Topic: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

TLDR: I have stuff to say about games I should've completed earlier and/or wanted to play again. Consider this a blog post. Comment, read if you will.



In early December 2022, I noticed how my ratio of playing games vs buying them was much more in camp "buy" than in camp "play". Completely unrelated I came across this dude on youtube with the same problem, who promptly made a spreadsheet with his unplayed games. He made a list of games that he wanted to finally get around to, and used howlongtobeat.com to figure out how long it'd take him.

I immediately thought I should do the same.

But then I didn't.

For Christmas, I got 4 more games from my Steam wishlist; Final Fantasy 1, 2, 3 and 6 Pixel Remasters.

That settled it. I had to play them. For more reasons than having not completed most of them, but also because my Steam library alone is 262 games, most I haven't even played, as they've been from the odd Humble Bundle, crazy sales, gifts etc. Games that are "nice to have if you need to play them", in the multiplayer category, and games that are "games you should have played" in the single player category.
As such, I figured enough is enough.

I went ahead and made my own spreadsheet. I used howlongtobeat.com to figure out play times, vs completion times(100% completion), and combined it all to find out a complete play of all the games would take me 507 hours of playtime. 1140 hours of completion time.
Alright. I can do that. Aiming for the prior, obviously, and if I play 2 hours per day, I'd have that done by sometime in June. Faster, obviously, if I play more hours per day.

The first title seemed natural. Final Fantasy I. Never did complete that game. I first played it in the EU version of Final Fantasy Origins, a remastered version of the NES classic for PSOne, bundled with FFII. It was redone graphics, had a bestiary, cinematics, and a remastered soundtrack. All the makings of a perfect experience for me at the time. I even got Final Fantasy Anthology at the same time, to play through FFIV and FFV too. Hell, at the time the shop even had FFVI bundled with a demo for FFX, with the same treatment as the former 4 games.

Never did complete the first 2. IV I completed back then. Must've been almost 20 years ago now. V sat a little different, and I was more tempted by VI, which to this date is tied with VII as being my favorite FF game. III Never came in any bundle. It was released in Japan only at the time of release, and never made a europe/NA release, until a 2006 Nintendo DS, 3D remake came around. At the time, I didn't own a DS, and I never got around to playing it either.

Cut to:

January 4th, 2023.


FINAL FANTASY I PIXEL REMASTER

Let's do this.

Right off the bat, I know Final Fantasy. The mechanics are always more or less the same. Fire, Ice, Lightning, etc. Potions to heal, phoenix down to revive, ether to refill magic points. Bla bla bla. All the same. The thing that differentiates the titles are the stories, settings and plots. The first games, albeit barebones compared to some later titles, is no different. Except, of course, that it is. You start the game with a simple prelude; The world is in peril. Something has happened to the governing crystals. Wind, Fire, Ice and Air, respectively. They've gone out, so to speak. So it falls to you, the four heroes of light to restore balance etc. Classic stuff. Your heroes in this first outing are nameless. You can name them, or you can select 4 of 8 or so premade names. I did the latter, and although I've completed the game, I can only remember my main damage dealer Andii.
In this title, our heroes are mute, dumb, silent protagonists, whatever you want to call it. They never utter a word, and being a Legend of Zelda fan, I can respect that. The story starts. You visit a town, and a castle, to learn that the swordsman Garland has betrayed the kingdom and kidnapped the princess. You, being the heroes, are tasked to deal with it. You jump to the overworld to grind some levels, and immediately I start noticing the similarities with the source material that inspired these games; Dungeons & Dragons. There are levels, of course, but having set the classes before playing, namely a warrior, a thief, a white mage(healer, support) and a red mage(offensive AND defensive magic), they have x amount of uses for each magic levels. Healing is level 1, but healing+ (cure, cura, respecticely) is a level 2 spell, and I have less uses before I need to rest. Ok, gotcha. Different from the later series, where you have hit points and magic points.  But magic isn't that important in this game. Only versus a few foes, and if you're not using a guide/walkthrough, you'll soon find out which ones, as physical attacks do no damage. Fair game.
So, we set out to defeat Garland. Job's done. Garland disappears, you return the princess, all is well. Then, it's assumed, as you are the heroes of light, you will also, since you posess some orbs, heal the aforementioned crystals. Fine. Let's do that. We have to visit 4 shrines, kill 4 fiends that protect the corruption, and then return to finish the job against the big bad behind the curtain. No problem, I got my guide. I also pay attention to Steam Achievements, as according to howlongtobeat.com, FFI is about 17 hours to beat, 20ish to complete. Fine. We slay the 4 fiends. We return triumphant. We actiave the main shrine, only to be sent 2000 years into the past, where Garland(SHOCK AND AWE) is waiting for us. He survived our first fight, back at xp level, what, 10? and now that we're all level 50(4 heroes at level 50 achievement? CHECK) we meet again. He explains, like you do, that when we beat him, he went back in time 2000 years to heal and improve, and send 4 fiends to the future to ruin the world. We beat him, which makes sense. As 2000 years from now, he'll still be alive to go back. It's a time loop. The heroes never existed. But they did. And they didn't. It's nice.
For 1987, this is pretty badass. Starting the Final Fantasy franchise. The seeds have been planted. There's Tiamat, Garland, Bahamut, Fire, potions, phoenix downs, etc. The foundations have been laid.

All in all, I spent 12,5 hours on the game. Missed 4 achievements. Might go back later. howlongtobeat said 17 hours. So I've already saved 5 hours of the total 507 hours. Nice. Job well done.

So. Let's say I have to give every game I play a score. Scores are hard to do. Do you do 10, 6, 100 as the top? Who's to say. Let's say I switch it up. I give it a base score out of 10, because it's a nice, round number, and a little "should you play it" at the end.

So, for Final Fantasy I Pixel Remaster, I would give a score of 5/10. Is it bad? no. Is it great? No. But I had fun nonetheless.

Should you play it?
Different beast altogether with this title. It's not a long game. It's not a hard game(unlike the original, which is much harder), and it sets the bar for future titles in the series. I say YES. Play this game. It won't take you long. With a walkthrough(of which there are many, but I recommend "lylat" on Steam's walkthrough. Not spoilery, will take you through all of it, no bullshit.
And, not to forget, although the original doesn't have many different music tracks, what it does have, is downright amazing stuff.



1 game down, 21 to go.

Will post again after the next game, which, unsurprisingly is Final Fantasy II.



For educational purposes, here's a list of all the games I plan to play, in no particular order. Green means completed, Yellow means started.

Final Fantasy I
Final Fantasy II
Final Fantasy III
Final Fantasy IV
Final Fantasy V
Final Fantasy VI
Final Fantasy VII
Final Fantasy VIII
Final Fantasy IX
Final Fantasy X
Final Fantasy X-2
Final Fantasy XII
Final Fantasy XIII
Final Fantasy XIII-2
Final Fantasy XIII-3
GRIS

Milkmaid of the Milky Way
Outer Wilds
A Plague Tale - Innocence
The Legend of Zelda - Wind Waker
The Legend of Zelda - Twilight Princess
The Legend of Zelda - Skyward Sword
The Legend of Zelda - A Link Between Worlds
Sable
To the Moon
Undertale
The Ascent
Day of the Tentacle
The Secret of Monkey Island
Monkey Island 2 - LeChucks Revenge
The Curse of Monkey Island
Escape from monkey Island
Tales of Monkey Island
Return to Monkey Island
Röki
Chrono Trigger
IMMORTALITY

Ratchet and Clank - Rift Apart
Life is Strange
Life is Strange - Before the Storm


EDIT:
If you're finding yourself re-reading this topic and noting there's more games on the list than the last time you read it; there is.
Initially this list was compiled of Steam games I didn't get around to, or wanted to play again, but that list expanded due to several reasons, like my brother recommending me games that happened to be on PS+, or games I own on Nintendo Consoles that I didn't get around to.
It's a work in progress, and sure to keep growing, but as long as my I keep my focus on playing older titles rather than new, there shouldn't be any problems.
As of May 20th 2023, I've completed 8 more titles than when I set out, and some of them were long. Jedi Survivor and Tears of the Kingdom were always in the time equation, as well as Final Fantasy 16. But apart from those(unless Rockstar decides to release GTA6 this year), I'm still well on schedule.

As you were.

-Tom out.

Last edited by Tomahawk (2023-07-11 20:24:41)

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

FINAL FANTASY II PIXEL REMASTER

Right. It's been a few weeks. In some part because I took a week long vacation, in some part that my brother got me absolutely hooked onHades (absolutely brilliant game) again, but I've now completed the somewhat infamous sequel to Final Fantasy.

FF2 starts of very different to the first one. For starters, there's an actual story. The evil emperor is laying down the law by burning cities, and killing folks. You start the game as Firion, Maria, Guy and Leon, four very fresh orphans that go up agains the imperial guard. You lose the fight, and Leon goes missing. FOR THE ENTIRE GAME, I MIGHT ADD. What's interesting here is that the story of rebellion is the core of the entire game, and you recruit people from all over the "world", making acquaintances as you go, with several party members coming and going throughout the story. An interesting take.

