is quality, like a well placed pun, lmao. That wasn’t the case here. And most of the biggest offenders in this complaint were old-as-dirt vampires. It doesn’t have to be all stuffy and pretentious but still, a bunch of ancient all powerful beings shouldn’t sound like immature 12 year old try hards all the time. I will most likely play the sequels though, especially since I already have them and I found myself oddly invested in some of the characters even with these complaints. Hell, thinking about it, the character I care about seeing in the future the most is one of the worst two tacky edgelords in the whole story. I guess it must have some charm, even as it annoyed me?

The Deed [02/03]: ★★★★★★★✰✰✰
Short, sweet, old time murder “mystery”, in a dark and dreary setting. Except it’s not a mystery at all, since you’re the killer. The point is to try to frame someone else for your evil deeds. The entire family is horrible and dislikeable, which makes all the combinations of things you can do, quite fun. I did feel bad for the servants though. They’re the only people in the game that I felt any remorse in framing. There’s enough dialog and backstory for atmosphere but once you have explored the mansion, you can complete it very fast — to try to figure out good combinations to implicate all the other characters.

Really fun all the way around. It’s sort of like playing Clue. Except its not. Lol. It’s more like making the detective play Clue and hoping you don’t get arrested for it. :D

Fix Me Fix You [02/04]: ★★★✰✰✰✰✰✰✰
Just not good at all. No game breaking bugs, no huge problems but absolutely nothing that I enjoyed or grabbed me, either. I didn’t like any of the characters (especially the guy you play as, ugh) and the voices were all grating and annoying with no way to turn them down. The music was okay as was the art but it just wasn’t a good time. I have never felt as though a game this short overstayed its welcome like this before. However while I don’t recommend it I will say it’s not terrible, or trash, or shovelware. They tried, I just really didn’t like it. Now I have played some other VNs by this guy and the quality varies. I consider everything I’ve touched by the dev “junk food” level VNs but some I’ve had fun with. This one is the least enjoyable of the bunch so far and I hope it stays that way.

Heart and Seoul [02/05]: ★★★★★✰✰✰✰✰
Ah, here we go. Cheesy, kinda shallow but fun. Same dev as above. Junk food subpar single session VN with two love interests. Nothing to write home about but well made, all the characters were likable enough even if a bit bland. Short, to the point — quick timekiller. And a huge improvement from the above game.

City of Chains [02/09]: ★★★★★★★★★★
Absolutely excellent cyberpunk dystopian RPGmaker game. A lot of parts reminded me of events in my old Shadowrun sessions. I really liked every bit of this game, and getting all the achievements was honestly enjoyable even in all the replays — since a lot of them were based around getting completely different outcomes in the story.

Interesting characters (love the design too), great plot, and a really fun time. I loved it.

Something of note, as well… I really liked every single person in my team, even though they were all a complete clash of personalities. That’s excellence in writing, right there.

And I love C.A.I. :)

Outrage [02/10]: ★★★★★★✰✰✰✰ [SG Win] (Re-visited and 100%ed)
Okay so. I won Outrage a long time ago on SG and beat it but I had absolutely no interest in 100%ing it since it meant at least 2 more playthroughs. However, it’s made by the same dev as City of Chains, and after playing and loving that one, I decided to revisit it.

It’s supposed to be a short and shallow dungeon crawler and I didn’t really enjoy it previously. I also found it way too hard.

However… playing it after City of Chains changed everything up considerably. It was like a supplement almost. The story is still brief and barely there but its functional and fun if you think about it like a sort of bonus story or side quest portion of City of Chains.

Also, after playing CoC, which is a longer and more immersive, deeper experience, I found the hardest difficulty of Outrage a breeze instead of constant frustration — because I understood what to do, what to avoid and had a solid understanding of stats, statuses and mechanics — something I didn’t really have going for me when I played Outrage the first time. And it completely changed my take away from it. Before I dreaded the mere concept of going back and getting everything and just left it beaten but far from 100%. After doing it post-CoC, the experience was fast and fun.

Tibetan Quest: Beyond the World’s End [02/10]: ★★★★✰✰✰✰✰✰
Sadly this is the poorest Artifex Mundi game I have experienced. So unenjoyable in fact, I didn’t even do the bonus quest (since there was no achievement connected to it, I didn’t have the motivation to slog through it). Normally I would have done the bonus and had fun doing so, since these things are typically epilogs or true endings, or story supplements, but no. I couldn’t wait to be done with this game. Also it took me several sessions over a few days, because I just didn’t like it. All the taking things, breaking priceless ancient artifacts and everything about the main character’s actions seemed ruder than usual too, to the point of disrespect instead of just par for the course in these games. I’m assuming this has something to do with the overall presentation though I can’t pinpoint it specifically.

All the weird little logic breaks in HOG tasks were here in extremes, a lot of it made no sense, and the Tibetan theme was so poorly done. To call it an aesthetic even, is giving it more credit than deserved and so much of it had nothing at all to do with Tibet. A lot of Chinese themed things though… and one bit I swear was Aztec, though I didn’t screencap it so I can’t go back and be sure. The story was uninteresting and really, all the cheesiness I enjoy in HOGs just got on my nerves in this one. Also the last collector object I found by purely clicking absolutely everywhere on the screen where I knew it had to be. I still have no idea if it was even visually there, honestly.

Giving it 4 stars solely on the fact it worked, no achievements were broken and it had AM level production values, but ultimately a disappointment. Which is a shame because I like AM, I like HOGs and I was really interested in this one because of the Tibetan theme.

