PLANTS franplants’ profile

I like playing games!

I also like buying games… bargain-hunting… buying bundles… organizing and admiring my Steam library…
and daydreaming about the day that I no longer have a backlog (let’s be real, I’ll die before that happens).

I’m looking forward to using BLAEO’s more visual tools to track the games I play and finish!
(I love a good pie chart.)

You can check my achievement stats here: https://completionist.me/steam/profile/76561198216481631

Currently Playing (February 2024):

  • Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade
  • Paranormasight: The Seven Mysteries of Honjo
  • Atelier Sophie: Alchemist of the Mysterious Book DX
  • Jack Move
  • Stardew Valley (ugh why have I let this consume my life?!)

A list of games I’m looking forward to playing this year.

a stylized image of various houseplants

(Image by upklyak on Freepik)

https://www.backlog-assassins.net/users/franplants/games/missing


Progress Report #6: 2024 is heeeeeere!


What is UP, BLAEO fam?! Yes, I am alive (I'm sure you were wondering). The second half of 2023 was a whirlwind, between moving, starting a new job, etc. etc. I actually didn't play any games at all during July/August, but thankfully that ended when Sea of Stars came out! I managed to get back into the gaming groove in the last few months of the year, in no small part thanks to Baldur's Gate 3. And 2024 is off to a great start—I've been having a blast with a bunch of different games, and there's plenty to look forward to in the months ahead.

I don't think I'm going to bother writing a whole comprehensive 2023 in Review post, honestly—it seems like way too much work at this point. I feel like January-June of 2023 basically happened a decade ago!! So consider this brief summary my wrap-up for last year XD



So 2023...let's see. I still haven't finished Persona 5 Royal, but I really want to! Especially with Persona 3 Reload having just come out (not to mention, I still need to play P4G). A handful of other games that I started but didn't finish in the first half of 2023 have migrated over to my Games to Play in 2024 list, such as Eastward and Ashina: The Red Witch. My brief gaming hiatus ended, as mentioned, with the release of Sea of Stars—which subsequently got unceremoniously tossed by the wayside when I became completely enraptured by Baldur's Gate 3. I played BG3 for approximately 180 hours, only just reaching the end of Act 1 (I know, don't ask me how I'm so slow), then I took a break and have yet to go back. (Stopping a game and never picking it back up is the single greatest hurdle I have yet to overcome in the fight against my backlog!!)

After BG3 came Star Farmer, Small Saga, and far too many purchases in the holiday sales. I restarted My Time at Portia, but didn't make it very far before I got kinda bored. Played (and almost finished!) Growth, then messed around with Plant Therapy and Garden Galaxy; FINALLY started Dave the Diver; and rounded out the year with Wylde Flowers. Off-Steam, I played Super Mario RPG, Fae Farm, Kirby's Return to Dreamland DX, and a bit of BOTW on Switch (also tried Palia, but I didn't really like it), and nothing on Xbox.



2024 so far: I'm trying this new thing where I just start a game when I feel like it, regardless of whether or not I'm playing something else that I "have" to finish. I'll tell ya, it's wreaking havoc on my BLAEO stats, but I'm having a ton of fun! So far in January, I've played Vampire Survivors (new DLC!), Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade, Atelier Sophie, Paranormasight, Jack Move, and Stardew Valley. We'll see how long I can sustain this devil-may-care attitude ;-D


Speaking of FF7 Remake, pardon me but why is Cloud Strife so hot?! Kidding aside (I'm actually dead serious tho), I've been enjoying the game so much that I finally bit the bullet and purchased a PS5 so I can play FF7 Rebirth when it comes out. Just, you know, I should probably actually finish FF7 Remake! Sigh, we'll get there.

I'm super excited for the games I'm planning to play in 2024—you can see the Steam games I hope to play here. On other platforms, my to-play consists of:

  • Switch: Master Detective Archives: Rain Code; Super Mario RPG; Princess Peach: Showtime; The Smile Alchemist; Octopath Traveller II; and (finally finish) Raging Loop and Bustafellows
  • Xbox: Turnip Boy Robs a Bank; Spirittea; Mineko's Night Market; Persona 3 Reload; Eiyuden Chronicle: Hundred Heroes; Thirsty Suitors; Ravenlok; Pentiment; Hi-Fi Rush; Cassette Beasts; F.I.S.T.: Forged in Shadow Torch; Cocoon
  • PS5: Final Fantasy VII Rebirth; Final Fantasy XVI; Cyberpunk 2077; Horizon Zero Dawn/Forbidden West; Tales of Arise


Happy 2024, let's make it amazing!
~franplants

Progress Report #5: May 2023


May was another simple month. I decided to start playing Persona 5 Royal while I was sick with COVID, so that took over my life for a few weeks. P5R is AMAZING. I didn't expect to have so much fun with it! Things are getting busy this month as I prepare to move to a new state and start a new job, so I hope I'll find time to finish it in between all the hectic nonsense.

I also picked Cozy Grove back up at the end of the May because I wanted to check out the Spring Festival. (It was a month long and I nearly missed it!) So now I'm back in a daily groove with that, and still loving it. I bought the DLC during the Steam Spring sale and I'm looking forward to meeting the new bears once I finish the main story. And then there's the Summer Festival in July! (I won't miss it this time.)

There are a couple games still lingering in the background that I really want to finish up, but... I can only play some many games at once lmao. Meteor World Actor and Ashina: The Red Witch. I see you there! I haven't forgotten! Plus, I need to resume Higurashi Chapter 2 at some point.

Finally, the Tears of the Kingdom hype caught up to me and I made the questionable decision to purchase an OLED Switch. I haven't actually bought TOTK yet, but I did start two other games: Bustafellows (visual novel, my first otome!) and Jenny LeClue - Detectivu (a cute murder mystery adventure that gives strong Beacon Pines vibes in aesthetic and setting). I'm really enjoying both and will talk more about them in my June post.