What differs this game from the previous, is the leveling system, or rather, the lack thereof. There are no traditional levels. Instead, it's one of those systems that level up your feats and skill as you go. Taking damage? Your HP levels will go up slowly. Hitting hard? Your skill with your current weapon will improve. Using magic to heal or kill? You get the idea. It's leveling up characters based on how you use them, and unlike the first game, you're free to use each character how you want to.  This means more flexibility, and that every character can be the warrior, the mage, the thief etc. All at the same time, depending on how long you want to keep playing the game for.

There has always been some controversy about this being the least liked FF game. Not the most haded, mind you, that'd be FFXIII, and believe me, we'll get to that in a few months, but least liked, definitely.
I don't see it.
FFII is improving so much on the original title. Spells now level up as you use them, instead of being based on your level. You can use spells as much as you like, assuming you have magic points enough to do so. You can change equipment mid-battle, if something isn't working out. You can change the row of the characters(back row means less offensive, but more defensive. Great for mages, for instance), not to mention the mere STACK of spells at your disposal this time around. Sure, you have a set amount you can assign to a character, but it's not a problem.

What I can understand being an issue is the keyword system. See, to progress the story, it's almost like the game is forcing you to pay attention. I'm sure the game would be a lot longer had I not used a guide. Older games like this didn't actively show you where to go all the time, and if you left it for a week without playing, good flippin' luck remembering where you were headed. FFII solves this, while at the same time introducing a nuisance. The keyword system means that some NPC's in the game have a more complex dialogue option that "print: hello world". Instead you can ask them about words you've learned, learn new words, and give them key items. Asking them about the word will usually give some hints as to where you're going next. Yes, it's actually quite helpful if you tend to forget things, but it also complicates things.

Double-edged sword, I suppose.

In any case, back to the story. Ultimately, as is tradition, we defeat the emperor. After about 15 hours of chasing him around, killing his henchmen/henchmonsters etc and traversing the entire world. He's of course upset by this, as one tends to be, but dies nonetheless. We return to the main hub, being a castle with a princess and her knight, and LO AND BEHOLD. A new damn emperor just claimed the throne. And wants to be even more evil than the emperor. Er, the old emperor, that is.

Remember that guy that disappeared for the entire game? You guessed it. Leon is back, with a ...vengeance? There was no implications of that happening, no foreshadowing. In fact, if I'm not mistaken, Leon was pretty much forgotten within the first 2 hours of the game. Sure, he's Maria's brother, and we were also looking for him whilst defeating the empire, but no mention. Nothing. And now he decides to be the emperor.

Fine. We get to, and through, another dungeon to get to him, and he's edgy as can be. This was the late 80s, mind, so I suppose it makes sense. Then, after he taunts our heroes for a little while, a rift opens, and guess who's back from literal Hell? Old emperor. naturally. He laughs in the face of Leon for trying to be edgy, and kicks us all out of the dungeon.
When confronted with what he had done, Leon said nothing. When asked if he would join in another attempt at vanquishing the aforemention emperor, all Leon could muster was "Okay". OKAY.

Okay, the story isn't great. It's much better than FFI, yes, but it leaves a lot to be desired.

All in all, I spent 17,3 hours on this game. Missed 5 achievements. Won't be getting those. Too much of a hassle. Howlongtobeat said 24 hours to beat, and I saved almost 7. In total, that's 12 hours off the 507 hour forecast. Good show.

Scoring time.

So, for Final Fantasy II Pixel remaster, I would give a score of 6/10. Is it bad? no. Is it great? No. But I had fun, and it did improve enough over the original to keep me going. I was considering giving it a 5, but then I'd have to go back and lower the previous one, which I can't do.

should you play it?
Hard to say. I'd say the first title is actually more worth it. For what it is, and if you wanted to go back and see how the series started. FFI is a little over 12 hours, and if you don't like the old 2D style, or the limitations, FFI can be easier to take in. The systems in II are harder to understand, and while the story is better, there's a bunch of easy-to-miss content, and complicated systems that may, or may not, throw you off.
As for the music, it's SO much better than the original. A lot more tracks, but also made with a lot more "love".


2 Games down, 20 to go.

Next up, you probably guessed it; FINAL FANTASY III.

-Tom out. Again.

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

MILKMAID OF THE MILKY WAY


Surprise!

As it turns out, I don't have a third Final Fantasy game in a row in me right now. Roughly 30 hours is what it takes for me to need to play something else for a little while. Will get back into it, but thankfully, there's other games in my list.

So, starting on this little gem from 2017.
Milkmade of the Milky Way is a point and click adventure game. It's pixel art reminiscent of the 80s, done very beautifully.

You're Ruth. A milk maid in a Norwegian fjord in the 1920's. Ruth lives in a cottage up in the mountains, with her cows, making cheese and butter for a living, selling it to the townspeople, through her friend Erlend, who hikes to her home on his horse.
One Night there's a terrible storm, and a rock fell from the sky...

And that's all the information I could give without spoiling this absolute gem of a game. It's roughly 2 hours long, depending on how stuck you get, but like most point and click games, it gives you just enough information to solve all the puzzles, given you pay attention.
The story is short and sweet, but heartfelt and beautiful. The soundtrack is absolutely mesmerizing, and the mood is perfect.

If you've a couple of hours to spare, definitely check this game out!

I can' really give this game a score, and I don't think it's something I can keep doing either. I'm not a video game reviewer.
It's very hard to justify why one game is given a 5, and another a 6, or an 8. Especially considering how vastly different some of these games are.
Instead, I'll stick to the latter part:

should you play it?
That's a hard yes. If you like puzzles, gorgeous art direction, and a solid soundtrack, this game is definitely for you. If not, play it anyway. It's nice.

3 games down, 19 to go.

Next up? Not sure yet, something short and sweet.

-thanks for reading this far:

I like that you keep reading these, and I don't want to seem self-indulgent. I'm only writing these things because I like to write and share my thoughts, and I don't have another outlet to do this where I feel comfortable doing so.
So, seriously, thanks.

(I like you.)

Last edited by Tomahawk (2023-01-31 19:05:55)

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

IMMORTALITY

This wasn't even in my backlog. But after enough recommendations, I decided I had to play this one. I purchased it for my brother, as I was going to his place for the weekend, and although horirble weather stopped those plans dead in their tracks, there's always Discord and screen sharing.
We started it on Saturday, and completed it an hour or so ago.

I have.. Words about this game. Because holy hell.

IMMORTALITY is the third game by Sam Barlow, following critically acclaimed games "Her Story" from 2015, and "Telling Lies" from 2019.

They can't be called games in the traditional sense. As in, they're more akin to watching video clips and piecing together the story yourself. As such, they're more like point and click games than anything else.

However, The premise of IMMORTALITY, is "What happened to Marissa Marcel?".
In 1968, Arthur Fischer(totally not Alfred Hitchcock) made what was supposed to be his magnum opus, a movie called "Ambrosio", about a Spanish priest in 1500s Madrid, and a mysterious young lady played by Marissa Marcel. Her first ever role, supposed to be her big break. It's a movie about sin, redemption and desire.
For some mysterious reason the movie is never released. 

One year later, the same actress is writing another moview with a first time director; John Durick. "Minsky" is a movie about a mysterious murder of the titular character Minsky, a renowned painter in the late 1960s New York.
This movie as well, is never released.

Then, in 1999, The movie "Two of Everything" is being produced and directed by John Durick and Marissa Marcel.

Nobody knows what happened in the 30 years she went missing, why she suddenly comes back, why she hasn't aged a day, or.. what happened to her.

All we have to go by, are about 200 raw files from rehearsals and shoots. And we have to watch, and scrub through to reveal the mystery.


And oh my what a ride it was. 10-12 hours of what started out as pure voyeurism(in some part the sexual way, I guess, there are plenty of "adult" scenes), grew towards intrigue and pure, raw interest as we tried to figure out what the actual fuck was going on in this enchanting game.

It's hard to say much more than that without stepping into spoiler city, but there is much more to this game than meets the eye. The discovery of the title's namesake, and what happened to Marissa Marcel is but the surface, and it's a game I can't recommend enough.

A solid 10/10, there.

Last edited by Tomahawk (2023-03-07 14:16:02)

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

GRIS

DISCLAIMER:
I managed to click "edit" instead of quote for Immortality post, and thus deleted my post about Gris.
This will be more or less the same I wrote a month ago, but with a month to think about the game too.


GRIS is a french 2D platform-puzzle game. But don't let that premise fool you.
Sure, at its core, it *is* a 2D platformer and puzzle game, but it's also a journey through colour, sound and music. It's hard to really write anything about this game, other than it's a 3-4 hour voyage that left me crying tears of joy in the end. Simply because of it's absolute beauty. It's not a hard game at all. I got stuck a few places, but not for longer than I'd get aggravated by, and mostly because I didn't pay enough attention, and had to backtrack a few places.

The premise is pretty straightforwad. Gris, a girl-type-almost-person-thing loses her voice, and colour. You have to venture into the world to restore order, which is represented in sound and colour. The style is an almost hand-drawn/painted style, very water color-y type, and it absolutely works. I think the game is stronger because of its style. As you get further, you access new "powers" that will help you progress, and ultimately, restore balance.

Gris is an absolute masterpiece at what it does. It may not be the greatest platformer, or puzzler, for that matter, but as it's only 3-4 hours long, that never bothered me. Instead, I was in constant awe of what the game did: bedazzle me.

Should you play this game?
Yes.