Robin [02/11] ★★★★★★✰✰✰✰
Short (really short) free game about spoon theory and CFS. Hoo boy do I relate to this sentiment, especially in the middle of an MS flare up. Too short to be involved or get too attached but the BIRD. Feeding the bird daily is a must. :)

I don’t feel right giving something this puny more than 6 stars but it was relatable, aesthetically cute and did I mention the bird?

Lucy -The Eternity She Wished For- [2/11] ★★★★★★★✰✰✰
I’m so torn on this. I never thought I’d ever be able to say something as ridiculous as “hey I played a game that references Asimov’s Three Laws of Robotics, Schopenhauer and Theseus’s Paradox” -OR- then turn around and give it a lukewarm review, but here we are.

Lucy is a very endearing character, the idea behind the game is great, the production values are high, its a good plot and comes highly rated for a reason. I had an emotional response more than once, too.

But man, as much as I’d love to be able to rate this higher, I just can’t. The main protag is one of the most aggravating, nonsensical, rude, grating characters I’ve ever seen. It becomes fairly easy to see why he’s like this but he never really gets any better even when he should and the catalysts for character development are there. He just stagnantes in his own dislikable nature instead. Oh, he also contradicts himself way too much and too fast. I noticed more than once he’d make a strong statement about his opinion and then say he felt the opposite way in the next sentence. I don’t know if this was flat out bad writing or if we’re supposed to see the character as conflicted, but its not presented that way at all. And if it’s that hard to tell it isn’t doing the experience any favors.

And Lucy, as much as I love her, sometimes behaves in ways that go completely against her programming — and this is just a thing that happens here and there and not a plot point or anything examined in any meaningful way??? It’s like the writers forgot here and there that she’s actually a robot. Does she have emotions? A soul? Is she real? These are all such great points and existential meanderings worthy of the narrative. But — she did something completely out of bounds and we’re not going to use that as a plot point or explain why or anything, just roll with it — is a disservice.

I’m glad I played this but there are a lot of missteps. Still, you can tell it was made with a lot of heart. Just a touch more editing and polishing the story to smooth out these things would have bumped it from above average to absolutely stellar, though.

planetarian -the reverie of a little planet- [02/15] ★★★★★★★★★★
I picked this immediately after Lucy because I thought “hey, similar themes probably!”

I… I don’t know what to say. And I wouldn’t even if I did know what to say, because I really do not want to start sobbing again.

The only thing that’s ever made me cry harder than this, was SOMA. I don’t know exactly what I expected out of this title but it damn sure wasn’t this. I’m emotionally compromised.

Heileen 1: Sail Away ★★★★★✰✰✰✰✰ [02/16]
Subpar sound, some horrible writing (I’m looking at you, Marie — she’s so grating and doesn’t even make sense, she falls apart and throws tantrums for no reason at all) and some huge huge missteps in several areas. And lord, some things were handled in a uhhhhh…. problematic, downright yikesy way — though I’m certain intentions were good. But I don’t think this hot mess would win any sensitivity points. This is my first experience with Winter Wolves even though I have lots of their games in my inventory (and while none were at full price I have spent a lot of money on their stuff according to my cheap ass gamer sensibilities, lol).

I don’t know what to say. It doesn’t deserve as many stars as I’m giving it. But its getting them. I somehow had a good time despite all the flaws. My reviews aren’t objective in any way, it’s solely based on my personal enjoyment. I can’t tell you why I enjoyed it this much. But I did. Maybe something that didn’t rip me to shreds after Planetarian is the key to this but still.

I do love this very different art style, as well.

And I have heard this is one of the first games WW ever put out, and the weakest. I just hope the rest aren’t quite this… tone deaf. I do look forward to playing more and seeing improvements though.

Heileen 2: The Hands of Fate ★★★★★★★✰✰✰ [02/18]
I enjoyed this one a lot more. A great deal of improvement in all areas, though there were some tropes here that should have stayed buried, yikes. The native tribe particularly. But I enjoyed the experience a lot overall, despite kind of gritting my teeth and rolling my eyes at a couple of parts.

Heileen 3: New Horizons ★★★★★★★★✰✰ [02/20]
Boy am I glad I stuck with it, and played all 3 together with nothing major in between them. I don’t know what to say. This game probably wouldn’t win anyone over who detests VNs or the earlier games in the Heileen series, but I loved the game (despite really really not liking some of the love interests). I didn’t expect to like this game so much.

The art, the writing and the soundtrack… man I love the soundtrack. I’m gonna by the special edition for the music, its great.

I don’t know why, but overall I really loved this series and enjoyed it, even if it is mostly some weird boring slice of life in odd situations sort of thing — with -some- pretty unlikeable characters (Marie and Sebastian take the cake), and some absolute sleaze balls in the romanceable men options. But. I loved the trilogy a lot.

Some of the final romance ends even made me tear up and I don’t know why.

The real reason I deducted 2 stars on Heileen 3 is the awful slog that is getting the last professions, when you don’t have any love endings left to break up the monotony. It’s a carpal tunnel clickfest. It was worth it to me since each profession has 3 scenes with one of the characters plus a conclusion and I wanted to see everything — but man I wish some quality of life improvements had been made on the stat raising. Its so many clicks per task, for no real reason. :/

Also I’m pretty sad Robert (and to a smaller extent, Jack) got sold so short. There wasn’t enough of either of them in the game at all, and honestly if Ebele was a romance option, Robert should have been too.

Highrise Heroes: Word Challenge ★★★★★★★✰✰✰ [02/20]
I played this game off and on for weeks, breaking up various VN sessions. As there are so few good word games on steam, I’m glad this one is great. Lots to do, amusing (if not serious) story and a good bit of variety. Collecting all the stars and bananas is fun.

