Backlogging is a real thing for gamers. I even have a whole subset of my blog dedicated to backlogging. It’s also a totally empty space because finding time to actually play through old games proves harder and harder each year. Not only are games always innovating with new gameplay and visuals, but as an entertainment medium, the gaming landscape has never been so populated and lonely at the same time. There are more games than ever before, less time to play said games and an increasing number of titles moving from the front of my gaming queue to the dregs of a folder I have on my PS4 called, you guessed it, “Backlogging.” It, much like the tab on my site, has seen no movement since its creation.
That being said, since it’s a slow start to 2018, I’d like to share this addendum to my best-of 2017 list. These are the games I definitely didn’t finish last year, but would like to write about just so their creators or you reading this know, I make time for the little guys. So here are my honorable mentions for games I would love to go back and complete, but probably won’t.
I didn’t pick up Pyre until the beginning of December last year, when it was on sale during the PSN Holiday game sale. And I’m sure glad I did. The creators, Supermassive Games are known for their attention to detail in their lore and excellent narratives. Pyre continues this tradition with excellent results. The game of Pyre itself could almost be classified as a narrative adventure, as most of your time is spent reading dialogue and moving a cursor around various screens and settings. If you’re one of those lowly types that doesn’t like to read in your games, you should still check out Pyre — mainly because the dialogue, character progression and lore are topnotch examples of a development team who cares about their players’ time.
That’s not even touching on the engaging 3-on-3 dodgeball/rugby/basketball/football sim you play as the main brunt of the action. Without spoiling any of the story, you, as the player, don’t actually represent any of the characters you control in the game. Your character is an omniscient presence discovered by a group of outcasts as they trek through the desert on some kind of pilgrimage. They inform you that they’ve been searching for you because you’re a “Reader.” You quickly learn that reading is forbidden in the world of Pyre, and these outcasts have learned of a way to make it back to the prosperity of city life, but it requires breaking that pesky “no reading” law. The course of events sets out so you play the aforementioned sports ball game against others trying to escape exile.
That’s literally all I can say about the game as I’m only a few hours into it, but I have a strong feeling that I’ll revisit Pyre and finish what I started — because what’s there is damn good.
Besides my computer constantly changing the spelling of “Splatoon 2” to “Platoon 2,” I’ve enjoyed almost everything about this “sequel” to the original Nintendo online shooter for the Wii U. Sequel is in quotes, because while the game received new maps, new modes and new settings from the prequel, the gameplay remains largely untouched. That’s great news for me and Splatoon 2 because I only played the original once, so it was a whole new experience for me.
All you need to know about Splatoon 2 is that it’s an online shooter where you try and cover multiplayer arenas in the color of your team using paint rollers, squirt guns, giant ass brushes and super-soaker-like sniper rifles in a limited amount of time. The more you play, the more outfits, weapons and unlockables you…er…unlock. The game oozes style and the shooting is tight and responsive — even if you don’t “get” the motion controls. Which, to some, are the best thing in a shooter since scoreboards and to others (like me) they’re for people who don’t have the dexterity to pull off a headshot without help. Don’t @ me
While I technically “completed” Splatoon 2, the main story isn’t the draw here. It’s basically a tutorial to show you the ropes of getting splatted online a bunch. The only reason I’m including Splatoon 2 on this list is because the two weeks I spent playing it, I thoroughly enjoyed it and think it’s a wise investment for Switch owners.
Steamworld Dig 2
If I’m being honest, one of my favorite genres is the “Metroidvania” game. You know, usually 2D side-scrollers where your open world is finite and there are power-ups and secrets hidden all over the dang place. If I’m still being honest, the genre I’m growing most tired of is the “Metroidvania” game. Thankfully Steamworld Dig 2 has a fresh enough take on this over-saturated 2D genre.
It’s a joy to look at, the music score contains some of the chillest driving tunes in a game I’ve played and the trickle of power-ups and upgrades nails the “just five more minutes” loop of games like Civilization. With tight controls, a great loop of “explore, return to town, sell shit, upgrade shit, repeat” and super stylized gameplay, there’s a really good chance this will be one of the games on this list that I’ll actually complete.
Night in the Woods
I was really excited to play Night in the Woods when it came out in March of 2017…then Zelda happened. Then I forgot about Night in the Woods until every website and podcast I frequent and consume added it for consideration on their top 10 lists. I didn’t even realize that I’ve been following one of the game’s creators @bombsfall on Twitter, and he’s a dirty socialist like me. So, naturally, I crammed this download in with two weeks left in the month of December. And as a fan of quality writing, Night in the Woods has it in strides.
The game is a coming-of-age tale that centers around a 20-something anthropomorphized cat named Mae whose parents forget to pick her up at the bus station after she suddenly arrives home from college. You don’t know why Mae left college to return to her middle-American town of working class stiffs and rural decay. What you do know is that Mae has a chip on her shoulder about something, as do her friends who haven’t seen her in months. The game is very simplistic but pretty with just enough real-life dialogue and believable elements to keep the player engaged while the story floats along.
I stopped playing shortly after reconnecting with a couple of Mae’s old high school buddies, but really want to go back to find out the mystery of the severed arm, why Mae left college and what she hopes to find out about herself by reconnecting with the townies who never left home. But let’s be real, I probably won’t. At least I’m writing about it, though!
If there’s any game on this list that stings the most, it’s Nioh. It was one of the early 2017 game releases in a sea of stellar early 2017 game releases. The pedigree behind this game is super impressive — made by Team Ninja (makers of one of the arguably best action game series: Ninja Gaiden), published by Sony as a PS4 exclusive, and gameplay ripped from Dark Souls, Diablo and Destiny (the Three D’s, if you will? You don’t have to.). So why did I bounce off it?
Blame Yakuza 0 for that.
What I did experience of Nioh was a AAA title that actually allowed the player to utilize the PS4 Pro by selecting a framerate or resolution option (always go framerate, you savage — even with a 4K TV), myriad gameplay options, challenging levels, excellent atmosphere and choice-ass weapon selection. Not completing, or at least spending more time with this game ranks up there with me not finishing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Like Hideo Kojima’s last Metal Gear, I know full well I would love Nioh and gush over it to all my friends, but goddamn, nothing sucks more than investing 10 hours into a game and revisiting it 8 months later only to ask yourself “how the fuck do I play this thing?”
Maybe if I lose my job and can’t afford new games I can jump back into Nioh, but most likely I’ll just shit myself out of fear of being ground to dust by the cogs of a capitalistic society.
Had a lot of fun with it for a month and now I don’t touch it. It’s the fidget spinner of 2017. At least it made Bungie a shit ton of money.
I was going to leave it at just that, but I have to mention that the tightest, most satisfying shooting ever is embedded in the veins of Destiny 2. Every weapon feels fucknominal, headshots blow up skulls real good and executing a floating-ass double jump or hover into a headshot on a Cabal jerk is pretty tits. I just wish the spoils and the intense grind of Destiny 2 felt worth it. Granted I don’t have a group of friends to complete raids or nightfall strikes with, or to generally play with at all — so maybe if I was able to experience that endgame content I’d feel differently, but as it stands, Destiny 2 just doesn’t have enough to keep me coming back for more. Hopefully some DLC or major update will urge me to pick it back up, but that’s doubtful. It’s just really good and I feel like it should get at least a shout out for dragging other shooters through the mud.