That's all for May! Have fun!



Played on Xbox

  • Persona 5 Royal

    78 hours playtime

    27 of 52 achievements

  • Played on Steam

  • Cozy Grove

    85.2 hours playtime

    55 of 70 achievements

  • Played on Switch (OLED :D)

    • BUSTAFELLOWS

      ? hours playtime

      3 of 60 achievements

    • Jenny LeClue

      ? hours playtime

      59% complete

Progress Report #4: April 2023


April was a weird month. At the end of March, I had surgery to get my gall bladder removed, so the first half of the month was spent recovering. Then, just as I was beginning to feel better, I had an allergic reaction to the surgical glue they used on my incisions and broke out in a huge rash of hives all across my stomach. Why did it take 2 weeks for this reaction to pop up?? I have no idea. I spent the next week being itchy and miserable. I had to attend a conference for work in the last week of April and was really worried about how I was going to manage traveling, between the hives and not being able to lift my luggage due to still being in recovery from surgery XD Finally, to top it all off, I tested positive for COVID (for the first time ever!) the night that I got back home from my trip. I'm currently still sick and still itchy, though both seem to be in the process of getting better, at least. Yeah, April was a lot.

In terms of games, I ended up hopping around a bunch and starting quite a few but not finishing any. Perhaps understandable given how nonsensical things were with all the other stuff going on. Honestly, I'm kind of glad I didn't finish any games, because that means I can keep this month's report extremely brief instead of attempting to write coherent reviews. Don't think I could manage that right now lol.



Played on Steam


Played on Switch

  • Xenoblade Chronicles DE

    37.4 hours playtime

    80 of 200 achievements

  • Pokemon Scarlet

    4.7 hours playtime

    23 of 400 pokemon


Played on Xbox

  • Persona 5 Royal

    5 hours playtime

    1 of 52 achievements

  • Moonglow Bay

    2.5 hours playtime

    0 of 37 achievements

  • The Gunk

    1 hour playtime

    3 of 17 achievements

  • Young Souls

    4.3 hours playtime

    7 of 33 achievements

  • Aragami 2

    1.1 hours playtime

    1 of 44 achievements


Most Exciting Additions


Progress Report #2: February 2023


15.9 hours
Played on Steam

Review: Hoooo-leeeeee moly. I mean, I knew Obra Dinn was gonna be good. Anyone who's played it will talk your ear off about how good it is. But I didn't expect it to be this good. The music, the ambience, the gameplay, the characters, the voice acting, the art style, the sheer attention to detail, that satisfying tune that plays when you get something right... I was utterly captivated from the very first moment of the game. It really is a masterpiece. I promise.

It's one of those games that everyone will annoyingly tell you, "Go in blind!!", but it's true. So all I'll say is that you're an insurance assessor for the East India Trading Company, and the Obra Dinn has floated back into port atfter being lost at sea for several years. Your job is to go onboard and assess the damages for insurance claims.

I played through the whole game together with my dad, and we had so much fun figuring everything out together. It's a great choice to play with a friend or loved one, especially someone who might not otherwise be interested in games. My only "complaint" about the game (and it wasn't really the game's fault), was that even after the final bit of info was revealed to us at the end, we were both like "uhhh....wtf just happened?", and it made the ending feel kind of underwhelming. And then I looked up a bunch of stuff and realized it felt that way because we didn't actually understand what was going on as well as we thought we did. That's what we get for guessing sometimes. Don't guess!! So you see, it's not really a flaw of the game. We're just a bunch of dummies XD (I kid...kind of.)

Lucas Pope is brilliant. Play this game!!!



7.1 hours
None
Played on Steam

Review: Hey, did you notice? I really like mystery games. And I'm really glad I picked this one up. I had been planning to wait for a deeper sale, but then the Mystery Fest rolled around (thank u Lord Gaben) and I wanted to treat myself, so I decided to grab Voodoo Detective. It truly is a hidden gem and a labor of love from a small indie studio.

Let's start with the art. The game is chock full of gorgeous, vibrant hand-drawn scenes. I was screen-shotting like a maniac. I'm a sucker for any games that highlight lesser-known countries and cultures. In this case, voodoo religion and the surrounding culture on a fictitious Caribbean island. We've got enough traditional high-fantasy RPGs inspired by medieval Europe; I love to see a new and unique setting. The game is also fully voice-acted, and the voices were good. The store page mentions that they used voice talent from prominent games and movies like Mass Effect and Star Trek. I can't say I recognized any voices, but they certainly did an excellent job of it.

I very much enjoyed the story and characters. You play as the titular Voodoo Detective, and in classic noir fashion, a lovely woman comes to your office asking you to take on her case. The game has a snarky style that pokes fun at common tropes in both low-brow detective novels and adventures games themselves. For example, when you put "fire" in your inventory, and the detective casually remarks something like, "I better use this before it burns a hole in my pocket!"

I would say the puzzles were not incredibly challenging. For a diehard point-and-click fan, they might be a disappointment. For me, who has very little faith in her ability to complete adventures games (Grim Fandango scarred me as a child), it was just perfect.

If you are looking for a refreshing comedy-adventure game that combines modern sensibilities with an old-school feel, and aren't too strict about your "dollar-to-hour" ratio in games, I recommend you give this one a look. It's lovely to spend an evening or two on Zo Wanga Isle.




Finished Games

As you can see, I went on a bit of a cat-game bender this month. I saw everyone else playing A Building Full of Cats, so then I wanted to play a Building Full of Cats. And then I wanted more, so I played the rest of the Devcats games (Sudocats will be in my March report), and then I played Hidden Office, which turned out to be only tenuously related to cats, but was still pretty fun. I also played a unique little puzzle game called Otteretto; basically, you have a tetris-like grid of squares and try to make the longest possible chain that is a palindrome (same both forwards and backwards). After many years, I finally completed 100% achievements in Plantera (just in time for the sequel to come out?), and I also re-100%'ed Vampire Survivors (and now a new DLC has already been announced, damn u poncle!)