However, the addition of number levels and timed levels (…and timed number levels) were usually more of a hassle to me than fun and relaxing, and I found them a little too stressful to give this a 10 star relaxing-casual-time sort of rating. Neither of the above are too bad if you just want to pass them, but the 3 star requirement and challenge bonuses of those types of levels were a headache. Still loved the game though.

Valentine Panic ★★★★★✰✰✰✰✰ [02/26]
Short, sweet and cute VN which surprised me as I didn’t expect something this quick and cheap to have voice acting. Setting is working at a cafe and the work is handled through a mini game of drinks and sweets themed memory. Good art and characters, decent voice work mostly and competent writing. Its so short though, that you don’t have much chance to get too attached. Ultimately, like a couple of the other bite sized VNs by this dev, there just isn’t quite enough to have too strong of an option, though one of her games (a much longer one) was the first VN and first Otome I ever played. So I appreciate being introduced to a genre I love playing but I can’t recommend this one unless you want something that’s about as brief as possible while still being competent.

Flower Shop: Summer in Fairbrook [02/27]: ★★★★★★★✰✰✰
Okay so I really liked this but I didn’t think I would at all, and I was groaning and aggravated a lot at the start, so I’ll get why out of the way first.

The main character is supposed to start out as an asshole. The problem is, he’s too much of one and I hated him at first. I think this point was just hammered in a little too forcefully too early in the game and it made the MC way too unrelatable and unlikeable as a consequence. I think it came across a little more harshly than intended by the writer because it’s so strongly emphasized but once the setting changes and he gets sent away to Fairbrook, he starts quickly undergoing some character development, and fast. By the end I even liked him. Which gets me to the most important point of all. I liked every single character in this VN by the end, (except the dad and he’s not supposed to be likeable, nor is he around much) which was refreshing. While this game isn’t that long or deep, it got an emotional response out of me a few times anyway and the writing is quite decent all the way through.

My other complaint, and its a major one if you don’t look up a walkthrough — doing too well (which I did by more than double my first playthrough) at the farming sim part completely locks you out of all romance endings and as a consequence — all achievements. There’s a totally different ending for doing well at farming (oddly without an achievement) which is nice too but its not intuitive at all that you can’t start a romance with anyone if you make too much money while farming. In VNs, I always play unguided the first time, making natural choices, and then look up info after the credits roll. If I hadn’t done that in this case, I could have failed to get any endings endless number of times without understanding why. There’s absolutely nothing to clue you in that doing well in the sim means no time for love, especially as it’s not an optional task. You’re in the garden every morning regardless of what you choose to do in the afternoons. Once you get the initial loveless ending, it’s better to water an empty square of dirt for 6 hours a day than care for any plants, which is a downright strange gameplay mechanic.

January Updates:

Kicking off the year to a good start, even though I had a week or so when I had company at home and didn’t play anything much. :D

  • Evening Surprise

    2 hours playtime

    4 of 4 achievements

  • Six Days of Snow

    4 hours playtime

    7 of 7 achievements

  • A Date in the Park

    2 hours playtime

    9 of 9 achievements

  • My Lady

    59 minutes playtime

    9 of 9 achievements

  • Letter Quest: Grimm's Journey Remastered

    52 hours playtime

    60 of 60 achievements

  • LiEat

    10 hours playtime

    30 of 30 achievements

  • Labyronia RPG

    22 hours playtime

    6 of 6 achievements

  • Labyronia RPG 2

    24 hours playtime

    6 of 6 achievements

  • Anime Studio Simulator

    13 hours playtime

    8 of 9 achievements

  • Legend of Mysteria

    9 hours playtime

    6 of 6 achievements

  • Valiant: Resurrection

    15 hours playtime

    13 of 13 achievements

Evening Surprise [01/02]: ★★★★★✰✰✰✰✰
Short and full of translation errors but readable, and while it has shortcomings you can tell it was made with heart. It’s all in the surprise, lol. I’d give it even more stars if it had been written in a way that was totally plausible and not in any way oddly worded once you do know the reveal. It got me though, and I laughed quite a bit once I got my surprise.

Six Days of Snow [01/04]: ★★★★★★★★✰✰
A very real, somber, no fantasy story that tackles a very realistic but uncomfortable plot. The notes you can read after the epilog really make the author’s thoughts and inspirations known, and I think she really hit the mark. It could have been seen as something less savory than what was intended if left to the imagination, especially as topics like this are sadly not uncommon in the VN world as a whole (and presented poorly as well). Knowing the extra bit of detail and reasoning behind the story easily pushed this into an 8 star experience.

A Date in the Park [01/04]: ★★★★★★★✰✰✰
Okay, so. Uh, wow. I can’t say anything really except my joy over seeing the cute ducks at the beginning went south fast. At first this game might seem really strange once you get to the ending, but the nuances of the story’s meaning is all in the mythology references you get breadcrumb hints about along the way. If you know ahead of time (or look up afterwards) the mythological characters mentioned on the statues in the park, you can see there’s a symbolic reason or point behind it all that’s more than just “point and click nonsense plot”.

My Lady [01/04]: ★★★★★✰✰✰✰✰
I like the fact you can name the main character and her love interest, and the fact all the characters are faceless shadows is an interesting design choice too. The writing is also really well done. However… there’s just not enough of it! I don’t mind short games at all, and there was a lot of nice variety in the endings, but I would have gladly paid double the price for double the length. It was at the point where you could just start feeling pulled into the story, then it ends.

Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey Remastered [01/08]: ★★★★★★★★✰✰
There’s honestly not a lot to be said that I didn’t already say about the original version I 100%ed last year. However there are some improvements, more achievements, a new soundtrack, some additions — and it’s a completely separate game in my steam library so I finally decided to complete it as well. I’ve played it a lot over a long period of time but I got the last 50% or so of the achievements in 2018. It’s a really fun word game, and if you’re familiar with Bookworm Adventures it’s mostly the same premise (with a silly story).

