Insert catchy title here VitoStippkow’s profile

Hi!
I'm another gamer trying to battle his backlog. And I'm looking forward to gain additional motivation by joining this beautiful site and community. I began to work on my backlog "professionally" in February 2017 and joined the site in October 2017.

Goals for 2021
  • Complete or beat 10 games with achievements.
  • Complete or beat 10 long games.
  • Get my unfinished games from 60 to 49.


Multiplayer...oh, multiplayer... Rarely, but sometimes, I have a list of games I'm looking for partners. If you're interested, I would be happy to hear from you :)
I'll try to give a short little review for each game I beat or complete.

I rank games by this 5 star ranking:

I had no fun playing this.

Not completely bad, but time is better invested otherwise.

An average game. There is nothing wrong with playing it, but don't expect to be blown away.

This is a really good game, play it if you have the chance.

Reserved for the best of the best. This is an amazing experience.


Report #56

The last few weeks I worked on my goal of reducing my unfinished games list. All three games I played were on there forever and I finally gave them another try. It worked out better than I anticipated.


Reviews

Half-Life 2
Released: 2009

Blood Bowl: Legendary Edition

4/5
21.3 hours
no achievements

One of the two oldest unfinished games in my library, Blood Bowl is a turn-based strategic sports game. Set in the fantasy Warhammer universe, about two dozen different teams compete to become Blood Bowl champion. Blood Bowl is like American Football just more violent. From Orcs to Chaos to Elves, every faction of the Warhammer universe fields its own team with a unique roster of players.

I suspect that the game already was a bit old-school when it was released, and it definitely shows it's age nowadays. However, since its gameplay does not rely on flashy graphics, it really doesn't matter too much. I last played the game in 2012 and was really stumped. I did not understand a thing. So when picking it up again, I first read a bit about it and with some of the advice taken from guides I was quickly able to learn the basics of the game this time. The amount of different teams to choose from is overwhelming at first, but there are basically two ways to play the game: fast passing-games (think Elves) or slow tackling-oriented tactics (think Orcs). I choose the latter and after losing a couple of games I slowly got the hang of it and had moderate success with the Orcs in the remaining games I played.

I had a surprising amout of fun with it judging by my less ideal first impression I got in 2012 and my overall lack of interest in sports. I wouldn't really recommend the game though, because there's already Blood Bowl 2 out (and BB 3 coming).

Half-Life 2
Released: 2004

Evil Genius

2/5
22.1 hours
no achievements

Evil Genius is a base building management game, where you try to take over the whole world as an evil genius. The game does not take itself too serious and is rather funny. If you want an impression of the atmosphere of the game, think of the Austin Powers movies and imagine you're playing as Dr. Evil.

I was gifted the game in 2013, but really didn't get into it back then. Unfortunately (other than with Blood Bowl and Fable) I didn't really enjoy it this time either. The basic concept however sounds good. Building up a base from where you start your operations to subjugate the world. You have to train new and different types of minions, research better equipment and defend your base against intruding agents of good. This part is not perfect but decent fun.

In a second part of the game you control your minions on a world map, where they can fulfill mission, steal money to finance your operations or recruit additional minions. In my opinion this part is horrible. Your minions take forever to travel from your base to their missions, in which almost always most of the minions die, so that you have to retrain them. Which can take a long time with the more advanced minion types. And you cannot let your minions simply stay on the world map because they will quickly be rooted out by the agents of the different "good" world powers. Which leads to micromanaging two different aspects of the game in parallel and in realtime. And a lot of stupid waiting in between to retrain minions.

In conclusion: Great concept with good ideas and many funny details. But the execution lacks. I wouldn't want to replay it.

Half-Life 2
Released: 2005

Fable - The Lost Chapters

4/5
26.6 hours (+30 hours previously)
no achievements

Fable is a third-person action RPG. It's an absolute classic and I guess most of you have at least heard of it.

I spent a ton of time on this game already, but have never gotten really far into it. I don't exactly know why this is the case. This time I was finally able to push through and finish it. And I really enjoyed my playthrough. Although Fable isn't the longest game it features a suprising amount of very modern ingredients: There are collectibles, ingame games, romance, you can buy houses (and even rent them out), align yourself with evil or good, get a new haircut or even some tatoos. Leveling up, quick travel, quests…every "meta" aspect of the game is handled very well too. And the best part: It still looks quite fine for its age, which I attribute to it's cartoonish art style.

Fable may not have invented each of the aforementioned things (a game historian might be able to tell you more about that than I do), but I think it has to be one of the first games that integrated everything so well into it's gameplay. Everything is there, but in moderation. Everything can be done, but you mostly don't have to use e.g. romance or renting out stuff. You are very free to play the game the way you want, the story is almost linear though.


Currently playing

  • Gothic

    1.6 hours playtime

    no achievements

Since I’m already playing through a lot of unfinished old games, I might as well continue with it and finally give Gothic a try. I have only played it for about an hour previously, so I’m going into it without any nostalgia. Let’s see what awaits me.


All three were games I wasn’t really keen on playing, but I gave myself a push and started them up regardless. I ended up being really positively surprised in the end. Yes, Evil Genius wasn’t to my liking, but Blood Bowl and Fable were really much better than anticipated. I’m happy to finally complete some games that have been left unfinished in my backlog for ages. And I was also able to make some great progress with my third goal for 2021. Let’s hope I’ll enjoy Gothic as well.

Happy backlog-clearing to everyone,
Vito

2021 goals: 2/10 achievement games – 4/10 long games – 55/49 unfinished games

Report #55

I spent almost 3 months finishing Heroes of Might & Magic V (HoMM V) and its expansion hence the late post. I could’ve posted in between after I finished 3 games as usual, but thought it better to post once I’m done with HoMM V to give a better picture of those games.