Of the Devcats games, I think my favorite would have to be Castle. It had the same fun hidden object gameplay as Building, but also expanded on it and added a bit of a story, which really upped the charm factor and made it stand out from the others. Plus, the art was gorgeous. Zodiacats, while quite different and also rather easy, was still really enjoyable—again, mostly because of the beautiful art. If any one of them appeals to you, I'd recommend just getting the whole dang bundle, as they are all worth a try. I'm excited for their next game!



Unfinished Games

Looking back at the games I played this month, I'm honestly not even sure how I had time for all of this?? I certainly put a lot of hours into quite a few substantial games in February. Time to have an existential crisis about how I spend my days...

ANYWAY, I intend to post more complete reviews for these games once I finish them (I swear I will finish them!), so I'll just mention them briefly here:

Neon White: I wasn't too sure about the parkour-platforming-speedrunning style of gameplay, but when I found out it is mixed with VN elements I decided to give it a go (in no small part because the visuals heavily remind me of Paradise Killer, so it was bound to catch my eye). Overall, the parkour aspect is relatively forgiving, in that you don't need to get the best possible times to proceed. But the perfectionist in me got a little too caught up with trying to get gold/platinum on all levels and I think it started to make me go a tiny bit insane, lmao. Those 15 hours I played were all over the course of one weekend and then I abruptly dropped it because the rapid level-repetition was getting to me! I definitely intend to pick it up again later, as the story was just starting to unfold. But it will suck to have to re-learn the moves.

APICO: A beekeeping management-sim that gets fairly detailed in terms of cross-breeding to obtain desired genetic traits or produce new species, synergies between bees/butterflies and different flower species, solitary vs. social bees, and the nitty-gritty of how you actually obtain produce from human-made beehives. It may appeal to a pretty niche audience, but I absolutely love it! I binged it hard for the first half of February and even started drawing out floorplans by hand for expanding my in-game home to have dedicated "bee house" and "butterfly house" areas. I think I was getting somewhat close to the end-game, but decided to put it on hold when I found out the dev is planning two more significant content updates before calling it done! I'd rather wait till the next update comes out so there's some new stuff to do while I work on finishing my bee-/butterfly-/flowerpedias.

Eastward: This is another game I started playing on a bit of a whim and got totally sucked in. The pixel art is breathtaking and the dialogue is very clever. The story is weird, and I'm not quite sure yet where it's going, but I like it. From what I can tell, having not yet played Earthbound myself, it is very heavily inspired by Earthbound. It also reminds me a bit of CrossCode, but really just in a "general vibes that make you feel giddy to be alive" kind of way and not because of any similar gameplay systems. There is light combat, puzzle-solving, and dungeon traversal, but it leans much more heavily on story, visual treats, and heartfelt character interactions to win you over. The cooking minigame is also *chef's kiss* (see what I did there).

Progress Report #3: March 2023


13.1 hours
Played on Steam

Review: Another game that absolutely deserves the glowing praise heaped upon it. After finishing Obra Dinn, my dad and I were eager to do more more sleuthing, so I suggested we play The Case of the Golden Idol next. Many people compare it to Obra Dinn, saying it's the most similar game they've found. That's true in that your investigative work consists of filling in blanks in a "Mad Libs" or "Clue"-like manner, and in that the game is also very clever and well-done, but I'd say the similarities mostly end there.

Of course, Golden Idol has its own unique story, and it's rather more "lighthearted" than what goes on in Obra Dinn. For me, the weirdly ugly artstyle was absolutely part of its charm. You start off solving cases that, at first, seem somewhat disparate, but it's not long before you begin to see the common threads running through them, and you can piece together the overarching backstory as you go. The way everything revealed itself to fit together in the end was immensely satisfying and entertaining, and there was even a straightforward little epilogue chapter to help us dummies tie up some loose ends (something that Obra Dinn was far too "cerebral" to have, lol).

Solving the mysteries in Golden Idol is made a bit easier by the fact that you typically have the context of a full paragraph to help you figure out what's happening, and you just have to determine which key words to put in the blanks. Not to say there's no challenge! Simply that it does help you to orient yourself with regard to what's happening. If you are looking to relive the thrill of Obra Dinn but also have a more casual and less emotionally-draining experience, this is the game for you! Or, screw the Obra Dinn comparison, it's just a great game in its own right and is most certainly worth your time!



19.6 hours
Played on Steam

Review: Well, well, well...what can I even say about Higurashi When They Cry? I certainly played a lot of spoilerific games these last two months, so it's hard to write much about them XD

I had stumbled across the Higurashi series on Steam a long time ago, but I don't think I even realized what they were really about, and just assumed I wasn't interested. The store page blurb is super vague, after all. Near the end of March, I went down a bit of a "spooky/paranormal/psychological horror VN" rabbit hole, because I was trying to decide if I wanted to buy Paranormasight. In the last couple years I've grown a lot braver when it comes to spooky stuff! I used to be the world's biggest scaredy-cat, but I guess I'm not anymore? Feels weird.

At the same time, I happened to see several people mention Higurashi on BLAEO, including a comment from Stef saying "the series messed me up (in a good way)" and now my interest was really piqued. I mean, it was fate, right? So I timidly decided to try reading the first chapter (it's free!).

Oh, MAN!! That first chapter was crazy. I wasn't really sure what to expect, since everyone's perception of "horror" is so different and subjective. I went in expecting something mind-rendingly horrific and disturbing, and I think my expectations were so over-the-top that it ultimately felt a little tame in the end compared to whatever I was bracing myself for. BUT, what this story really does, is it gets in your mind. It makes you start questioning reality along with the protagonist. I now feel I really know the true meaning of "psychological horror." (Or do I, I wonder... I wonder?)

