A place where games come to die.
Game Highlight: Rakuen
These days I don’t really feel like writing “reviews” or give any kind of advice on whether you should or shouldn’t play something unless I think that the game warrants it, and this game sure does. It really is something special, at least to me, and here’s why.
When you’re feeling low, you often tend to seek out things that are just as sad and depressing as your mood since misery loves company. I’d argue that it might help somewhat, in a sense that it validates your feelings and allows you to get your fill of sadness and get over it as opposed to trying to suppress it (unsuccessfully), however, many mental health professionals would advise the opposite and tell you to seek out something cheerful that would lift your mood instead.
This game is both. It’s sweet, joyful, and compassionate. But it’s also very sad and heartbreaking.
“A hospitalized Boy comes to terms with his own story by traveling with his Mom to a beautiful fantasy world; ultimately helping his fellow patients find closure by walking a mile in their shoes.”
Without spoiling too much of the game, Rakuen doesn’t have some groundbreaking innovations in it or a plot that will blow your mind. Just your standard RPGMaker mechanics (but with custom assets) and a pretty simple story. If you’re heavily into storytelling like I am, you will find it to be quite predictable and full of cliches, but it will make you laugh and cry all the same. The game is beautiful, with its cute hand-drawn visuals and amazing music/songs, and that’s one of the things I like the most about Rakuen. It shows that you can create something impactful and extraordinary using simple tools. Not only did it distract me from my problems and sad thoughts like I wanted it to, it also touched me in a way no other game did.
I highly recommend this game to everyone, but especially to people who are looking for a game to take their mind off things or to cheer them up (no promises here, though, it might just break your heart in the end). It reminds me of To the Moon or Finding Paradise, except these two games seemed to be just sad, while Rakuen is bittersweet: both happy and sad. And unlike To The Moon, which everyone swore would make me cry (it didn’t, except maybe tearing up a little the second time I finished it. I’m a monster, I know), Rakuen made me break down in tears multiple times. So, uh, you might not want to play it around other people to avoid questions about why you’re crying. Just a piece of advice.
All Good Things
I’ve been busy with school lately, but still somehow managed to play a bunch of games. Way too many, actually, so now I have neither time nor energy to write a proper review for each one, hence why I’ll mention only the ones I liked (more or less).
Deponia Doomsday, 7.5/10.
Many Deponia fans complained about the ending of the last (at that time) game in the series and as a result, Deponia Doomsday has been born. It’s an enjoyable experience for those who missed quirky characters and humour and just wanted to play yet another Deponia game, but I found it that it kind of lacks that unique charm of other Deponia games. It adds little to the story or character development, and in some way even ruins the previous impressions. Still, it’s not a bad game.
Stray Cat Crossing, 8/10.
A horror - albeit not really scary - RPGMaker game. I usually don’t play those, but SCC looked peculiar enough to lure me in. The story isn’t anything mindblowing, but I still got a little emotional in the end. The graphics are very nice, too.
Leisure Suit Larry, 6.5/10
I haven’t played the original game, but if it had the same low-effort jokes, I didn’t miss out on much I guess. An OK game to kill some time if you don’t mind mild lewdness, but I wouldn’t play this game again.
I liked that the game was heavily based on Norse mythology and had authentic Icelandic voice-over. However, 80% of the game time is spent running from one place to another while nothing is happening around you. The only two things to do there are fighting bosses and collecting runes and powers needed to defeat said bosses. Nevertheless, the game is beautifully hand drawn, and game mechanics are nicely designed overall, with the exception of somewhat clunky controls.
I didn’t expect this game to be that good, actually. You’re shipwrecked in the New World, trying to find out what happened to the local colony. A lot of the game involved fighting which ended up becoming repetitive and tiresome, but in-between you collect little notes and items that tell you the story of people who used to live there. Amazing writing for an indie game, although some aspects of it could still be fleshed out a bit more.
Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishments, 9/10.
Amazing game, especially considering that it was made by a Ukranian team (besides Metro and STALKER series, Ukraine isn’t known for making good games). Great voice acting, interesting cases to solve, and gorgeous locations, although I wish it was a bit more difficult.