Now, moving forward, that's 5 games completed. In a longer time frame than anticipated, yes, but I've had other stuff to do as well.
Such as play the, I guess infamous "Hogwart's Legacy". And while it isn't a bad game at all, I quit after a few hours because there are other games in that genre that does everything HL does, but better. I'm also not that interested in the Harry Potter universe to care enough about the game. I also have absolutely no stance on the Rowling controversy, for what it's worth.

As for my next game, that's also what's been stopping me going forward. I don't know which one to pick. There's a bunch of Final Fantasy games, but I can't play all of them at once. Certainly not the Pixel Remasters, because they're all near identical in terms of art.
But we'll see. My next post shouldn't be too far away, and it will be whatever I choose to complete next.

-Tom out.

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

OUTER WILDS

This game often gets confused with Outer Worlds. But it's not made by the same people who made Fallout: New Vegas, nor is it anything even remotely similar.

Because most of all; it's absolutely stellar. It's actually quite impossible to write a review, or anything similar to this game, because, like most others, you should stay 100% spoiler free for this gem.

I'll do my best to try though.

At its core, Outer Wilds is a first person space puzzle game. It's one long puzzle. But, my what a puzzle it is. At the very start of the game, you wake up. And the game doesn't tell you anything. Not where to go, or what to do, apart from that it's launch day, and you finally get to take your spaceship to, you guessed it: space. That's it. That's all the info the game gives you.

It took me 25 hours to complete, because while I'm usually good at puzzle games, this game had me at a pinch several times. I got severly stuck, but I learned to pay attention to the log more, and just explore, read, explore some more, and slowly, very slowly, start to figure out what's going on, and what the end goal actually is.

Outer Wilds is best left teased. It's a game you shouldn't read reviews for. It's a game you shouldn't watch trailers for, use walkthroughs for, or even read up on. It's a game you should just experience. Having a partner by your side can be helpful though, as my Fiancée did help every now and then for things I'd forgotten.

Should you play this game?
Does the bear shit in the woods?

Stop what you're doing, and play this game.

**Controller highly recommended if you're playing on PC.


-Tom out.

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

It's been on my list but hearing such a rave review for it definitely bumps it up!

Boter, formerly of TF.N as Boter and DarthArjuna. I like making movies and playing games, in one order or another.

Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

LIFE IS STRANGE

This wasn't on my backlog either, but it popped up on my Playstation, and after my brother couldn't stop recommending it, I figured I'd give it a shot anyways.

Life is Strange is a weird game. Kind of in the title, I guess, but critically acclaimed "choice" indie-ish game from 2015. I say indie ish, because while Dontnod made it on a very limited budget, Square Enix published it, and they are anything but indie.

In any case, Life is Strange follows Max Caulfield. An 18 year old girl who's recently moved from Seattle to Arcadia Bay, her hometown, to pursue an education in photography. Chloe left some years ago, after her best friend Chloe's father was suddenly killed in a car accident, and they hadn't stayed in touch. We come into the story right as Max is in photography class, and after a little "choose your own story" type of tutorial, she heads to the bathroom. As she's in there, a boy named Nathan, clearly not all there, enters the bathroom, followed by a blue-haired girl who he shoots and kills over, what seems to be money. Max is traumatized(as you damn well should be), and is suddenly gifted the power to reverse time. She reverses time to before the gun fires, and hits the fire alarm, which sets of a series of events. It's revealed that the victim was her best friend Chloe, and they reconnect. Max, after a few more events, let's Chloe know about her gift, and we use the aforementioned powers for good or bad, to find out what's happening in this small town, slowly unveiling a mystery of murder, disappearances and love.

Life is Strange isn't a very long game. It's an episodic game with 5 episodes, all at roughly 2 hours each, which means you can complete the whole story in one sitting, or have natural breaks every 2 or so hours.

The story is essentially a coming of age story, with teenage angst and love taking the main stage after awhile. Of course, also including the murder mystery little by little. By the end of Episode 3, I was completely hooked, and figuring out what was actually going on towards the end of episode 5 was beautiful and heartbraking. I got attached to Max, Chloe, Chloe's mother and very trying Stepdad, their friends and problems, and discovering love at a young age.
Life is Strange is definitely a pretty story, wrapped around a bizarre, but engaging plot. I could definitely mentally go back to being 18 and in love, with 18 year old problems and world views. It reminded me of being a teenager, in all the positive ways, and some negative. Could absolutely relate to it, and would heartily recommend it to anyone.
It's also included in Playstation Plus Extra, so it's easy to obtain. There's even a remastered edition of it and the prequel, both of which are recommended. But we'll get to the prequel in the next post.


All in all LiS is a solid game. It explores themes that games usually don't deal with, and instead of gung-ho shooting and mayhem, it's an intimate experience that leaves you mentally not the same after. It's hard to talk too much about it without spoiling too much, and if you want to play it, I'd recommend, like me, having very little knowledge about what it really is before delving in to it.

-Tom Out.

Last edited by Tomahawk (2023-04-15 17:32:32)

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

LIFE IS STRANGE - BEFORE THE STORM

Life is Strange got a little prequel. And it's one of those prequels you really have to play the original before you play. Because the prequel, although being set 3 years prior to the events of Life Is Strange, has some spoilery things in it.

Before the Storm is set 3 years before the original, and 2 years after Chloe lost her father. Max is still living in Seattle at this point, and doesn't make an appearance. Instead we focus on Chloe. The rebelling 15 year old with step dad issues, a very trying mother, angst-ridden and a very devil-may-care attitude. Chloe is trying to get into a off-the-grid concert when she meets Rachel, a new and intruiging character. Think of her like the person from the big city who suddenly moved to the rural town, and now everybody wants to be her friend because she's cool and exotic. Think of it that way, because that's exactly what it is. Max is in that age where she doesn't know what she is yet, and falls head over heels for Rachel. Rachel is the kind of nomadic person who doesn't *really* comit ot anything, but Chloe doesn't care.

The gimmick in this story is "talkbacks". A sort of battle of wits instead of bending time. As such, you can't go back on any choices this time around, and you have to life with all of them.

Before the Storm is 3 episodes long, all roughly 2 hours, and in my humble opinion, not nearly as strong as it's predecessor. It explores more of Chloe, from her perspective, and we get to meet Rachel, who was a missing person in the original. However, being a love story set, essentially, over 3 days, it falls a little flat. I can definitely relate to the angsty teenage love part of it, and I adore the characters, but 3 days is a little short of a time span for all of these events to take place, and the amount of love they show.
Where the game really shines, however, is the hour long bonus episode "farewell", which explores the final days before Max moves to Seattle. That one got to me. That was just sweet and beautiful, with a heart-wrenching ending that left me in tears.



Is this a recurring theme now? I'm playing sad games so I can cry a lot? Yes. Give me feelings, games. It's so nice to play games that leave me very emotional, over taking an oversized array of guns to kill space-nazis or whatever. Give me the personal stories. Give me choices and tear my soul apart doing so. Give me the feeling of empathy for characters in games that don't even look real. Can pixel art make me cry? Yes.

I am absolutely loving this backlog adventure, and I highly recommend everyone to do the same. Go through the bangers you missed because you were too busy with "new and shiny" games. Take your time and finally play the gems that you said you'd get around to at one point in time, because that point, unless you actually decide to, will never come.
I'm also happy to report my brother is inspired by my journey, and has also started going through his backlog. That's how I happened up Life is Strange, and I'm very happy I did.


Should you play this game?
Hard to say. It expands on the story of the first one, by giving you more of Chloe, and her struggles and dealings, but apart from the end, I didn't feel like it expanded enough of it to improve the first. The first game is still the best, by far.

Now, On to Life Is Strange - True Colors!

-Tom out.

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

RATCHET AND CLANK - RIFT APART

RATCHET & CLANK : RIFT APART

First things first: This game was not on my backlog at all. That's just the way things go sometimes. I've been hearing it's a must-play since the launch of PS5, and since I share libraries with a friend who owns it, I figured what the hell. Gives me something to play in the sofa.

Now.
I was in that age group that didn't play the original games. Just too old, and a few years to young, I guess. Back in '02, when Ratchet and Clank first came out on the PS2, I was busy playing Final Fantasy X, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker, Kingdom Hearts, Tekken 4, GTA Vice City, Tony Hawks' Pro Skater 4, Timesplitters 2, etc. Just in that age where I somehow enjoyed Wind Waker while everyone else didn't edgy enough to play Tony Hawk, and still murder-y enough to play Vice City. Needless to say, Ratchet & Clank didn't even land on my radar. I heard about it later on, but I never knew enough about the franchise to even name any of them. I learned last week that none of them even had numbered titles, and that a lot of them are wordplays on naughty things(Up your Arsenal, Going Commando, Full Frontall Assault, Quest for Booty, etc.)

But enough about that. I assumed as it's a "kids" game, I didn't need to get up to speed on the story, and just started playing it. I wasn't wrong. It's a sequel, by all means, but I didn't feel like I missed much. The evil Dr. Nefarious is apparently still at large. Our titular heroes are being celebrated in a huge parade, in which Clank gifts Ratched the aptly named "Dimensionator", so that he can finally travel through dimensions to find the rest of his kind. Neat. The aforementioned doctor(brilliantly voice acted, I might add) pops up, as is expected, and steals the dimensionator, and starts dimension hopping, in hopes of finding a dimension where he doesn't always lose. Cute! Nice touch. Bad guy being sick of losing, wanting to find a new home. Not bad. I get it.