Anyway, it was really good, and I immediately bought all 8 other chapters in the spring sale. So I'm looking foward to slowly losing my mind :-)




Finished Games

I played through a somewhat random smattering of other games during the month. I don't have much in particular to say about them, just that it felt really great to get so many completions! Capybara Spa is a nice mindless game to play while watching/listening to something in the background. I previously played Hero of the Kingdom III, so HotK1 was my second experience in the series. If you like them, you like them. It doesn't really make sense to me why they are so engrossing, lol. My hankering for hidden cats cannot be sated, so I bought a bunch more of those games in the spring sale on Steam. Nothing too exciting here :-)



Unfinished Games

I also recently made a list of "games to finish," i.e. those that I previously made significant progress in and would like to "clean up." So I worked on a few of those this month, including Darkside Detective and Daylife in Japan. I got momentarily re-addicted to some clicker games, like Harvest Seasons and Cookie Clicker (they'll be back), and finally, I devoted significant time to Cozy Grove and Patch Quest, which are both from my "2023 Games To Play" list. They are delightful and will certainly be featured in my monthly progress report once I finish them!

btw, Patch Quest does have achievements (I'm at 4/24)

Closure of the 3DS & WiiU eShops


In my year-in-review post, I wrote about last summer's handheld/retro game-collecting spree. I managed to track down physical copies of most of the games I wanted at that time, but there were still some I wanted to get digitally. And so, my last week of March before the 3DS and WiiU eShops shut down was spent in a frenzy of reading "must play" articles and paring down the list of games to buy until I had something I could actually afford XD

I was able to get a lot of great games that I will play...Someday!TM Including Virtual Console games on the WiiU (Advance Wars, Fire Emblem, Golden Sun, Super Mario RPG, Harvest Moon N64, Pokemon Snap, and so on), as well as 3DS games that are too expensive to buy physically (like Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright or Yokai Watch 3) and some that are digital-only (Pushmo, Attack of the Friday Monsters, The Denpa Men, etc). I'll admit I'm a little nervous that it might be difficult for me to get invested in some of these older games, since I don't have nostalgia for them. But I'm still happy to have them as part of my collection, and to know I have the option to try them out when the right mood strikes.

With that, I just wanted to give a little shoutout to the old faithful eShops—I may not have grown up with them, but they certainly made this last year an exciting time for me, and I'm sad to see them go. I'll miss collecting badges with the Arcade Bunny and listening to the store music that starts off catchy but slowly makes you go insane. Farewell, little shopping bag dude. May we meet again someday!


The Backlog Grows...


Taking inspiration from EvilBlackSheep's post format, I wanted to highlight some of the new additions to my library that I'm most excited about! February was a great bundle month, plus there was the Mystery Fest on Steam, and March was the Spring Sale, so........my backlog grew quite a bit (it's fine, everything is fine).

New Games—February 2023

New Games—March 2023



Most Exciting Additions

PS COROMON DOES HAVE ACHIEVEMENTS!!! what da heck


2022 Year In Review

Y'all, it took me a MILLION years to put this post together (and I learned a lot about HTML along the way). I figured out how to make my own collapsible review boxes! Kinda. It didn't end up quite how I was imagining, but it works. Yay, me!


I've been wanting to make a year-in-review post for a while, but kept putting it off because for some reason trying to write concise reviews always makes me feel anxious! I was going to post it on r/12in12 (some of you may be familiar with that subreddit), but now that I've joined BLAEO, I'd rather post here instead. Because (a) pretty post-making tools and (b) there is much more engagement from the community!


2022 was a weird year for me in the gaming realm. In January, I returned from living overseas for a year and ended up setting up my laptop (which I normally used for gaming) as my work computer, since I didn't really have space for my whole desktop PC. This resulted in me not playing anything for the first few months of the year, because I had no desire to sit at my computer all day and then continue doing so to play games in the evening. So I just lazed around and watched Xena: Warrior Princess and a lot of Elden Ring streams for a good while.


Around March, thanks to a friend who planted the idea in my head that I should maybe buy a 3DS due to the announcement of the eShop closing (glares at friend), I plunged headfirst into an extremely sudden and rather expensive retro game-collecting habit. I didn't just buy a 3DS. I ended up getting almost every different model of 3DS/DS (for science, ya know, I had to see how the design evolved over the years), as well as multiple GBAs, a Wii, a WiiU, and many, MANY physical games for 3DS, DS, GBA, Wii/WiiU, and Switch. And accessories too, like carrying cases and all that.......yeah, I'm kind of an all-or-nothing person XD I never owned any of these game systems as a kid, so it was a sort of rectification of my missed childhood, lol.


At some point during the summer, I also finally caved and got myself an Xbox Series S, so I started using Game Pass much more regularly. And then my Steam Deck came in August and everything else was pretty much left in the dust. Truly, the Steam Deck has been a game-changer for me. I love that thing!! As you'll see once I get into the games list, I tend to "dabble" a lot and often find it difficult to finish games. In no small part, thanks to choice paralysis and getting distracted by my absurdly large library. The Deck has really helped me focus on playing just a few games at a time and actually finishing them. I officially completed the longest game I've ever played!


ANYWAY! Here we go. I promise most of my posts won't be this long, lol. I sorted the games I played in 2022 into 3 categories:

  • Finished: Games that I either 100% completed, or finished the story, or otherwise felt I had a complete experience with
  • Played: Games that I played more than "a little while," but didn't finish
  • Sampled: Games that I only tried briefly



amazing— 5 really good— 4 good— 3 okay— 2 bad— 1

CrossCode

5/5
176.1 hours
70 of 86 achievements

Review: I loved every single thing about CrossCode. If I had to pick just one favorite game, it would be this one.

