Game Room

So far this is just home to my game diary, but I plan to put more content here in the future. I'll probably at least put a page to share some of my favorite items in my game collection, and who knows what else. I just quickly threw this together and had absolutely no design ideas, maybe I'll get some inspiration in the future, but for now... here we are.

For context on my ratings: 10 is a game without flaw (aka incredibly rare), 5 is perfectly average - neither good nor bad, 0 is... probably not even a game? It's hard to imagine something being that bad, but it'd have to be completely unplayable. I don't rate these as if I'm some kind of objective arbiter of game quality, it's mostly just so I don't forget what I thought about a game.

My Vow to My Liege 2020

I've heard a lot about this game, people saying it's kind of a hidden gem. And it's fine. It's a bit... clunky, I guess is the best word. I don't have a ton I feel the need to say about it, tbh. None of the LIs were that great to me personally, but I liked Yiguang the most. ZiXu is... more like literal father, not daddy vibes. Not for me. GouJian is the drama route. Chenfeng is the who cares about this guy route.

Nitpicks: the skip function seems to not always work straight out. Chenfeng's kiss is not a CG, wtf? I didn't care about him anyway but still. Some of the lore stuff is a bit like huh what??? if you don't have any background knowledge on the stuff they're talking about. Which I don't, so.

6.5/10 4/29/24 - 5/18/24 Mac
Final Fantasy VII Rebirth 2024

I had a blast with this game. Seriously, this and BG3 are probably my favorite recent releases. Much like with Remake, this game felt like taking my childhood vision of FFVII and making it into a reality. So many of the scenes and locations in this game are basically how they looked in my mind.

Some people may say too much Chadley. But I say... agreeable amount of Chadley. I did every bit of the open world content and didn't find it draining like it can be in many games. I enjoyed it. Navigating some of the maps could be a bit painful at times though, trying to find out how to get to where you need to go.

Soundtrack, as expected was incredible. The way each map has a seamless transition from the world music to the battle music for that map... so good.

I was so excited for the Gold Saucer and it didn't disappoint! Oh, and Queen's Blood is so fun. I really got into it. As with Rebirth, I'm a mini game lover. The analogue of the pull-up game in this one is now a sit-up game and it is just as, if not more painful, but just like with the pull-ups I managed to zone out and enter a trance to finish it.

I do have a few small little negative/questionable points: Bizzaro Sephiroth first of all???? Feels like they blew their load a bit too fast with that one. Why now? But I guess I'll trust, since both Remake and Rebirth have been so good, surely they know what they're doing. Also... Aerith's death needed some more room to BREATHE!!! She dies and then bam bam bam fight after fight after fight. I've seen some people debating if she really died or not, but it seems pretty clear that she did. She seems to die in most of the timelines, though Nanaki also sensed her... so I wonder if her connection to the lifestream and the planet give her some ability to "control" things a bit?

I am very interested to see how the differences in Cloud's current mental state/memories vs. the original will play out. Oh and I generally really liked the extra fleshing out of Barret and Dyne's story. It was, by and large, really well handled.

A small thing, but something that just warmed my little heart every time... the baby chocobos! There was obviously so much love and care put into those little guys and their animations! The way they even react to you failing to put the sign up... soooo cute.

9/10 3/13/24 - 4/29/2024 PS5
Final Fantasy VII Remake (and Intermission) 2020

I decided to replay Remake (and actually play Intermission...) before getting started with Rebirth. Basically, my opinion on this game is that it takes my childhood memories of FF7 and turns them into a more realized vision. How Midgar looked to me back then is what I (generally) see reflected in Remake.

The set designs in some places (NOT all) were so cool I just had to stop and look around. Pretty much all of the characters get more fleshed out than they were before because we're just spending so much time in Midgar. The soundtrack takes the original and puts a unique flair on it. I have mostly praise for this game. Above all, it's fun and engaging.

The only part of this game that felt a bit overlong is the 2nd to last chapter in the Shinra building, especially the Hojo section. It drags. But even that is not too bad.

Also a small side note: the mini games! I love mini games. The ONLY mini game I didn't love was the fucking pull ups. I don't even want to talk about it.

The additions/changes to the original story are nothing super original or ground-breaking, but it's interesting enough as a concept. Especially whatever is going on with Zack. Can't wait to see where that goes.

Summary: great game.

9/10 3/4/24 - 3/11/24 PS5
Orwell: Ignorance is Strength 2018

It's fine. Maybe a bit less fine than the first one. That's it. I only felt like writing about it at all because I already wrote about the first one.

6/10 1/16/24 Mac
Two Point Campus 2022

It's Two Point Hospital in a college. That's good, because I like Two Point Hospital. I don't have much to say on this one.

There's a fun amount variety in the campaign - a knight school, a wizarding school, a sports school, etc. It builds on the foundation of Two Point Hospital, and mostly for the better. Gone are the days of spamming nothing but gold certificates to up the prestige of your rooms - there are now diminishing returns on using the same item multiple times in a room. Kinda sucks, but kinda doesn't.

It's not too complex if you're afraid of management sims, but it's satisfying enough if you're a longtime fan. It's more accessible than Hospital, imo. Plus, you aren't killing people due to your incompetence here.

Some issues I had: placement issues, items being deleted when they weren't in the way at all, students with problems requiring counseling NOT FREAKING GOING TO THE OFFICE.