Of course, everything then goes awry and the dimensions become unstable. It's up to our heroes, and newcomer Rivet, the alternate version of Ratchet( I see what they did there) to retrieve the dimensionator, and fix reality. Good on them.

"Rift apart"(Ripped a fart) is, essentially, a 3d platformer meets 3rd person shooter. No two ways about it. That's all it is. You have an entire arsenal of different weapons, from your pew pew gun to launching angry toads that eat enemies, from a pumped-up shotgun, to a snail that unleashes hellfire. The full monty, there, then.

While the game doesn't do anything revolutionary in the 3rd person shooter genre, it does have some fun elements, such as playing as up to 5 different characters(4 of them are really just 2, but different versions, and 1 is a completely different play style), adding mounts , and some fun traversal methods.
What really sells the game is that, while some would argue(myself somewhat included) that it's merely a beefy tech demo for the PS5, that's also why it shines. The graphics are absolutely solid, the load times don't exists, and it's flashy as hell. Classic "we made a new console someone make a launch game to see what it can do" type of game.

But.
The humor is on point. Everything from the juxtaposition of Dr Nefarious' over the top mustache-twirly kniving evilness, to his alternate, much more serious, but just as great written EMPEROR Nefarious. Ratchet, is a half-serious hero, Clank his logical sidekick, but some of the side characters, and even goons "I'm so ripped, my pecks have pecks, bro", and the hilarious Pirate robot "Pierre", because of course he's french, made me laugh several times.

All in all I spent something close to 12 hours on this game. Story wasn't too hard to finish, and finding collectables and unlocking new stuff is always a hoot to do. Will probably not finish 100%, as it isn't anything GREAT.

Unless you're a fan of the franchise, in which case I suspect you will enjoy this much mor than me, with it's 20 years of games to refer to.

Should you play this game?
If you have a PS5, I highly recommend it. I wouldn't go as far as buying, or even borrowing a console for this title alone, but I'm biased, and God Of War: Ragnarok is why you should buy a PS5. It's a fun title that I wasn't bored at all while playing, a game that isn't too complicated, nor is it too simple. All in all a fun ride.


-Tom out.

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

STAR WARS: JEDI - SURVIVOR

This is a new one. One of the games I've been looking forward to for about a year now. A game I was hoping would surpass the previous one by a landmile, and don't get me wrong, it did. But this part is different. I've tried to write this thing about 4 times now, and I'm constantly stuck, having to go back to the start. Because it's not that I don't have anything to say about this title; rather that I have too much to say about it, and I don't want to write a doctorate.

JEDI SURVIVOR is set 5 years after its predecessor, and the crew split up, for various, legit reasons. We catch up with Kal Cestis as his band of rebels are infiltrating the luxury ship of a Senator, one that holds intel on rebel cells and incursions.
From there on out, it's sort of "back to the old", but also "in with the new", as Survivor is much, MUCH more than the previous title. There's so much to do in this game, but in a good way. There's caves to explore, walls to scale, planets to find, mounts to ride, romances to be had, music to be played, fish to be caught, beards to be found, mini games to be won. So, so much.

And I can't stop loving every second of it. If you, like me, were a bit on the fence with the first title, Survivor pumps it up to 11, and gets rid of the main issues I had with the previous one. For instance, instead of having one fighting style, Cal now sports 5. Standard Saber, Saber Staff, dual wielding, blaster-and-saber(makashi style, nerds), and the Cross guards(broadsword, if you will). All balanced for different situations, all different enough for you to experiment with, and all with different skill trees, making them all different enough. My playthrough was primarily crossguard/blaster, with the occasional staff/blaster, depending on the situation.
Survivor isn't open world per se, but the new planets feel like they're bigger than the original games, with so much more to do and explore. It also borrows lore and the like from the High Republic series, which is very welcome.

The story actually engaged my much more than the previous game. WAY less fan-service, apart from a very select few moments, one specifically stands out, but that was not part of the story in any way, and a completely optional set of events to get to. Fallen Order was much more about the fan service, and I'm glad they toned it down a smidge or two, and let Cal has his own moment to shine. And boy, does he. It's been 5 years, and Cal, while essentially the same character, is more grizzled, clearly older, more direct, and has a definite goal. And what a story. I'm not gonna spoil anything.


Sigh. It's hard to write about this game without just fanboying. If Fallen Order was a 7/10 (Let me explain, I can't stand souls like games. Never have, never will), Survivor is a solid 10/10. I wouldn't say it falls into Souls lite. Not like. Sure, the combat is heavily inspired by Sekiro. But that's also where it stops being similar. You have 5 distinct styles, force powers up the wazoo, no stamina meter(but there's a block meter), and to top it off, you can change the difficulty to fit your needs. Don't have time for much more than to just enjoy the story, and want to feel like a Jedi cutting through everything? Give Story Mode a go! If you feel particularly masochistic, there's Grand Master mode. Your parry timings are now basically non-existent, you take more damage from enemies, making the basic B1 battle droid an all-nighter, but you CAN.


I've played about 50 hours on PS5, and had about 5 crashes in total. Some frame drops here and there in Quality mode, but all in all an enjoyable experience. I'm aware that a lot of PC players having issues, but it looks like most of the kinks have been ironed out by now, so I highly recommend this title.

Also, Skoova Stev is the best character in the game, and if you don't agree, you're wrong.
Also, fuck rancors. Jaysus, fuck rancors.

Also also; I love Merrin.

Also also also: This is just a really good game.


ON TO ZELDA!

-Tom out.

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

Tomahawk wrote:

Also, fuck rancors. Jaysus, fuck rancors.

Your advice is duly noted but I wouldn't, I really wouldn't.

Last edited by Saniss (2023-05-16 15:45:21)

Sébastien Fraud
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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

you're french. You absolutely would.

And you'd make a fancy risotto of it afterwards.

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

Tomahawk wrote:

And you'd make a fancy risotto of it afterwards.

You know some part of me, deep down, has always known the French were part Praying Mantis.

ZangrethorDigital.ca

Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: TEARS OF THE KINGDOM

10/10 PLAY THIS GAME.

-Tom out.

Last edited by Tomahawk (2023-06-04 13:47:14)

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: TEARS OF THE KINGDOM

When I was a kid, I loved The Legend of Zelda. At the time, the only one I knew existed was A Link to the Past, which my cousin and I rented quite a few times for the SNES, ultimately not even returning it. This of course being back in the mid-to-late nineties, I’m pretty sure he still has that game. The rental store closed down in the mid 00’s, so I think either we’re good, or we alone closed that store due to unpaid late fees.

A few years later, I discovered Ocarina of Time. Now, when I say discovered, it wasn’t like that game wasn’t known to me. It was absolutely, 100% very well known to me, as I was eagerly awaiting its release. I never did own a Nintendo 64, because I’m a PS kid through and through, but most of my friends did, and since I was the most advanced at English(Games are very rarely translated to Norwegian), I was usually there to help translating, essentially being the way through the game.
Ocarina of Time definitely stands as one of the major pillars of gaming. Being early 3D, it still managed to knock everything out of the park, basically dwarfing Super Mario 3D’s camera work and platforming, and adding combat and z-targeting(target lock) to the mix. Even ran on more or less the same engine. It’s still a very good game, albeit a bit empty compared to todays titles, it felt enormous and sprawling when we were kids. The story was amazing, the cutscenes epic, and the music, oh my god the fucking music. It’s been 25 years, and I can still hum all of those tunes, or at least identify them within a few seconds.
Suffice to say, Ocarina of Time is one of my all-time favorite games. I ranged it top 3 in a podcast episode we did years ago, and I stand by that. With a Link To the Past a close, VERY close second.

Since then, I’ve played a lot of the titles, but not all of them. Majora’s Mask is omitted from my resume, as I still haven’t owned an N64, and surprisingly few people around me got that game. But Wind Waker, Spirit Tracks, Phantom Hourglass, Twilight Princess, Four Sword Adventures, Oracle of Seasons/Ages, etc. I’ve played most of them. Never owned a Wii, so I skipped out on Skyward Sword, which I do own now on Switch, and it is in my log. Will get to it.

When Breath of the Wild released, I didn’t own a Nintendo, and I mostly didn’t care too much for it. For some reason, I was, I guess, done with the franchise, and Nintendo as a whole. I borrowed a Switch and BotW in May 2019, played it non-stop to completion and returned the system. A few months later, my girlfriend bought a Switch and BotW, and simply watching her play it, made me buy a Switch, and, you guessed it; BotW. I have 150+ hours worth of playtime for that title, and I can definitely say I love it. The one thing that held it back from taking top tier spot, was the story. Or rather, lack thereof. The story in BotW is severely lacking. It’s there, sure, but it’s told in tiny fragments, and unless you go looking for flashback sequences, you can easily clear the game without understanding much other than the fact that you’ve been “sleeping” for a 100 years, and now you defeat the big bad that essentially sent you to sleep. And the game knows that. It’s borrowing its story-telling technique from games like Dark Souls, and even the combat is influenced by FromSoft games. Sure, it may not be as extreme, but it’s a far cry from what Zelda used to be. As well as the gameplay. There’s no more dungeons(although they’ve been replaced by the many, many mini dungeons known as shrines), and no more standard weapons and gadgets we’ve all come to know and love. BotW just throws you out there with minimum explanations, and expects you to use what little you’ve learned to conquer the game.
And it is glorious. No doubt about that.

