Games Finished in 2018

This is a list of all the games, new and old, I completed in 2018. I think a lot of people might have this goal but for 2018 I want to play some of the older games in my backlog. There are plenty of games on the Wii and other consoles that I never got around to finishing and I want to try and make time for them this year. I also want to finish some of the huge games that came out in 2017, with Persona 5 and Nier Automata being at the top of the list.

Here are my lists for past years:

List items

  • (1/18) - With the upcoming release of Valkyria Chronicles 4 I decided to go back to VC3 and finally finish the game after playing the first few chapters years ago. I had a really great time playing through Valyria Chronicles 3, despite being on a handheld, the gameplay from the first game transfers surprisingly well to portable play and the story is engaging throughout with a fun cast to follow. However, as I played through VC3 there was always a nagging feeling that the title could have been a lot better in many ways. While the game’s presentation is solid, it is nowhere near as good looking as the original Valkyria Chronicles, which is to be expected. Many of VC3’s story segments are very sterile, with a majority of the cutscenes being made up of still-images and text boxes, making some of the more dramatic moments in the story a lot less exciting. And while the gameplay is very well done, the map and mission design are a major stepdown from VC1. Unlike the first game, where every chapter had unique maps and mission objectives, VC3 reuses the same handful of maps/mission types over and over again. Even during the final climatic battle, you are playing on a map that has already been used for several other missions despite the battle taking place in a completely different area of the world. The game is also twice as long as VC1 because the game’s design has been restructured to be a lot more grindy. Dozens of missions have nothing to do with the story and are just there to grind out experience, which kind of ruins the game’s pacing at times. Even the game’s story, while entertaining, is heavily reliant on knowledge of the previous two games with Squad 422 going on a Forrest Gump like journey where they conveniently run into every major character and event from the past games. Honestly the story was at its best when it was just concentrating on the new characters instead of trying to shoehorn people from past games into the plot. While I just spent most of this write-up ragging on the game, Valkyria Chronicles 3 really is a great SRPG and none of these flaws detract from the game so much that it isn’t still an enjoyable experience. Valkyria Chronicles 3 may even be the very best the series could be on such limited hardware but when looking at VC3 as a continuation of the first game, there is a lot of lost potential. If VC3 had been the last game in the series, like many fans thought it would be, it would have been a bittersweet sendoff to the Valkyria franchise since the game does so much right while unfortunately not living up to the original game in many ways. Here’s hoping that Valkyria Chronicles 4 will take all of the good additions from 3 and combine them with the presentation and design of the original to finally create a Valkyria sequel without compromises.

  • (2/3) - The gameplay in Celeste is great. The story and characters are sweet. But what really made the game special for me was how well both the gameplay and story informed one another. I empathized with Madeline’s anxiety because the game’s difficulty was literally giving me anxiety. I felt an amazing sense of accomplishment whenever I overcame a level because the characters were right there with me feeling the same thing. Instead of these two aspects of the game feeling separate, like in some titles, they are both inseparably linked and make each other better. But I’ll never finish those B-Side levels. That shit is crazy.

  • (2/21) - Genealogy of the Wars can often be a minefield of inconveniences with a large majority of each chapter being spent simply moving all your units across huge maps and odd design decisions making simple tasks overly complicated, like how you can only trade items to other units by first selling the equipment to a pawnshop and then repurchasing it. However, the game’s scope and ambitious multigenerational story are still impressive all these years later. Combat feels dynamic with the ever-changing battlefield forcing you to always be on your toes and requiring you to keep your army flexible so it can quickly respond to surprise attacks. The story is grand but still remains dramatic on a personal level and every action the characters make in the narrative, as well as the player in the game, is exciting and full of serious consequences. It is easy to see why many Japanese Fire Emblem fans have often praised this game as being the best in the series because, while the recent 3DS titles are more polished on a presentation and gameplay level, none of them can match Genealogy’s epic scale.

  • (2/24) - While I really enjoyed Night in the Wood’s fun dialogue and characters I thought the overall story was unsatisfying. Mae dealing with anxiety and depression mixed with the awkwardness of returning home from college was really compelling. What was not compelling was the game’s shoehorned horror storyline that honestly went nowhere and had no real reason to exist except to give the narrative a contrived goal to work towards. Even the answer to the mystery of why Mae left college ends up being revealed kind of suddenly and without any satisfying buildup or foreshadowing to make the moment meaningful. Night in the Woods was a fun ride and was worth experiencing just for the funny writing and its harsh relatability but overall, I left the game feeling pretty down about the whole experience.