You play as Lea, a woman who has lost her memory, and she's been logged into a super high-tech MMORPG called CrossWorlds in the hopes that it will help her recover. The way the devs handled the "game-within-a-game" trope was, in my opinion, brilliant. They created an engaging sci-fi story full of twists and some of the best characters I've ever encountered in a game—they truly feel like real people who are other players in this MMO. The puzzles are clever and challenging, and so often look absolutely impossible—but once you figure them out, you feel like a genius. The combat is equally fun, with many options to accommodate different playstyles, and each enemy has its own specific weaknesses that you can figure out to make defeating them much easier. It gets even better when you start unlocking the higher-tier combat arts. My personal favorite is the giant ice turret that pummels your enemies full of ice shards and slows them down >:-D

And the music! The pixel art! The exploration! The collectibles! The massive skill tree! The side quests! The extensive statistics section that lets you track almost anything you could want to track! Well, like I said... I absolutely adore this game, and I'm probably going to spend the rest of my life trying to chase down other games that feel anywhere near as special.

I played for about 150 hours to complete the full storyline (I like to take my time and explore every nook and cranny, so this is almost certainly longer than the average playtime). The game won't be for everyone—the puzzles in particular seem to be something that people either love or hate. But the entire experience as a whole just made me feel some type of indescribable way. Luckily, I still have the DLC to finish!

Spiritfarer

5/5
59.4 hours
26 of 39 achievements

Review: I really hit it out of the park last year with randomly picking games to play on a whim, because that led to me playing CrossCode and Spiritfarer back-to-back. And just like CrossCode, Spiritfarer quickly shot to the top of my favorite games list.

In the game, you play as Stella, the new Spiritfarer, who is accompanied by her cat, Daffodil. The job of the Spiritfarer is to help lost souls fulfill their final wishes, and when they are ready, to ferry them to the Everdoor on a magical houseboat. Why has Stella taken up this role? It's a mystery and you have to play the game to find out ;-)

First off, I have to say, the art and animation in Spiritfarer is ABSOLUTELY TOP-NOTCH and GORGEOUS. I personally think it should be played by everyone just for that reason alone. The characters are wonderful, each distinct in their own right, and you will definitely feel Emotions about at least some of them. (I stan Giovanni and Stanley is my son, never speak to him or me ever again.) Even the "generic" NPCs you meet throughout the game are so full of character.

There's plenty of other stuff to do as well—meet new souls to bring onboard, upgrade your boat and add buildings, explore the entire map, find collectibles, fish, farm, craft, cook, change your clothes, or just give everyone a hug.

Aside from the platforming/gliding/ziplining sometimes being a bit finicky, I don't think I can find a single fault with the game. Well, aside from the fact that it doesn't last forever. I never wanted to stop exploring that world—it was truly a beautiful experience.

Swords & Souls: Neverseen

4/5
37.2 hours
27 of 39 achievements

Review: Swords & Souls: Neverseen is one of those simple games that's just fun. It's a follow-up to a flash game called "Swords & Souls." In S&S: Neverseen, your ship crashes onto the shore of a distant land and you are immediately enlisted into training by a strange being named Sir Pupset. You need to become a hero to save the Neverseen from the Evil Witch Queen! And fast!

The most unique aspect of S&S: Neverseen is the training mini-games. Instead of passively leveling up abilities, you actually "train" in them yourself. There are skills for melee and ranged attacks, defense, magic, and agility. In addition to leveling up the overall abilities, each mini-game has its own "sub-goals," like "get a combo of X length" or "don't make any mistakes for 30 seconds." It's a lot of fun, but can also get very challenging, especially at the higher levels. I was playing on Steam Deck, but notably, at higher tiers, training the ranged skill is nearly impossible without a mouse and keyboard.

When not training, you go out into the wilds and fight a mostly-linear set of battles until you ultimately reach the "boss" for that chapter and get one step closer to the Witch. The combat is a sort of real-time/turn-based auto-battler hybrid. Your basic attack goes off automatically at certain intervals (same with the enemies), but you can also actively manage a wide array of other skills, such as shooting your bow, casting spells, drinking potions, blocking/dodging attacks, etc. Each melee weapon has its own manually-triggered special attack, as well. You can also eventually recruit mercenary companions and pets to fight alongside you. I found this sort of hybrid combat to be really enjoyable. It made me feel like a powerful badass ;-D

The graphics are colorful and lighthearted (some may feel they have too much of a cartoonish or "mobile game" look), the characters you meet are funny and charming, and the gameplay loop is rather addictive. Between training and fighting, you can also fish, upgrade your gear, and fill in collections at the museum (always gotta have a museum).

You won't find complex mechanics or an intricate story in this game, but if you are more of a completionist or collectathon-type player, and don't mind a bit of a grind, then I recommend checking it out!

Luna's Fishing Garden

4/5
5.8 hours
14 of 14 achievements

Review: Luna's Fishing Garden is an adorable casual game about a little girl who gets caught in a storm and finds herself on a set of mysterious and magical islands. From here, she embarks on an adventure to help restore the islands to their former glory, in the hopes that it will allow her to get back home. Gameplay consists of cultivating various plants and animals on the islands, fishing, and completing simple quests. There is a small cast of delightful characters to interact with, and I thought the dialogue was great—very clever and sometimes even laugh-out-loud funny. It's a short and sweet game that I'd recommend to anyone who enjoys a wholesome slice-of-life experience or lovely pixel art.

fault - milestone one

3/5
15.9 hours
9 of 12 achievements

Review: I found this science-fantasy visual novel to be rather fascinating. Although the writing isn't always that great, the lore of the world is incredibly rich, and once I started reading I really wanted to know more.

