OC/DC's video game assassination log OC/DC’s profile

Welcome, weary traveler, to my log of video game assassinations!

I supplement my backlog system with info from my Steam Hunters profile.

So my rule for whether a game can move from unfinished to beaten is if it passes my profile average completion or my average SH points per game (i calculate that one manually for now).
This means that i don’t have to bash my head against really hard/grind-y games (measured here by having high total SH points), trying to get their completion higher than my average.
This also, however, means a game can move back from beaten to unfinished, if both of my profile averages climb higher than its completion metrics.

I generally work through my backlog in chronological release order (about seven years behind currently), and try to keep a limit on how many games can be in the playing pile at one time (see: my only list). Although, these rules can be temporarily broken (sometimes games just take your interest.. and sometimes they don’t).

I’ll try and write a post once a month - talking about the games i played, and any interesting thoughts about them or their achievements.

Is Castlevania a Dark Souls ?

46.8 hours

I try to work through my backlog in chronological order, but there's a few games that technically have a more recent release date, while actually being re-releases of games that came out much earlier. I've applied this exception for the Yakuza games, and now for the Castlevania Advance Collection, which is a collection of Castlevania games that came out on the Gameboy Advance - four of them, to be exact, although i only played three

Circle of the Moon was the hardest of the three, and took the longest for me to complete, but was surprisingly good. It follows the metroidvania design (or the design follows it ?) with a sprawling castle that incrementally unlocks as you obtain different traversal abilities. What surprised me the most was how much the game felt like Dark Souls (the first one). There's the obvious comparisons - overall difficulty; animation commitment; save rooms like bonfires - but the strongest resonance for me was the cautious feeling of exploring a new area; venturing out into an unknown, hostile world, not knowing what's around the corner, and how far you can push before having to turn back and save your progress. Good stuff

Harmony of Dissonance was my least favourite. The art style was a bit weird to me, some of the abilities felt a bit off - even exploring the castle ended up being mildly irritating. While the castle layout is perfectly fine, for some reason there's two castles that you can swap between at teleport rooms, each entirely separate in terms of exploration, although identical in structure. There's very few points where this mechanic is used interestingly; for the most part i just found it annoying to traipse across the map to a remote corner to search for upgrades, and then immediately have to return to do it again. Enemies and palette will change, but that's it. Otherwise, it's classic metroidvania, but easier than Circle of the Moon

Aria of Sorrow is (arguably) the best one, and judging by the achievement stats, the one that people are buying the collection to play. It's similar in a lot of ways to Circle of the Moon, but where that game had the classic Castlevania secondary weapons powered by hearts, as well as a magic system powered by MP with spells dropped by enemies, Aria folds those into each other for a smoother system: hearts are just MP now, and spells are cast by the same "up + B" as using support weapons. Spells (or souls) are also dropped by enemies, and are the primary system on show, supplying you with everything from combat moves to traversal abilities. The weapons catalogue has also been opened up - now you can equip more than just a whip (however iconic it may be). Armour and accessories are also expanded, making it feel even more like Dark Souls - not with the same difficulty though; that's still toned down from Circle

It feels weird to call these games "metroidvanias", as they're partially responsible for the genre even existing. They're still following on after Symphony of the Night's design (and success), and then there's the whole Metroid part of the equation, but whatever they are, they're very good - especially for playing on a handheld

Haunted Arcade Game

14.2 hours

Crawl is lots of fun. It's more angled towards multiplayer, and i did play some sessions a while back with friends. This time, for purposes of beating, i just played some some rounds with bots - grinding out unlocks, and doing some trick achievements

The basic idea is an arcade-style action dungeon crawl, where (nearly) everything is controlled by human players. Players are essentially ghosts, who can activate traps in the dungeon, and use pentagrams to summon monsters to fight the sole hero. Landing the killing blow on the hero means you become the new hero, attempting to fight your way to the boss of the dungeon

Defeating your friends' monsters gives XP to both your hero and the monsters, meaning everyone mostly keeps pace with each other. Monsters also have evolution trees, giving their players new strengths and abilities. On the hero's side gold is your friend, buying new weapons, spells, relics, and stat upgrades. The diversity with these items is a lot deeper than it seems at first, with new items being unlocked through successive play sessions

Control-wise, it's kept very simple, following the traditional two-button Nintendo/arcade style - you have movement on the left analog, then one button to attack and one for spells/specials. The special move has a brief cooldown, and the attack has a invisible stamina meter to prevent spamming. As a hero, your first "spell" is a dodge roll, making all the early battles look like beginner Dark Souls PvP (in the fun way)

