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Games Finished in 2021

This is a list of all the games, new and old, I completed in 2021.

Here are my lists for past years:

List items

  • (1/14) - Spent a lot of time thinking about how companies treat their employees last year and Kero Blaster helped me to continue thinking about that into 2021. The game doesn’t really have anything specific to say about the subject but the game is clearly themed around employees being overworked and undervalued. Made me think about stuff… Otherwise it is a cute action game made by the creator of Cave Story (one of my favorite games). Happy I finally got around to playing it.

  • (1/16) - I liked Oxenfree well enough. The story and characters were fun but the ending I got wasn't really that satisfying. I understand that the story changes during the second playthrough but I wasn't motivated to play through the whole thing again. Maybe someday.

  • (1/24) - Saw an animated gif of this freeware shooter and thought it looked pretty neat so I played it. Turns out the game itself was smaller in size than the animated gif I saw (which is crazy). Otherwise, it was just a cool tech demo.

  • (3/22) - I started playing Arcturus around November last year and it took me a while to finish the game due to all the technical problems I ran into. Not only would the game randomly crash during certain scenes but, after I reached the 2nd act, the game would crash and erase the information inside the save index file every time I saved my progress. Even once I managed to get to the final dungeon, I realized that I hadn’t leveled up my characters enough and I had run out of items for my most powerful spell. Basically, I cornered myself into an unwinnable situation and I couldn’t go back to a previous save due to the bug I mentioned earlier. The enemies were so powerful that I wasn’t even strong enough to level grind, so I ended up getting someone else’s save file online to get across the finish line. It was a huge hassle and if I hadn’t been playing Arcturus as part of a video project I would not have continued playing it. However, I’m glad I went through it. Arcturus is a very interesting game that has a lot of ambition but it is also super rough around the edges. This may be a weird comparison but the game reminded me of the year I spent taking a script writing class in college. Everyone’s stories in that class had big ideas and many of them were very compelling but they were also unpolished and sometimes strange. Just like those stories, there are moments of brilliance in Arcturus but there are also plenty of areas where the game feels unfinished and janky. There are tons of RPGs that are technically better than Arcturus but I imagine few would possess the same feeling of free-wheeling recklessness I got from Arcturus. I didn’t always have a good time but it was a memorable experience just the same. Plus, it was satisfying in its own way just to finish the game in spite of all of the technical problems I encountered.

  • (3/23) - I’ve said this before but Ys IX feels like a modern day B-Game. A smaller scale title you would have seen on the GameCube or PS2 back in the early 2000s. A game that isn’t that impressive on a graphical or technical level but who’s core gameplay and charming world wins you over. IX’s open world often caused my base-model PS4 to chug but Falcom once again punched above their weight to deliver a really fun action title. Just like all the previous entries in the Ys series, IX tells a pretty straight forward adventure story but the likable cast and intriguing mysteries really drew me in and caused me to become very attached to the city of Balduq. I even got a little emotional when the characters were giving their tearful good-byes to Adol during the game’s finale. IX will always be compared to VIII since the two titles are so similar but I think that IX does a great job of standing on its own as one of the best entries I’ve played in the Ys series. Had a really great time with it.

  • (4/3) - This was a unique one. While Gnosia may look like a typical visual novel on the surface it is far from it. In fact, I would be hesitant to classify it as a VN at all. Instead of reading text for hours, Gnosia is a condensed experience that is broken up into 10 to 15 minute sessions where the player debates against AI controlled characters. The story is actually fairly sparse with the narrative progressing through short dialogue exchanges in-between debates. The meat of the game is the debates themselves. These debates play out like a single player version of a party game and are actually very fun on their own. Every character has their own stats, roles and abilities so each debate always feels unique and interesting. Plus, you start to get a feel for the characters' personalities based on how they behave during debates. It is hard to explain to anyone that hasn't played the game themselves but it is super entertaining. The game does so much with so little and was a great experience throughout.