8/10 12/27/23 - ∞ Mac
Roller Coaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition 2020 (original in 2004)

I hadn't played RCT3 in probably 10 years until I randomly got a serious itch for it a couple months ago. These days I've been playing more RCT1/2 & Planet Coaster to fill that niche.

This game has a few weird quirks. Graphics and UI are not my favorite. Music is hit or miss. Building is nice and comfortable, things snap together as you'd want them to (generally - sometimes paths won't work right). But there's just weird little things that don't feel as good in this game as the first two: mostly the management aspects (but also weird bugs). The AI for guests is weird too. Like - I built you this great, fun, brand new ride, please leave the front area of the park and check it out.

The water and animal stuff in the expansions is kind of neat, but eh. It's more a novelty to me, personally, but I should try to spend more time with them.

If you just want to build in your sandbox, this game is fine for it (or better yet, Planet Coaster). If you care more about management, I think RCT1/2 are better.

7.5/10 Mac
RimWorld 2018

I've been playing RimWorld for years now. I just keep coming back to it. Truthfully, I don't even care that much about actually completing the objective of the game! I just like playing with my little apocalypse dolls. Building a colony and making it as nice as I can is the biggest part of the fun for me.

Basically: gather materials, build stuff, advance your science, don't die from all of The Issues (enemy factions, wild animals, weather events, etc.)

The game is very mod-friendly which adds basically infinite fun! The difficult is super adaptable, so you can suit pretty much any playstyle. It's just one of those games that has such a degree of unpredictability that it really doesn't ever get old.

Some of my favorite "fun" mods (aka not just QoL mods): Hospitality; Children, school, and learning (I don't own any DLC, so this is a must for me); EdB Prepare Carefully (though apparently some people have compatability issues with this one and other mods + DLC)

8.5/10 Mac
Growing Up 2021

Not much to say on this one. It is literally just Chinese Parents cleaned up and better localized. That's not a bad thing, because I have played a lot of Chinese Parents. Gameplay is really basically the same. Repetitiveness is also very much the same.

Do you like raising stats to get different outcomes based on what range your stats fall within? Good news - you will like this game. But I didn't enjoy playing it on my phone. I play Chinese Parents on my computer, and wish I'd done the same with this one.

6.5/10 11/2023 iOS
World of Horror 2023

I saw a lot of people hyping this game up online, and it looked like something right up my alley, so I decided to give it a try. This game, to me, isn't about jump scares or intense fear-inducing situations, so if that's the kind of horror you're looking for, this isn't the game for you. This one, imo, is more about the spooky vibes. An eeriness, something unsettling... that kind of style.

The gameplay, for some reason, reminded me a lot of Famicom Detective Club (the originals, I haven't played the remake yet). The gist is this: your character is tasked with solving a variety of smaller-scale mysteries in the context of a world facing the return of some kind of ancient god. You will travel from location to location investigating and exploring to gather clues and information. There is combat in the game, which is definitely not a strong point. The visuals and threats faced in the game draw heavily on the works of Junji Ito and Lovecraft.

The game is visually overwhelming at first and, imo, doesn't do a very good job with telling you what things do. Once you do get it all figured out, it's far less complicated than it looks, but they could've done a better job here.

Like many other roguelikes, there is a fairly high replay value if you're the completionist type. There are a number of different mysteries to solve, each with branching outcomes. If you just care about seeing things once and "completing" the game once without exploring all the mysteries in their entirety, you probably will not find this game to be worth the money. For me, while I enjoyed the game, I didn't find it had much substance beyond cool visuals and well-crafted atmosphere. I do think it's worth playing, but maybe wait for a sale.

6.5/10 10/28/23 Mac
Baldur's Gate 3 2023

Well, I loved it. My GOTY without a doubt. There is just so much to love about this game even if you're not typically a fan of the genre. I played a Seldarine Drow Storm Sorcerer.

Combat is incredibly engaging. So many times I tried really crazy tactics and had them actually work. The team very clearly put a lot of effort into thinking about what players might try to do and making sure that the world was fleshed out enough for it to work. The shove mechanic, while kind of gimmicky, was lots of fun at times, too. Pushing people off a cliff instead of fighting it out is exactly something my character would do and I loved having it as an option. I always prefer turn-based, so that wasn't an adjustment for me, but honestly, even if you typically don't like turn-based combat, you might still like this game. It's just a lot of fun.

The companions are great in this game. They are all a bit too horny for your player character in pretty much all scenarios, but it wasn't that big of a deal to me as most of them stop after being rejected once. I romanced Astarion and thought his storyline was really great. I chose to not ascend him and was happy with my choice ♥ But even aside from Astarion, all of the companions have compelling personal storylines. I thought I also enjoyed their interactions with each other. Oh, and it was also really cool to be able to recruit Jaheira and Minsc (and Boo) from the first two games!!!

The soundtrack was really nice. Perfect mood-making for the world. The world-building as a whole was well done! Lots of small story-telling details in the environments that pack a big punch. And visually, the game is beautiful of course.

So why is it not a perfect 10? A few reasons. 1. BUGS! There is still a lot of polishing that needs to be done. Character romances and stories are bugged, there is a bug that occurs way too often in dialogues that ends up leaving "Continue." as your only choice of dialogue, but it actually just ends up selecting one of the options that was supposed to have been visible to you anyway! Sometimes this means your character can say something you would never have chosen. It's very frustating to me.

2. A general lack of closure? The ending is very lackluster, in my opinion. It just kind of... ends. I don't feel like I got a satisfying ending in terms of seeing what each character is going off to do. I hope they add a bit more here.