Not much happening besides that, so let’s get right into the reviews:


Reviews

Half-Life 2
Released 2010

Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga

2/5
50.9 hours
no achievements

Divinity II is an action RPG. Other than their predecessor Beyond Divinity it has now complete 3D graphcis and is played with over the shoulder camera.

To be frank, I did not really enjoy playing this game. I wasn't able to get myself immersed into the game world. Everything starts out really nice, the first few missions are funny, diverse and with lovely NPCs. But the game quickly becomes much less engaging and apart from the first few locations the world felt quite empty to me. In addition, compared to the first two games of the Divinity series, there are a few new additions in lore, which are never really explained (mainly goblins and zeppelins). That was weird. The world therefore felt not only a bit empty but also alien, which should not be the case for the third game in a series…especially since I played the first few games only a few months prior.

The gameplay did not convince me either: Fighting was quite boring, I kept spamming left clicks and that was it most of the time. The skills systems was changed once more, but most of the skills you get as a fighter (which I played) are not that spectacular. Spoiler: Flying around as a dragon was much lamer than anticipated as well.

I know that the game has its fans, I however won't be one of them.

Half-Life 2
Released 2017

Bomber Crew

4/5
20.6 hours
30 of 30 achievements

Bomber Crew is a crew management game set in WW II. You play the crew of an Avro Lancaster of the RAF flying a variety of missions over the course of the war.

I got the game for free and I did not expect to be blown away by it, just to have some fun. And it precisely delievered that. I had a lot of fun playing through the campaign. The concept of the game is simple yet interesting. I enjoyed outfitting my plane and crew, though the options are a bit limited -- don't expect an actual simulation going into this game. The mission design is good for the short campaign, I was on the edge of my seat on a few occasions where I barely made it back home! Oh, and the achievements aren't hard either, that's a plus for me as well.

As initially stated, don't expect too much of the game. Flying the same bomber over and over again gets a bit boring after a while. The customisation options are limited, the mission variety after some time as well. However, I don't mind that, because it's enough to get you through the campaign missions.

There are some DLCs which I did not play and am not interested in doing so either. This game was fun but I have no desire to coming back to it. In some ways that makes it the perfect game for backlog assassins :D

Half-Life 2
Released 2006

Heroes of Might & Magic V

4/5
74.3 hours
no achievements

Most strategy fans will be familiar with the Heroes of Might & Magic games. It is a turn-based strategy game based in a fantasy world. There is a strategic map in which you move your armies, gather resources and capture special buildings which help you on your missions. Fights are played on a separate tactical map.

HoMM V is the first game of the series I played thoroughly. Judging from the internets, it is the second best game of the series. Personally I can't compare it to HoMM III, which is said to be the best, because I never played it. But just speaking from my own experience, I can clearly see why people enjoy this game. It it really fun to play!

Despite being quite old, I think the graphics still look decent (the game does not offer native widescreen support though). Both aspects of the game, moving on the strategic map and building up your army/economy vs. fighting battles, are enjoyable and offer a large variety of strategies. All of the six factions in the game are unique and fun to play (though personally I did not like Academy as much as the other factions). Not only that, even almost every single unit in the game is unique and offers interesting ways to play and facilitate it (some exceptions are to be expected with more than 40 different units).

I exclusively played the SP campaign, which is quite enjoyable. I was really keen to know how the story goes on after the game and couldn't wait to start the expansion.

Of course some minor complaints are there: I wish there was a bit more strategic and tactical depth to the game. For example, your units have no zone of control, enemies can simply walk by your units, which is annoying. At the end of the fifth campaign fatigue was a thing as well. The missions are quite similar after a while. And then there is one other thing: I found the game to be quite challenging. There were even a few missions I couldn't finish on 'normal' and replayed on 'easy'. Sometimes I was really frustrated by the difficulty, which felt unfair rather than challenging. And it made me a bit sad. I play video games almost all my life and still suck at gaming :( :(

Half-Life 2
Released 2006

Heroes of Might & Magic V: Hammers of Fate

5/5
23.8 hours
no achievements

Hammers of Fate is the first expansion to HoMM V. It features a new campaign and a new faction, the dwarves. They also added a new kind of "biome" to the strategic and tactical maps, dwarven halls, which looked beautiful and was accompanied by an even better soundtrack. The faction itself is fun to play as well.

The campaign missions offer more variety than the original game and are shorter overall. Which is exactly what I would have liked to be improved. I was really happy with all the changes made, so this is for me one of the rare occasions where I feel a game deserves the rare 5/5 rating.

Caveat: I don't think the game would work as well without playing the main game beforehand though.

Half-Life 2
Released 2007

Heroes of Might & Magic V: Tribes of the East

3/5
39 hours
no achievements

Judging solely from a technical point of view, this is the best version of the game by far. Minor bugs have been fixed, it finally offers proper widescreen support, it has the most factions and introduces a ton of new units. And, last but not least, the cutscenes and little commentaries of your hero during the campaign mission improved as well.

Units, however, which you don't really get to know the same way you know the units from the previous games, because there are just so many new units. A faction (the orcs) which I sadly did not enjoy as much. Also the walking animations of some of their units looked really weird to me. And the mission were dragging on too long again, so that all in all, sadly, I did not enjoy this as much as the previous games. It's still playworthy though, no doubt about it.


Currently playing

  • Shadow Empire

    49.3 hours playtime

    no achievements

Shadow Empire is a fascinating strategy game. It’s definitely a niche product, quite hard to get into and not the best UI. I enjoyed it immensely, although I feel it has not reached its full potential yet.


