Games Played in 2013
Games I beat in 2013 or played enough of to know I didn't want to finish them.
Games I beat in 2013 or played enough of to know I didn't want to finish them.
This isn't the first game I played in 2013, but it was the first game I finished. Definitely a great way to start the year. After all the hype, I was a little worried that this might derail my 2012 games of the year list a little bit, but there's no risk of that. Frog Fractions is a totally crazy experience that I urge pretty well everyone to check out, especially since it's so short. It constantly surprises, pushes a lot of weird nostalgia buttons, it's free, and you should be able to finish it within an hour or two. There is really no reason to not play Frog Fractions.
Played about 1/3 of the story in January. Dropped due to getting a Vita and starting Persona 4: Golden. Definitely not as difficult as the first game (a very good thing), but I don't think I'll ever finish it. The story is interesting, but I don't think I'll ever like performing and repeating fake operations enough to get to the bottom of it. I may pick this up again later, but it's somewhat doubtful. Glad I picked it up in the bargain bin for $5.
Completed in about 75 hours on Very Easy. I honestly thought I'd never play Persona 4 again. While I enjoyed P4 enough to finish it, and I did enjoy it, the fact that you didn't get to keep your player level on New Game + always irked me. I wanted to do a playthrough focusing on s.links without worrying about dungeon crawling too much, and the Very Easy mode in Golden finally allowed me to do that. I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with a lot of the characters I missed in the original version, and I thought that a lot of the new bonus content was interesting (save for anything involving Marie). Atlus did a great job with this re-release and, despite having to motivate myself to finish a bit before the end, I had a great time with it. It will never, ever live up to Persona 3 for me, however.
Fire Emblem: Awakening is my first foray into the Fire Emblem series. Actually, it's my first foray into strategy RPGs. I've been looking for a way in to strategy RPGs for a long time now, but it's a difficult type of game to broach given that no one makes strategy games for babies and they are always for "hardcore fans of the genre." I was first intrigued by the art style and the production values, but it was Patrick's statements on the Bombcast about stepping outside your gaming comfort zone that really convinced me to try this game. I am very, very glad that I went for it. While the story wasn't particularly interesting, the game play in FE:A is impressive. The battles are fun, challenging and satisfying and the relationship system actually makes grinding pretty amusing. It is, essentially, a strategy game with social links. Sure, some of that content is a little silly, but it's also often quite funny and heartwarming. Add in the awesome art style, decent music, and all around excellent production values and FE:A is something very special. After this introduction, I'm definitely excited to play more SRPGs down the line. Re-played this in September and still love it.
Enjoyed this for something like 10 hours in March, then it hard froze on me and I lost 2 hours of progress. Yes, partly my fault for not saving, but I just did not have the patience to go back and bother replaying those two hours (was in a very bad mood when this happened). I enjoyed the changes they made, but the game runs like crap, which is odd since I don't remember there being any technical issues with Atelier Totori (the last game I played in the Atelier series). I may go back to this some day, but my track record with going back to things I've given up on once is not all that great.
Replayed this after watching the first few episodes of Jason Scott's documentary on BBSes. Brilliant as always, and one of my favourite games of all time.
Interesting visual novel about suffering from depression. As someone who spent several years in a relationship with a man who had depression, I found it to be pretty stunningly accurate. This may not be your cup of tea, but it's a great mental health PSA delivered in a pretty amazing format. Definitely glad I checked this out after hearing about it, and I will probably recommend it to a few of my friends that I think might find it as interesting as I did.
Played the first 5 hours of this game in April. I was never particularly interested in Lost Odyssey, but it was given to me as a gift by a girlfriend who really enjoyed it. While the story seemed interesting to me, I found the battles to be long and boring, the encounter rate so low as to make grinding very tedious when it was necessary (something that totally screwed me over for the first major boss fight), and the voice acting was pretty terrible. I desperately wanted to like Lost Odyssey, but I just couldn't stick with it.
Played 4 character routes (and may finish the rest later) throughout the first half of the year. Probably the best iOS Otome game I've played so far. While the stories are simple, they are far more believable and a little deeper than what you might find in a lot of other Otome games on mobile platforms. Definitely recommended for fans of this genre if you're willing to pay the $3.99 for each character route.
