Backloggin’ the Year – Sam’s Sojourn, July to September 2022

The last three months were intense, to say the least. Summer Reading Club is the most important and busiest program that we run at our library. It’s an insane amount of work, but it’s also super rewarding. I survived eight weeks of consistent programming, visited local parks, and did lots of prep work on fun activities.  With the kids back in school, I finally got some downtime, which allowed my husband and I to escape the city and flee to Prince Edward County for a few days of adventuring and rest.

Lake on the Mountain Provincial Park is unlike anything you’ll ever see. The lake is situated on top of a mountain, making it one of the province’s natural curiosities as it’s completely unclear how it got there. It boasts beautiful scenery, and it was a great place to camp out and explore the rest of the county. Scott and I ended up attending Oktoberfest at the Parsons Brewing Company, which had tons of amazing brews, food, and great live music. We also explored smaller towns in the area, such as Bloomfield and Wellington, and went to five unique breweries, despite the area actually being better known for its wineries.

It’s also home to Birdhouse City, which is one of its weirder attractions. Featuring over one hundred handmade birdhouses, this “city” is full of unique structures. From an old-fashioned saloon to the model of the local dine-in, this is one walk worth investigating just for how ridiculous it is. One of my favourite birdhouses was the depiction of the Picton Hospital (as seen above), which has numerous holes in it for birds to nest in.

After the insanity that was summer programming, it was nice to end September on a road trip to a part of the province that I had never been to before. Seeing the fall colours, walking through various conservation areas, and just enjoying all the weirdness and whimsy made Prince Edward County a delightful experience.

With how crazy programming was, any day off I had from work was spent resting and gaming. I’ve got lots of feelings to share, from new favourites to disappointments, there are lots to chat about. For the purposes of this feature, I’m only going to focus on the games I haven’t written articles or reviews about. If you would like to read more of my in-depth thoughts, check out the following:

The RPGs I Played

Pokémon Legends: Arceus: There are parts of Arceus that I love, and parts I truly hated. I loved that this was very much an experimental title, but I think some of the choices were questionable at best. I think where I nearly pulled my hair out was the fact that the last battle of the game was a rehash of Diamond/Pearl’s unbalanced Champion match-up. I absolutely had a blast running around each area, catching Pokémon, and I loved the expressions on many of the Pokémon’s faces, or how they would chase you down because you disturbed them in some way. Overall, I enjoyed my time wth the game, but I wish the difficulty balancing on it was better.

Dragon Quest VIII: Dragon Quest VIII is a game I’ve picked up and put down I don’t know how many times in my life. I always seem to pick it up in moments when I think my life is going to be calm for a while, and then put it down and forget about it when things are calm. Playing Dragon Quest VIII for #JRPGJuly was a great motivator, and I am so happy I finally knocked this game out of my backlog. I absolutely loved the characters, with King Trode being my favourite! I put close to eighty hours in this game because Rhapthorne was a cheap final boss who would heal all his MP, then smack me with multiple meteors. I can still feel my blood boil even writing all that. I’m still happy I finally played through this, and all that is left of the mainline games to play at this point is VII, though I don’t think I’ll be jumping on that one any time soon.

Live A Live: Live A Live was easily my favourite of the RPGs I checked out during these last three months. I tried to play this on emulation years ago but found the game way too obtuse, and couldn’t figure out what needed to be done in each chapter. I love how this game was updated, it’s much more accessible in terms of quests and wayfinding. I also love how fresh and fun many of the stories felt, given this game was made in 1994. I ended up completing the game’s special ending, which I adored and thought was a super clever approach to going back through the game. I will at some point go back and do a proper ending, as I loved many of the different storylines.

All the Non-RPG Goodness

Of the seven titles I completed in the past three months, there weren’t as many games that were non-RPGs. The first game I finished in July was a hidden-object title called Under Leaves. The game has gorgeous art with monochromatic backgrounds, where the goal is to find objects hidden in different locations. It’s a chill game I got on a Steam sale for a dollar, and it was quickly worth that!

I am also a huge Supermassive Games fan, so you bet I finally made time to play through The Quarry, and I loved it. While it was not designed for the PS4, as certain textures like water looked weird, the story was incredibly gripping, the characters were the right kind of unlikeable, and the endings were certainly the kind of mess you’d expect from a horror game. I was invested in everything that was happening, the use of the podcasts, how players were asked to solve problems — there’s a lot to like here, and it clearly shows how much Supermassive has grown over the years. If you love horror and haven’t tried this yet, you owe it to yourself to check The Quarry out.

Whatcha Playing Now, Sam?

Since finishing Live A Live, I found myself in a bit of a gaming rut with no idea what to play next. So I started a few titles, including Atelier Sophie 2, NEO: The World Ends With You, Rakuen, and Ys Origins, all of which weren’t vibing with me at this time. I do plan to go back to all of them and try again, as I think they have the potential to stick. The two games that have been taking up my free time couldn’t be more different from each other. One is Soul Hackers 2, which I bought on a whim to support my local game store that unfortunately had been broken into. The other is a classic PSX title, Saiyuki: Journey West, which is an SRPG developed by Koei.

I have seen a lot of mixed responses to Soul Hackers 2, and I completely understand where a lot of long-time fans are coming from. The game is quite easy, but it’s missing certain trappings such as the lack of Hama and Mudo skills, and in general, seems soulless to the eyes of many. I recognize these issues, but I am also having a blast with it. I haven’t played an SMT game in well over a year, and I don’t mind that this game feels super streamlined in a lot of ways. I love the aesthetic, I’m intrigued by the characters and the larger MacGuffin storyline… there’s a lot I’m vibing with. At this point, I have put in seventeen hours, have explored up to 4F for each Soul Matrix, and I’m still having a great time.

As for Saiyuki, I’m surprised I am enjoying this one. It’s fairly slow, and the battles are hit-or-miss in terms of challenge. It can be a bit difficult to see around objects, and overall it’s just a weird little game. However, I love how awkward some of the writing is, I like the art direction, and I like that there are varied battle objectives. I hit a bit of a wall, as in the four hours I’ve played I hit a back-to-back battle with no rest in the middle, and I got my butt handed to me. 

I have also been playing Amnesia: Later x Crowd for an Adventure Corner article. I played the original Amnesia: Memories on PC when it was first released and I had super mixed feelings about it, especially the way it depicted female relationships. I am enjoying Later x Crowd a lot, as it’s more of a “what-if” scenario. The game does a great job of reintroducing all the characters, and overall it’s a much more fluffy and positive title than the original. I’ve completed Shin’s route and nearly all of Ikki’s, but I will also say that the fairy character, Orion, may be one of the worst mascot characters I’ve come across in a game in a long while.

2022 Game Tally

View Sam’s Completed Games

Games Completed: 28

# of RPGs Completed: 13

# of Non-RPGs Completed: 15

# of Games Purchased: 8

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