  • (4/15) - Steins;Gate 0 is a sequel that works surprisingly well considering that the original game wrapped its story up nicely. Setting Zero in an alternate future where Okabe doesn’t save Kurisu is an interesting setup. There are a lot of great ideas that are smart evolutions of concepts introduced in the previous game, such as the scientific method previously used to travel through time being repurposed to create an artificial intelligence in a surprising way. Some of the new characters are also fun additions to the cast, especially Maho and Leskinen, and watching Okabe go through PTSD after the traumas he experienced in the first game is genuinely emotional at times. Unfortunately, I felt the game fell flat in more than a few areas. Once again, just like the first game, all of the endings besides the “true ending” feel completely unnecessary and only serve to pad out the experience in a way that destroys the game’s pacing. I really disliked Kagari and thought she added very little to the story besides giving Suzuha something else to worry about, plus her route was horrible. Having the story shift to different characters’ perspectives throughout the game feels jarring and just took attention away from Okabe, although seeing Maho’s perspective was interesting at times. Zero feels surprisingly cheap for a sequel to a franchise as huge as Steins;Gate. Many important scenes at the end of the game have almost no artwork for them and backgrounds/character portraits are heavily reused from the past game. The old portraits especially look out-of-place when displayed next to the new artwork, which has a much more rounded style when compared to the old angular sprites. The story is also full of plot holes as well with several narrative threads seemingly going nowhere. And so on and so forth. Steins;Gate 0 has the pieces of a good sequel but it just isn’t put together well. I still enjoyed my time with the game for the most part but here’s hoping that the anime adaptation currently airing can restructure Zero's ideas into something more polished.

  • (5/9) - Right off the heels of Steins;Gate 0 I finished another visual novel on the Vita, Utawarerumono: Mask of Truth. The game is a direct continuation of Mask of Deception, which was on my list from last year, and my opinion on the game is very similar to the previous title. Mask of Truth has a very nice presentation with strategy RPG segments that are well designed mechanically (although they are often far too easy), and the story is strong despite being covered in a lot of your typical harem anime tropes. Where Mask of Truth improves over Deception is with the frequency of it battles, which occur at a steady clip instead of once every dozen hours as it often felt in Deception. The story itself also has a lot more meat to it with the narrative having a much more obvious conflict and villain while the characters themselves go through some intense emotional struggles that are very compelling to follow. Characters that I thought of as nothing more than comic relief develop into some of my favorite cast members by the end of Mask of Truth. Overall, I was very happy with how Mask of Truth continued and ended Deception’s story, but I still have one major issue with both games and that is the pacing. There is so much filler, fluff and side-tangents in the story it often made me wish the game would just get to the point. It honestly felt like the writers were trying to justify the fact that the story is two games long by artificially elongating the narrative with unnecessary details and time-wasting character moments. I really want to say that the narrative would have been a lot stronger if it had been edited down to just a single game. However, my galaxy brain also wants to say that the story’s most emotional moments wouldn’t have been as impactful if it wasn’t for all of the mundanity that preceded them. In the end I sort of came to terms with the fact that Utawarerumono is not so much a story that you follow but rather a marinating experience where you sit in a fridge covered in anime girls, fantasy politics and pretty music before the story is eventually cooked into something good. You either have to be okay with that or not and I must have been okay with it since I spent 90 hours in combined time playing both games…

  • (7/1) - I’ve been meaning to check out the Disaster Report franchise for a while and after my younger brother gave me his old PlayStation 2 I finally decided to give Raw Danger a try since the franchise was again at the front of my mind thanks to the upcoming fourth game on the PS4. I have to say that the game really got its hooks into me quick. Even with its rough presentation, awkward localization and sometimes clumsy controls, Raw Danger still does a great job of simulating the drama of a disaster situation. And drama is the optimal word, Raw Danger feels like an Asian TV drama mixed with a 70s disaster movie like Poseidon Adventure. One moment you’re dealing with a woman’s strained relationship with her step-mother and the next you’re trying to escape from a collapsing building. Its not realistic but its not cartoonish (although it can certainly be goofy), the game strikes a nice balance between almost being a melodrama and a Hollywood action film that I really enjoyed. Plus, there is always something new happening. Just as things start to feel stall you switch to a new character who has a totally different perspective on the disaster. And the way that your decisions as one character affect your playthrough as the next character was always entertaining to see play out. While Raw Danger is certainly a budget title in many ways it feels like the development team was really punching above their weight with this game and created something unique and charming despite its flaws.