The story starts by throwing you right into the action. The princess (Selphine) of a kingdom being taken over by a coup has been cornered by those sent to kill her, and in a moment of desperation, her extremely loyal bodyguard/friend (Ritona) uses some sketchy teleportation magic to get them both to safety. Unfortunately, now they have no idea where they are. Upon reaching a town, they find out they are in the area of the world where mana is extremely scarce. The people here have managed to harness the small amount of mana they can access to basically create "electricity" and other things that we would consider to be modern scientific advancements. But there's a dark story behind how this all happened.

Soon after arriving in the town, the two travelers meet a sweet but mysterious girl who shows them around and is incredibly helpful. But when they try to meet up with her again the next day, she's nowhere to be found. Selphine and Ritona decide to stick around and figure out what's happening.

The structure of the story is a bit odd, as it really becomes focused on unraveling the story of this mysterious girl and her family, and almost nothing happens to actually move forward the story of the two main characters, who urgently need to find their way back home. Nevertheless, I found it interesting and enjoyable, and I'm looking forward to playing the second game in the series. I just hope that one focuses a bit more on the fates of Selphine and Ritona!

AI: The Somnium Files GAME
PASS

5/5
62.7 hours
30 of 45 achievements

Review: Oh man, I'm not even sure where to start with AI: The Somnium Files. It was a wild ride and one of the best games I played last year. It's essentially a murder mystery VN set in the near future, but it also has a sigificant gameplay element where you can enter a memory, or "Somnium," of someone else in order to find clues that might help solve the mystery. Each Somnium is timed, in a way, but time only passes when you take an action, and each action takes up a certain amount of seconds. So it's more of a time-management puzzle than anything that requires quick reflexes or fast thinking. I personally found the Somniums to be a little stressful (thanks, choice paralysis anxiety), and I was always enjoying the story so much that I didn't want to interrupt it with a Somnium event. But that's just me being weird, and they were still really fun. There are also some quick-time-ish events like shooting a bullet or punching someone at a certain time, and there are interrogation scenes where you ask people questions.

You play as Kaname Date, a rough-around-the-edges detective with a prosthetic eye that houses a snarky AI named Aiba. The banter between Kaname and Aiba throughout the game is hilarious (and full of puns). Honestly, I loved almost every single one of the characters (especially Mizuki <3). The voice acting is phenomenal (everything is voiced), the story is brain-melting, the art is beautiful. I had a blast with every second of it, and it kept me guessing till the end. There are multiple routes/endings, but the game takes you through them in a relatively structured way (e.g., having to reach a certain ending to unlock a different route), and it's all shown to you in the form of a flowchart, so there's no guesswork involved in experiencing every part of the story (which I appreciated).

This game comes highly recommended from me if you're interested in sci-fi, murder mysteries, or something a bit off-the-wall and experimental. Or if you enjoyed other Spike Chunsoft games like Danganronpa or Zero Escape. I recently bought the next game in the series (nirvanA Initiative), and I'm super excited to play it!

Beacon Pines GAME
PASS

5/5
12.1 hours
10 of 10 achievements

Review: I was really looking foward to Beacon Pines after playing the demo on Steam, and the full game did not disappoint. Sometimes described as "Winnie-the-Pooh meets Stranger Things," this charming-creepy-cute storybook adventure ended up being one of my favorite games of the year. The characters and writing are fantastic, and the hand-painted style of the art is really beautiful. The game's main mechanic is a branching storyline with multiple endings (literally "branching"—it's a tree). You unlock new branches by finding objects in the game world that provide a word you can plug into the story, which actually gets "written down" into a storybook as you go. There is also a voiced narrator who does an excellent job of setting the mood throughout the game.

Beacon Pines is relatively short, but the experience is well worth it. I also loved that it came out at the end of September last year—it was the perfect way to usher in the autumn season. Anyone here want to start the Rolo Fan Club with me? XD

Echo Generation GAME
PASS

4/5
21.5 hours
50 of 50 achievements

Review: I initially didn't pay much attention to Echo Generation, thinking that I didn't like the graphics (it's made by the devs who created Riverbond, and uses that same Minecraft-y voxel style). But when it was announced to be leaving Xbox Game Pass, I decided to give it a try—and I'm really glad I did! Turns out I just didn't like the model for the main character that was used in all the key art (I dunno why, he just looks annoying lmao), and in-game you can choose your character's appearance. Glad we were able to get past that stumbling block, lol.

Anyway, here's another game that gives "Stranger Things" vibes (I should mention, I haven't actually watched the show, but I'm saying this based on what I know about it XD). You start off just running mundane errands with your little sister, but things quickly spiral out of control into a grand adventure involving...well, I'll just say "the supernatural." It's not the world's the most creative story, but I think it's a lot more fun to be surprised by what happens, so I won't say too much :-)

The game makes use of that familiar mechanic of "chaining" quests together, e.g., you need a bus pass to get downtown, but in order to get that, you need to obtain some other object, the person who has that object needs you to do something for them, etc. Some people may not like this quest-dependency sort of thing, but I rather enjoy it. There's a handful of different areas to explore, with lots of interesting and funny characters to talk to (the dialogue is very clever), some puzzles to solve, enemies to fight (including bosses), and more.

The combat will probably be the most engaging part of the game for many people. It's turn-based, but each character gets a handful of moves (more are unlocked as you progress), and each move has an associated mini-game. Your success in the mini-game determines how much damage you do. I had a lot of fun with this, although eventually it's pretty clear that some abilities are strictly better than others, so there's not much incentive to mix it up once the "good ones" are available to you. Different moves use up differing amounts of your action points, so there is some level of strategy involved when it comes to orchestrating actions for your entire team. I really got a kick out of watching the various goofy attack animations.

I will warn that there is a quite of bit of walking back-and-forth through places you've already been, and the game can also get a little grindy—monsters respawn in certain areas, and there were times when it was literally impossible for me to win a fight that was necessary to progress until I fought those respawning enemies for a while in order to level up. I personally did not mind this, but I'm mentioning it because I know it could be a turn-off for some players.