LiEat [01/15]: ★★★★★★★✰✰✰
A nice little game, pretty pixel graphics, good enough story with a really interesting premise and a lot of nice ideas thrown in. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon. I might have set my expectations a bit too high, but I didn’t regret the time spent playing LiEat. A lot of the story concepts in general in this game felt really interesting and fresh. I’d love to see some more content in this unusual dragon world.

(Note: The Labyronia Series: I think I got this games in a bundle actually on steam, for next to nothing, while I still had well under 100 games in my inventory — and somehow I just now got around to playing them. …Best .09 to .49 cents a piece (lol I don’t remember) I ever spent. I really wished I’d played these sooner.)

Labyronia [01/17]: ★★★★★★★★✰✰
Anyway, I’m kinda stunned. It starts off like most games of its type do, and while it was fun at first it really did exceed all my expectations — especially for a mostly one man solo dev project — even if it is an RPGMaker creation. I loved playing it, I loved the story and the ending (and the final events leading up to it, even when I thought I saw it all coming) had a greater impact than I thought it would.

It’s a little tough and slightly grindy in all the right ways without ever overstaying its welcome. The cues premise for skill learning is pretty cool, and different since its more about exploring than straight out leveling for upgrades. The mazes are kind of hellish so I did look up a map/directions for the desert and snow lands (and I’d recommend anyone else doing the same). I never had any of the problems I saw people discussing on steam like it being just impossible, maybe it’s because things like hidden (but still slightly obvious) hidden paths, proper counterability gear and elements use, and hellishly maze-y dungeons are just things I’m used to from the good old nes and snes days. Anyway, I went in expecting a meh experience and enjoyed it completely. There were some minor English errors (usually in the optional-to-read books), but nothing at all deal breaking or impossible to understand — Its the occasional awkwardness of English not being the native language of the dev rather than flat out translation errors. Wording was sometimes a little strange but always got the point across. And did I say I loved the story?

Labyronia 2 [01/20]: ★★★★★★★★★✰
I’m just letting the end theme play while I write this. I just beat the final boss. I’m emotionally compromised.

It built on the first game, continued from the first game, threw me into a bleak, dark, hazy and hopeless world and. Just. Arres. Ugh Arres.

So okay, there are a lot of language errors in the first town for some reason and that kinda worried me at first but there’s probably more there in that starting location than the rest of the game combined and like before, it was never to the point you couldn’t understand what was meant.

And yeah. A familiar but totally different world, expanded on and rearranged and all messed up.

Just like my heart. :/ (lol)

Legend of Mysteria [01/24]: ★★★★★★✰✰✰✰
A mixed bag. I wish I liked it more than I did. The premise was great and it really should be played after Labyronia 1 (and probably 2 as well). It’s a good supplement to the story and world building, though the gameplay is more like a point and click adventure game.

The reason I can’t give this one a higher rating is that while I get the intent, some parts of it are so archaic and frustrating that I can’t imagine ever succeeding at this without a guide. I loved the books, notes and letters and some of the puzzles and those were hard enough since there was a lot to keep up with. My real issue is aside from even these, there were so many things I don’t understand anyone figuring out without endless trial and error.

Anime Studio Simulator [01/22]: ★★★★★✰✰✰✰✰ [SG Win]
Ugh, okay. A real mixed bag here. I liked the premise, all the main cast members were very likeable and despite only having incredibly minor knowledge of, and no interest in anime, this was still a nice slice of life VN with stat managing elements. The visuals and audio were all good. Its well made. The story gets the job done, it’s interesting and it feels good to see your tiny team succeed.

So why only 5 of 10 stars? Frustration!

Completing the game is a total slog sometimes, and doing it well was far harder than it ever should have been. The reason for this is funding. Everything else you have to manage in game is completely doable once you understand how things work, but money is the killer every single time. Even when the occasional random events land in your favor, your finances remain a huge problem every time, and I believe the flow of funding is far more fickle than it should be in a game that’s supposed to be relaxing. The achievements are a problem too. I ended up having a very hard time getting some of them to unlock even when I knew I did what was required. In the end I had to redo it with skip over and over again to 100% it, long after I’d experienced all the dialog. A little balance and polish would bump this game up but as it stands now all I can say is “meh”.

Valiant: Resurrection [01/26]: ★★★★✰✰✰✰✰✰
I really enjoyed this one — to a point, and then it became a great disappointment, sadly. I loved the premise and the story was really good at first. One of the things I really enjoyed was the protagonist. He was really likable and fleshed out as a character, and despite the traumatic reasons for his quest he was actually empathetic and kind! — subverting the silent protagonist and stoic hero tropes.

There was a lot of nice build up and the other characters were enjoyable too, and I was easily able to overlook a small error here and there… but then about halfway through everything tanked. The dialog became rushed, shallow and riddled with spelling errors (sometimes 3-4 per sentence!) like “somethign” and “strenght”… things even the most rudimentary spellcheck would have caught. After this mess started the entire story fell flat, and all the resolutions were handled so briefly and shallowly that it was hardly worth it. I don’t know why the second half or so, was so terribly rushed but it ruined what could have been a really nice game. Meh.