3. It probably needed a little more time to cook, particularly in Act 3. Now, I loved Act 3. Really. I just love "run around a huge city" arcs in fantasy stories. The only thing missing was a fancy ball. But I kept feeling like some quests or areas felt a bit incomplete. Some pretty important storylines too like Karlach! It seems that the last bits of her storyline were cut, leaving her with no real good ending Maybe we'll see all of these issues fixed up in a future Definitive Edition.

But in the big picture, my grievances are so small compared to my love for this game. I have so many character concepts in my head for future playthroughs and I know that even with the many, many hours I've put in there are still so many things I haven't explored yet. I'm also looking forward to trying multiplayer out. This is one of those rare games that is absolutely worth the price even without a sale.

12/27/23 edit: I just played through the epilogue party that was added in a patch, and that really helps wrap up some of my concerns about the ending feeling lackluster. It's not perfect, but it's a bit better.

9/10 9/6/23 - 10/23/23 PS5
Trapped With Jester 2022

Very short little visual novel made for a game jam. Multiple endings to explore and only takes 15 minutes tops to get them all. It is voice acted - nothing great IMO, but it's better than nothing. Not really fun, but not a total waste of time. The reviews on Steam are undeservedly high because people are horny for clown man. I, however, am not, so I don't feel the same way.

5/10 10/19/23 Mac
Final Fantasy V (Anthology Version) 1999

I actually didn't intend on playing FFV. I wanted to play FFIX, but was having disc read problems, so put in another black disc to see if it was just my FFIX disc or all black discs, and that is how I ended up just playing FFV. Since this is the FF Anthology version of FFV the translation is funny sometimes (Salsa, Y Burn, etc.). There are a few other nitpicks you might notice with this version, but they don't really bother me.

The battle system in this game is amazing. One of the best in the series. There is so much room for building your characters to your liking by mixing and matching and changing jobs at any time. You might want all casters for one fight, but then switch to mostly berserkers for another. There is a huge variety in jobs available too. The game is not terribly difficult save for a select few bosses and side bosses, but you definitely will find yourself needing to strategize. The battle system is this game's greatest strength by far.

The story is fine. It's not great, it's not terrible. It's interesting enough to keep you engaged. For me, there are some memorably emotional moments (Syldra & Hiryu ;~;) and the characters are good enough. The main villain is pretty weak in my opinion. But, like I said, the story probably isn't going to be what impresses you the most about this game.

It's a Final Fantasy game, so again we've got great music. Most famous would probably be Battle on the Big Bridge, which is really great. Personally, one of my favorites is Lenna's Theme.

8/10 6/15/23 - 7/21/23 Playstation
Final Fantasy XVI 2023

After all the waiting, it's finally here! A new FF game is always hugely exciting to me. I try to ignore the inevitable bickering over "not a real FF game, turn-based combat, western audience-pandering, framerate, blah blah blah" because some people will never be happy with anything. As a FFXIV enjoyer, I was excited to see CBU3's take on a non-MMO mainline game.

I was curious but cautious in seeing how this game would handle combat. I think it largely provides enough of a visual spectacle that it feels pretty good. For much of the game, I didn't feel terribly bored with the combat. Later in the game though, I did find myself wishing we had status effects or a need to strategize more. I did find myself becoming bored with combat during the chronolith trials (side content). I decided to just give up on them because I kept getting so bored and the rewards are not really worth it to me. The eikon battles were very hyped before release, and they kind of worried me. I figured they would just feel like cinematics with QTEs, but they honestly did feel pretty epic! As I've said many times before, combat isn't typically a big draw for me, it's just something to add a litle excitment in between the parts of games I care about more.

I did like the novel method of adjusting difficulty in this game: equipping or removing accessories that help with different aspects of combat (slowing time to help dodge, auto-dodging, etc.). It felt easy to customize things to your own preferences rather than just a one size fits all "easy" mode. When you start the game you're offered two difficulty modes: story or action. Neither seems to be too difficult. You unlock a higher difficulty "Final Fantasy" mode after beating the game, but I haven't tried it yet so can't say how challenging it is.

The story is pretty good overall, but I do have some complaints mostly to do with pacing. There's a segment of the game partway through that feels like the absolute peak (Bahamut, of course), and it doesn't really hit those heights again until the ending.

The way they handled side quests wasn't great. You'd finish a story beat then get a bunch of side quests dumped on you all at once. Sometimes you get (temporarily) locked out of progressing those side quests due to the main story, so you feel a pressure to complete them as they arise. This feels like such a bummer when you're super invested in the story and things are really happening and them boom, 12 side quests. The side quests themselves are mostly pretty good and important to the story, though. In fact, quite a few of them could've just been part of the main story.

There are characters I LOVED who I felt were underutilized (mostly Jill and Dion). There were also a few loose ends that got no wrap up (DLC perhaps? What happened to Terence and Kihel?!) I really, really loved the part of the main story that focused on Jill's backstory and it got me so excited to see more of her only to never really get much more after that. I really, really loved Jill and Dion. I also think Benedikta could've been better utilized. I liked Clive as a protagonist, I just... love Jill and Dion so much.

The music, as always with FF games, is amazing. I've loved Soken's past work so I was expecting a great soundtrack and it delivered. The voice acting was also spectacular, especially Clive's VA! Visually, of course, the game was beautiful. I often found myself studying the textures of various fabrics on clothing because they looked so great!