HoMM V took up almost 3 months to finish. Which is exactly my plan for 2021: Finishing long games! Wow, I’m a bit exhausted from typing all that stuff, so that’s it for this post.

Stay healthy and happy backlog-clearing to everyone,
Vito

2021 goals: 2/10 achievement games – 4/10 long games – 58/49 unfinished games

Report #54

Welcome to my first post in the year 2021. A near year brings new gaming goals with it. I took quite some time to reflect about my gaming and two things came to my mind, which are not ideal. I tend to shy away from playing long games. And games with achievements. Both put me under some pressure to either commit a lot of time or get as many achievements as possible. Of course I miss out on some games I own by shying away from those. To help me with those concerns I ended up with the following goals for 2021:

  • Complete or beat 10 games with achievements.
  • Complete or beat 10 long games.
  • Get my unfinished games from 60 to 49.

I don’t want to put an exact number on the term ‘long games’ but I think more than 35 hours is a good working hypothesis. A game can count for more than one goal, so that in theory it would be sufficient to finish 10 unfinished long games with achievements.
The number of 10 games is not exceptionally high, but since really long games can take up 2-3 months of gaming time, I think it’s an appropriate number. And of course not every game will fit those categories.

Since my last post I finished 3 games, two of which I did in 2020, i.e. they don’t count for my 2021 goals. The remaining one, Rise of Nations, is the first game down in all 3 categories :)


Reviews

Half-Life 2
Released 2006

Galactic Civilizations II: Ultimate Edition

1/5
24.6 hours
no achievements

GalCiv II is a turn based 4X game. Besides the base game (The Dread Lords) it has two expansions (Dark Avatar & Twilight of the Arnor), which are all included in the Ultimate Edition. It plays very similar to the first GalCiv, but has quite some improvements in UI and gameplay.

Unfortunately these improvements are not sufficient to make me enjoy the game. My main problem was the following: While most of the time I managed to beat my enemies somewhat quickly in space it took me forever to invade their planets. This is because you need to research a pretty expensive technology for planetary invasion. A lot of my games ended up to be proper snoozefests waiting long enough to research said technology while there wasn't much else to do.

The game is not utterly awful, though. There are fun things in the game and I can at least see why some people enjoy it. But for me the verdict's clear: Rather play something else.

Half-Life 2
Released 2004

Beyond Divinity

2/5
39.5 hours
no achievements

Beyond Divinity (BD) is the successor to Divine Divinity (DD), a game I played almost immediately before this and quite enjoyed. It slightly modernizes some aspects of DD, but gameplay wise still plays very similar to it.

Some of the improvements were good. Trading becomes much easier and you get a companion instead of fighting alone. Some I did not really like, e.g. the revamped skill system (you now have to learn skills at trainers instead of being able to freely choose them on levelup). That's something to be expected, so no hassle here.

However, in my opinion they also took away what made DD great for me: The lovely atmosphere, the beautiful environment, the people, the living world, the cRPG feeling. Instead you end up in a hellish parallel dimension called Nemesis with burned landscapes and much less inhabitants. But this goes beyond the visual aspects: DD was not great on the story, but it had a story with quite a few turns and side quests which supported the main story. BD has much less to offer in that regard. There are many dungeons (so called Battlefields) which are explicitly only there to level up your character, with no connection to the other parts of the game. You also get a companion in this game, but unfortunately he is absolutely unbearable. And he is ALWAYS there. Awful. I could go on, but the main point is: Instead of an cRPG which leans in the direction of a hack'n'slash like Diablo, they decided to make BD almost purely hack'n'slash.

I don't think BD is as bad as the steam reviews make it sound. As a standalone game it might be worthwhile. It's rather about failing my expectations. I went into the game with lowered expectations because of the bad reviews and was still let down.

Half-Life 2
Released 2003

Rise of Nations: Extended Edition

3/5
56.7 hours
38 of 38 achievements

Rise of Nations (RoN) is a RTS very much like Age of Empires or Empire Earth. In addition it offers campaigns, which feature a strategical map where you and your enemies try to conquer each other's territories in a historical setting.

RoN has a lot of unique concepts and good ideas incoporated into the game. While you guide your people from Stone Age to Space Age, you cannot simply build anywhere on the map, but you have to found cities, which give you a certain area of influence. Ressources are infininte, but you are limited by the rate at which you can collect them. This rate can slowly be improved over the course of a game. Together with the campaign mode, this really changes things up a bit compared to AoE.

Those aspects were fun to play around, but I wasn't always enjoying the battles in the game. I feel like the dragged on too much. You have to fight too hard for each small piece of land and it became a game of outproducing your enemy instead of countering his unit composition or outmaneuvering him in some way. Granted I only played against the AI. The games take a bit too long in my opinion or at least, they offer not enough diversity.

The achievements in the game are not too hard to get, but some of them (e.g. "build 1,000,000 infantry units") are extremly grindy and almost impossible to get by playing normally. I ended up using specifically created scenarios to earn a few of them.


Currently playing

  • Divinity II: The Dragon Knight Saga

    37.8 hours playtime

    no achievements

  • Bomber Crew

    16.4 hours playtime

    25 of 30 achievements

I’m kind of stuck in Divinity II, I really struggle to get immersed in this game. Bomber Crew on the other hand plays well and I should complete it soon.


So that’s another bunch of not-so-great games I played. I feel like I tend to play the crappy games in my library while I shy away from the potentially great ones (see above). I really hope my yearly goals will help me balancing out my diet of games…
Therefore I’m looking forward to see my progress for the gaming goals of 2021. And, of course, I’m also looking forward to read about your progress in 2021 as well!