Full List of Games Completed or Beaten in 2017

Eternal Senia [01/01]
Shadowrun Returns (Dead Man’s Switch) [01/03]
Ys I [01/04]
Shadowrun: Dragonfall [01/11]
Buried: An Interactive Story [01/18]
Nihilumbra [01/19]
Legend of Grimrock II [01/28]
Ys II [01/29]
Legend of Grimrock [02/26]
Root Of Evil: The Tailor [02/27]
De-Void [03/02]
Solarix [03/15]
Amnesia: The Dark Descent [03/18]
Space Pilgrim Episode I: Alpha Centauri [03/21]
Space Pilgrim Episode II: Epsilon Indi [03/23]
Zup! 3 [03/24]
Tormentum - Dark Sorrow [03/25]
Sparkle Zero [04/14]
Penumbra: Overture [04/18]
Human Resource Machine [04/19]
Left in the Dark: No One on Board [04/19]
Clockwork Tales: Of Glass and Ink [04/24]
Solstice [04/24]
Penumbra: Black Plague [04/24]
Kathy Rain: A Detective is Born [04/27]
Hatoful Boyfriend [04/30]
Twilight City: Love as a Cure [05/03]
The Moon Sliver [05/03]
The Music Machine [05/03]
Vampire Legends: The True Story of Kisilova [05/05]
One Last Chance [05/09]
Orion: A Sci-Fi Visual Novel [05/11]
ADR1FT [05/13]
Letter Quest: Grimm’s Journey [05/15]
Year Walk [05/15]
Outrage [05/16]
Nightmares from the Deep: The Cursed Heart [05/17]
Belladonna [05/17]
Pizza Express [05/18]
Room 404 [05/18]
Sigils of Elohim [05/19]
Two Worlds [06/02]
The Descendant [06/04]
Gems of War [06/07]
Seduce Me: The Otome [06/08]
Time Mysteries: Inheritance - Remastered [06/09]
Hero of the Kingdom II [06/12]
Paper Sorcerer [07/11]
Amnesia™: Memories [07/13]
Sinless [07/15]
Time Mysteries 2: The Ancient Spectres [07/16]
Confess My Love [07/22]
Riaaf the Spider [07/22]
Sea Legends: Phantasmal Light CE [07/23]
The Vanishing of Ethan Carter/Redux [07/25]
Frankenstein: Master of Death [07/27]
Soma [08/07]
Mandagon [08/21]
Cupid (VN) [08/23]
Entschuldigung [08/25]
Plantera [08/26]
Crystal City [08/26]
Discouraged Workers (Teen Rating) [08/27]
Euclidean [08/29]
7 Wonders [09/02]
vvvvvv [09/04]
Forgotten, Not Lost - A Kinetic Novel [09/08]
Cube Runner [09/08]
Last Dream [09/13]
Desktop Dungeons [09/18]
Ame no Marginal -Rain Marginal- [09/23]
Sound of Drop -fall into poison- [09/26]
Glass Masquerade [10/06]
Exoptable Money [10/16]
Presentable Liberty [10/16]
Black Mirror I [10/22]
Nightmares from the Deep 2: The Siren’s Call [10/24]
Narcissu 10th Anniversary Anthology Project [10/31]
True Lover’s Knot [12/14]
Hustle Cat [12/21]
Songs of Araiah [12/24]
Last Days of Spring [12/26]
Last Days of Spring 2 [12/27]
Asphyxia [12/28]
Tharsis [12/31]
Armello [12/31]

Total: 86 (84 Steam)

Really proud of this, but I think its important to note that there are 2 types of games that appear here a lot more frequently than most:

1 - Games that are under 5 hours total.
2 - Games I finally beat in 2017 but I have played a whole lot in the past.

So its not the massive amount it might seem on first glance, but I’m happy with it, and its such an improvement. I don’t think I beat anything in 2016 because I just couldn’t find the enthusiasm or accountability to do so. I’ve also finished a lot of books this year (something else I probably never did to completion a single time in 2016). So this is certainly a success, and movement in the right direction!

Wrapping up 2017

Updates became really sparse at the end of the year and there were a lot of reasons. Between house renovations, family visits, the holidays, my health and just life getting in the way of getting much done, I didn’t make as much progress as I would have liked on my backlog. Because of all this, it didn’t seem so feasible to make any updates at all, but going forward even if its only a couple of things for the month I’m going to try to do better in keeping up. I may even want to make a monthly update post just to note that I wasn’t able to complete anything, instead of letting my blog grow stagnant.

Even with less time than usual, I did get some things checked off (with a couple of added honorable mentions), so let’s wrap up the year!

October, November and December Updates:

This list won’t be nearly as long as my typical single monthly list (I really didn’t get anything at all done in November) but as this is a “last quarter” timeframe, its still a fairly sizable chunk of games for me to review, so lets get right into things.

(Also I realized while making this post these games are all casual, low impact games which makes sense as my hands have been bothering me but I didn’t realize this until now, hehe. Maybe I’ll get into some more active gameplay in 2018!)

  • Glass Masquerade

    4 hours playtime

    27 of 27 achievements

  • Black Mirror I

    17 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Narcissu 10th Anniversary Anthology Project

    51 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Nightmares from the Deep 2: The Siren's Call

    10 hours playtime

    29 of 29 achievements

  • True Lover's Knot

    5 hours playtime

    4 of 4 achievements

  • Hustle Cat

    16 hours playtime

    12 of 12 achievements

  • Songs of Araiah: Re-Mastered Edition

    5 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Last Days of Spring Visual Novel

    5 hours playtime

    9 of 9 achievements

  • Last Days of Spring 2

    7 hours playtime

    6 of 7 achievements

  • Asphyxia

    13 hours playtime

    8 of 8 achievements

  • Doki Doki Literature Club

    10 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Tharsis

    15 hours playtime

    7 of 12 achievements

  • Armello

    18 hours playtime

    14 of 50 achievements

Non-Steam Game Mentions:

Exoptable Money [10/16]
Presentable Liberty [10/16]

Um, ★★★★★★★★✰✰ stars?