I loved the overall noir atmosphere, but the gameplay could get a bit frustrating at times. Otherwise, it’s a decent platformer with a heartwarming story.
The Wardrobe, 8.5/10.
If you liked classic adventure games, you will like this one. Great humour, tons of pop culture and video game references, and charming characters, but a few puzzles can be hard to solve because they make no sense, and there are no hints.
The Old City: Leviathan, 9/10.
A story-driven walking simulator. The game is essentially trying to communicate one single idea, but approaches it from different angles, and towards the end it can feel a little over the top. But everything about this game is still amazing, especially the writing. If only it didn’t drag on for so long, I’d rate it a perfect 10.
The Costume Quest, 8/10
I’m guessing everyone already knows about this one, so I put it at the end. The story is average, loved the humour, but got sick of repetitive turn-based combat at the end that made me wish the game was over already.
I played a few more games but ended up removing most of them from my account (none of them being SG wins, no worries) as I prefer to only keep games I like and enjoy playing. Maybe I’ve just become spoiled, not sure, but lately I’ve been feeling like I simply have no time for “meh” games. None of us are going to live forever, so with the little time we have, I’d rather play games I really enjoy rather than the ones that are average or slightly bad. What about you?
Tips on Reducing Your Backlog and/or Going Low-Buy
I’ve recently become interested in minimalism and decluttering my life in general. When doing the research on these topics and discussing them with others, I have accumulated some advice and words of wisdom that helped me to reorganise and manage many areas of my everyday life, and I figured that some of them can be applied towards reducing one’s backlog. And so
in an attempt to justify my procrastination I present to you this guide.
I decided to focus on 2 areas: reducing your backlog and buying fewer games since they contribute to your growing backlog (which makes it essentially the same thing but I’m the one writing this post, so we’re doing the things my way.)
Step 1: Organise your backlog
This can be harder that it seems. I could think of the following reasons to hold onto games you don’t really like: a) you have already spent money on a game, so you feel obligated to play it to get your money’s worth; b) you do not feel like playing a game right now but you think “I might wanna play it some time in the future”, so you keep it just in case; c) you enjoy having a large collection of games. (This is not an extensive list, so feel free to add your own points if you think of any.) Now let’s address each one.
A. Unless you’re still eligible for a Steam refund, the money you have spent on games is a sunk cost. No matter if you play it or not, that money is gone, you cannot recover it. Therefore, it makes no difference whether you play these games or not, so you might as well cut your losses and get rid of games that you know you won’t enjoy. (You can see examples of the sunk cost fallacy in everyday life as well, like people who stay in a relationship they’re unhappy in just because they have been together for N years. People tend to put a high value on something that they have invested a lot of resources in and not letting go of it even if it’s clearly not working out. For more info on the topic I suggest this article. But I digress.)
B. This one kinda relates back to A. You already have this game, so you might as well keep it even if you don’t like it. But chances are, you’re never going to play it. Think back to the times when you saved something “for later” because you didn’t need to or weren’t interested in using it right now. Like clothes you dislike that are shoved into the back of your wardrobe in case you decide to wear them one day. How many times have you actually worn them? Maybe once, but chances are, the vast majority of the things you hoarded are gathering dust somewhere.
Instead of looking at your game library as your possession, imagine that you’re in a store. Ask yourself: “If I didn’t have this game, would I buy it right now?”. If the answer is “no”, the game has to go. Hide it, remove it, or simply don’t count it as a part of your backlog. If you ever change your mind, you can always add it back, but there’s a 99% chance that won’t be the case. Simply speaking, if it doesn’t bring you joy, get rid of it (KonMari method, anyone?).
C. Different strokes for different folks, so I’m not going to tell you to downsize your library. However, as a former hoarder, I’ve found that less is more, and it’s much more satisfying to have a few things you love rather than many things you kinda like. When you have fewer games, you know exactly what your options are and that you will really enjoy whatever game you play.
Step 2: Go Low- or No-Buy
First of all, don’t tempt yourself. Stop looking through the Steam store or reading raving game reviews.
Second, realise that whenever you want to buy something with a discount - say, a $60 game with a 75% discount - you aren’t “saving” $45, you are spending $15.