Stay healthy and happy backlog-clearing to everyone,
Vito

Report #53

With 2020 rapidly nearing its end, I want to get one last post into the year. About 3 months ago, in my last post, I celebrated clearing 50% of my backlog. Since then, I took the time to play several unfinished endless games. It wasn’t my plan to finish them and so all of them are still in the unfinished category. I just wanted to make some progress, which I did, and have fun playing without any goal I “needed” to reach, which I mostly had. Therefore I’m not going to write reviews for them, but if you’re curious I’m happy to share my thoughts on the games. With Divine Divinity I completed at least one game, probably the last one for this year.

It’s a bit early, but since this is going to be my last post in 2020 and there is not too much time left, I think it’s okay to evaluate my goals in terms of gaming for this year. Let’s have a look:

  • Get the 'Completed' and 'Beaten' catgories to a combined 50% of my backlog: I reached that goal several months early, yay! I'm still pretty happy about it. I know it's just a number, but it helps, that for each game I still want to finish, there is already one game I did indeed already finish.
  • Beat or finish at least 75% of the games I myself add in 2020: Well, I did not reach that goal. I added 5 games, 3 of which I beat/completed. Still, I'm fine with that. Close enough! Finishing CK3 is unrealistic anyways ;)

So, what about my goals for the upcoming year? I’m really not sure yet. There are several candidates: Raising my AGC, reducing my unfinished game category, finish at least x amount of games and so on. I’ll try to formulate some goals in my first 2021 post. Until then it’s total anarchy!!!


Endless Games

  • Sid Meier's Civilization V

    60 hours playtime

    47 of 286 achievements

  • Rise of Nations: Extended Edition

    14 hours playtime

    19 of 38 achievements

  • Endless Legend™ - Emperor Edition

    37 hours playtime

    49 of 139 achievements

  • Warframe

    69 hours playtime

    100 of 193 achievements

  • Football Manager 2015

    72 hours playtime

    39 of 105 achievements

  • Tales of Maj'Eyal

    31 hours playtime

    44 of 1755 achievements


Reviews

Half-Life 2
Released 2002

Divine Divinity

4/5
51.0 hours
no achievements

Divine Divinity is a classical isometric RPG from 2002. It's the first part of the Divinity franchise, which was reinvigorated with Divinity Original Sin 1 & 2 in recent years. You play as a single hero and make your way through an enormous map and many additional dungeons. It has more RPG elements than a pure Action RPG like Diablo but fighting is still the main focus of the game.

Let's get the obvious out of the way: This game is old! The isometric perspective aged graciously compared to most games from that time, but the UI and controls are not up to modern standards. Especially inventory managment or skill activation are way to impractical. Apparently there are also quite some problems with running it on newer machines, though I personally encountered none. But apart from that, I can only recommend the game and had a ton of fun playing through not only the main quest, but also almost every side quest I found.

The game does not take itself too seriously and offers a lot of humor. At some point in the game, several NPCs have to state a codeword, which is almost impossible to pronounce. Seeing (and hearing) those NPCs and their solutions to this problem was hilarious to me. The story is nothing special, but it was enough to keep me interested -- although the finale was a bit underwhelming. There are a lot of smaller side-stories only told through optional side-quests which fleshed out the world considerably. While the setting starts very classic (humans are under attack by orcs), the game shows that orcs are more than evil brutes over the course of the game. I enjoyed this development, which goes a bit deeper than just the usual stereotypes (spoiler: In fact, one of the things I enjoyed the most about the story is exactly not giving in to those stereotypical expectations. Over the course of the game you rally one ally from each race around you, but unfortunately almost all of them are killed by the main villain shortly before the end. Only the orc representative manages to survive, by outsmarting(!) the main villain. I find that a really cool detail.) Leveling and looting are satisfying and exploring the huge map always leads to new discoveries. The background soundtrack is very fitting and overall enjoyable. I was delighted to discover that some of the themes reappear in Original Sin. If I had one gameplay complaint, it's balancing. Fighting normal enemies is relatively easy, but some of the bosses and mini-bosses have an awful spike in difficulty. On the other hand, some of your skills are almost gamebreakingly overpowered compared to others.

All in all, I really enjoyed the game. It has its flaws, sure. But I would gladly play through it again.

Happy holidays and backlog-clearing to everyone,
Vito

Report #52 – 50 % Backlog Clearance

Ok, that was quicker than expected. I decided to give this milestone its own Report. I finally cleared 50% of my backlog, my main goal for 2020. Of my 370 owned games, 140 are completed and 45 beaten, while 60 remain unfinished and 125 unplayed.

With a few months left, I reached this goal sooner than expected. Certainly in part because of Corona, I played a lot in the initial lockdown stages. That begs the question: What now? How do I proceed from this point? Maybe I should take the time to revisit some games in the remaining months? Also, I have a ton of endless games in my unfinished category, I could work a bit on them even though there is no real chance of completing them? With the goal reached, I don’t need to finish more games as long as I don’t add new games. Or maybe I should add a few new games and play them? Endless possibilities! And of course, as with all backlog plans, the most important thing remains to have fun while playing :)


Reviews

Half-Life 2
Released 2001

Tropico

1/5
8.0 hours
no achievements

Fun is something I definitely did not have with this game! I don't think I need to explain what Tropico is about, since there are a lot of sequels of this title and most of us have probably played at least one of them. The first Tropico may have been a really enjoyable game in 2001 and still has some decent graphics for my taste, but overall, my god, it's just horrible to play by now due to its age. It's clunky, tedious and sometimes outright confusing. Even with the later Tropico I always had the problem that I wished for more informative graphs in the game, e.g. how much food is produced and how much is consumed. There is just no way to tell and this just makes playing the game so much harder, because you just don't really know how many goods are produced, consumed or exported. But with 2001's original Tropico this problem is even more apparent than in later titles. Also, the game really lacks a campaign, something I very much enjoyed in Tropico 4 for example.