Which, of course, brings us to its sequel. Tears of the Kingdom.

I joked in my previous post, because of course there’s gonna be a review sort of thing about this game. And while it was indeed a joke, the “tldr” is absolutely 10/10 play this game. Hands down.
Tears of the Kingdom, is without a shadow of doubt top 3 Zelda, if not top 1(It’s hard to not be biased right after playing it for 115 hours), and possibly one of the best games of all time. Let’s just make that clear right up front, because there’s no denying that. TOTK is GOOD. VERY good.

Tears of The Kingdom is a direct sequel to Breath of the Wild. (Not unlike Majoras Mask, Phantom Hourglass/Spirit Tracks and A Link Between Worlds. Yes, you can argue that Twilight Princess is the sequel to Ocarina of Time, but… the timeline is complicated, and I’m not going into that now) It takes place an unmentioned amount of time after the previous game. It’s not explicitly said exactly when, but it’s obvious there has been at least a few years. Gone is the calamity, gone are the Ancient guardians, or any “Ancient” stuff, for that matter, and we’re introduced to what’s referred to as “The Upheaval”. An ancient Evil awoke, and as a defense measure, they land was split, and several large landmasses arose to the sky, forming Sky Islands(Yes, that’s what it’s calling it, because Skylands wouldn’t work, apparently), filled to the brim with Zonai ruins. BotW had Zonai Ruins, so there’s been talk about this ancient rase, but not to this scale. Link must complete this literal iteration of a Tutorial Island, which teaches you the basics of the game, the new abilities and doodads, and even teaches you stuff you will absolutely forget about until about 80 hours in, when you’re looking for ways to improve your stuff. I certainly did, and had to google “tears of the kingdom batteries”, only to find out the game literally told me about it in the opening hours.

So what makes this game special, and does it improve upon an already amazing formula that Nintendo started with its predecessor? There’s a lot to talk about here, but since this game is still not even a month old, I’ll stick to keywords, and not elaborate too much, and shy away from any major spoiler points.
1: Story. There’s a goddamn story here. It’s much bigger, and vastly elaborated since the previous title, and it’s a good one too.
2: Abilities. New abilities, playing on the old ones, and improving gameplay by a parsec. It’s not fundamentally different, but it’s so improved it’s barely recognizable.
3: Hyrule, and more. Hyrule may be more or less the same, but there’s been changes in the years since you saw it last. Firstly, of course, there’s the addition of the sky islands, but also something lurking in the depths.
4: quality of life. So much minor changes from the last game that improve gameplay, and streamlines so much. Things like opening chests now give you the option of discarding an old weapon if your inventory is full, rather than just closing again, forcing you to do it manually.

Tears takes everything from Breath and cranks it up to 11. It does, however, build upon the same foundation. The gameplay loop is primarily identical. Find major dungeons, defeat bosses. Get weapons, break weapons, find new weapons. Farm ingredients, make food, etc. Weapons still break, and are, in fact, much worse than in the previous game, but new this time is the ability to fuse literally anything to your weapons, altering their abilities, or improving their damage output and durability. For instance, fusing a Keese Eye to an arrow makes the arrow a homing arrow. Fusing a leaf to a stick, makes it a very powerful leaf blowe, and fusing a large spring to your shield makes a one-time portable mighty pogo stick. You can also build things now. Combining Zonai tech with whatever, you can make rafts, boats, cars, bikes, hovercraft, mech suits, tanks, automated death machines, or makeshift elevators. It’s limited only to your imagination, and while mine isn’t great, I’ve seen some absolutely bonkers builds online.

This feature, the building, actually took me a little out of the game. Nintendo saw what people did with the last game, and embraced it. Made it much more silly, and removed most limits from what you can do this time around. The beauty of it is that you’re never forced to do any of this. You don’t have to build anything if you don’t want to, and you can still keep it fairly “lore-friendly”.

I finished the main quest line at the 100 hour mark, and while speedrunners have already absolutely abused what they can and cleared it in less than 8 hours, unless you actually play it, you don't even know where to go. It's not like in the previous game where it pushes you off the cliff with a paraglader and direct you towards the castle and main boss. You actually have to figure out what's happened, and where to go.

After about 115 hoursI had to remove temptation, as it were, and hand it over to my significant other, as I thought 115 hours in three weeks is way too excessive, and I need a break. I’ll come back to it and finish all the side quests and what nots in there, but for now, I need to stop.
Not because I’m tired of it. Rather the opposite. Because 115 hours in, and 15 hours after completing the main story, I still couldn’t stop playing it, and it’s affecting my chores, sleep and whatnot. It’s just that good.


At the end of the day, my verdict is as follows:
Tears of the Kingdom may come across as “just more Breath of the Wild”, but it’s so, so much more. And even if it weren’t, isn’t “more BotW” good enough? That game alone was a 9/10 for me, and simply having more of that would probably gauge 9/10 already, which is ONE away from perfection.
However, TotK takes what made BotW great, and improved every aspect, and built on top(and below) that, to create a much larger experience, where there’s never a dull moment, and always something around the next corner to discover.
My only gripe with this game is that because it’s so much more story now, it felt like Link really, REALLY had to open his mouth this time around and actually say something. But at the end of the day, I understand why he doesn’t. He’s not supposed to. YOU are Link. Link is your avatar, and shouldn’t speak on your behalf.

Tears of the Kingdom is an absolute 10/10, and if you played BotW and are on the fence, you absolutely should get around to this one. If you didn’t play BotW, you CAN play this game, but you really should play the first one.

And almost like in "Immortal" I can know say "I know what happened to Princess Zelda", and I can't stop thinking about this game. Play. This. Game.


-Tom Out.

Last edited by Tomahawk (2023-06-07 18:41:06)

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: A LINK BETWEEN WORLDS

Right then. Continuing with the Zelda games, I had a week of vacation, and went to visit my brother. As we didn't know exactly how much time we' have to complete a Zelda game, we were down to Majora's Mask, and A Link Between Worlds. The latter being the shorter game, and both of us quite liking A Link to the Past, we went with that one.

Of course, playing that game means emulating it, and emulating a Nintendo 3DS is sort of complicated. I mean, not really. It's an emulator. It emulates. But the thing with the DS, is the dual screens, one of them being based on touch, and the 3DS in particular, has a stereoscopic 3D screen. Naturally, the emulator just shows one side, but there's still the matter of the touch screen. Yes, you use a mouse to control that bit, and yes, it's just as awkward as you may think. However, ALBW doesn't rely too much on that gimmick, so it wasn't much of a problem. The actual problem is that ALBW does, however, rely a lot on the 3D perspective. More on that below.

So, this game is a direct sequel to the 1991 classic A Link To The Past. It's not stated anywhere exactly how much time passed, and judging by the look of the map(which is mostly identical), it's not that long. However, this being a fantasy setting, it could be a thousand years. Because fiction has this odd tendency of making 5000 years pass, without much changing, and then, you look at reality, and in 5000 years... well, much changed. So, I have no idea how much time has passed, but it essentially the same map. (A look at the 'official' timeline places this game centuries after ALTTP)
You of course, play as Link, or as we aptly named him; Babe. It's the same game as ALTTP. It really is. It may be 22 years between them, but it plays more or less exactly like its predecessor, with the same map, lots of the same characters(It's complicated, alright?), same items and weapons, etc. It's a direct sequel, and a homage to the original.  Unlike ALTTP, however, you're pretty much brute forced out of your house, so this bunny-looking character called Ravio. A major dick, setting up a goddamn shop in your house, rent free, and then proceeds to RENT you items. You want this bow? Sure thing, mate, 200 rupees and it's yours! Until you fall in battle, in which case my bird-thingy comes to collect, and when you wake up, you can rent it again!
Absolutely horrible mechanic. Sure, rupees are easy to find, but the more you play, the more of those gadgets you need, and the more you die, the worse it gets. Thankfully, after x amount of progress in the main story, you are in fact able to buy the items, and we googled a money farming guide to get that done within 2 hours. A royal pain, really. What's really fun, though, is the gimmick this game plays to. The paintings. The antagonist here has a trick in which she traps people in paintings. Link, or Babe, gets a magical armlet that counters this, and makes him able to do it on command. As such, you're able to simply turn 2D, and essentially walk on walls. Which makes for some excellent dungeon designs, and boss battles.

The game mirrors ALTTP in a lot of ways. It's in fact, not until the actual end I fell in love with it. Yes, the graphics are pretty, the music is pretty much just upscaled/remastered/orchestral versions of the SNES classic, and both those things are amazing, but the story felt so used up. It's the same old, same old, and it wasn't until the antagonist revealed WHY they did what they did I finally understood it, and felt empathic about it. The ending was actually pretty damn good, and we both felt that the 15 hours to get there was absolutely worth it.

The problems with the 3D perspective however, was, at times, jarring as hell. This is a title I assume you absolutely should play on the 3DS. Or, I guess, a 3D monitor. So many of the puzzles and platforming relied on the 3D, and we wound up falling down, missing beats and not understanding that doors/entries were on another level. Didn't break the game for us, but didn't help at all.