There's a bit of a learning curve, with the first few sessions being a frantic mash-fest, but with the really low control complexity, you could probably get anyone to enjoy themselves - even successive deaths mean you get to control hulking monstrosities.
The low play commitment of arcade games can cut both ways, making a game that's easy to pick up only slightly less easy to put back down. Tons of fun while it lasts though

Getting big One Piece vibes (never watched it)

123.9 hours

After more than 100 hours, i have once more gone from hunting rats (or pigs in this case) to defeating God

Tales of Berseria is the first Tales game i've played (but not the first JRPG). I found it quite similar in a lot of ways to the other long running franchises in the genre - Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, etc - except for the battle system, which was definitely a unique experience

Apparently the combat is a staple of the entire series, but the basic idea is real-time action, within a party-style battle. Up to four of your party take part in the battle, but you can only directly control one at a time. You assign attacks and spells to face buttons beforehand and then mash them out in real time, guarding and dodging when under heavy attack or while your stamina refills. These moves all have a stamina cost, as well as different elemental damage, status effects, and monster-type bonuses - classic RPG stuff

Party members not in your control are left to the directions of the AI, which you can tweak in broad "behavioural" strokes, as well as turning off the use of specific moves. I'm going to be honest here: trying to juggle enemies while calculating enemy weaknesses and resistances (for each enemy) made this combat system mostly incomprehensible. Once i noticed the AI handling battles as well as me (maybe better ?), i opted to set all characters to AI control, and only occasionally stepping in to apply an item, or switch out someone being reckless

Once battles were out of my mental load, i could focus on good old character progression - and boy can these characters progress. You have classic level-ups; equipment and its upgrades, with mastery bonuses; titles for grinding out actions; special gems that unlock more bonuses (and some new mechanics); and even stat-boosting consumable herbs. If you enjoy crunching numbers and optimising progression, then Berseria has you covered

Story-wise, it's pretty classic JRPG fare, although our protagonist party is very morally grey. They're not out to save the world here (at least not all of them, and not at first), but simply out for different types of vengeance. The chaos they get up to in pursuit of this is often a little hard to morally justify, but i think that's kind of the point - these people aren't "right" in that sense, but they are very human. Each character has their own quest, and seem to join up because their goals roughly align, and it's lots of fun (and a large chunk of playtime) watching them interact and develop unique relationships between each other

It was many hours spent (as expected) but i had a good enough time, and i'm pretty happy to jump into more of this series

June 2024

Look at those neat 10’s and 4’s

Played: 10

Added: 10

Beaten: 4

Started: 4

Completion avg: 80.730% (-0.069)

Points avg: 4688 (+31)

Progress bar:

11% (145/1273)
25% (322/1273)
2% (21/1273)
55% (705/1273)
6% (80/1273)




Much better month than last one. Feels good, but also bad because it's time i could've spent sorting out things that needed sorting out... ah well

Started the month off polishing a few: a combat challenge in Arkham City; some dropshot games in Rocket League; beat a new boss in Lost Castle; a playthrough with a new character in Mega Coin Squad; and then 3-star completion of the next zone in Catastronauts (needed partners for that one)

After that it was the first-time beatens, which hopefully you've already read about. All four were quite enjoyable, in their own way

And the month wouldn't be complete without an overly long JRPG that overflows into the next month, which this time is Tales of Berseria (first Tales game by the way)

And finally, we come to the newly added. Some of them are from Humble, earlier in the month, but Steam sales caused the rest - i'm sure the current sale is ruining everyone's backlog progress though


16.4 hours

Axiom Verge is one of the earlier metroidvania type games, before the genre exploded. It might be slightly incorrect to call it a metroidvania though, as it's clearly a love letter to the 2D Metroid games - not nearly as good as those ones, but that's a high bar that few in the genre have reached

Game elements are pretty close to classic Metroid (almost too close), but there's a particular focus on weapons in this one. Not unusual for a metroidvania, or even a Metroid, but tradition generally states that new weapons should double as new traversal abilities. That tradition is followed in Axiom Verge with the first few weapons you find, but it quickly falls back to more expected abilities (high jump, grappling hook, etc)

Eventually you find so many weapons that they're more of a collectible than traversal tools. At a stretch, you could say different weapons are more useful for different enemies or areas, or even just a player preference/expression thing. I kind of wish they stuck to the weapons as tools concept though, and focused on a few well designed ones, rather than including all the ones they did

On its own, Axiom Verge is a pretty good game, but putting itself so close to Metroid doesn't draw a favourable comparison..
Although, to be honest, "Metroid love letter" is what sold me on the game to start (and probably many others), so maybe the devs are a few steps ahead of me here…

I am become Snek

11.6 hours

The platformer where you have no legs

Snake Pass is such frustrating fun, i found. There's a real sense of mastery over the movement, with an inexperienced fumbling of the controls at the start that i haven't felt in a game in quite a while. Fighting the physics is where the frustration comes, but eventually you get to moments of flow, maintaining your momentum while coiling effortlessly through poles

I didn't finish the entire game (3 areas left), but i got enough points to make it just beaten - i'll probably see this one in month or two

Quebec seems fun..