Let me cut my review short here: Tropico is not necessarily a bad game at its core, but it's just too old. If you play it for nostalgic reasons you still might get something out of it. But for me, as someone that hasn't played this before, it's not really worth the time.


Stay save and happy backlog-clearing to everyone,
Vito

Report #51

Last report I was hoping to finish my goal of playing 50% of my backlog with this report. “Unfortunately” I forgot that I preordered CK3, which unlocked in the meantime. Which means, I had to finish another game to reach said goal (well, 0.5 of a game, but that’s not possible ;) ). Therefore…this report is still not the epic 50% backlog cleared report :D


Reviews

Half-Life 2
Released 2011

Might & Magic: Clash of Heroes

4/5
32.7 hours
11 of 14 achievements

According to wikipedia M&M: Clash of Heroes is a "puzzle role-playing adventure" game. While you travel through the world of Ashan to stop a demonic invasion, playing 5 young heroes over the course of 5 smaller campaigns, you fight your enemies in tactical match 3 fights.

It is the first match 3 game I played --- at least as far as I remember. And I enjoyed it. It was a welcome change and interesting to experience as something new to me. There was enough variance to keep me entertained for the time being. Only nearing the end of the game the gameplay became a bit too repetitive and stall. In my opinion the game ended just at the right time. The story is nothing intricate and special, but enough to keep me entertained between the match 3 fights.

The only other thing that irritated me a bit was the varying difficulty. It happened to me several times that a fight was really easy, but the next one was very hard and I needed to grind random enemies in between to further upgrade my hero. I could have done without the grinding. Also, as already mentioned, there could've been a bit more variety in the match 3 mechanics. Both are only minor complaints though.

Half-Life 2
Released 2003

Galactic Civilizations I: Ultimate Edition

1/5
9.3 hours
no achievements

Galactic Civilizations I is a 4X space strategy game. You play the human race, which just joined the starfaring races in the galaxy and fight for your place in the galactic order.

The gameplay is very similar to the (old) Master of Orion games and rather simplistic compared to more modern games. While the basic ideas were good, it lacked depth for my taste. I attribute that to the age of the game, which is also it's main problem. The game is just too old and uncomfortable to play nowadays. There are just so many newer and better 4X space simulations out there by now. So although I really love these kind of games, Galactic Civilizations is not worth playing. Maybe it's sequels will be more enjoyable, I have them in my backlog as well.

Half-Life 2
Released 2018

A Case of Distrust

4/5
2.7 hours
10 of 10 achievements

A Case of Distrust is a detective game with a very unique artstyle. You play a female PI in 1920s San Francisco, examinig the murder of an underworld figure. The game is rather a piece of art than an actual game. The music, the narration, the artstyle… to me everything is an homage. I felt like I'm taking part in a Humphrey Bogart movie. The game exceeds in requickening the feeling of the hardboiled detective novels of the 1930s to 1950s, with the additional twist of portraying the typically male PI as female. I'm not sure whether even the name of the MC, Malone, is a reference to Chandler's Marlowe, one of the most iconic hardboiled detectives.

Apart from that, the story itself falls a bit flat for me, but that doesn't matter much. The game is definitely worth playing for enough other reasons.


Currently playing

As if Gal Civ wasn’t determent enough, I’m currently playing another ancient game: Tropico 1! My main reasoning for chosing this game was symmetry though. I have 125 unplayed, 61 unfinished, 45 beaten and 139 completed games at the moment. So by completing (not beating!) one unfinished game, I would not only reach 50% backlog clearance, but also very beautiful numbers. Which is crucial, as we all know!


Hopefully with the next report I can finally talk about reaching my goal. On the other hand…once I’ve reached my goal, how will I proceed afterwards??

Stay save and happy backlog-clearing to everyone,
Vito

Report #50

It was almost in reach, completing Report #50 and reaching my goal of 50% backlog cleared. I even thought about pushing the Report back and wait for another couple of games, until the 50% are reached (I’m 3 games short). But then I decided…why is it so important? Why does a more or less arbitrary number gain so much meaning? I should not let numbers dictate my habits. Therefore, here is my 50th post on BLAEO!


Reviews

Half-Life 2
Released 2014

Shadowrun: Dragonfall

4/5
38.0 hours
39 of 39 achievements

Shadowrun Dragonfall is the sequel to Shadowrun Returns and I could almost verbatim post the same review as I did after finishing Shadowrun Returns.

Although the world of Shadowrun is not entirely my cup of tea, it's still fascinating and it was an interesting setting for the game. I enjoyed the story and the gameplay. There is quite some criticism about the boring and repetitive fighting, but personally I wasn't bothered by it. Turnbased combat appeals to me and I didn't mind that the fights resemble each other quite a lot. I really enjoyed the detailed background artwork (the character models seem a bit amateurish in comparison) and the expanded background stories of your NPC companions.

However, the game engine is the same as for Shadowrun Returns and suffers from the same problems: Imprecise controls, hotkeys randomly not working and relatively long loading times.

The achievements are all obtainable in one playthrough if you plan ahead a bit (I found a spoiler-free guide, but lost the link somehow -- sorry!). And there is a ton of great looking community content, including whole new campaigns. I only had a quick look into the start of a few of those, but they seem promising. Unfortunately…who has the time?