A Link Between Worlds is a fairly short game. We did it in 3 sessions, with the occasional google search for things we missed. Because we're both adults, dammit. We didn't want to walk around the map 100 times to talk to every NPC to finally go "oooh, that's what we need to do to get that thing", when we could just google 'armors' and 'weapon upgrades', to make the game more.. convenient.

All in all, a decent game that I'd recommend, in spite of its shortcomings. I wouldn't rate it top 5 Zelda games, but I wouldn't rank it bottom 5 either. The music alone is top notch.

-Tom out.

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

FINAL FANTASY XVI

One of the games I was hyped for this year, go figure. It's one of the games I made the backlog for. The game this year I was going to play no doubt, and the one I wanted to finish as much of the older titles to get to.

Sadly, I didn't get longer than FFII, and a few hours into FFIII before it spiraled out of control, but the point being the backlog in general, and I've done quite a dent into that one, with 10 titles completed, plus the three that came out this year. So, 13, er, 14(with this one of course) now completed within 6 months. In my book, that's decent and a half.

So, on to the game. Because, boy, do I have a lot to say about this game.

Right from the get go, FFXVI lets you know, this is a game for adults. Unlike any other title in the series, be it mainline or any spinoffs, it doesn't shy away from dropping f-bombs, or nudity. Sure, the nudity is about as hardcore as the Austin Powers movies, but FF never did anything like this before. It's raw, in your face, and not afraid to do so. But then, at some points, it behaves like a child that's never been allowed to say things like cock before, and then it misuses it in so many ways. Sentences like "I'll fucking kill you" feels fairly well placed, sure, but "you cock" is uttered by a woman exiting a room after a man, in a seducing way, only to have him have his dry-humping ways with her against a wall.

Oh my. Adult themed indeed. And this, of course, only taking place within the first hour or so of the game, it's making damn sure you know the tone, before it sails off into it's nor-

No. Not normal ways. Because this game really, really doesn't deserve its namesake. There's pretty much nothing tying this to the Final Fantasy series.

Now, let's recap a tad, shall we? What is the Final Fantasy series? In as-short-as-I-can-put-it, it's a JRPG series. It's always been a JRPG series, with all that entails. An overworld, random battles, time/turn based battles, magic spells, various classes, different species, summon magics, recurring threads like Chocobos and Moogles, summons being mostly the same, but with a new design, a character called Cid somehow bound to airships, airships, a love story(although that's really only since FFVII), killer graphics for their time, absolutely breathtaking music, and a good story. For the most part.

Yes, it's a series very close to me, and yes, it's hard for me to recap it in a few keywords. My point, however, is that with the latter titles(specifically FFXV and FFXVI), all those things have been thrown to the side, to a certain extent. Yes, both XV and XVI have chocobos, summons, good music and, I guess magic spells, they both are so different from their predecessors, it's hard to call either of them FF games. Except for some reason, XV is a good title, and I absolutely loved playing it for 200 fucking hours. Gotta mean something. I could of course talk about it for paragraphs, but it's not todays topic.

FFXVI is so drastically different, it's nigh-impossible to even call it an FF title.

Overworld? - lackluster map with points you can teleport to.

Random battles? - No.

Time/turn based battles? - Not even close.

Magic Spells? - Technically yes, but they're so miniscule they don't really matter, and you end up not using them at all.

Various classes? - No. You could argue yes, but I'll get to it.

Different species? - No.

Summon Magics? - Yes. But also no.

Chocobos and Moogles? - YES! The former is a mount with personality, but the latter is reduced to being basically wall paper.

Cid? - Yes. But no airship. And his whole name is... Cidolphus?

Airships? - No.

A love story? - Actually yes.

Killer graphics? - Absolutely.

Breathtaking music? - Fairly forgettable music.

A good story? - Okay, yes.


So, with key points out of the way, lets look at the story/plot.
You are Clive Rosfield. A very bland and normal name, compared to other protagonists in the series(Terra, Cloud, Squall, Zidane, Tidus, etc), but sure. Clive, being the firstborn, should be the dominant of the Eikon known as Phoenix. But for some reason, it skipped him, and it went to his younger brother Joshua(again a strangely normal name, but I won't comment on it, because they all are in this game). Their mother shuns Clive, as she cares not for anyone that isn't important, and truly only wants to be a ruler. The story starts by establishing that Clive is the "shield" of Joshua, and they all live in this VERY GAME OF THRONES INSPIRED CASTLE THING IN THE NORTH. Joshua has come of age, and they are setting out to a place called Phoenix Gate, where Joshua will, I don't know, unlock his Eikonic potential or something to that extent.
-Side note. Eikons are this games Summon monsters. If you played other games in the titles, they usually go by a unique name in every game. Espers, Eidolons, Guardian Forces, Aeons, etc. Same thing, though, but in this game the Dominants literally turn in to them.
Of course, it all goes awry, the neighboring Empire(Kingdom? I seriously can't remember) invade them, and in a hissy fit, Joshua turns into his Eikon "Phoenix", can't control it, and it all goes to shit. Clive, suddenly unlocking HIS Eikon "Ifrit"(which isn't a spoiler, because it's obvious from the get-go) and.. let's say neutralizes Phoenix. I say Neutralize. He straight up murders him. And then the game skips ahead 13 years or whatever it was, and Clive still doesn't know he's Ifrit, and has spent all this time looking for him. Talk about a journey to find yourself, eh?

And that's just the plot of the demo that was released a week or so before the game came out. And I loved it. I was a bit iffy on the combat system, but I loved where the story was going.


I won't actually go much more into the story though, because for the longest time after this, it was utterly boring, and so inspired by game of thrones this game should've just been called Throne Fantasy. It's dark as hell, full of intrigues, politics and way, waaay too long cutscenes. But then, after awhile, it actually got good. There are twists and turns I didn't see coming, and once the credit rolled, I'd found myself enjoying the adventures of Clive and his gang. Even though their names were all just real names. I miss the quirky names, ok? The love story in this game, while taking anything but center stage, really worked for me, though. It's very easy to see coming, but I did enjoy the hours/years of will-they-won't-they, and felt it worked as intended.

On to the combat system, and, as I said, classes and magics.
FFXVI has no classes. I mean, it sort of does, but you don't get to play as any of them. Clive is a shield, as in a, I don't know, Fighter, for you DnD nerds. But since he's blessed by the Phoenix, and later Ifrit, he also does some magic stuff. Yes, you can technically cast "fire", but it's weak as hell, and you end up not casting it at all. Since the combat system is absolutely real time, it wouldn't make sense to include any of the traditional spells that you'd take your time browsing menus to find. Instead, you have combat abilities based on your Eikon powers. So for instance, "Phoenix Rise" is a fiery attack that launches enemies into the air. And you unlock more of these in various forms as you progress through the game, as well as a limit-break of sorts. Some of them could also be compared to changing classes to a certain extent, but your basic attack is always the same, your magic spell is always the same, but a different element. Abilities do change, and some of them drastically, but you don't get to directly play as any other class than whatever Clive is supposed to be. There are also companions fighting at your side, depending on where you are in the story, all with their own abilites that DON'T FUCKING MATTER BECAUSE YOU CAN'T CONTROL THEM ANYWAY.
I can't press enough how much I dislike the combat system. If I wanted to play a game like Dark Souls or Devil May Cry, this would be right up my alley. Really, it's tight, and fast paced, but it absolutely doesn't belong in Final Fantasy. And that's a deal breaker for me. I enjoyed the story enough to complete the game, but the combat system is at the core of the game, and I hated it. Thankfully, the developers sort of knew this might be an issue, and provide you with some equipment you can, er, equip from the very start, to make it bearable. So, for the majority of the game, I wore the Ring of Timely Evasion, which always evaded enemy attacks, unless I was diving head-first into them. Some may call it lame, some may even argue it's "noob-like". I don't care. I hated the core gameplay. Usually I don't mind a fight lasting 30 minutes plus in an FF game, but then it's also long because you take your time to assign commands to an entire party, some times to react to whatever hell the boss unleashed upon you, some times to unleash said hell yourself. But when an enemy is taking 30 minutes in real time, it's really just a bullet sponge, masking as "LOOK AT HOW PRETTY THIS GAME IS", and it is, sure, but like Guitar Hero's cool stage show, there's really no time to look at that when you're busy button mashing, is there. Even my kid reacted, having been to the shower, had supper, and everything, and I was still in the same goddamn fight as before he started.

On to the setting.
Imagine a medieval Europe. Now add nothing. There. Badabing. That's the first half or so of the game, until you go to, what I would imagine the medieval middle east might look like. That's it. Yes, there are some "ruins" of an ancient civilization, some missions even taking you into these, but there's nothing exotic about the world itself. It's bland, boring, and Game of Thrones meets whatever new accent they can throw at you.
The world, while absolutely gorgeous to look at, is like a plague infested Europe, ca 1349. There's even a goddamn plague. The abscense of different species also threw me off. All of the games thus far(apart from XV, sense a pattern yet?) have had various fancy species you either play as, or interact with, outside of just battling. FFVII had a tiger-lion-dog thing you absolutely had in your party. VI had a Moogle in your party. VIII had several odd species in the world, and IX nearly didn't have humans. X was focused on humans again, but there were other sentient races as well. XI, the online game had playable races, as did XII and XIV. I'm actually a bit fuzzy on the XIII details, but I think it was mostly, if not exclusively humans there too. XIII is... weird. But XVI didn't even try. It's all people. WHITE people too, I might add. It's a very white game. In the aforemention middle-east bit, there are middle-eastern looking characters, but I can't recall seeing any black people. Sure, it is a game inspired by medieval Europe, but it's fantasy.

