Backloggin’ the Year – Paws’ Pilgrimage, June 2021

Welcome to Backloggin’ the Year, a feature that discusses the challenges and excitement that comes with working through your backlog. Site owner Anna Marie Privitere looks at where she’s at in terms of her backlogging goals as the midway point of the year looms ever-closer.

June was a mixture of backlog and new…or new to me…games.  As we’re now halfway through the year, I’m already looking introspectively at my purchases for the year and whether I’m actually reducing my backlog.  I also completed my 30th game for the year, as well as my 25th backlogged game, putting me right on track to hit my completely arbitrary yearly goals!  What felt challenging last month suddenly seems attainable.

The Streams – Ruinverse / Final Fantasy VII Remake

Wrapping up Yakuza: Like a Dragon as the month tipped over, I decided to tackle a shorter title to fill in the time before the Final Fantasy VII Remake update hit the PlayStation 5.  In walked Ruinverse, the perfect short game to fill the gap.  Kemco titles are pretty formulaic: nice character art, but terrible overworld and maps; an interesting and competent story hobbled by some peculiar translation choices; crazy optional dungeons and plenty of microtransactions, though at least the latter is largely eliminated in the console version.  Ruinverse is like eating pancakes: you know what you’re getting going in, and while you can dress it up with some nice toppings, they’re still ultimately fluffy, fulfilling, and forgettable.  You can see the full Let’s Play on our Twitch channel, or subscribe to our YouTube to be notified when they’re available.

New Games – Oregon Trail / Dark Deity / Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster

As a Canadian, I didn’t grow up playing the quirky classic Oregon Trail, but since it hit Apple Arcade recently, I wanted to give it a try.  Canadians actually had a pretty crucial role in the mass immigration, as several of the large river fords were managed by Canadians!  It was an interesting experience, and I failed more than once before finally managing to make it the full distance, though I’ve still yet to do so with a full party of four.

Dark Deity was a surprise E3 announcement; I’d been eyeing the game since a Switch port was announced, but decided I couldn’t wait and grabbed it on PC a few days after it launched during the middle of the month.  While it does have some quirky choices, such as not being able to save at all during a mission, by and large I am pleased and amazed by all of the artistic touches the game has, and it is definitely worth a second look for anyone who has enjoyed past Fire Emblem titles.

With the announcement of a firm date for Shin Megami Tensei V, I also wanted to be sure I completed Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD Remaster in a timely fashion, so it’s going to be my inaugural #JRPGJuly game.  SMT3 was my original introduction to the series and I bowed out of it quite quickly.  I’m already further than I got in the original, and I look forward to finally conquering one of the only SMT titles I started but never finished.

New But Not New – Shadowhand / Solitaire Conspiracy

With E3 streaming online across quite a number of days, I wanted some casual turn-based RPGs to play that didn’t require reading an intense plot.  I picked up two solitaire RPGs from the Epic Games Store: Shadowhand (which is by the same team that did Regency Solitaire) as well as Solitaire Conspiracy, both of which were fun titles to fiddle with while watching all the amazing announcements roll out of the show.  Both have pretty simple premises, complete hands of solitaire, though each use different styles of decks and gameplay twists, and have interesting but shallow stories that are largely there to carry along the gameplay.  The Adventure Corner writeup for Ancient Enemy covers the gameplay in more detail, so head over there if you want to learn more.

The Backlog Bustin’ – Monster Prom XXL / Trials of Mana / AI: The Somnium Files 

Monster Prom XXL is another title I picked up at the end of 2020 on the Switch.  Combining together discounts on gift cards along with eShop sales, I picked up way too many games for a song. A short but sweet visual novel, you’re a new student in a monster-filled high school who’s desperate to land a date for the biggest social event of the year.  A run-up to the big day only takes about an hour, and with multiple endings (including special secret endings), it’s the kind of game you can return to again and again between longer, more intense titles.

Trials of Mana was my unexpected hit of 2020.  I’d never played the third Seiken Densetsu title, as I didn’t enjoy Secret of Mana and all I heard was how similar the two were…and I ended up absolutely adoring it from start to finish.  I’m finally getting into a second playthrough with different characters.  Now if only I hadn’t been distracted by all the other games this month!  I ended up needing a less high-octane title for evening play, so I started AI: The Somnium Files, which I got so sucked into I dropped every other game I was playing just to focus on it.

The 5-Hour Rule – Bakugan: Champions of Vestroia / Bowser’s Fury (Super Mario 3D World)

Bakugan was a toe dipped into the water of monster-collecting clone titles I picked up and never got around to until recently and after a couple of hours, I see why the game’s price tanked so quickly.  If you’re already invested in the series, it’s no doubt quite fun, but with absolutely no onboarding in terms of lore, I didn’t care enough about the characters or monsters I was capturing to continue with it.  I also started up Bowser’s Fury, which at first blush looked a lot like Super Mario Odyssey, but it too failed to capture me in the opening hours and I set it aside.  Here’s hoping JRPGJuly brings me few titles I bail on!



Andi Privitere

I like writing reviews and impressions. Co-Owner of RPGamer.

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