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the game and I am glad I finally decided to play it. It was my favourite game from this Report's 3 games.

Half-Life 2
Released 2020

SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE

2/5
15.3 hours
14 of 14 achievements

SUPERHOT: MIND CONTROL DELETE is the sequel (or an expansion?) to SUPERHOT. It seems to be free for owners of SUPERHOT, because it just appeared in my library one day. I decided to give it a go, because it fits this month's theme "Decades".

It's basically the same game as SUPERHOT. A FPS with an interesting core concept, as time only moves when you yourself move. It has its own style and is quite enjoyable for a few hours. However, I did not enjoy playing the game for about a dozen hours. I was bored at the end, especially since the game requires quite some concentration and effort in the last few levels. I would have given the game a better rating were it maybe 1/3 of the length. After that, I did not enjoy it anymore. And still continued to play MORE, which is kinda the message of the game and the hidden meaning, hinting at the addiction games can trigger and whatnot, but honestly I just wanted to play a FPS and don't care about the developer's deeper goals.

Half-Life 2
Released 2014

Dungeon of the Endless™ - Crystal Edition

4/5
37.1 hours
29 of 33 achievements

Dungeon of the Endless is a Rogue-li(t/k)e Dungeon Crawler (at least that's what I think you call it, I'm not very versed in the exact differences in such genres. If I'm wrong feel free to correct me, always happy to learn new stuff!) set in Amplitude's Endless universe and including TD elements in its gameplay.

Your ship crashlanded on the planet Auriga and you have to fight your way through several dungeon levels filled with monsters to reach savety. You (mostly) start with a party of 2 characters and can have up to 4 party members in total. The gameplay is a mix of realtime fights and turnbased progression. By opening doors to further rooms in the dungeon you progress through them, collect ressources, research new stuff and search for the exit of the current dungeon. You have to manage your sparse ressources carefully to not get overwhelmed by monsters. (I feel like I'm not very aptly describing the game, forgive me.)

My personal notes: This game has been on my unfinished pile for almost 6 years. I'm super glad I started it and was able to beat it. I rarely play games of this genre and it was welcome change up of the usual stuff. It is quite challenging though. Not unwinnable and I'm sure others might find it very fitting in difficulty, but it was almost too much for me. While I quite enjoyed the game, I did not enjoy it enough to put really detailed preparation and strategizing into it. I cannot compare it to a lot of other games of the same genre, but as far as I'm concerned it's a good game.


Currently playing

I don’t know what I’ll play next, I have to work for a few hours first ;(


50 reports done. Whew, that’s quite a lot. And there is still much backlog to be cleared…so on to the next 50 reports with all you lovely people!

Stay save and happy backlog-clearing to everyone,
Vito

Report #49

Lately I’ve not felt my usual motivation for gaming and even less so for “meta-gaming” like BLAEO. It took me 2,5 months to complete SpellForce, which I started for the Think Locally theme back in May. It was an exhausting game. Also that makes my last post about 3 months old. Anyhow, here are the last 3 games I’ve finished.


Reviews

Half-Life 2
★★★☆☆

112 Operator

3/5
25.1 hours
21 of 25 achievements

112 Operator is the sequel to 911 Operator. You manage the emergency services of a city and have to respond to calls as well as distribute your units to different emergencies popping up all over your area.

112 Operator is really really similar to 911 Operator. It's basically a overhauled version with the focus on making everything a bit bigger and more complex. Unfortunately that leads to a lot of chaos and hectic decision making which can become very exhausting with time. I think it has some great ideas but doesn't always live up to its potential. Which is very similar to 911 Operator on release. 911 Operator improved a lot with free updates and DLC, so I hope for the same in the case of 112 Operator. The developers were already really busy in fixing some of the minor annoyances and bugs, so I hope for the best. I'm surely going to return to this game.

Half-Life 2
★★☆☆☆

Dark Messiah of Might & Magic

2/5
11.8 hours
no achievements

Dark Messiah of Might and Magic is a FPS RPG very akin to the Elder Scroll series in gameplay. It is set in the Might and Magic universe and you play a hero set out to find the mythical Skull of Shadows and discovers that he is more than a mere human on his journey.

I've read a lot enthusiastic reviews of DMoMM, but I was pretty disappointed by the game. I did not really care for the story and the game does a bad job introducing the lore of the world, which is definitely there, but only hinted at. Apart from shooting stuff with a bow the gameplay wasn't really convincing either. At least to me. Maybe it was a bigger thing in 2006 when it was released. I'm glad it was short.

Half-Life 2
★★★☆☆

SpellForce: Platinum Edition

3/5
149.2 hours
no achievements

SpellForce is hybrid RPG and RTS. While you play an avatar which can level up and have a quest system like in any standard RPG, you are also able to build up an economy and armies like in a RTS game. The Platinum Edition includes the main game "The Order of Dawn" as well as the two expansions "The Breath of Winter" and "Shadow of the Phoenix".

SpellForce is for sure a lovely made game. It's also an interesting idea to have a mix of the two genres, which works better than I expected. The game is from 2003, and you definitely see its age. It has an okay story and it is fun to level up your character and do some questing. There are some big downsides to the game unfortunately. I had some technical difficulties, however, I can forgive them due to the age of the game. The game is fully voiced, but the voice actors vastly differ in quality. Some are quite good, others are utterly terrible. And the main reason which lead me to rate the game only as an average game: Everything takes forever. Collecting all necessary ressources: Takes forever. Buildung up your armies: Takes forever. Walking around the map: Takes forever. A lot of the fighting: Takes forever. Oh and don't ever loose your army, rebuilding takes even longer due to decreasing ressource output over time.