I played these two little indie “games” together as I was told they do go together and are set in the same universe, and one is an idle game and I have 2 monitors so I figured I’d do them at the same time. Hoo boy, I don’t even know what to say. Both are an experience, together it was experience². Food for thought. I won’t say they were enjoyable from a pure gaming perspective but yikes. I don’t regret the time spent.

Glass Masquerade [10/06]: ★★★★★★★★✰✰ [SG Win]
A really nice short puzzle game that does what it does well, and the graphics and aesthetics are absolutely gorgeous. I enjoyed it a lot.

Black Mirror I [10/22]: ★★★★★★★★★✰
Despite never playing it until it was old school to the point of being a low res pain in the ass, I absolutely loved this game and the story was really engagueing. The main character (actually most people) are really unpleasant and unlikeable to any deep degree but at the same time its perfectly understandable why they are the way they are. This is a rare case where I was constantly muttering about the poor attitude, selfishness and “whatever you get, you deserve” nature of the player character, and it didn’t detract from the game play experience at all. The story here was superb, as was the atmosphere.

But he still didn’t actually deserve what he got in the end tbh lol.

Nightmares from the Deep 2: The Siren’s Call [10/24]: ★★★★★★★✰✰✰
A continuation of the first game, and a genuine sequal that picked up where the first one left off. Standard artifex mundi fare, high quality production values and a LOT of unexpected Lovecraft references that really amused me. The animations and voice overs could have been better as usual but I had a good time, and the things that weren’t great were not a surprise. No problems with any puzzles or unlocking achievements for once!

Narcissu 10th Anniversary Anthology Project [10/31]: ★★★★★★★★✰✰
This game is supposed to hit you like a truck to the chest and it did several times, without being melodramatic (too much). I found myself hit the hardest by something that was probably meant to be a very small thing, but I think its because it really reminded me of my mother, when one of the ill characters in one of the stories noticed her mother’s hands not being as well manicured like they used to be, because of sacrifices the mother had made in taking care of her sick child. All in all, a wonderful experience but I’m docking a couple of stars here because there were some times it dragged so much I had to just hold on and keep playing. Though there was no story, at all, period, that I regretted playing or felt I wasted my time on once I’d reached the end of the arc.

True Lover’s Knot [12/14]: ★★★★✰✰✰✰✰✰
This was not a great VN but it had potential. I could pick apart almost every facet of this game and find huge faults with it (for example, the characters being uncannily sized wrong and out of proportion with each other, like one girl’s head being almost the size of the guy’s upper body when they are on screen together) but I’d give it a pass on almost all of these things on charm alone if it had been polished just a little more. After all I know the difference between a long, deep VN and a “junk food” cheap VN and I chose this one because I didn’t want something very long and deep at the time. The ending was a let down too, just spending 5 more minutes more on the endings would have made the game so much better, but each route gave about a sentence of conclusion.

Hustle Cat [12/21]: ★★★★★★★✰✰✰
Pretty interesting VN, nice art, nice story, has a lot going for it. But I would have really liked longer endings and one certain plot point being expanded on just a little — even though being open and mysterious is nice in its own way, if there’s no sequel that one thing really should have been made just a little more clear. Great writing and a lot of fun though.

Songs of Araiah [12/24]: ★★★★★✰✰✰✰✰
Mediocre in all ways but I still liked it. The story was fun in the “cheap VN” way. I grabbed it for a few tremor coins and it was a good enough time, but there’s no way in the world this thing is worth the 14.99 actual asking price. If it drops to like 99 cents or so, or is in a bundle, go for it but otherwise stay away. I’m usually completely not objective in my reviews and stick to a liked-it-or-not format but the asking price for the quality and time is an insult to good taste.

Last Days of Spring [12/26]: ★★★★✰✰✰✰✰✰
Made by the same dev as True Lover’s Knot and also more potential than execution but I played it anyway, mostly because see below. Anyway, I didn’t hate it but “cheap” really is the word of the day.

Last Days of Spring 2 [12/27]: ★★★★★★✰✰✰✰
Not amazing but a huge huge improvement. A lot more enjoyable, detailed, better art, better backgrounds, decent writing. Could still improve more and the endings could be a little less vague but the vague works a lot better here in the way its presented. At least there is obvious improvement in the dev’s work.

Asphyxia [12/28]: ★★★★★★★★★✰
Amazing bait and switch, I had no idea what this story was really about but I got suspicious in the first 10 minutes when there were just way too many convenient names and references. I really and truly enjoyed it because despite the entire change in all areas, there was still enough of the historical information bleeding through that I feel like I enjoyed it twice over (and I accidentally got both the obvious girls at boarding school story, and a huge personal historical interest story at the same time!). Unique and obviously not accurate at all but still accurate. -1 star for making my favorite poet an insufferable chore to be around (but that’s probably legit lol). This was my first VN by this author but I enjoyed it so much I picked up some more of her work, though I believe melodrama is her specialty. Also man, the art for this one is really pretty.

Games I’ve Probably Abandoned:

Doki Doki Literature Club[12/31]: ??????????
This is probably a 10 star experience for effort and the bottom line reveals (it seems nothing short of excellent) but now that I’ve gotten to the horror bits, I don’t like the way its affecting me at all. I won’t spoil it but I will say its not the type of horror that feels so detrimental to me, but the methods used. After completing only a small part of the “shit’s just gone south” portion, I felt like I was about to have a seizure (and I don’t even have epilepsy to my knowledge?) but I felt very… disconnected, ungrounded, dizzy and out of sorts and it took a while to wear off. I think the actual graphics and audio are the cause and not the content but its not good either way. I’ll either abandon it, or my curiosity will get the better of me and I’ll play in infrequent, small sessions. This is definitely not something I can do all at once, I know that. Short or not.

