Backloggin’ the Year – Sam’s Sojourn, July to September 2023

July saw the beginning of rehabilitation for my broken arm. My cast came off the first week, and it’s been a gradual healing process. It’s amazing how fast the body heals and what it remembers. My surgeon gave me a lot of encouragement when the cast came off and he said, “Don’t be afraid to try things… within reason, of course.” I can happily say that I’m healing well and I’m feeling more like myself again. I have two wicked scars now that will be a part of me forever, but it’s fine because it could have been far worse. Even the physiotherapist has been incredibly proud of my progress. I’ve even gone back to work, and I can say that the amount of encouragement I’ve had from my family, friends, co-workers, and doctors has been so helpful in keeping me motivated. So much so that I did my first hike since the accident back in May around the Flowerpot Island in Tobermory, Ontario. I promise you all I am still being very careful, but my strength and endurance are coming back and it feels amazing. If you ever visit Ontario, Tobermory is absolutely worth the visit as the views are breathtaking and there are so many adventures to be had.

As for video games (which is why you might read this feature!), I had a lot of prime gaming time still in July and August, and I completed ten games total as of the writing of this article. While being at work again since the end of August has been a lot, it also means I’m coming home tired with not enough energy to game. However, fall is in the air and that means more time for big blankets, hot beverages, and trying to knock out as many 2023 releases before RPGamer does our Game of the Year awards. I still have Sea of Stars, Baldur’s Gate III, and a few other titles in my backlog, desperately wanting my attention, and that is on top of the fact that between October and December, there are so many releases I’d like to get my hands on! The life of a gamer is both wonderful and awful.

For 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 on those titles, check out the following:

The RPGs I Played

Final Fantasy III Pixel Remaster (Switch) – During my recovery, I got really into playing the earlier Final Fantasy games, mainly because I could enjoy them one-handed. I admit I did not enjoy Final Fantasy III on DS when it was released, but I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved the Pixel Remaster version. Final Fantasy III is so goofy, and everything that happens in it is ridiculous, but there is so much charm in the game that I find it difficult not to love. Who doesn’t love the fake Warriors of Light? They are so camp!

Final Fantasy II Pixel Remaster (Switch) – I had never completed Final Fantasy II. No matter how many times I picked the game up in the Dawn of Souls collection for the GBA, I never got past the first town. The password system was confusing, the game was terrible at giving players directions, and overall it’s a game that stinks at selling itself. However, in my quest to work through the Final Fantasy Pixel Remaster series, I decided during my one-handed gaming phase that I would finish Final Fantasy II and overall I enjoyed it! It’s a game that requires a lot of patience on the player’s part, and getting to know the mechanics took a bit. My favourite part of the game was learning that Guy can speak beaver!

Octopath Traveler II (Switch) – Of all the RPGs I played during the summer, Octopath Traveler II was easily the standout of the bunch. I was so invested in all of the characters’ stories, especially Castti and Throne’s. I loved the twists and turns that a lot of the narrative had, and how larger than life all of the boss fights were. The game has a fantastic soundtrack and amazing visuals, and I found myself just getting lost in all of the stories. I don’t always love 60+ hour RPGs, but I easily put 90 hours into Octopath Traveler II, which for me says a lot about how in love with the characters, combat, and world-building. An absolute must-play for anyone who loves deep storytelling.

Shin Megami Tensei III Nocturne HD Remaster (PS4)Shin Megami Tensei III is a game I actively avoided when it was released in the PS2 era. I kept hearing how difficult the game was, particularly in the form of Matador, a boss who is known for causing players to rage quit. I finally decided before heading back to work that I would give Nocturne a whirl, and I am so glad I did. While there were some moments of swearing at the television over turn orders and insta-death spells, the game was also so satisfying when overcoming difficult battles. The story is also one of the most philosophical I’ve encountered, and I loved how weighted the decisions that the Demi-Fiend had to make felt. In the end, I did manage to get the True Demon Ending, which I loved and found to be very suitable given the decisions my Demi-Fiend made. I’m not sure it’s an SMT game I will ever replay, but I enjoyed the experience, even when I wanted to punch Hikawa in the nuts.

Tunic (PS4) – I generally am not a huge fan of Zelda clones, and I would be lying if I said I picked Tunic up for the gameplay. I picked Tunic up for the cute little fox, darn it! What I got was an interesting Zelda-like that was merely fine. I didn’t enjoy how the game handled some of its secrets, I don’t know if the game fully knew who its audience was either. If I were a kid playing Tunic, I feel like the secret codes would be too difficult to decipher on my own. I also struggled with the game’s special language and didn’t like that I didn’t know some of my abilities. Visually and musically it’s a fantastic game, but overall I felt like it was just a middle-of-the-road experience with a cute little fox that I wanted to give many hugs to throughout. 

All the Non-RPG Goodness

Excluding the Adventure Corner titles I completed, the only non-RPG I played that I didn’t write up for the site was the latest installment of Supermassive Games’ horror series, The Dark Pictures Anthology: The Devil In Me. I probably should have saved the game for spooky season, but there have been so many games that have been released and so many to review for the site that I needed something short and fun. I’ve played every single game in this series with my roommate and we have a blast passing the controller back and forth while making decisions that could potentially end the life of one of the protagonists in the game.

We didn’t do so hot on our first playthrough. Three of the five protagonists were killed in our first playthrough, though one of the characters died in such a stupid and frustrating way. The other two deaths I was upset about, but they made more sense in the context of the decisions that we made in our playthrough. I’m not a huge horror buff, and I have specific elements of horror that I enjoy — hotel horror is generally not on that list. What I will say is that I did enjoy The Devil In Me, and my roommate and I spent a lot of time hypothesizing the story throughout, which is a positive. I didn’t feel as attached to the characters in this one the way I did in House of Ashes or The Quarry, but I liked the idea that the hotel is a large puzzle, and many of the potential possible deaths were pretty gruesome. I found the H.H. Holmes mythos to be fascinating. My biggest grief with the game? How damn buggy it was and the collision physics was not so great. Overall, The Devil In Me falls somewhere in the middle for me when it comes to Supermassive Games, but what I will end this on is how excited I am for some space-themed horror in the next installment.

Whatcha Playing Now, Sam?

I am reviewing all the farming sims! Work has been pretty busy since our library opened for Sunday services, so finding dedicated time this last month in particular has been a bit tricky. Currently, I am working through both Fae Farm and Moonstone Island for the site, which is a lot of farming sims being played at once. What little I have played of Moonstone Island, I have greatly enjoyed. It has Kiki’s Delivery Service vibes with a lot of interesting activities for the player to do. I am looking forward to making a bit more progress. Meanwhile, I’m in chapter five of eight in Fae Farm and I am having a good time with it. It’s perfect for handheld play and there is a good mixture of stuff to do, and the story is pretty cozy and cute so far. I’m hoping to have both games completed before November because there is a Like a Dragon and a Star Ocean with my name on it that I will be putting all my spare time into!

2023 Game Tally

Games Completed: 33

# of RPGs Completed: 20

# of Non-RPGs Completed: 13

# of Games Purchased: 15

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