Played about 10 hours of the HD version in April during my "Cathryn drops 'em all" period. In my opinion, Okami (along with Digital: A Love Story) is one of the best cases anyone can make for games being art. The visuals are beautiful and crafted with the kind of care that we just don't see all that often, and the story isn't too shabby either. For me, however, this game just isn't all that fun to play. I couldn't really get in to the combat and while the celestial brush is an interesting idea, I just don't find it works all that well in practice. This is definitely going on my shelf for picking up at a later date, but I can't see myself finishing it any time soon.
Played about 15 hours of this game in April, again during my "Cathryn drops 'em all" period. I thought this game might be a solution to the problem I've had this year with not sticking with things, but it just wasn't the right choice. While I loved last year's fashion management sim, "Style Savvy: Trendsetters," farm management just really isn't for me. This game has a very long tutorial and the game gave me so little to do that I wound up getting bored. The addition of more content didn't make the game any more interesting for me, unfortunately. Also, I found that the controls were a little odd. The camera is controlled by the d-pad and your character movement is controlled by the analog stick, which made placing items very difficult and imprecise.
Played about 10 hours of P3P in May. Had a bad couple days at the office and needed a sure distraction. I'm beginning to wonder if and when I'll actually play this game all the way through again.
Was playing this game at my office during May and June. Work got so busy that I had to put it down and I'm on hiatus with it. Was also a bit stuck on the Hell level and just needed to take a break. Will likely finish this before 2013 is over and will update my thoughts on it later. Very interesting and innovative.
Finished replaying PWAA in early July after playing it off an on for a couple months. I've played the first entry in this series quite a number of times and while I always enjoy it, I found it a little difficult to get through this time. I think it's going to be awhile before I pick it up again (hopefully at least a few years), but I wanted a good refresher before AA5 is released in the fall. Will hopefully make it through at least my favourite cases of the next two games before the new game comes out.
Played quite a few hours of the new Animal Crossing game from its release until some time in July. While I understand the charm and appeal of the Animal Crossing series, this type of game really doesn't do it for me. As I said earlier this year in my short discussion about Harvest Moon: A New Beginning, loving Style Savvy: Trendsetters last year had me thinking that management sims could be a good genre for me. Unfortunately, that hasn't really turned out the way I had planned. Animal Crossing is cute and has a lot of fun characters, but the collecting, customizing, building, and collecting elements are just not all that appealing for me. I need a little more gameplay than that to show up on a regular basis. I think I'll be giving this style of game a bit of a pass for awhile (or at least until the next Style Savvy game comes out).
Played a bunch of Style Savvy: Trendsetters in July and then a bit more in the fall, mostly in response to my personal disappointment of being unhappy with Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Enjoyed the new summer clothes, but am still not thrilled with how time passes in that game. Unlike Harvest Moon, the game follows the real calendar, so you don't get to experience different seasons of clothing unless you play it during several different times of the year or mess with your system clock. Still, it was super fun to play this in conjunction with Shin Megami Tensei IV, which will probably take me the rest of the year to finish.
Played roughly 10-13 hours of this game in July and dropped it to start Shin Megami Tensei IV. While I was enjoying Ni no Kuni, it wasn't really grabbing me as much as I would have liked. The whole experience felt just kind've okay. Sometimes kind've okay is good enough to motivate you to finish something, but when a game is 60 hours long and you're not super enthusiastic about it, it can be very hard to continue. I think Ni no Kuni has a lot of charm. The art style is gorgeous and Drippy is one of the most fun sidekick characters I've seen in quite a long time. The music is also quite good -- performed by the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra. The problem is that the battle system just isn't all that much fun. These days I feel like there is just no excuse to release a game where the battle system forces you to cycle through crap loads of menus and run away from enemies at the same time. I wonder if developers think that battles will be too easy if the game is paused while the player is hunting through menus. If so, it's totally ridiculous. Shin Megami Tensei IV, for example, demonstrates that it is possible to create an engaging turn-based battle system that is complex and difficult without being cheap. The Tales series is great on the other side with their action ccmbo battle systems. Just bloody pick one -- the middle road just isn't working anymore.