Honorable Mentions!:

These are games I’m probably going to keep coming back to, but I will also probably never be able to 100% for various reasons, and I’ve completed the main stories and gameplay so I’ll go ahead and mark them off for the year.

Tharsis [12/31]: ★★★★★★★★✰✰ [SG Win]
Great RNG spaceship disaster sim dice game. But boy its hard and everything blows up. I’ll always come back for a round but beating this on the hardest difficulty is way beyond me for who knows how long. But it is a dice game with random chance events, so basically its a single player “yahtzee, but in hell”, and though “everything’s on fire and I can’t breathe, but cannibalism is a-ok in space” is a nice touch — but if this sort of gameplay is just boring to you, the sci-fi paint job probably won’t change your mind. But I like it, a lot.

Armello [12/31]: ★★★★★★✰✰✰✰ [SG Win]
So very charming. The art is gorgeous, the music is wonderful and the entire thing is like a storybook. Even the story is presented in poetic form and its really great at evoking that whole “magical fantasy world in a far away land” feeling. But there are 2 complaints here and they aren’t small ones. First, while the written format and initial story is great there’s little of it and really, there is no story at all beyond what you are first shown in the intro — so I ended up being invested in something that ultimately wasn’t there. Second, the gameplay is by far the weakest point and that’s not a good thing to say about a game. Its a board game through and through, and so much of the game time is spent waiting for your next turn to come around again. I understand why but it loses my interest more than I wish it did, sometimes. Also being a competitive board game of capture the throne, I understand why it has no story, but it certainly could have, in single player at least. It sets you up for one but the end is literally “you won, congrats!”, which makes sense in that replaying it over and over is the real point, but at least SOME feeling of resolution and depth for each character winning would have really made the experience a lot better, and really encouraged me to win with every available personality, other than “just because” (even a single paragraph would have worked honestly…).

September Update:

Not every single game on the line-up this month was incredible but I am pretty sure that for star count, this month is gonna be the one to beat. If that’s even possible. It’s also a little bittersweet because while I’m thrilled, I’m also a little sad that 2 of my favorite, oldest and most played games have come to a close. Also finishing 3 ten star games in one month sets the bar so high it’s a little intimidating when looking at my backlog looking for something to play next. 8)

But there is a lot of ground to cover and a lot of raving so let’s get started!

  • 7 Wonders of the Ancient World
    7 Wonders of the Ancient World

    5 hours playtime

    no achievements


    10 hours playtime

    9 of 19 achievements

  • Forgotten, Not Lost - A Kinetic Novel
    Forgotten, Not Lost - A Kinetic Novel

    4 hours playtime

    4 of 4 achievements

  • Cube Runner
    Cube Runner

    4 hours playtime

    41 of 41 achievements

  • Last Dream
    Last Dream

    104 hours playtime

    153 of 236 achievements

  • Desktop Dungeons
    Desktop Dungeons

    1000 hours playtime

    35 of 35 achievements

  • Ame no Marginal -Rain Marginal-
    Ame no Marginal -Rain Marginal-

    12 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Sound of Drop - fall into poison -
    Sound of Drop - fall into poison -

    20 hours playtime

    21 of 21 achievements

7 Wonders [09/02]: ★★★★✰✰✰✰✰✰
I’m not quite sure why I bothered finishing this. I’m pretty certain that the later 7 Wonders games are going to be a lot better, even if the fairly simple match/puzzle mechanics remain the same. Its age really shows in a bad way though, and it’s also very ugly.

vvvvvv [09/04]: ★★★★★★★★★★ [SG Win]
Oh. My God. The entire reason I kept entering giveaways for this game, was this one SG user (and if I had only known, I’d have made it a point to remember who) said in the description of a giveaway that this was his favorite game on all of steam and he wanted to share it with others. I didn’t even know the person from the site, but I entered the giveaway (and lost). But their having such a high opinion of something that looked so small and simple just stuck with me. So I put it on my wishlist and kept entering giveaways and eventually won it. I’m not even a fan of platformers really.

Or at least I didn’t used to be, so I thought. Not since the good old days of NES, SNES and Genesis games, but even then, I don’t enjoy platformers like I used to. But that’s all changed and now I’m sort of addicted to them, chasing the feeling that vvvvvv gave me when I played it. I’ve yet to find one that fills the void. Back to vvvvvv though. Its short, it’s small, it’s insanely difficult (but fair) and it’s… perfectly crafted. Cute and bright with just enough story for a game of its type, interesting and unique while feeling really familiar. It’s not just like an NES game, it might as well be an NES game. I have never experienced anything that captured both freshness and nostalgia so well at the same time. And the more I played it, the more I appreciated how well made it really is.

The only reason I’m not still playing it to death, is that there is nothing left for me to do. The remaining achievements all revolve around things that only someone with a much higher skill level could accomplish (like permadeath LOL), but I have seen and done everything I can in vvvvvv’s world. And I loved every single hellish moment of it.

I’d love a sequel to this - guiding poor Verdigris, Vermilion, Victoria, Violet, Viridian and Vitellary through another, longer glitched dimension. Godspeed, little space explorers.

Forgotten, Not Lost - A Kinetic Novel [09/08]: ★★★★★✰✰✰✰✰ [SG Win]
Okay, look. I completely get what was attempted in this VN and it didn’t totally fail. I actually liked a fair bit of it. But it really needs polishing, improvement and lots of help with the clunky English translation to score better. Which is actually a shame because there’s something really nice under all the clutter and clunk. It has heart, for sure but all the writing mistakes unfortunately interfere with making impact during important scenes and that’s not good, especially with such serious and sad subject matter as dementia.