Again, if it weren't for the story, I'd probably stop playing this game long before I did. I finished the story, a slew of the UTTERLY HORRIBLE SIDEQUESTS, and, you know what, let's talk about side quests.
You ever heard of fetch quests? That's all they are. Yes, some of them are of course a bit more elaborate, story wise, and some of them do play in to the larger story, absolutely, but a big chunk of them are literally "I need ingredients for a soup I'm trying out. I know you're the boss of this small resistance community, but would you be a doll and fetch them for me?". Yes, in some of them you have to slay some monsters, but did I mention I don't like the combat system? I don't like the combat system. Don't throw more monsters at me! Where are the mini-games from the older games? VII had an amusement park you could go to. IX even had a rope jumping mini game that sucked, but at least it had them! X had some fun ones too. I think I may go back to that, just to dodge 200 lightning bolts in a row to forget XVI's battle system.


Okay, it's not all bad. The music, while forgettable, usually sets the tone(apart from a seemingly pivotal death scene, where the game found it logical to just play the current theme song instead of focusing on whatever was going on on the screen, which was off-putting) and works just fine, but no themes stand out in my head a week after completing it, and I'm still humming themes from FFVI every now and then. The graphics are absolutely gorgeous. The voice acting is more good than it isn't, and the story and cutscenes are mostly good(One bad thing with cutscenes, apart from being sometimes too damn long, is how our protagonists cut through mobs like they're nothing, but when you play, they take dozens of hits each, and as we know, I hate the combat system), and the story in general, was actually a breath of fresh air from the usual FF titles, with some very original baddies, and some.. well, let's just say unoriginal, but hey, it's FF, and it's still a very japanese game.


All in all, I finished the game in about 50 hours. The problem with this game, as opposed to Tears of the Kingdom, is I have no intention or interest of ever going back to it. I enjoyed what I enjoyed, and loathed what I didn't. Even FFII, which is widely known as the runt of the litter, was more enjoyable to play. I have no desire to complete the game 100%, nor getting a platinum trophy, and if it gets any DLC stuff, I won't be getting them.

I'm sad I didn't like it, because I was hyped through the roof. At the end of the day, it's not a horrible game by any stretch. It's just not what I wanted. A lot of people, including two colleagues love it. I don't. And that's ok. It was made to be more modern, and FF is a series known for changes. Hell, every game is different to a certain degree. This was just too different for me.

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

BALDUR'S GATE 3

This is the third time I'm actually writing this. Because Baldur's Gate 3 is an absolute beast of a game, and it's very hard to write anything about it. But now, having been on vacation and detoxing from the game, I've gained some perspective, and as such, I think I'm able to write more coherently.

Baldur's Gate is a series I never really did play. I can't remember the first title at all. The second title I remember, but all I can really remember from watching a friend play it at his house, was the top down perspective, turn based combat, and that it was based on DnD. Then there's Baldur's Gate Dark Alliance. Which I do remember playing, but back in the day, I had a chipped PS2, and so many.. let's say legally copied games, that a lot of the games I played is but a blur now.

In 2020, Larian released an Early Access version of Baldur's Gate 3 on steam. It was very well received, but I didn't really care about it because A) early access and B) I didn't think it'd be for me.
Cut to 2023, BG3 is all the rage everywhere all of a sudden. The game is out of early access, and the hype is endless.
So, naturally, I'm affected by it. I got it, downloaded it, and told three of my friends to do the same, as you can play the entire game seamlessly together. We did just that, and 3 days later, we'd all clocked in over 30 hours.
Now, I'm 37 writing this. I didn't shower, didn't eat anything but junk, didn't put on trousers, didn't shave, hardly said hi to my kid and drank so much soda, I felt like I was 17 again. And I loved every second of it. We had so much fun, I can't even begin to describe it. It really does feel like playing Dungeons and Dragons. Sure, there are some limitations, compared to all the fuckery you can do in a pen and paper setting, but not by a lot! Larian has really poured their hearts and souls into this title, and holy carp, it shows.

From the opening cinematic, you can tell, this game is special. It's firing on all cylinders and braking for nobody. You're then presented with a character creator that isn't actually all that great, but still can suck you in for HOURS. You select a race, a class, and then you have some presets and stats, that's it, really. But still, I've been in that creator for over 2 hours perfecting my character for the next play through.
After creating your character and guardian, you get thrown on to a beach on the Sword Coast, not too far from the city of Baldur's Gate, in the Forgotten Realms. The most popular DnD setting. For a good reason, mind you, this world is pretty awesome.
From there on out, it's pretty much up to you what to do. And by that, I don't mean it's an open world type of game. It is, but it isn't, but it is. It's not like other open world titles. See, it's all based on what you choose to do with your playthrough. You want to play an Oath Paladin? Do it. Want to pickpocket absolutely everyone? Do it. Want to kill everything in your path? Do it. All of the above? Nothing's stopping you! Well, apart from you now being an oathbreaker, of course. Every bit of dialogue has choices, and you can change the outcome of a lot of things. Yes, there is a storyline that pulls it all together, but just like in Pen-and-paper DnD, it's more of a guideline than actual rules, and you COULD complete the story fast, or spend 100+ hours and still not finish the mainline quest.

Which is why writing a review about this game is so hard. Because it's more of a "choose your own adventure" game than anything else I've played, so the story, while central, quickly takes the back seat as you fuck around with anything and everyone, just to see what happens.

The combat system is pretty much virtual DnD, too. Everyone rolls initiative to find the turn order, and then you do what you can within your turn. It follows the DnD 5e ruleset pretty damn closely, so if you're familiar with that, like me and brother both are, it's a breeze to follow, learn and master. If you're playing solo, it's a bit more complicated, as you have to play the entire party yourself, and some classes are harder to get into than others. Fighters and Barbarians, for instance, is more about brute force than anything else, and is very easy to get into. Rouges as well. Wizards, Druids, and other magic users, on the other hand, are a bit more complicated, so if you have 3 physical attackers in your group, the last magic user isn't that hard to manage. If you love magics and set all 4 to be magicians, it can become more complicated. Thankfully, the game never sets your class in stone, and you can re-roll your class(and your companions) at any given time, and you can multi-class as much as you want. There's even an achievement for having all 12 classes on one character, which is an absolute nightmare to do.
The game sets the maximum level at 12, which makes complete sense. In DnD 5e, level 13 and upwards to 20 is more akin to godhood than just characters, and it gets pretty bonkers when you have access to "wish", for instance, which grants you one wish. For whatever the heck you want.

The characters are all amazingly written, with their own story lines going too. All companions have a story line you can finish, and there's a total of 10 companions to obtain, some of who rule out others. So you can't do it all in one go, and you probably wouldn't want to either. As in Dnd, the reason you all travel together is slightly convenient, but being NPC's, most of them have a good reason for following you around, and you do get attached to some of them. Some more than other(looking at you, edgy girl Shadowheart!).

All in all, this game was exactly what I was looking for, without knowing I was looking for it. I didn't think I'd like it, but ended up loving it so much I even stopped writing this review halfway through to play an hour more. It's an excellent game that showed everyone that turn based combat is anything but dead, you just have to do it right. It's the exact opposite of what FFXVI was, and I can't believe I enjoyed this game more than that. I'd give an outright 10/10 to Baldur's Gate 3, and that's only after one complete playthrough. I'm ending the second soon, and have 2 more going, because there's so much to explore and do differently every time you play it, I just can't put it down.

I suspect the only real gripe I have with it is that it wasn't in my backlog and 145 hours later, I can't put it down, and it's affecting my backlog a lot, as I'm not getting to it. I do, however, think that FF3 will be the next entry, followed by FF4, but we'll see. There's a bunch of games, and a bunch of time.

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA: LINK'S AWAKENING

Back on track with the Zelda games, Link's Awakening was next. Originally a Game Boy title released in 1993, then re-released as Link's Awakening DX on Game Boy Color in 1998 with a few additions, the game was received very well.

That, however, isn't the game I played. Instead, I opted to play the Nintendo Switch Remake, with the same name, from 2019.

Link's Awakening is one of those weird Zelda titles. It released shortly after A Link to the Past, and felt like a weird blend of that, and Link's Adventure, with its overworld, and side-scrolling elements here and there. It also, for reasons I'll omit, features all manner of creatures from the Super Mario games.

It's not a very long game, I finished it in 2 sittings, only using Google once, as it was late and I wanted to have it finished, but I still felt it was a good game. The core mechanics are very top-down Zelda, akin to A Link to the Past, which it borrows a lot from, but also has its own touches here and there to make it stand out. The fact that this game released on Game Boy is a milestone in itself.