Honestly, this could have been a much better game, were it a bit more action packed and faster. Because apart from that, I actually enjoyed most of the things in the game.


Currently playing

I don’t know what I’ll play next, should be good games for the upcoming update #50.


Stay save and happy backlog-clearing to everyone,
Vito

Report #48

One long and two shorter games finished.


Reviews

Half-Life 2
★★★★☆

Might & Magic X - Legacy

4/5
49.3 hours
no achievements

Might & Magic X - Legacy is a RPG game from 2014. It's designed in a very oldschool way, evocative of RPGs from the 80s and 90s. You control your party from the ego perspective, moving and fighting on a grid, where each grid-movement equals one tick of time going by. You land on the Agyn Peninsula, where the city of Karthal has been taken by rebels and you get assigned with the task of freeing the city.

Let's get one thing straight right away: I've rarely had such a hard time writing a fitting review for a game as for MMX Legacy. This game does so many things wrong: The story is bland, the dialogues and NPCs even more so. The world feels empty and lifeless, and the textures are quite ugly. Although you get the feeling there is a ton of lore in the game, it's not well presented at all. There is no good fast travel system and you spend so much time just running around to get from A to B. You run into deadly ambushes all the time, which leads to making you save your game almost every 5 minutes. There is no way to tell how strong a enemy is before entering a fight with it, and there are a ton of really strong enemies. Therefore you need to save again before every fight, because there is no way to anticipate the outcome. There are next to no hints or quest markers, and to level up you have to travel to certain characters which are spread all over the world. Remember, there is no real good fast travel system. All this can be extremely frustrating.

And still…somehow the game grew on me after a few hours. I was still annoyed by the aforementioned gameplay "features", but I started to enjoy the other parts. The oldschool puzzles for example, which would give you a riddle and you'd actually type in the answer. Not choose from 4 different possiblities. And once you get used to making notes by yourself, it's actually quite enjoyable to find the next lead to your quest, because it gives you a feeling of accomplishment you wouldn't get by simply following a marker on your map. Combine this with the rather unique game mechanics of moving and fighting on a grid from the first person view and you have a one-of-a-kind gaming experience. (By unique I mean unique for modern games. Apart from Legend of Grimrock 1&2 I can't think of a lot of other games doing this in the last 10-15 years.) I'm not necessarily keen on playing more games like this in the near future, but it did its trick for this one game.

Yeah, I don't know if you can take away anything helpful from the review…And I'm still confused by the game myself. It should be an absolute trainwreck and in many regards it is…but it still somehow worked?

Half-Life 2
★★★★☆

STAR WARS™ Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast™

4/5
16.6 hours
no achievements

If you follow my reviews you might remember that I started to play the Jedi Knight series a few posts ago. I decided to finish it this month and continued with the 4th part, Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast, released in 2002. In this mix between a FPS and 3PS you play as Kyle Katarn, known as the protagonist from the first JK games. The games is set a few years after the second Death Star and the New Republic is struggling with the Imperial Remnant. On a routine mission you encounter a powerful Dark Jedi named Dessan and from there on you begin chasing him across the galaxy.

Jedi Outcast is a notably more modern game than its predecessors. It plays much better and the graphics are quite okay even without modding. The story is interesting and you get to fight a lot with your lightsaber. In the prior games I always preferred the blaster over the lightsaber, but in Jedi Outcast the light saber felt finally superior to the other weapons -- as it should be in a game where you play a jedi ;)

But boy, I died soooo many times in this game. Some of the jumping puzzles are incredibly frustrating and hard. Thank god for quicksaving/-loading (again). Many people praise the game for its challenging difficulty, but for me personally it was almost too much to be enjoyable. I struggled a bit with the controls though, to be fair. And while swordplay is vastly superior to the prior games it's only perfected in the sequel Jedi Academy.

All in all, I think this is a great game, definitely playable even 18 years after its release and a must play for all Star Wars fans.

Half-Life 2
★★★★☆

STAR WARS™ Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy™

4/5
10.1 hours
no achievements

Jedi Academy (2003) is the last part of the Jedi Knight series. You play as a young padawan entering the Jedi Academy and get sent on various missions to inspect the so called Cult of Ragnos. It is very similar to Jedi Outcast, but improved in most aspects: Dialogues are better and there are more of them, level design is more diversified (imho), swordplay is even better and the graphics feel a tad more polished. It also adds some light RPG-style features: Character creation, leveling, something akin to a quest-system, and you can individually modifiy your appearance and light saber. Later on you can even choose between dual lightsabers, double lightsaber and standard lightsaber. I choose to play as a Rodian with dual light sabers and it was great fun! Not that I disliked playing as Kyle Katarn, but you know...this time I was playing as me!

The gameplay is much smoother and the swordplay felt more refined than in Jedi Outcast. This may also be due to the fact, that Academy is much easier than Outcast. In fact, many people seem to complain about the lack of difficulty in Academy. Personally I didn't mind, high difficulty is not necessarily something I look for in games. I had a lot of fun playing this and I think that it is the best game of all the Jedi Knight games. Not by much, but I liked it more than Outcast because of the included RPG elements and the richer dialogues. I admit though, that the final boss fight was kind of underwhelming, especially since it was also the final fight of all the Jedi Knight games.

As before, I can only wholeheartedly recommend this game. I think it's a worthy conclusion to Jedi Knight.


Currently playing

I think I might be in for another RPG but I haven’t finalized my decision yet.