In the end, it's not one of my top favorite FF games, but it's a great game. I often think that new FF games are burdened by being FF games. The expectations are just so high that even a great game is "disappointing" to some people. As much as people like to paint the entire series with the colors of their pet favorite FF game, it's just the truth that the series has always been known for innovating and trying new things. This one is no different in that regard. Some changes paid off, some could've been implemented better, but on the whole I really enjoyed my time with this game. I'm even planning to go back and finish the platinum at some point.

8/10 6/22/23 - 7/16/23 PS5
The Quarry 2022

I'm a big fan of the other similar Supermassive horror games (Until Dawn, The Dark Pictures Anthology). I love good couch co-op games, I love horror games, so they're just a good fit for me. The only reason I didn't play this game sooner is that it's too expensive, so I waited for a decent sale. The couch co-op in this game works by setting up player profiles, then assigning characters to each player, and passing the controller depending on which character is up next. I played this one with my husband as usual, we split the characters half and half. This game follows nine camp counselors who have to try to survive their last night at camp while being hunted by... someone or something?

This game was supposed to be a spiritual successor to Until Dawn, and it shows. It's also a huge callback to various classic horror movies and tropes, which I enjoyed as a huge fan of the genre. The menu section showing, basically, the "butterly effect" choices was broken up into fake VHS covers for movies fitting each of the choice paths, which was cute. The "twist" of the game is totally obvious, especially if you're into... pretty much any kind of horror media, but the twist really isn't the point, so that's not a negative.

Gameplay-wise, it's more of the same QTE-based gameplay. They continue to improve on the accessibility settings over time, which has been a big help for me. I'm not stupid or even particularly bad at games, but I sometimes struggle to quickly take in new information and act on it in one swift motion like these kinds of things usually require. This time though, I over-estimated my own abilities (or perhaps the implementation of the shooting mechanic) and ended up getting a character killed in an instant by missing a shot with very little time to make the shot and absolutely no chance to fix it. I ended up getting pretty pissed off after that. Moral of the story: I should've just put the damn auto-clear on the shooting sections. You could really set it up so that you can't fail any QTEs, I think. Oh, and one small, kind of funny point: when you're sitting and making a decision between choices they do the same close up on the character's face they normall do, but I feel like the facial expressions were even funnier in this game than they have been in the others.

There are a few sections of the game that do drag a bit that I think could've been handled better, but overall the story was engaging and fun! I largely liked the characters too. I think Kaitlyn was my favorite. The Worst? Jacob. Ryan and Emma could get pretty annoying too. In the end, we got 4/9 killed, oops.

8/10 6/10/23 - 6/11/23 PS5
Orwell: Keeping an Eye on You 2016

I played this game once before, years ago and remembered finding it pretty interesting. Again recently I was looking for something kind of low-key, yet somewhat engaging to play, and stumbled on this in my Steam library and decided to give it a replay. The basic premise of the game is that you play as an investigator for an authoritarian government using a new surveillance and information gathering system known as Orwell. Your choices about how to represent events effect events in real time.

The mechanic of searching documents, websites, listening in on phone calls, chats to gather info is pretty fun. The messaging/phone call segments can be kind of tedious because they're pretty slow moving, even at max speed and you can't just simply look away and play on your phone while you wait for it to end, because sometimes you need to gather information from the calls ASAP. It's just a little bit annoying. The main mover of the narrative is a mechanic requiring you to choose between two conflicting pieces of information. It's neat in the sense that you're truly altering the way things play out based on the way you choose to represent the facts. However, a lot of the time, you might have to just kind of gamble on the "right" choice. Sometimes the reinforcement of "omg are you doing the right thing??? are you the bad guy??? surveillance BAD?!?!?!?!" from other characters/events in the game can feel a bit hamfisted, as if they weren't confident you could come to that conclusion on your own just through simply playing the game and letting things unfold.

I initially replayed thinking I would get some different Steam achievements because I didn't really remember the story and thought I'd do it differently, but I ended up with pretty much the exact same outcome. Guess I haven't changed much in the past few years afterall ^^'

6.5/10 6/9/23 Mac
Pikuniku 2019

Pikuniku is a simply delightful little puzzle-platformer. It's cute, it's fun, the music is nice, the puzzles are interesting, the platforming is fun! It's a good time! Oh, I just looked up the regular price ($12.99 on Steam). Hmm... it's a short game, so I'm not sure about that. I got it as part of a huge bundle a few years ago so was well-worth the very little I spent on it. I would pay maybe up to $10 tops for it since it's so short (about 3 hours), but it is a really fun game and well worth playing, I'm just kind of cheap.

8.5/10 6/7/23 Mac
Nancy Drew: Midnight in Salem 2019

This game is infamous to all my fellow ND fans. For those unfamiliar, the Her Interactive Nancy Drew game series pretty much religiously released 2 solid games a year from their first in 1998 up until 2015. After that point, there was a lot of poorly-received change within the company, terrible marketing, outsourcing, secrecy and a seeming lack of interest with engaging with their dedicated fan base. This game was "in development" from at least 2015 until finally being released in 2019. For fans used to 2 games a year with good communication from Her, this was a big deal. The company hyped the game's new engine and new VA for Nancy like mad, and it was just... not well received.

That preamble felt kinda necessary. As for the story, Nancy gets called to Salem to investigate the arson of the Hathorne House at the request of her not quite friend, not quite enemy Deirdre Shannon. There's ghosts, there's history, there's Deirdre being Deirdre! Oh, and there's the Hardy Boys!