All in all, I had a great time accompanying my character and her lil sis on a wholesome yet spooky retro adventure and I'm definitely going to be following what these devs do next! (How did this end up being my longest review??)

Omno GAME
PASS

3/5
10.2 hours
21 of 21 achievements

Review: Omno is a pleasant game with no dialog in which you play as someone going on a sort of "spiritual journey." It's interesting to see how the devs were able to relay a story without any characters speaking (though there are some little lore entries that help make up for it). The gameplay essentially consists of traveling through several different biomes, recording new creatures (and plants, I think? It's been a while lol), solving some relatively straightforward environmental puzzles, and finding collectibles. The scenery in each biome is quite pretty, the creature design is unique, and you eventually get a cute little companion that looks like some kind of flying squirrel.

I did enjoy the game, but I'm giving it a 3 out of 5 because, relative to other games I've really liked, it doesn't particularly stand out in my mind. I won't be raving about it to anyone, but it was good. My favorite part by far was skiing around on my little magic light staff. That brought me a lot of joy :-D

  • Nobody Saves the World

    35.1 hours playtime

    21 of 41 achievements

  • Lost Nova

    1.5 hours playtime

    2 of 18 achievements

  • Melvor Idle

    410.7 hours playtime

    11 of 86 achievements

  • Pixel Puzzle Makeout League

    16.7 hours playtime

    10 of 22 achievements

  • Chicken Police

    20.1 hours playtime

    12 of 31 achievements

  • Boneraiser Minions

    15.1 hours playtime

    62 of 159 achievements

  • Baba Is You

    16.3 hours playtime

    1 of 18 achievements

  • Cookie Clicker

    670 hours playtime

    152 of 583 achievements

  • Pokemon Brilliant Diamond

    5+ hours playtime

    (n/a) achievements

  • Link's Awakening

    5+ hours playtime

    (n/a) achievements

  • Kirby & the Forgotten Land

    5+ hours playtime

    (n/a) achievements

  • Rune Factory 4 Special

    10+ hours playtime

    (n/a) achievements

  • Citizen Sleeper

    7 hours playtime

    0 of 27 achievements

  • Eiyuden Chronicle: Rising

    2.4 hours playtime

    3 of 50 achievements

  • Immortality

    3.3 hours playtime

    6 of 27 achievements

  • Octopath Traveler

    9 hours playtime

    7 of 88 achievements

  • Hades

    18.7 hours playtime

    4 of 49 achievements

  • PowerWash Simulator

    7.1 hours playtime

    1 of 40 achievements

  • Disney Dreamlight Valley

    9.2 hours playtime

    0 of 15 achievements

  • Bugsnax

    2.8 hours playtime

    3 of 30 achievements

  • Raji: An Ancient Epic

    5 hours playtime

    5 of 21 achievements

  • Garden Story

    11.7 hours playtime

    6 of 21 achievements

  • Ooblets

    79 hours playtime

    (n/a) achievements

  • Final Fantasy XIII

    (idk) hours playtime

    (??) achievements

  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney Trilogy

    11 hours playtime

    (n/a) achievements

  • Radiant Historia: Perfect Chronology

    4.5 hours playtime

    (n/a) achievements

  • Yokai Watch

    2 hours playtime

    (n/a) achievements

Xbox Game Pass
  1. Legend of Tianding: Cool beat-'em-up platformer set in Japan-occupied Taiwan that I'd like to play more of. Awesome art style.
  2. Little Witch in the Woods: Wanted to play this around Halloween, then realized since it's in early access it's still missing story content, so I decided to wait.
  3. Unsighted: Tried briefly before it left XGP, and while the combat might be too challenging for me, I still kinda want it. Reminded me of CrossCode.
  4. Assassin's Creed Odyssey: Tried it on a whim, but let's be honest, I'll probably never actually play an AC game. Esp not the later ones.
  5. Flynn: Son of Crimson: Cute Zelda-ish(?) 2D side-scroller about saving the world (naturally). You also have a dog!
  6. The Outer Wilds: I KNOW, this game is AMAZING (says everyone). Tried to start it but it didn't really click. Already have it on Steam so I'll definitely go back to it.
Steam
  1. Strange Horticulture: Cats? Plants? Witches? This game is, like, made for me. So why haven't I played it yet? The human brain works in mysterious ways.
  2. Dome Keeper: Got caught up in the hype, bought it around release, played it once, and then somehow psyched myself out of playing anymore. For now.
  3. Portal: Thought it would be fitting to play this as one of the first games on my Steam Deck, but I just...wasn't into it. I'll try again someday.
Other Platforms
  1. Elden Ring (XBox): Again got caught up in hype and wanted to try it even though I knew I'd be terrible at it. Spoiler alert: I am terrible at it.
  2. Super Mario Galaxy (Wii): One of the few games from my summer retro rampage that I actually played for more than a few minutes. I liked it a lot!
  3. Shin Megami Tensei 3 Remaster (Switch): Never played an SMT game before this, but I dig the weirdness and will definitely play more.
  4. Fire Emblem: Three Houses (Switch): Really like this one too, but there is aLOT to digest here. Played for like 5 hours and barely got out of the tutorial.
Top Games of 2022 Honorable Mention
1. CrossCode 6. Echo Generation
2. Beacon Pines 7. Ooblets
3. Spiritfarer 8. Chicken Police
4. AI: The Somnium Files 9. Hades
5. Nobody Saves The World 10. Boneraiser Minions

Progress Report #1: January 2023

Time for my first monthly progress report! :-)

86.3 hours

I only finished one game in January, but it was a big one (for me)... Vampire Survivors!! I had played it for about 10 hours previously during early access, so that means I spent ~76 hours playing the 1.0 release. NOT too shabby for a game that only cost me about $5 total for base+DLC. I was starting to get a little frustrated toward the end, as I had to grind a bit to finish out the achievements, and was also trying to unravel the dev's esoteric riddles for unlocking the secret characters (some of them are pretty ridiculous)—so I think it hit 100% completion at just the right time.