Third, if you still want to buy it, you can always think back to your library and sometimes notice that hey, you already have a game similar to this one. Maybe you should play it first. Sorting your library as described above will be especially helpful since after you’re done you will know what kind of games you already have.
Finally, if you’re like me and want to go through your backlog before buying new games, remind yourself that the game isn’t going anywhere. It’s always going to be on the Steam store, so you don’t have to buy it right now since you can always buy it later. As long as you can resist the strong urge to buy a game immediately after you see it, chances are it will subside, and you will forget about the game completely in a few days.
I’m not your mum, so you don’t have to follow or even take to heart any on this advice. But I hope it was helpful to at least some of you.
(Pic is not related, I just thought it was nice.)
A first post, I guess. I’ve only joined a few days ago, but I have been going through my backlog for a week or so and decided I might as well post some short reviews. Hopefully, they will inspire someone who has these games in their backlog to play (or not play) them. I’m currently in my point-n-click phase, so all the games in this post belong to this genre.
(Haven’t figured out how to embed interactive game previews, can anyone point me in the right direction?)
A game with a very promising and peculiar premise that was let down by a subpar ending and unnecessarily strenuous puzzles. You start out as a ghost of a young girl who is suddenly brought back to the world of the living. You’re trying to figure out what happened while you were gone, and learning about your family’s history along the way. I really liked the plot up to a point when I realised that some of the most interesting questions will never be answered or elaborated on. My suspicions were confirmed when I got to a rather anticlimactic ending that seemed very forced and left me quite dissatisfied. If only the developer(s) put a little more effort into sketching the world around the protagonist, it could have been a great game. Solving puzzles quickly became a chore, as quite a few were ridiculously difficult and required extensive effort. Overall, it was not a terrible game (as long as you manage to get through the puzzles, I couldn’t be bothered and used a walkthrough), but I probably wouldn’t play it if I knew how it will end.
Broken Age (it’s complicated/10; alternatively, Act 1 (11/10), Act 2 (3/10))
If you decide to play this game, my advice would be to completely skip Act 2 and just use your imagination to complete this story. Act 1 was such a gorgeous, marvelous gem full of surprises, and Act 2 completely ruined everything. All the character development building up in Act 1 was abandoned, the plot made little sense, and there was never a real ending provided, IMO. This could have become the best modern point-n-click adventure, and it’s such a shame that it was so mercilessly ruined by Act 2. But I highly recommend playing Act 1 and Act 1 only; it’s a beautiful, innocent fairy-tale, and we all could use a little wonder in our lives.
The Book of Unwritten Tales series (8/10 overall)
This post is getting a bit too long for my liking, so I decided to review all 3 games as a series. The first game starts out very slow and looks quite boring in the beginning, but as it slowly develops the things start to look much more interesting. It’s your typical humorous adventure game where forces of good battle forces of evil. This game isn’t anything revolutionary by any means, but I loved its quirky humour, inventive dialogues, and goofy characters. The second game, Critter Chronicles, is more of a half-game really since all it does is tell the backstory of how 2 characters met. I actually liked it the least out of 3, but would still recommend it if you want to get a better feel of the game’s world. I’m finally on my last game of the series (which I won on SG, and playing which was the original goal, yay), and even though I haven’t finished it yet, I don’t think the ending can disappoint me, and it’s my favourite game in the series so far. Gorgeous locations, funniest dialogues you can imagine, and lots of references. Ratings for all 3 games in the respective order: 8/10, 7/10, 9.5/10.
An Honourable(?) Mention
2064: Read Only Memories
I usually don’t review games which I haven’t played for at least an hour or two because I believe in giving every game a chance to redeem itself. However, I simply couldn’t get into or care about this game enough to even give it this much of my time. I think the developers wanted to create a social commentary medium rather than just a game, in which case they succeeded. The characters felt very generic and flat to me, the plot was uninspiring, jokes weren’t funny, and I found it very hard to get emotionally invested in pretty much anything when it comes to this game. Plus I was already aware of all the issues this game highlighted, so its purpose was lost on me. Overall, I just can’t recommend this game to anyone except people who are interested in this “social justice” kind of games.
(Edited for grammar.)