Gameplay-wise: I don't think the new engine was necessary at all! The updated graphics were... iffy. I didn't love it. I found moving around far more difficult than it ever was before. Small nitpick, but any time there's another character traveling around with you, you will get repeatedly jumpscared seeing them lurking behind you. There were some good puzzles, some that really weren't worth it.

For the most part I was pretty interested in the story. The ending (last couple of hours maybe?) dragged a bit too much for my taste, however. Also, I didn't love the new VA for Nancy. She did okay but it just felt... wooden. Not that the previous VA was the greatest fit, but we were all so used to Nancy sounding like a middle-aged woman, idk.

Don't buy it at full price. It's simply not worth it. But it's also not as bad as a lot of people make it out to be.

6.5/10 5/21/23 - 5/28/23 PC
Nancy Drew: The Creature of Kapu Cave 2006

This time Nancy's gone to Hawaii to work as an assistant to an entomologist, Dr. Kim. Something is destroying the local crops and a bridge collapse leaves Nancy stranded at Dr. Kim's remote camp, which turns out to be ransacked and Dr. Kim is missing. Truthfully, I felt the story in this game was on the weaker side. The ending in particular just felt rushed. It also seemed to be pretty short compared to the other ND games.

Gameplay wise, if you've played the other games, you know what this is all about. On the whole, I thought this was definitely one of the easier games. Despite being mostly pretty easy, there are some tedious areas. You play as both Nancy and the Hardy Boys in this game, and during the Hardy Boys sections there is a lot of annoying mini-game for money grinding. Like, clicking back and forth and back and forth and back and forth on the beach waiting for shells to respawn so that you can make shell necklaces to get some money. It wasn't fun, it was just a waste of time. The last "puzzle" during the grand finale just sucks too. I see people complain about the frass sorting task, but... I kinda liked it.

It's pretty solidly on the weaker side of the ND games, but if it's on sale, why not? I wasn't mad that I spent time playing it; I did have some fun.

6/10 5/11/23 - 5/13/23 PC
Nancy Drew: Legend of the Crystal Skull 2007

I'm a longtime fan of the Her Interactive Nancy Drew games. Despite this, there are still a few of the games I've never played before and this is one of them. For those who are unfamiliar, they are pretty classic point and click adventure/mystery games. The premise of the game is this: you, as Nancy Drew, go to New Orleans with your best friend, Bess. While there, your boyfriend, Ned, asks you to check up on a friend of his, Henry Bolet, whose great uncle/only family member has just recently died. Upon arrival, Nancy gets knocked out by a mysterious skeleton man and finds out that Henry's great uncle owned a fabled crystal skull that is alleged to grant its' owner immortality, unless they're murdered...

I thought the puzzles in this game were really good! Of course there were those moments I was kind of beating my head against a wall for a bit, but they all made sense in the end. I didn't need to look up hints for anything in this game. There was one puzzle in particular that required repeated back and forth travel, which was a little tedious, but really not that bad. As for the mystery itself, it was fun, but I felt pretty settled in my opinion on who the culprit was from pretty early on. The atmosphere was great though. At the beginning of the game they suggest playing in the dark, which definitely enhances the experience. It's not scary, but it has a charming spooky vibe that I really enjoyed.

The accents in this game were so bad though... but in a funny/charming way that's pretty par for the course for these games. But if that's something that's going to seriously bother you, well...

8/10 4/29/23 - 5/2/23 PC
Muse Dash 2019

Muse Dash is a rhythm game originally released for iOS and Android in 2018 (and it shows). I am a rhythm game enjoyer in most any form, this was no exception. This game is pretty accessible even for those who are not familiar with rhythm games or just not good at them. At its' most basic, the game requires only two buttons (up to four at times) and the songs tend to be pretty easy.

While easy, the songs are still very fun! I liked this one a lot. The maps in general make sense, there were few points that I felt they were off. There are 3 difficulty levels for songs, but not all songs had all difficulty levels available. There seems to be a pretty big selection of songs, especially if you choose to buy the DLC (which I didn't).

What makes this unique from other rhythm games? Well, the two button setup is a bit unique. The gameplay itself: you choose one of a few characters then hit your buttons to the beat to make the character fight the enemies at the right timing. The enemies/backgrounds are different depending on the song. You can unlock new characters/outfits as you progress. I will say, if you are uncomfortable with porny anime boob lady art... there are going to be things you don't like about this game for sure. For me it was just a few points of, ugh... but obviously not a dealbreaker. Also nothing major, but I did seem to sometimes have performance issues with this game.

Overall, it's a fun game. If you like rhythm games or have an interest in trying one, this isn't a bad one to pick.

7/10 4/27/23 - ∞ Mac
Bustafellows 2021

Bustafellows is an otome visual novel with a fairly heavy/dark crime drama story. Our MC is Teuta Bridges, a 21-year-old journalist who has an ability to go back into the recent past but has no control over what body she will end up in. She ends up going back in time to save the life of a well-known "crooked lawyer", Limbo Fitzgerald. From there, she ends up meeting the rest of Limbo's friends.

The art in this game is largely really great. I wasn't initially super drawn to any of the LIs, but that's just because of my personal taste/type, not the art style. Even the backgrounds in this game are really lovely. There's even moving backgrounds! The character sprites have quite a bit of movement which was really nice as well. The music was pretty good. Nothing spectacular, but it's a visual novel and that's often the case, which is fine. It did the job it was meant to do. It helped convey the intended emotions and was not terribly repetitive/annoying. The voice acting was outstanding. Lots of big names in this game that you'll recognize from other games/anime.

