Backloggin’ the Year – Pascal’s Pile, July to September 2021
Welcome to Backloggin’ the Year, a feature that discusses the challenges and excitement that come with working through your backlog. In this edition, Pascal throws in the proverbial towel, as work takes over his life and gaming time becomes a luxury item.
“I ain’t played nothin’ new. B-b-baby, I ain’t played n-n-nothin’ new.”
That famous song by Backlog Turner Underwhelm pretty much says it all. As a new school year started up, my available gaming time has shrunk to almost nothing. When finally home, it’s become so much more comfortable to head to YouTube and put on a Let’s Play — watch someone else do the gaming for me. I don’t want this to be my new norm, and am considering this simply as a temporary state of affairs until my time and energy level both become a little easier to manage again.
The RPG: Disgaea 6
While I’ve actually played more than one RPG in these last few months, Disgaea 6 is the only one I can list as completed, and boy did this one require blood, sweat, and — above all else — plenty of tears. Tears of suffering when I discovered the game wasn’t for me but I’d agreed to finish and review it so I forced myself back to it again and again; tears of frustration when I reached the credits only to find out there were five more chapters to go to reach the “true end”; tears of happiness when the final credits at last rolled across my screen and I could begin the purging task of writing up my review. I couldn’t uninstall this game from my Switch fast enough.
To make this section look a bit less pathetic, here are the other RPGs I dabbled in these past few months. Chernobylite was similarly not for me; I like survival horror but not when the survival aspects are this prevalent. In general, crafting is one of my least favorite elements to worry about in a game, and I was so very happy when Zack Webster unknowingly came to my rescue and took on the review. After watching Phil play Operencia: The Stolen Sun on his stream, I purchased and dabbled in it for a bit, and it’s still on my to-complete list. I also covered the demo impression for Kitaria Fables, and took a first few faltering steps in Yakuza 6 on PS4, Shin Megami Tensei: Persona on Vita, and The Banner Saga Trilogy on Switch.
The Non-RPGs: Shadow of the Tomb Raider, Filament, Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight
Dear PlayStation Plus, you’ve now allowed me play the entire Tomb Raider reboot trilogy without outright purchasing any of them. Shadow of the Tomb Raider continues the tradition of games that are fun to play, with plenty to do, hardly any of which I actually remember. I’m sure I enjoyed them, though.
Filament, on the other hand, is a game which I remember very well, and which I cannot recommend enough to anyone who enjoys puzzles, isn’t afraid of a good challenge, and values world-building storytelling. Man, what a ride this game turned out to be, equal parts cerebral and emotional. Not only did the puzzles graduate to some of the toughest I’ve probably ever seen, but the level of emotion I invested into the characters — even though they’re never on-screen and you only learn about them via their old email communications left behind on their abandoned space vessel — was super intense. The beautiful musical score didn’t hurt, either. At times, it felt like the atmosphere and puzzles just melded together in such a way that my brain entered some kind of zen trance while playing for hours on end late into the night.
I always enjoy a good Metroidvania, and with Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight I kinda?…sorta?… got one. The game was serviceable; maybe a bit simplistic, a bit on the shorter side, not incredibly refined but fun enough. Just a hair above meh, which is why I don’t have much else to say about it here.
The Adventures: AI: The Somnium Files, Twelve Minutes, The Forgotten City
Being a big fan of the Zero Escape visual novel series (well, most of them), it’s no surprise that over short or long I’d find my way to playing Kotaro Uchikoshi’s AI: The Somnium Files. The game is…well, a little bit of everything. It’s equal measures crazy, funny, and bloated. It’s never predictable, and always so full of original little bits and pieces to unearth in every nook and cranny. It took a while, but the ride was well worth it. We even have a dedicated Adventure Corner about it.
I also spent a little over twelve minutes playing through Twelve Minutes, the time-travel adventure starring the voices of Willem Dafoe, Daisy Ridley, and James McAvoy. It has an intriguing premise, namely a man stuck in his apartment in a twelve-minute time loop during which he and his wife are physically accosted (and often murdered) by an unknown intruder. The execution, however, was a little hit-or-miss, particularly when you have exhausted all other avenues forward and have to hit the exact sequence of events to progress the story to its end.
Finally, The Forgotten City is a game I’ve already written about in more detail in an Adventure Corner. Suffice it to say that it, too, was a fun game, but one I’m ultimately also happy to have seen through and come out the other side of. That’s kind of the theme here: I’ve played some good adventures that were enjoyable enough while playing, but most seem to lack the serious staying power that’s the mark of a truly remarkable game.
This past quarter has been a trying time for gaming: trying to get on top of writing projects, trying to balance work and home life satisfactorily, and trying to find some time to do some actual gaming on top of it all. It wasn’t roses — not by a long shot — but I feel optimistic moving forward. October has already proven to have some pleasant surprises in store, and I think things may finally be at the point of balancing out in significant ways.
2021 at a Glance
Total Games Completed: 35
Total RPGs Completed: 7