Cube Runner [09/08]: ★★★★★✰✰✰✰✰
A short and sweet little runner game. This is the first runner I ever played so I don’t have much to say as far as overall quality goes but I really liked it and loved the music. Its colorful and fun. The reason it’s got so few stars here is the same reason it took me months to finish an hour to an hour and a half long game: the last 5 levels and I don’t get along. I saw nothing about it in the forums but I had constant freezes and crashing in random spots. I am just glad it’s over at this point which is sad because the first few dozen levels were great until the problems started. Then it was just a trial of patience to slog through it since it would take some 60 odd tries to make it to the finish line with the game still working.

Last Dream [09/13]: ★★★★★★★★★★
This was a birthday present back in 2015 from one of my closest friends. He just picked a couple of things from my wishlist. And neither of us could have imagined that this RPGmaker game would become one of my favorite games ever made. But oh boy, is it. And with that being the case unless it’s something unique like The Deed or Space Pilgrim I have no need for any other RPGmaker games.

I don’t know how much of the assets are stock and quite frankly I don’t care. It’s magic. Pure magic. The story is perhaps a little loose (like old school build-your-own party rpgs tend to be) and cliche, most of it taking place through flashbacks and npcs in towns, but it works. The music is various and diverse royalty free music from dozens of composers and it’s absolutely fantastic. This is one game where I would never turn down the music to play my own instead (which is very rare for me to say) even when grinding. The ending is also ridiculously satisfying and very very long, checking back in with every major npc you helped along the way and apparently the choices you make affects their fates as well.

The gameplay is basically just like the first 6 Final Fantasy games but expanded and with all the old inconveniences removed. Its an old school game through and through but with modern quality of life improvements to all aspects of gameplay. The menus are massive but never a chore to use. I actually procrastinated beating this for a long time just because I didn’t want to retire it. Which is silly because there are still many things to do, and an expansion was recently released.

I just bought the expansion in the summer sale and I expect to be loading my overleveled lv 95 babies into the new game soon. Or maybe not. I might not retire this game because there are still achievements for things like speedrunning, or the ultimate gauntlet of combining options “no saving in dungeons/grind encounter rate/legendary difficulty” and game+ options. With such a backlog I should probably move on – at least to the expansion, but I already miss playing Last Dream in the few weeks that have passed. And if that doesn’t say something I guess nothing will.

*Kali, sorry I decimated you. (Beating the ultimate too hard world boss was bittersweet for sure because if that can’t kill me, nothing will). Also Knight, Gray Mage, Black Belt, Black Mage is the best party. It seems the general consensus is he’s useless, but you will take my Gray Mage from my cold dead hands. 8)

Desktop Dungeons [09/18]: ★★★★★★★★★★
“More ways to die horribly in 10 minutes or less!” I don’t think I will ever be happier or prouder to 100% a game than this one. This old classic has graced my steam library almost from the start and there’s no telling how long I have spent playing it. Opening Desktop Dungeons and Adventure Capitalist first thing in the morning as I sipped my coffee and not closing them for days was my usual routine. Both of these games are so skewed in playtime I’ll sadly never know how long I played them.

But for Desktop Dungeons I expect it is actually upwards of at least 200 hours. I genuinely, absolutely adore this game. It’s a tricky one for sure. Because it looks like a dungeon crawler RPG and claims to be a roguelike. But it’s actually is an infuriatingly difficult (at times) puzzle strategy game. Only you won’t notice that part until you’ve died 500 times. The last 10 to 15 achievements are accomplished by so few owners because the late game is so amazingly hard. Oh, but so rewarding.

It’s all packaged in a cute, wry, not too serious shell but the learning curve is steep. While I won’t say I didn’t get frustrated at times over the years, I don’t feel the game is remotely unfair.

If you fail, you fail fast. And while it is stacked against you sometimes, more often than not you die because you made a mistake. Plain and simple. A lot of those times the mistakes are all in hindsight but I can’t count the number of times I thought “If I’d only done that instead I’d have won that” after a death. Losing seems more like a learning experience than a loss and that makes it very addictive. Also when you do die, you aren’t out of hours worth of progress so there’s always the feeling of incentive to play just one more time. To try that stage just once more.

Sadly, there are no more stages left to try. No more vicious dungeons or gold challenges left unconquered now. There is the random daily dungeon but at this point it’s time to hang up my sword. I understand the mechanics at such a deep level after suffering through the hardest areas that the normal daily is too easy. But I certainly can’t complain. Just another 10 star journey that like all journeys, has come to an end.

Ame no Marginal -Rain Marginal- [09/23]: ★★★★★★✰✰✰✰
Pretty enjoyable little VN with an interesting premise, however it’s so minimalist in art and sound that it might not be for everyone. About ¾ of the way in I learned I cared a lot more about the characters than I thought I did. Very depressing story but interesting.

Also I completely get what the ending was trying to do to compensate for all that suffering but oh boy did it go about it the wrong way. I have to wonder what that one character was trying to accomplish with her questionable idea and wonder even more about what the hell the writers were thinking. Maybe make your MC older or don’t do that, perhaps? Wow.

Sound of Drop -fall into poison- [09/26]: ★★★★★★★✰✰✰
I quite liked playing this spooky VN about a murderous aquarium. The setting was the reason I was interested and I admit that freely but the story wasn’t bad. Some of it was a bit convoluted but not deal breaking. There were two things though, if I ever see “moreover” or a character puffing out their cheeks again in a story I think I will scream, lol. All instances of both of these things were awkwardly placed in the story and repeated almost every damn paragraph it seemed. I think the extreme overuse of the words was even more noticeable because they always stood out as clunky amidst mostly passable writing/translation efforts.

All in all, it was a great month in both overall progress and enjoyment!