I played the various routes in the order I saw most commonly recommended online: Limbo > Shu > Helvetica > Mozu > Scarecrow. I think this order makes sense from a story unraveling standpoint (although it truly doesn't really matter like it does in some other otome games). From a "which route is heaviest?" point of view, I think it really depends on who you are/what bothers you. I will talk a bit more about that in spoiler tags during each route's review. That said, the game is full of crime, violence, etc. in all routes. All characters have a good end and a bad end to their A Side story. They all also have a B side story (post-A side, usually more romance/fluff) and an extra side story (focused on food).

Teuta: Our MC, a freelance journalist with a time-traveling ability. Teuta is a really likeable MC. She has a solid personality: neither the too passive MC nor the overcorrected too sassy MC. She's tied into the crime and happenings in the city due to both her job and her past. She has a set personality with likes, dislikes, etc., but different sides of her show depending on what route you're on. If you're a self-inserter, I don't think you'll be too alienated most of the time either. I think Teuta strikes a good balance for those who want to self-insert and for those who don't.

Limbo: A well-known "crooked lawyer", famous for being a hero to the downtrodden when it comes to criminal justice. He lives by his philosophy that he is the one who determines what is right and what is wrong. Limbo is our handsome, princely, poster boy. I'm not usually the biggest fan of these types of LI as I find them generic oftentimes, but Limbo is pretty lovable. He's a nice, charming, wealthy, popular guy who would probably be the most safe bet of all these LIs to date irl. He has some pretty nice CGs. His route delves into his past with a former friend with whom there seems to be some bad blood. The conflict of this route is pretty straightforward, but overall enjoyable! Limbo's route is the lightest of them all.

Shu: A highly-skilled bounty hunter who targets killers. He can be a bit gruff, he's constantly smoking, and he's just kind of a "cool" type. He has no real plans for his life outside of his mission to get rid of the killers on his hitlist and he just figures he'll end up dying while he's at it (which obviously leads to some nice "you should hate me, don't love me!" angst in his route). His voice is pretty hot. I just want him to take care of me. Shu's route delves into his past: family, his mission... I enjoyed his route quite a bit more than Limbo's.

Helvetica: A popular plastic surgeon who has a talent for disguising himself as anyone. He's the flirty, teasing type, which I tend to love. He is very forward and, for many people, thoroughly unlikeable. For example, he immediately rates Teuta's appearance at their first meeting. He tends to be one of the least popular, but I love Helvetica. His route is GOOD. This is where we start to get into the "darker" themes: drugs, gangs, childhood trauma. There is more to Helvetica than the playboy archetype (there always is!! IT'S MY TYPE! I'LL DIE ON THIS HILL) and it's executed wonderfully. Many people find Mozu and Scarecrow's routes to be heavier than Helvetica's, but Helvetica's was the most emotional to me. Unlike some flirty LIs, Helvetica doesn't become a reformed flirt by the end of his route. He stays himself, just a little better, which I'm glad about because I love him. Voice acting is A++, he's pretty to look at, he's one of the few to actually give me butterflies. Love him (but again people seem pretty polarized on him, so take my opinion with a few grains of salt).

Mozu: The socially-awkward genius coroner. Despite his seemingly cold, intellectualized self, Mozu is the warm-hearted mom of the group. He's a great cook, is very caring, talks to the bodies he works on and treats them as people... he's just a good, kind guy. His eyes are so beautiful. Mozu's route focuses on his search for his sister who has been missing for the past year. Many people find his route quite dark, and it is (death as a prominent theme), but (for me) not as much as people make it out to be. This game as a whole tends to be light on the romance, and Mozu's route is especially so. Despite this, I loved Mozu's route and Mozu as a character.

Scarecrow: The group's hacker who is incredibly awkward around girls. From the beginning, I knew he's just not my type. I don't like the "flustered around girls" type. I don't like the "nerd with more to him than you think" type. He seems to be a fan favorite, but he's just not for me. He's more like a friend or a little brother. All that said, I did like his route more than I expected to. Some heavy themes again here (torture, trauma responses), but nothing really crazy imo. Crow is a likeable guy, but again more like, in a friendly way. He's not sexy in any way to me. I 100% agree with leaving him for last if you can due to some of the information revealed in his route.

After completing all the routes, there are two more main story chapters unlocked: Full Circle and Auld Lang Syne. I won't really talk about the story much because it's major spoilers. These two stories basically wrap up some loose ends and provide more clarity on the main story threads that exist throughout all routes. I enjoyed them quite a bit (which seems to be an unpopular opinion again). Many people seem to feel these (particularly) Auld Lang Syne rely too heavily on shock value, which I can see, but I liked it. The greatest weakness with these stories is too much happening too fast. Having more time for things to develop would've been worthwhile.

If you're a fan of visual novels, otome games, or crime dramas, it's a game worth playing. The sequel is being released in Japan next month, hopefully we will see a wider release soon!

8/10 4/8/23 - 4/22/23 Switch
Dragon Age: Inquisition 2014

Well, here we are at the end of my Dragon Age marathon. It took me pretty much exactly 2 months of playing these games during the vast majority of my free time. I've had a ton of fun and I'm sad that it's over now. Since this was the last game in my marathon, I loved seeing the effects of my choices in the first two games reflected in the world. Sometimes it was something that made me happy, sometimes it made me sad, sometimes I had to make really difficult decisions because of what I'd done in previous games. But overall, I feel satsified with how it all ended up playing out.