Replayed on the last day of July and the first day of August to refresh my memory on the story in preparation for the release of its sequel: Hate Plus. I don't love Analogue as much as I loved Digital, but its story is beautifully crafted and a terribly interesting choice for subject matter. Played 3 of the 5 endings and am satisfied that I'm ready for the sequel.
Played at the very beginning of August while waiting for the release of Tales of Xillia. I quite enjoyed Machinarium. It was just the right length, the puzzles were fun and satisfying, it was charming, and the music was fantastic. Very glad that I picked this up for free on PS+
Completed Jude's route in 50 hours in August. Started a second playthrough as Milla, but decided to drop it for now in order to give Tales of Vesperia another try. I enjoyed Tales of Vesperia a great deal and am looking forward to its sequel, but it does have a fair share of problems. The combat is very fast and fun and while I sighed a bit when I saw the TP system had been retained from Vesperia, but it never got in my way. Unlike some, I quite liked the fact that I could button mash my way through the combat if I felt like being a bit brain dead. I also liked Xillia's characters quite a bit, and found them to be a nice mix of tried and true shounen anime archetypes and new, surprising ones. The overarching story of Xillia was serviceable, but I think the writers of the Tales series need some work. While the characters had interesting and natural development individually, some of them didn't fit particularly well in to the story as a whole. It's hard to say much without spoiling things, but I'd say that Alvin is the best example of this. Alvin's motivations are pretty central to the events of the main story and the way that his development is handled was ham-fisted and ridiculous. I also think that too much of the story is hidden in side events, which I know is a convention for the series, but I think some of the story could have been a bit better explained in general. Lastly, I was very disappointed that there was no cooking or item crafting, which I've always enjoyed in other Tales titles. While I think that Xillia has some problems, I had a blast playing it and I can't wait to see more character development for the entire cast in Tales of Xilla 2.
Loved it. Amazed by it. I don't even know what to say. Will hopefully replay before GOTY blogging.
Completed the 3 major routes just after the game was released in August. I enjoyed Hate Plus and I remain a huge fan of Christine Love's writing, but I felt that this sequel did have a few problems. Overall, Hate Plus has a significant number of mechanical improvements. It isn't really all that different from Analogue in its game play (it still mostly consists of reading documents from the Mugunghwa), but the addition of character profiles linked to their names in the texts and better menu navigation made Hate Plus feel much more fluid and user friendly. The story, which focuses on how a new dynasty and political system originated on the Mugunghwa, was interesting and I enjoyed experiencing it, but there were several continuity problems and gaps in the narrative (mostly the motivations of some key characters) that I had a lot of trouble working through. In other games, those story issues may not have been so problematic, but in a sophisticated story such as the one that Love has created in Analogue and Hate Plus, these things tend to stand out more than they would anywhere else. All in all, I was glad to see how the society Love introduced in Analogue started out, and changes to the user interface and game play made that a pleasant experience, but there were just too many gaps in the story for me to enjoy Hate Plus as much as I enjoyed Analogue.
Played a few hours of this after finishing Tales of Xillia, but didn't really get anywhere. The slower battle system was a lot to adjust to having just finished Xillia. I am determined to do a full play through of this game at some point, but I'm just not sure when that's going to happen.
Played the first 3 cases of this game in July when I was trying to replay all of the Ace Attorney games in preparation for V. Unfortunately, I was a bit spoiled this summer and a bunch of titles that I was really excited about prevented me from finishing this. I may continue if I have some spare time before Ace Attorney V comes out (still no exact release date on that), but we'll see.
I was not really expecting to like Sweet Fuse. I had planned to buy it mainly to support Aksys in their efforts to release Otome games in North America, but I wasn't really excited about it at all. I felt like it was an odd choice for localization as it didn't have much of a Western following, even with the most die-hard Otome game fans that I know -- a game like Uta no Prince-Sama or even one of the Starry Sky titles would surely be better, given that they already have anime series and legions of Western fans. Those Aksys people though, they know what they're doing. Sweet Fuse is an utter joy from start to finish. Yes, I liked some routes better than others (Wakasa and the secret character were pretty bad for me where Shirabe, Shidou and Meoshi were my favourites), but the general story was interesting enough to make me want to finish all 7 routes to see the story from the perspective of each character. Sweet Fuse works the same way many Android and iOS Otome visual novels do. There's a certain amount of common material at the beginning of the game (with very slight variations given whoever you're pursing of course), and then at a certain point, you wind up breaking away from the main story to go on one character's route. Each story is fairly unique and the development of most of the characters over the course of that story is usually pretty reasonable and interesting. There are a few WTF moments here and there, but overall, given the outrageous nature of the main story, it all works pretty well. The game is very user friendly, it gives you good feedback on decisions you've made, and backtracking is easy, though I'd generally recommend that you save at all decision points so you can go back to them later. While I think that some of the stories in Hakuouki had a little more emotional depth, I had way more fun playing Sweet Fuse. I think any fan of visual novels would have a good time with this game, even if not particularly interested in the Otome aspects.