  • (7/4) - I was doing some research on the Dept. Heaven series when I began playing Riviera on a whim. Unlike Raw Danger, the game immediately gave me a bad impression with its overly drawn out tutorial section that made ever battle and story segment incredibly tedious to get through. But once I got to the first real dungeon and had a full party, the game finally clicked with me. Riviera is an interesting combination of an adventure game and your typical turn-based RPG although each element is heavily simplified. You can only take four items into each battle and there are only a small number of things you can interact with outside of battles, which is further limited by the number of interaction points you currently have. Instead of all these limitations leading to a boring game, they actually make for a more interesting experience with there being wrinkles of depth within its simple systems. Every battle becomes like a puzzle where you need to think about which characters and items are the best fit to take on your foe. You also have to think carefully about what you interact with and every decision you make leads to something interesting and effects your path through the dungeon. The story is your basic save-the-world setup but manages to remain engaging thanks to cute characters and well placed dramatic moments. Overall, Riviera was a nice little surprise. Sure, it has plenty of shortcomings, such as aforementioned opening segment, how battles can often go on for too long or how sometimes you simply don’t have the right items to get past a boss, but I’m glad I stuck with the game because I found it to be a refreshingly simplified take on the JRPG genre.

  • (8/5) - Muv-Luv feels like Gilligan's Island if Gilligan spent a 100 episodes getting ready to go to the island, meeting all his friends and doing funny boat stuff, but then the series ends before he ever even leaves to go to the freakin island. I’m really hoping Alternative is as amazing as everyone says it is because despite some of the fun I’ve had with Muv-Luv I am feeling pretty burned at the moment. No meaningful progress was made in the game’s story and it doesn’t even end on an exciting cliff-hanger. I feel like I am pretty used to Japanese games that try to split a single story between two games at this point with the first title often having little story progression and the second having all of the actual content, such as the Trails of Cold Steel games and Utawarerumono, but Muv-Luv feels especially egregious in how literally nothing happens in its first game.

  • (8/17) - Disaster Report is certainly a lot worse than Raw Danger. The game still has some of the charm of its sequel but Disaster Report feels like it is only a few steps away from being a kusoge title. That’s a bit harsh but Raw Danger does feel like a sequel that improves upon the previous entry so much that the original game is no longer relevant. That being said, I still immediately restarted Disaster Report after beating it to get one of the other endings…

  • (10/12) - A fantastic entry in the series and the sequel I had been hoping to play since finishing the first game. Wrote a much larger blog post about my full thoughts.

  • (12/13) - Played Idol Hakkenden on a whim when I was researching Japanese adventure games and was reminded that it was fan translated earlier this year. I vaguely remembered learning about this game on Chrontendo but otherwise went into the game blind and was very entertained. As an actual adventure game, Idol Hakkenden isn’t the greatest with the puzzles often being so silly that their solutions are often similarly random. However, the game’s low difficulty and charm more than makes up for it. Idol Hakkenden is a super goofy fun time with a silly story and cute graphical style that carried me through its albeit short playtime. The game's random sense of humor reminded me a lot of an adventure game my brothers and I made when I was younger and it was just a nice distraction from all the super long RPGs I have been playing this year. Glad I experienced it.

  • (12/17) - Finally, 4 years after finishing First Chapter, I beat Trails in the Sky Second Chapter after starting the game over again on the PSP a few months ago. I’ve already talked about a few Trails games on my lists and I’m afraid I’ll start sounding like a broken record because my opinions on Second Chapter are very similar to the other games in the series. The characters are great, NPCs have amazing fully featured story arcs, RPG mechanics are decent, and the narrative’s pacing is horrible in spots (with a few chapters near the end feeling like real time wasters). I really liked the game but I don’t think I hold it on the pedestal that many fans seem to. While the story certainly has less of the “anime clichés” seen in the Cold Steel games (although I would argue that the Sky games just have different and/or older clichés) I still think I enjoy those games a bit more just because of their quality of life improvements, like fast travel, and superior presentation. Also I think I realized after finishing this game that the Trails series is basically the JRPG equivalent of the Marvel Cinematic universe. Every story arc has an immediate conflict that is resolved but the many mysteries that make up the larger story are never completely answered, making it feel like there is never a “real” conclusion. On one hand it is kind of awesome because you see Falcom foreshadowing events, people and villains that aren’t properly introduced until Cold Steel a decade later but it is also a little frustrating, especially since there are still large chunks of the series untranslated and it often takes 2 or more years for the games to be published in the West. However, I’m still really digging it and I’m willing to ride this Kiseki train to the end of the tracks.

  • (12/28) - A really fantastic game that only really hit me just how great it was during the climax when everything in the story came together.