As much as I enjoyed the game, I didn't find the main story quite as captivating as the first two games. Now, this could be because I've already played it. I do remember being pretty enraptured when I first played this game, so I'm trying to not judge too much on this factor. As I played I didn't find myself desperate to move forward and see what happens next. Aside from having played before, I also suspect that some of the tedious parts of this game's design contributed to that feeling.

There is a "power" mechanic in the game: you have to do side quests/exploration to gain power in order to have enough power to unlock your next zone or main story quest. I didn't love this design choice. I should be able to just shotgun the story if I want to. I wouldn't necessarily do so because I tend to try to do everything in a game, but I should have the choice to. There were times I felt frustrated that I was being gated from progessing the seemingly urgent story because I needed to go run around some fields and herd animals back home or gather some herbs. It really hurt the sense of urgency going on. Similarly, I didn't love that the war table missions were time gated. There's just no reason why any of those missions need to take 24 hours in real time. Without all this time-padding, the main story is actually pretty short. There's also just a lot of, frankly, junk content. The shard collecting, boring side quests, etc. The first time I played this game I did absolutely everything, and it was so tedious. This time I just didn't bother. There are some side quests that are worth your time, and I did enjoy those.

As always, I mostly enjoyed the companions in this game. I think I ended up with high approval with everyone except for Vivienne (who I wish we were allowed more options to argue with because she can be just flat out nasty and blinded by her privileged position, yet you can't really call her out on it). My usual go-to team was Dorian, Bull, and Cole, but my inquisitor's closest friends were Dorian and Solas. I romanced Cullen (again), even though I did consider Solas this time out of respect to all the Solasmancers I know and love. But I just couldn't bring myself to not flirt with Cullen, he's too adorable. I was, of course, very satisfied with my choice ♥ Aside from our main companions, there were some returning faces I was so glad to see!!

You will be shocked to read that I played an........ elven mage. I know, it's very unexpected, but what can I say... People say that this game was originally designed with the played only being able to play as a human. And while there are a few places where this might show (why is my Dalish inquisitor asking who Mythal is...), I actually felt that playing as an elf was extremely satisfying. I've also seen complaints that this game is too impersonal, too political, you as a player are too far removed from the action. Luckily for me, I RP'd as an inquisitor who was compelled to lead if not by destiny, then by duty alone. She fully accepted her role and played the part so it all felt right.

Mages were neutered in this game, there is no more healing. No blood magic either. I chose rift mage as my specialization, and it was alright. I found the combat mostly pretty boring. It was usually just something I had to do in order to progress the story. You only have 8 slots for skills in this game, which felt extremely limiting at times. I often had to swap things out depending on the fight. I didn't find myself using the overhead view as much as in the past games, mostly because I was playing on console this time and it wasn't comfortable to use. I'm not sure how I'd feel about it on PC, but I suspect I would've used it more.

The soundtrack for this game is good, but I feel like it has less of an "identity" than the first two games if that makes sense. A lot of this game's soundtrack could be used in other similar open world games and not be out of place. It's much more of a cinematic-type soundtrack. There are a few pieces though that I just love. This one is probably the greatest standout to me. It's beautiful and does so much to enhance the emotion of what's going on in the game at that time. I also love the songs that the bard in the taverns sings!

As for the DLC, I enjoyed them. The Descent and Jaws of Hakkon were fine/pretty good. The Descent was very linear, which I don't have a problem with, though I know some people do. I think with some of the story points touched on in The Descent, it will be interesting to see how it all unfolds in the future. As for Jaws of Hakkon, I enjoyed learning more about the Avvar and the original Inquisition. This DLC really felt like an extension of the main game with how the exploration of the zone and quests worked. I think both of these DLCs are worth the time/money. Now, there's the Trespasser DLC. I was originally going to rate the whole game a 7.5, but Trespasser pulled it up to an 8 because it was just that good. I loved this DLC. The story was amazing, I've been just thinking about it nonstop. I can't wait for the next game, even if I am nervous about how it'll all turn out ;~;

8/10 3/6/23 - 4/4/23 PS4
Dragon Age II 2011

I see people criticize this game a lot for a variety of reasons. Some of it I do feel is warranted, but a lot of it really isn't. Most of its shortcomings were simply things that could've been solved if the game wasn't forced out in such a short time, so it's hard for me to really fault the devs for that. For example, the many reused maps. It was immersion breaking for me to have the exact same layout in different locations over and over again with doors walled off for no good reason.

Again in this game I found the companions to be the strongest point. Well-developed characters who feel like real people. I think I enjoyed pretty much all of the companion quests and I loved the relationships between my companions. The rivalry system was an interesting concept, though personally I somehow managed to be friendly with pretty much everyone except for Sebastian. So I can't say I really explored everything it has to offer. One thing I did miss was in this game was being able to actually talk to my companions outside of their companion quests. I loved the characters and wanted to get to know them more. In Origins and Inquisition, you can find your companions at your home base and talk to them about what's been going on, about their past, etc. and I loved that. I really wish they would've had more conversation available with the companions, but I guess that also could be another sad result of making a game in such a short amount of time.