Picked this up in October when it was free on PSN and played about 27 hours. I enjoyed KoA, but it just wasn't interesting enough for me to keep going with it. The visual design of KoA is gorgeous and aesthetically pleasing to me in a manner that is different than a lot of other fantasy RPGs. The voice acting is also quite good and while the combat wasn't terribly complicated, that's probably best for someone like me, who prefers turn-based over action-style game play. On the face of it, Amalur is a pretty interesting world, but it's terribly superficial. The side quests are nearly all fetch quests of some kind (and really most of the story quests were pretty well the same from what I saw) and there just wasn't enough of anything to make me want to keep going. I found that many of the abilities in the game were pretty useless: I never needed any potions I couldn't buy cheaply and I couldn't get materials to craft weapons or armor that were better than the drops I was getting. Money was terribly easy to come by and there wasn't really any good reason to want more of it, save to buy new equipment every once in awhile. Overall, Amalur's main problem is that there isn't really anything to strive for or achieve and the story didn't interest me enough to want to rush through it. I did enjoy the time I spent with it, however, and I'm glad I was able to check it out as I had always been quite curious about it.
Played this for a few hours in October after giving up on Kingdoms of Amalur. The combat seemed interesting, I love the art style, and I had heard enough good things about the story to want to give this more time, but the UI is awful and the voice acting is probably the worst I've ever heard in an English localization. Dropped very, very quickly.
Played up to the first boss encounter in late October (roughly 2 hours) and subsequently dropped this title. While I know that there are some people out there in the community who love Nier and believe that the story makes it worth putting up with the game's numerous flaws, the combat and load times were terrible for me. Knowing that the vast majority of the game was going to be repeating what I experienced in the first two hours made this a sure drop. It's a shame too, because the voice acting and music are both pretty damned good and I think there's something very interesting about the game's use of perspective in different environments.
Played about 10 hours just after release.
I'm starting to realize that the main Shin Megami Tensei series just isn't for me. As much as I've enjoyed some of the side series in the SMT universe, I find the main series games to be a little tedious. Too much dungeon crawling and not enough story. I found the dungeon exploration to be particularly frustrating as the maps were difficult to navigate and it was sometimes difficult to tell where you were going. The combat in this game is fantastic, however, and a great example of how turn-based combat can be quite exciting if well-designed.
Completed in November.
The environments are beautiful and designed and drawn with a great deal of care. The art style is a little similar to that in Bastion in that it has a painterly quality to it. The story is quite simple, but it is emotionally effective and really quite touching. The most interesting aspect of the story for me was essentially how the creators attempted to convey emotion through the game's controls, particularly toward the end of the game (I would give more specific examples, but I don't want to spoil them for anyone who might drop by here). I have been talking with a friend lately about narrative in video games and about how I think that developers could be doing a lot more to think creatively about how video games can tell a story, and I think that the people at Starbreeze who worked on this game have done an excellent job of exploring the way that controls and a game's story can work together. I'm excited to see more from this studio in the future.
Played a few endings in November.
I think that what the developers are trying to get across in the game is very interesting and often pretty hilarious, but I just don't really think it's all that fun to play. I honestly can't really express what I don't like about it and it's surprising to me that I don't really enjoy playing it, particularly since I loved Gone Home so much. Gone Home, which is one of my favourite games of the year, is also a first person adventure game that plays with video game story telling and subverting player expectations. I wish I could pinpoint what really works for me in one but doesn't in the other, but I just can't put my finger on it.
Completed in November. Will eventually start in on the DLC cases.
I've written pretty extensively in my blog about this game. It's pretty awesome.
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