It was a blast playing through the full release and getting to experience all the new content, and I had a few really memorable runs. Like somehow getting over 100k kills on my first run with Menya, a new DLC character. Or getting trapped in a cave in the new Mt. Moonspell and being completely overrun by Oni, but through sheer force of will and some nimble maneuvering, my pal Yatta Cavallo managed to survive to the very end. And of course, I'll never forget my very first win! For a while, I thought I'd never hit that 30-minute mark.

There are tons of "VS-likes" out there now capitalizing on this newly popularized genre, and I've played a handful of them (Boneraiser Minions, Brotato, 20 Minutes Till Dawn, and Spellbook Demonslayers so far). While these are all shaping up to be great games in their own right (and to be fair, all of them are still in early access), playing the full release of VS really impressed upon me how truly polished and creative it turned out to be. Every music track is an absolute banger, a steady pace of unlocks keeps the dopamine flowing, and the dev's wonderful sense of humor is the cherry on top. For me, only Boneraiser Minions comes close right now to the fun I had with VS.

All in all, I had a great time playing Vampire Survivors 1.0, and any additional DLC that comes out will likely be a day-one purchase for me. And I didn't finish finding all the secret characters in the end, so that will give me a little something extra to look forward to whenever new content comes out.

, 10/10, 100% recommend, go buy this game RIGHT NOW if you haven't already!!!! Or else!



After completing Vampire Survivors, I started a few other games and also played a bunch of demos (the demo backlog in my Steam library is a whole other thing lol). I did a mass redemption of unclaimed game keys, so my library grew quite a bit (I made a list of games added to my library in Dec/Jan here) (don't judge me).

I've been playing Return of the Obra Dinn with my dad (a FANTASTIC game), and also started Meteor World Actor, a science-fantasy detective VN. I had tried the demo for its sequel on Steam, so I decided to look into getting the first game. Turns out it's not available on Steam because (long story short) it was rejected due to "adult content." It's only available on a website called Johren. Apparently there are some romance/sex scenes between the protagonist and several of the female characters. From what I read, most people don't feel it adds much to the story. I was interested enough in the setting from the demo that I decided to go ahead and give it a shot. After navigating a veritable obstacle course of payment issues, I finally secured my copy and have been playing it via Steam Deck as a non-Steam game. The translation so far has been excellent, and it's pretty highly praised for its unique jazzy soundtrack. I'm kind of hoping I can skip quickly through the h-scenes as I'm not really interested in that stuff, but I'm a sucker for a good detective story! Although I'll be honest, the protag is shaping up to be quite insufferable and I'm really curious as to how he's going to get anyone to sleep with him.

I also checked out Live A Live on Switch from my local library (I know, right? That's a thing!) and was pretty quickly able to finish the "Near Future" chapter. I really enjoyed it and the story hooked me! It involved giant mech robots, a god, mad scientists, an orphanage, and a gang of street thugs. In a typical fashion of Japanese games, it's completely over-the-top and goofy, but honestly I love that. The combat brings some fun and unique features to standard turn-based battles, and I thought the voice acting was good too. I started my next chapter (Wild West) but have since gotten distracted by other games, so I hope to get back to it soon. Apparently the characters in the distinct chapters all turn out to be linked together somehow, and I'm curious to see how that plays out.

Earlier in the month, I was playing Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles for a while. But for some reason I suddenly lost interest, even though I was enjoying myself! I don't really know why that happens, haha. I'm content to set it aside for now, and maybe I'll go back to it when the right mood strikes. Although it does shows its age a bit (it was released in 2017), it's truly a lovely and relaxing experience, and you get to explore some surprisingly beautiful landscapes. There's also nearly unlimited inventory space, which, as a hoarder, I very much appreciate.

Finally, I also played a bit of Luck Be A Landlord. It was a pleasant surprise to find it had released from early access, since for some reason I thought the 1.0 version was already out. I got a good 8 hours of fun, but burned out on it pretty quickly and will set it aside for now. I feel it's best played in short bursts every now and then.


That’s all for January! See you next month.
~franplants

Hello BLAEO!

Hi everyone! I just set up my account here a couple weeks ago and don’t really have any game progress to report yet, but I’m way too excited to play around with these beautiful post generator tools and make some pretty lists :-D So I figured I’d make my first post about the games that I’d like to play in 2023. I don’t really think I’ll end up getting through all of them, and I won’t feel bad about it if I don’t. I’ve learned that my interests and tastes change frequently, new games will get added to my library, and sometimes my drive to finish a game will peter out quickly even if I’m enjoying myself. But as long as I’m having fun, I’m happy!
secret blank line bc I don’t know how to code
I love talking about indie games and giving recommendations based on a person’s tastes or genre interests, so please leave a comment if there’s any game-things you’d like to chat about! I think the coolest aspect of BLAEO vs. other backlog tracking sites is that there’s a ready-made community here and we can all just share whatever thoughts we have and join in the cozy discussion environment at our leisure :-)
I’ll figure it out later
With all that said, I made a list of Games I’d Like to Play in 2023, and here they are (I kinda tried to sort them vaguely by genre):

maybe
From this list, I’m currently playing through Return of the Obra Dinn with my dad, but it’s slow going because he only comes over 1-2 times a week. It’s truly an amazing game, though. We’ve solved 15/60 fates so far! I hope to potentially finish it in February. I’ve got a few games going on other platforms as well, so I’m not sure yet which one of these I’ll focus on next. Might try to knock out some of the shorter ones first.

Okay, now maybe I should stop making lists of games and get around to actually playing them! Thanks for reading!
~franplants