Our MC, Hawke, was great too! I played a mage (shocking!) and felt that it played well with the main story; for her personality, I mostly went with the charismatic/humorous responses and honestly loved her. I RP'd my Hawke as: pro-mage freedom, a bit hungry for power/status, somewhat selfish but fiercely devoted to those in her inner circle. She had a hard time finding someone to click with for romance... started flirting with both Fenris and Anders, but ended up with Anders in the end. I do not like that this game doesn't give you the option to kiss your LI whenever you want. Let me kiss my boyfriend. Also, I know people have polarized opinions about that Anders kiss scene, but I gotta say... I liked it. The man is passionate and deeply unwell, what's not to like?

The main story was good, but not anything truly spectacular. Again, I give some leeway here because I know the product that we have is not the product the devs wanted to make. I did enjoy the smaller scale of the story and the more personal nature of it. It's not a story about saving the world or even the entire kingdom. It's Kirkwall's story, but mostly it's Hawke's story.

Also wanted to give a mention to the great soundtrack in this game. Some really great tracks, like the Hawke Family Theme or Fenris Theme. Oh and another small thing, I didn't love or hate the combat changes. I think I somewhat didn't like it, it's very simplified but not really that bad. I don't like the simplification of tactics and party control; it was something I really enjoyed about Origins. But again, combat is really not my main focus in most games so it's not that big of a deal to me personally.

On the whole, loved the game, had a great time.

8/10 2/27/23 - 3/5/23 PC
Agent A: A puzzle in disguise 2019

A short and sweet spy/secret agent themed point-and-click puzzle game. I finished this game in one day, probably about 4 hours playtime? Full price is $19.99 and even though I really enjoyed the game, I'd struggle to want to pay $20 for it. I bought the game on sale some time ago, so I feel it was worth what I paid at least.

The puzzles in the first chapter of the game felt very simplistic and, to me, easy. It had me worried that I'd just breeze through the game with little resistance, but the puzzles did step up in difficulty! The game has no in-game camera or journal function, so you will need pen & paper or a camera to take photos of important clues. If they do make a sequel, I'd really like to see those functions included in the game as they seem to lean heavily on "memorize this excessively long code or pattern" type puzzles (which I don't like in the first place).

It's simplicity does give it a bit of a mobile game feeling, but not really in a bad way. In addition to its simplicity at times, there were absolutely some sections of the game that felt a bit tedious, particularly in the last two chapters. On the whole though, I'd definitely recommend it if it's on sale.

7/10 2/19/23 Mac
Dragon Age: Origins - Ultimate Edition 2009 (2010 for DLC)

This game has been sitting loudly in my backlog for years. I played Inquisition when it came out, but never played DAO or DA2. Enjoying the game was something I expected, but I didn't think I'd end up loving it so much! I have so much I could say, but I want to try to be somewhat coherent and concise here (this is a very funny thing to say now seeing how much I ended up writing).

The story and writing overall were great. I think the Landsmeet and Orzammar were my favorite sections of the game, although Haven was pretty cool too. I found the story compelling and was constantly wanting to play more and see what would happen. The extent of the freedom of choice in role-playing here was really cool. Choices you make, who you are, where you come from, etc. all play a role in how the story unfolds in an actually meaningful way. Not like in a lot of other games where you make "meaningful choices" that don't actually change anything. I'm also someone who loves getting lost in the lore of well-developed fantasy worlds, so I had a great time with this. The codex feature provides so much extra lore info, I loved it.

Tied in with my praise on the writing overall, the main cast of characters are absolutely the greatest strength of this game. I felt like something was actually at stake over the course of the story and I really cared about them all! I wanted the best for them and tried to keep them all happy. The party banter was great too. I loved the interactions between Morrigan and Alistair in particular. The friendship my Warden developed with Morrigan was really touching ;~; Some really great voice acting in this game too!

I've only done Alistair's romance, which was well worth it ♥ Genuinely, Alistair opened up parts of my heart I thought were dead and gone, so I feel like that alone is a strong testament to his character and romance. I promise I won't turn this into another Alistair love-blog even though I desperately want to (please see my regular diary for more Alistair ♥). His romance and character journey as a whole tie in very well with the main story, which adds a lot to the experience.

I've seen people pick out the combat as a weaker point, and I can see why some people might feel that way. Maybe take what I say on this topic with a grain of salt, as I often love games with combat people don't love (Arcanum...), and I don't often find combat to be in my top most important factors of whether or not I like a game. Personally, I love tactical/strategy-based combat so this was generally great for me! I loved being able to set specific tactics plans for your companions so that they can manage things more independently when you aren't controlling them. The variety of specializations and number of skills available make it feel like you can really customize builds as you like. I did a Spirit Healer & Blood Mage build for my Warden and had lots of fun with it. All that said, there definitely were times that I felt certain fights were just super punishing with little recourse.

The DLC was, on the whole, less amazing than the base game. Some of them were kind of forgettable; Darkspawn Chronicles is the worst of the bunch. I did wait until I'd finished the base game to play the DLC, even though some of them take place either before or during the main campaign. And I don't mean to say they're bad, they just don't live up to the absolutely incredible experience of Origins itself. Still worth playing though!

I did have lots of issues with crashing (mostly fixed by lower graphics settings, didn't need the patch), occasional issues with bugs, etc. I wasn't able to complete a couple of my companions quests in the Awakening expansion, sometimes characters would talk about things that didn't happen, epilogue cards were sometimes wrong, that kind of thing. None of the bugs were ever game-breaking or really that big of a deal.

Overall, incredible game with little bad to say about it. It's shot high onto my list of best games I've ever played and I'm eager to play Dragon Age 2 next. Well worth the many hours I've put into it.

9.5/10 02/02/23 - 02/18/23 PC
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