7.8 hours

Kona is a nice short focused game, completed in a day, after all these endless roguelikes and Yakuzas (i say that out of love)

You play as a detective, hired to investigate a simple crime in a remote, snowy village in Canada. The case quickly turns abnormal, as you might expect - nothing completely extraordinary though, if you're familiar with this genre

It's arguably a walking sim, but the detective elements are quite well done - exploring a house for evidence, then getting back in your car to chase down a lead at another house is a nice loop, and you're free to explore the whole village as you please

There are survival elements though, and very light combat (with wild animals). I found it to be just enough that it's something to consider when venturing out (using your hand-held paper map, of course), but not so much that it becomes annoying to manage

Short game, short review. Doing well so far this month

Rogue Clone

27.4 hours

Unexplored; "the roguelite that feels like a roguelike" as the tagline says. I don't really know what that means because i just call all of them roguelikes, but then if you follow the language; feels like a roguelike - so, a roguelikelike ? At this point the word just feels funny to say

The dungeon generation is impressive here though - for the game design nerds there's a bunch of interesting articles and videos out there about the particular way it was achieved, which i found enjoyable. A lot of roguelikes will say something like "no two runs are the same" or something like that, but i think Unexplored actually gets the closest to that ideal, in my experience.

Fundamental gameplay is also slightly different to most roguelikes. Combat is still a primary means of dealing with obstacles, but don't forget about about scrolls, potions, and magic staves; they are extremely useful for survival without combat, and are sometimes essential to proceed. Achievements are also extra important here, as they are internally tracked, and unlock new starting classes and extra items in the starting shop

I spent all my time in the main game mode (and only saw about half the content, going by achievements), but there's three more "special" runs to have fun with: a run based on Lord of the Rings / Middle Earth, another based on Aliens, and the last following a Lovecraft style mystery. All of these sound great to me, and i might dip into them in the coming months

Unexplored is a bit of an odd one when first trying it out, but stick with it, there's lots to explore here

May 2024

This whole month is not my finest hour

Played: 6

Added: 10

Beaten: 2

Started: 2

Completion avg: 80.799% (+0.011)

Points avg: 4657 (+38)

Progress bar:

11% (145/1262)
25% (317/1262)
2% (22/1262)
55% (696/1262)
6% (82/1262)




Didn't get much done this month - feels a bit bad..

We're working towards moving countries, so obviously that's gonna steal a lot of time, but then there's also work drama happening (thank god i'm leaving soon) *long sigh* It might be a while until i can get back in the backlog groove again..

At least i got something beaten, as well as improving a few scores, and starting a few news

To make my shame worse, i also collected a little too much this month. A sweet 6 of those came from a nice bundle, but i can't blame that - i'm the one who hit the purchase button

Japanese Masculine Aggression Simulator 5

88.2 hours

Are these games actually good? I really can't tell. I kind of enjoy them myself, to an extent, but i struggle to wrap my head around the whiplashes in tone, and mechanic, and the confusing storyline, and the endless running, and fighting.. what even ? i can't

The last of the Remastered trilogy, summoned back from the PS3 days, and i must admit, all of them show their age a bit in terms of game design - hey, it was a different time. I blasted through 3 a while back, then 4 soon after, which was probably a mistake because i was dragging myself across the finish line at the end. I took a healthy break before jumping into 5, but either i did permanent damage to the Yakuza enjoyment part of my brain, or the break wasn't long enough (or maybe i'm just getting older and wiser / grumpier)

If you've played any of the trilogy, they're all fairly the same. Yakuza 4 added new playable protagonists, and now 5 adds new explorable cities (based on real world Japanese cities, naturally). None of them are as large and dense as Kamurocho, but it's definitely nice to see different areas. Otherwise it's classic Yakuza: there's a main plot, usually very noir and dramatic; zany side-quests that you get dragged into; silly busywork that's so pointless i can't help feeling like there's a hidden point; and various hobby-style activities around town. Nearly all of these things will have you punching dudes at some point, for some reason

These games are really hard to describe. I know i technically just did that, but there's a whole vibe that's impossible to convey unless you actually play a while. Still not sure if that's enough to be a "good" game (whatever that is), but as they say: "it sure is something"
And i don't think you can find that "something" anywhere else..