With this I have finished all SW games I own (I finished Kotor, only not on Steam). I really like the Star Wars universe, but not necessarily all the stories told in this setting. When it comes to games, I think the Jedi Knight series features a bunch of awesome games and I’m glad I decided to finally play them for the first time this year (Thanks Trent for recommending them to me a while ago!). Most people seem to prefer Jedi Outcast, but I think every game improved on its predecessor.

Concerning the Monthly Theme: All three games I played feature AI companions in one way or another. But while I think they would technically count for the theme, I don’t think they really match the spirit of the theme. So I only entered MMX and may even retract it, I’ll have to give this another thought. Anyway, I hope you have similarly great gaming times as me so far this month!

Stay save and happy backlog-clearing to everyone,
Vito

Report #47

I finished a few games pretty fast after the last report. Well, I too have more time to play games at the moment. And it seems it’ll continue this way for some more weeks. One of the games I finished was for the monthly theme, the Runaway series just because I was looking for a few smaller games to play. Let’s get to the reviews:


Reviews

Age of Empires III

36.0 hours, no achievements
★★☆☆☆

Age of Empires III is a RTS game and the third part of the AoE series. It is set in the New World, spanning from the Spanish Conquistadores to the Wild West. This is the Complete Collection, which means it also includes the two expansions.

The basic concept is like any AoE game, but AoE III adds a new mechanic where you can get support from your home country. At the beginning of the game you can choose a number of "cards" which have specific effects once activated: Get you X amount of ressources or Y amount of a certain unit. Over the course of a game you gather experience with which you can unlock said cards and therefore receive bonuses. It adds another layer to the game, albeit a very simple one.

It has some nice graphics and a few interesting units, but I wasn't too satisfied with the game. The maps feel much smaller than in the previous AoEs, which is weird, since this is the newest game of the series. The ressource gathering has been simplified and there are less things to build overall. The whole game feels a bit more simple and juvenile than the other games of the series. This feeling may partly be increased because I played Company of Heroes right before, which is very mature and realistic in comparison.

The expansions are worthwhile though, they add more gameplay features for the new factions they introduce. Also they take away the focus from the European perspective and shift it to the Indian and Asian one. There is one strange thing though: In the Asian campaign you play as a Chinese and later as a Indian hero. However, in artwork of the loading screens, both look totally western. It's just weird, couldn't they make them look a bit more authentic?

Do I recommend the game? Not so much. The game is much worse than the first and second Age of Empires. So if you're going into the game expecting another one of these, you'll probably be disappointed.


Runaway: A Road Adventure

6.6 hours, no achievements
★★☆☆☆

Runaway is a P'n'c Adventure from the spanish Pendulo Studios. It is the start of a whole trilogy and released in 2001. It features a dorky protagonist who gets involved with a hot dancer (as if that would ever happen…) and helps her escape the mafia.

The game has a beautiful intro and an interesting initial approach to telling its story. The beginning of the game had me pretty hyped, alas this hype died down pretty quickly. The visual representation is nice and it feels like people were really passionate about it. The problems arise in other departments, mainly the game design: The puzzles involve a lot of pixel hunting and some are awfully repetitive and monotonous. I'll illustrate this with an example: At one point of the game you need to fill a boiler with water. The boiler is at point A, the water at point B. It takes forever to get from A to B and vice versa, which is the first annoyance. The container you transport water in is rather small. So it's not enough to make the trip once, but 5 times. Which takes at least 15 minutes. And to make matters worse, you get no feedback when filling the water into the boiler. So without a guide, you would probably stop after it didn't have the desired effect after the first time. Who would continue on doing something 5 times without even a hint whether it's successful? That's just awful design.

On top of that, the game only runs in 1024x768. In principle that's fine for a game from 2001. But the game stretched everything to fill my widescreen monitor and I couldn't get it to start in windowed mode. Therefore I ended up playing the game distorted.

All in all, I wouldn't recommend the game. It has nice elements and I suspect that at least some of the people working on it were really trying their best, but the bad game design sadly outweighs the positive.


Runaway: The Dream of the Turtle

8.8 hours, no achievements
★☆☆☆☆

Pendulo's second part of the Runaway trilogy is unfortunately worse. The main character Brian has (d)evolved into a formidable douchebag and all the women seem to wear even skimpier outfits than previously. All the design problems of the first part are amplified in the second game. And the story is even quirkier, but not in a good way.

Recommendation? I cite wikipedia: "In retrospect, Pendulo's Josué Monchan called Runaway 2 'a horrible game' and 'the biggest shit we've ever made'"


Runaway: A Twist of Fate

3.8 hours, no achievements
★★☆☆☆

It seems that Pendulo learned from their mistakes. The final part of the Runaway trilogy has an integrated help system, highlights interactable objects in the game and its puzzles are way better designed. Personally I also found the story to be more compelling. Unfortunately the voice actors for the two main characters changed though. And there is almost no continuity to the second game.

As a standalone game A Twist of Fate may be enjoyable, but the series was already ruined for me. I admit I skipped a lot of dialogue, hence the short playtime.



Currently playing

I think I’ll wait for the next monthly theme and play some Factorio in the meantime.


If you read my last report, you know that I was graced with a few great games. This time all of the games turned out to be disappointing. But that’s okay, because to be honest I was already expecting that. And overall there are still some things to take away from Runaway: The games are from 2001, 2006 and 2009, and I think they nicely show how the adventure genre evolved. While the first part feels very (end of the) 90s to me, the last part is what I would call a 21st century P’n’C adventure.

And, even more important: With finishing those games as of now my ‘completed’ category is finally the biggest category of my backlog! That’s a huge step and therefore I’m glad I played those games :)

Stay save and happy backlog-clearing to everyone,
Vito