The Big List of Games I Beat in 2021 pt.5
May 29, 2021

In 2020, I decided I was going to stop buying new games and declare war on the backlog. Much like the majority of gamers, I own more games than I can ever play in a lifetime but countless games I want to play get shuffled further and further to the back while the endless stream of new stuff gets stacked on top of them. It was a success! Aside from cashing in steam vouchers over Christmas that I had received as a gift, I purchased exactly zero new games, and the backlog was sufficiently injured. Any current year games I played were at the behest of constant backlog enemy, Jason Venter, who even now is plotting ways to trick me into playing more visual novels. THE GOAL: Do the same thing in 2021. Block Venter. Profit.

//In Progress//

Yakuza Kiwami 2

Iím parked at the last chapter with, probably, as much of the side missions done as Iím going to. 2 was remade in Yakuza 6ís image while making enough changes to tie it back to Yakuza 0 and itís pretty glorious. Iím not a huge fan of the big 6 sidequest thatís come along for the ride, which is a basic RTS, and that might be the only major content I donít see through to the end. So, just the last boss rush run, then the new chapters you unlock along the way for Majima, and thatís another big game ticked off the backlog.
Review // probably

//New Entry//

8Doors: Arum's Afterlife Adventure Last stage kicked the crap out of me, but finally beating it down was hugely satisfying. Excellent Metroidvania game based around Korean purgatory myths. Not usually my genre of choice, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.
Review // yes.

Insanium: Heavily based on a very old game I really dug, so itís an easy bet to say I also dug this. Sometimes it takes the homage too far rather than risk trying to make a real go at a unique spin of an old idea. In space, no one can hear you copy and paste.
Review // yes

Tokyo Xanadu eX+: Finally beat this game. And then I beat the post-boss chapter to unlock the true ending. AND THEN I beat the eX+ after game chapters to finally wrap everything up. Phew! Iíve been picking away at this game since the start of the year, and itís had to take a back seat to games Iíve had to beat there and then, but itís been a blast. JRPGs used to be the main staple of my gaming diet and while having less free time in my life has put an end to that, itís nice to revisit.
Review // probably

//The Backlog Mortuary//

American Patriots: The Swamp Fox: Thereís no win conditions attached to this game, so the only way to beat it is to stop playing. Itís a barebones horde-mode FPS thatís very limited in options. Iíve played it enough to be underwhelmed; Iím done with it.
Review// yes

The Beard in the Mirror: Goofy retro point & click openly inspired by Sierraís Quest games. Got maybe halfway through a few years back, then stopped for reasons I no longer remember. Been threatening to go back and finish it for ages and now have.
Review// yes.

Chronicles of Cyberpunk: You know when a gameís been rotting in the library forever when you notice it has since turned free-to-play. Such is the fate of Chronicles, which is best described as bloody weird. Itís a dystopian low-fi walking simulator that obsessively cycles through all the cyberpunk tropes. Niche, but I liked it.
Review // maybe/next time Iím very drunk

Chronicle of Innsmouth: Mountains of Madness isnít what I expected. I thought it would just be a case of maybe my favourite Lovecraft story being transplanted wholesale into the AGS engine, but itís more of its own tale based around the Cthulhu mythos, which is pretty cool. Pretty short, but engaging enough. It starts strong and loses momentum throughout, so its short runtime is probably a blessing. Well worth playing.
Review // yes.

Cuyo: Simple, easy platformer with puzzle elements attached to a limited jump mechanic. Cute, but not especially challenging.
Review // yes

Dungeons of Naheulbeuk: Goofy fantasy parody story told alongside genuinely faithful D&D-built turn based strategy battles. Itís surprisingly good stuff. I didnít expect great things from this when Jason randomly dropped it on me some time last year, but I put the hours in, got pretty far, then saw my progress get mercilessly deleted when the game updated to full retail edition, destroying all my review edition save files in the process. Took a break, started anew, and killed so many cave spiders. The little shits.
Review// yes

Gabriel Knight 3: Blood of the Sacred, Blood of the Damned: Gabriel has been my fallback series for when my PC blows up and Iím stuck with my decade old laptop to game on. Why do I have a decade old laptop floating around? Because games like Knight are arseholes to getting running on modern rigs, and their re-released games often have zero work done on them to change that. I found 3 to be the weakest of the series, but still quite worth the hassle.
Review // maybe if I ever finish the half-penned drafts of the previous Knight games.