The story is, in lack of a better word; cute. But I think the graphics just further accentuate that. The whole game gives off a very plastic-y miniature feel, which lends itself very to the game with great success. The soundtrack is a re-imagining of the old one as well, with variations of the Zelda Soundtrack I hadn't heard before, which was a nice welcome.
We start with Link on a raft in rough seas; The Anime. There's a lightning, and Link passes out. Cut to: pastel-plastic-y graphics and he wakes up on a shore of Koholint Island, an island never before, or again, seen in the series. And while there are reasons for that, you could argue that you RARELY see a location again in any Zelda game, so it doesn't really matter.
He is awoken by a mysterious yet gleeful girl, and from there on out, it's business as usual. Find Shield, find sword, find dungeon, find compass, map, weapon, nightmare. Rinse, repeat.
As in most Zelda games prior to Breath of the Wild, it's a formula.
Make your way to a dungeon. Use the tools available to you from before dungeon and inside dungeon(like a hookshot) to complete said dungeon and boss. These tools will now assist you in finding the next dungeon, where you get the next tool/weapon, and so on and so forth. Where Link's Awakening really shows its age, is with mechanics like "oh, you absolutely need this item to access this tiny little piece of the island, so you'll have to backtrack a lot!", which was the norm back in the day to make games last longer. And while I don't hate it, it does feel a little dated now.

Thankfully, you'll unlock tools and fast travel later on to make traversal much faster. Not that Koholint is exceptionally large; quite the opposite, but there's a lot of nooks and crannies to make even the shortest routes take a while.

If you somehow managed to stay away from spoilers about this game until now; kudos. I didn't. I believe I've known the story most of my life, as I had friends that played it back in the day. That never bothered me, I wanted to get around to it, and now I did.

I'd give it a hearty recommendation, but considering it's size, it's hard to justify the price tag. Like any other Nintendo game, it's at full-price. Not just 4 years after release, 20 years after initial release, and it doesn't feel like it should be priced there. It's not bad in any way, it's just small and short. I've played indie games longer than this (Like Outer Wilds) that cost less.  I'm not saying you shouldn't play it, but if you do, maybe look for a bargain.

-Tom out.

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

SPIDER-MAN 2

And here we go. The reason I had to finish Link's Awakening in 2 sittings. I literally didn't have time for more.
I mean, I say that, but I had the weekend off and no other plans than to binge this game, so, you know.

Anyhoo, Spider-Man 2 is the direct sequel to, you guessed it; Spider-Man. But also Miles Morales that came a few years after.

It's been a few years since the previous titles, and both heroes are now existing side-by-side, which is a welcome addition to the S-M lore, as usually when Morales is introduced, it means the death of Parker. Not here, though, they're just both called Spider-Man, and that's just how it is. We can now switch between the two characters almost at will, as well, which is pretty cool, and very, very fast, too. The PS5 really showing its prowess here.

New York is bigger, more detailed and feels more alive this time around. The addition of Queens(I think, I'm not a new yorker) makes the map much larger, and traversal is compensating for the size with the web wings, that, oh my god, are so fun. The speed in which you swing and fly is about doubled since the last game in general, with sections that are much faster than that. You may not notice it, or think anything of it, but my dude, the PS5 is FAST. Like, really, really fast.

Having defeated all their foes in the previous game, the new game needs a few new faces. So, enter Kraven. The legendary hunter. Kraven doesn't initially care about Spider-Man or Spider-Man, but instead breaks out a few old nemeses to hunt, so there's a few familiar faces, but Kraven is the main baddie for most of the story, and it's told really well too.
Something I think Insomniac really pulled off in the prior games was balancing the masks to the people behind them. How, if Peter wins, Spider-Man loses, and vice versa. Same thing with Miles, to a certain extent, but still all managed beautifully. Story telling and performances were absolutely stellar.

Which is exactly what you get more of now. Except instead of being either Miles or Peter, you now juggle both, and their stories are interwoven quite flawlessly. They rely on each other, each others friends, and can still stand on their own to feet and have stories that don't affect the other. It's very well done.

The combat system is pretty much the same as before, with a few new tweaks and optimizations, as is expected from sequels. Each character feels different enough to play as, but at the same time, their move sets are so similar, it doesn't really matter who you play as. Different story beats will force you to play one or the other, but I've a feeling it wouldn't really matter, except towards the end.

While the setting, story, characters, music and generally pacing of the game is absolutely great, I can't help but compare it to its predecessors. Spider-Man was an almost 30 hour ordeal to finish, Miles Morales, being the standalone DLC was about 12, the sequel stops at about 20. Which isn't short at all, but compared to the original, it is. Miles Morales was always marketed as a much shorter side story to set up the sequel, but 20 felt short. Now, I can't think of anything to add to it, nor does it feel like anything was cut, but it does feel like they're holding out for the inevitable third game, which will no doubt more or less "complete" the villains roster, and probably an even bigger city, or more interiors.

All in all, I had fun, and while I did complete this game in two sittings(which is probably why it felt short), I'd still recommend it. There's a bunch of fun to be had, side quests to do, easter eggs to be found, trophies to be had, and a damn good story, too.

I love it.


Now, with a few new titles out of the way, there's nothing on the immediate horizon to halt my progress.
I've finished 17 titles so far this year, and it feels great! But the backlog has another 17 games on it, and I'm not on schedule!
Well, to be fair, my schedule was to complete most of them before Tears of the Kingdom, and that didn't work out, but let's not dwell on details! I'm now absolutely ready to continue Final Fantasy 3! Onwards!

-Tom out.

Last edited by Tomahawk (2023-10-23 15:57:05)

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

So the last part of 2023 was slow.
Had a bit of a mental breakdown, etc, so playing games sort of took the back seat for a while there.
Did catch up on Sea of Thieves, and did about 24 hours of Hades again. Man, that game.

Anyways, 2024!

My backlog is of course growing, with all the steam sales happening, but I'm starting again this weekend. Haven't fully decided which game yet, but I've had my eyes on FF3 for almost a year now. Guess it's time!

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

Sucking at Baldur's Gate 3 is my cross to bare for 2024. Maaan there is no learning curve with that game. It's sink or swim.

The difficult second album Regan

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Re: Unplayed games - a backlog adventure.

CRISIS CORE - FINAL FANTASY VII - REUNION

If you think it's a bloated game title, blame Japan and/or Tetsuya Nomura. It's a remake, sort of of a 2007 title.

Back in 2007, a prequel for the beloved cult classic "Final Fantasy VII" was released for the PSP, to go alongside the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, which included "Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII", "Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII" and "Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children". The first a PS2 shooter, the second a mobile game(long before iPhones, mind you) and the latter a Movie. A massive multi-platform release to, basically, cash in on the hit game. There was even a tech demo for the PS3, showcasing its capabilities. Fans were screaming for a PS2/PS3 remake of FFVII, but no.

Instead we got the spin-offs. Crisis Core is the story about Zack Fair. If you've played Final Fantasy VII before, or don't care about spoilers; read on. If you plan to play the game at some point, and don't want spoilers, stop now.

Zack Fair is what Cloud in FFVII claims to be. A First Class SOLDIER working for Shinra. It is of course, revealed halfway through FFVII that Cloud's past was, well, clouded, and that his memories were sort of implanted and misread due to heavy Mako poisoning. All he thought he did, Zack actually did.
So this is the story of Zack, and his doings and non-doings leading up to his untimely death. I said there'd be spoilers. But FFVII covers parts of this, and that's from 97.

The game suffers from a great many things.
For starters, it suffers from having Tetsuya Nomura behind the wheel. Nomura is many things, but like Michael Bay, he needs to be reeled in  every now and then. If you ever heard that someone in Square Enix has a fetish for convoluted plots and belts, Nomura's the guy. He's helmed the Kingdom Hearts franchise for awhile, and try to put those in chronological order without googling it, I dare you.
In any case, Nomura being Nomura, this game is bloated with over-complicated plots and dialogues, and it isn't until the last hour or so it actually starts to feel like it should've from the beginning.

The story is certainly there, but in true Nomura fashion, it's too complex and diluted, and at the end of the day, none of it actually matters, because it's only the tail end that's necessary to complete the Story we all know and love. But instead, there are a bunch of new characters introduced, that have to die in order for the story to make any sort of sense, and one of them speaks almost completely in poems, because he's obsessed with a poem. He also has a god complex, but this is Final Fantasy. God Complex are our speciality..

The soundtrack, while inspired by FFVII doesn't bring a gold record to the table either. The tracks from FFVII are modified and remixed, but the original material is mid-00's nu-metal and alternative rock. Which doesn't fit in AT ALL with the source material. At one point I honestly thought I was listening to Seether in the middle of an emotional scene. Total bust, and completely pulled me out of it.

I was streaming the first 6 or so hours, before I took it off-stream to finish some side quests and missions, because while the battle system is absolutely banging, the game it self is so boring it was hard to play it on stream. I opted out after the 4th stream to complete it offline, because I wasn't having a great time, but it did get good towards the end.

The battle system deserves some love though, that was actually fun. It's an action RPG, so battles are real time, with spells and skills mapped to various buttons. There's a roulette machine called the DMW that controls your leveling, limit breaks and summons. Keep on your toes, and hope for some good RNG, because that can make the battle amazing or shit. Rarely the latter, thankfully, and I had a good time fighting. Just too bad the "missions" that were optional was only battles, because great as they may be, there were simply too many.

All in all, I'd say play this game for the battle system, but don't expect it to be deep enough to keep you engaged the full 14 hours it takes to complete this overrated gem.

It is, after all, a PSP game from 2007. With all the limitations that came with that console, remastered or not.

-Tom out.



Backlog has been slow lately, because, well, mostly because Baldur's Gate 3. Having a hard time stopping that game.

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