Halo: Reach: Iíve beaten Reach before; Iíve beaten Reach several times, in fact, but I finally broke my buy no new games rule to get the Halo collection on a huge discount. What started as a dry run just to make sure Reach ran out OK turned into a full run through the game in Normal mode. Man, I still adore this game. Itís my favourite Halo by some distance. Itís so full of despair while the others are more or less a power trip. Thinking about re-reviewing it. Weíll see.
Review: pre-existing

Loop Hero is an oddity of several genres mixed together with a purposefully dated aesthetic that shouldnít work, but does. Itís a game I thought I was only playing in little bubbles before I noticed Steam had recorded 30+ hours spent in game. Itís a weird punishing grindfest thatís also forgiving with clear progression provided at the same time. Itís kind of brilliant.
Review // yes

Lost Words: Beyond the Page is the story about a girl writing a story, and how both of those things are affected by the sudden disruption in her life. Itís packaged as a 2D platformer, but itís more about solving easy puzzles based around using keywords to manipulate your surroundings. As a game, itís decent enough, but itís the writing and the voice acting that are Lost Wordís main strength. Absolutely not for everyone, probably more of an experience than it is a flat out video game.
Review // yes

Narita Boy: Genuinely enjoyable throwback game that is happy to flirt with our nostalgia of 8/16bit gaming, but still does its own thing. Really enjoyed it, and has a synth OST that'll unassumingly blow your mind.
Review: yes

Sarawak: A simple text adventure game that took me about an hour and a half to play through. You progress by solving simple puzzles or by advancing conversations. Itís over before it begins and the ending is a bit of a damp squib, but I enjoyed it. Puzzles were never hard enough to rage quit over, but often not easy enough to be a mere triviality.
Review// yes

Utawarerumono: Prelude to the Fallen: Half visual novel, half turn based strat, I fell in love with this weeby nonsense around 2004-ish when I spent many days downloading the original game and fan translation on my trash desktop cobbled together from bits of other peopleís desktops they no longer wanted. Iíve bitterly watched as first Japan and then smug Sony owners mocked me with their ability to play the sequels and then the re-re-release, but my time is finally now!
Review // yes

Voyage: Itís a fun little cinematic adventure that tries to do a few things differently, but fails to really commit to them. It isnít a long game, but it crams a lot of its hand painted world into its somewhat short runtime.
Review // yes

Most recent blog posts from Gary Hartley...

jerec jerec - May 29, 2021 (02:26 PM)
I picked up two Utawarerumono games on PS4 a while back (the cheap ones) because of how highly regarded they are here. Still haven't quite got around to them, though.

Tokyo Xanadu eX+ is a game I've started, but I'll probably restart it when I run out of Trails games to play.
overdrive overdrive - May 30, 2021 (08:46 AM)
Tokyo Xanadu was one of the games in Venter's big PS4 sale and I almost pulled the trigger on it, but the combination of it being about the most expensive game on the list and the whole "it's kind of like a Trails game as an action RPG" impression I got from doing a bit of research ó while I'm struggling to simply finish the first Cold Steel (FINALLY made it to the final Old Schoolhouse level in the final chapter, so I hope that means I'm close) ó changed my mind. I mean, why go for that when I can just use my Now subscription to play *checks notes* another one of Spiders ham-fisted attempts to replicate a BioWare action-RPG or something along those lines?
EmP EmP - May 30, 2021 (10:22 AM)
I may try and write up a Xanadu review later. Footnotes: really good action JRPG with short rapid-fire dungeons and a pretty impressive ability to use all the genre tropes and still make me enjoy the plot.

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