  • (5/19) - I really loved the Super Nintendo version of Famicom Detective Club Part II. I played that game just as I was discovering my love of Japanese adventure games, learning how to use emulators, and exploring the wide world of fan translations for the first time. The game had a huge impact on me way back in the 2000s and for years I dreamed of being able to play the original game in the series, The Missing Heir. I even mentioned it in an old list I made on Giantbomb back when I first joined the site over a decade ago. Now, all these years later, I’ve finally played through The Missing Heir thanks to the recently released remake on the Switch. And… the game is rather crusty. The remake’s new presentation is fantastic, containing lots of animations and art variety, but the gameplay itself and the script seems to have been left unaltered from the Famicom original. In some ways I prefer this. I couldn’t experience the original game so I appreciate this opportunity to play the game with its content pretty much unchanged besides graphics. However, you can tell this was a game originally made in 1988. The game often requires the player to exhaust every option available to them in order to advance the story or click on commands in an arbitrary order that can be frustrating. For example, I was in one situation where the game clearly wanted me to meet a woman in a specific location at 5pm but she wasn’t there despite the protagonist saying he thought it was 5pm. What I ended up having to do was ask a different character certain questions in a certain order which led to them commenting about the current time and that statement caused the woman to finally appear. All of this is not uncommon for an adventure game of FDC’s vintage but it was still a struggle to get through at times. Luckily, in 2021, it is very simple to just look up a walkthrough if you ever get really stuck. Plus, the overall story is surprisingly compelling and motivated me to play through the whole game. Character’s dialogue is often terse but there is still a lot of personality in the game, especially in some of the optional dialogue, and the mystery is well done. It was also fun to learn about the protagonist’s backstory in this game. His origins were something that was hinted at in Part II but was never explained so finally getting his full story was surprisingly satisfying for a long-time fan like me. So overall, even though The Missing Heir could be frustrating at times, I ended up enjoying the game quite a bit. Finally experiencing this game for myself was great and I’m really looking forward to playing the remake of Part II since it has been over a decade since the last time I played it to completion.

  • (5/25) - Playing through this game again was a real treat and the new presentation is great. There were certain characters who's designs I liked better in the Super Nintendo version but overall the game looks very nice with the remake adding a lot of additional graphics and animations that were not in the original. Also, it was cool to play this right after finishing The Missing Heir because you can see all the little improvements the game made over its predecessor. While there are still moments where you have to click on every option in order to advance the story, progression overall is much smoother and the writing is much more flavorful. Playing both Famicom Detective Clubs this month was a ton of fun and I hope Nintendo continues to make games with MAGES in the future if they are of a similar quality to these remakes.

  • (6/8) - I’ve been wrestling with Ao no Kiseki for about two years now. I played the previous game, Zero no Kiseki, back in 2019 and pretty much started Ao almost right after it. The plan at the time was to hopefully finish the game before Cold Steel III launched later that year but, to make a long story short, I ended up pausing my playthrough of Ao and skipping ahead to Cold Steel III. After that I started to experiance some burn out with the Trails series. I had played a bunch of entries in a row so I decided to take a break from the series. But, after not playing the game for months, I finally decided to finish Ao no Kiseki earlier this week. As I reacquainted myself with the game I began to remember why I enjoyed the Crossbell games but also why I dropped Ao in the first place. I compared Zero to the first season of a TV show and Ao definitely has the vibes of a slightly disappointing follow up season. You see all your favorite characters return and, for the most part, you are having a good time but it also doesn’t quite live up to the first season. I think the reason I feel that way has a lot to do with the burn out I was experiencing so I don’t think most people will have that opinion. There really were a lot of things I liked about Ao. For example, visiting Mishelam was a highlight for me and the final twist at the end was a fun surprise. But trying to play so many entries in the Trails series at once was not a good idea. Instead of trying to power through the Crossbell games, I think it would have been better to have just played Cold Steel III like I wanted to and experience the Crossbell games at a later date. Sure, I would have missed out on a lot of references but playing the games the way I did just made the experience feel like homework. In the future I'll try to play through the series at my own pace.

  • (6/20) - I got Blaster Master Zero around the same time I purchased my Switch almost 4 years ago but only played it for an hour or two. After seeing some news about the third game, I decided to start over and finally play through the whole thing. I had a good time with it. There were some frustrating moments. For example, I really dislike anytime I had to jump to a ladder midair because I could never consistently get my guy to attach himself to the ladder. However, I still enjoyed myself and really liked the final moments of the game. I got the weird feeling while playing Zero that I would have absolutely loved this game if I had played it as a kid in the 90s. Cool vehicles. Tones of collectable equipment. Dramatic showdown with an evil version of yourself. Blaster Master has all the hallmarks of something I would have been obsessed with when I was 10 or 8. I can see why the game stuck with so many people that grew up playing the original NES game.

  • (7/6) - For years I thought this game looked dumb and took the Valkyria franchise in a bad direction. Then I actually played it. Valkyria Chronicles 2 has gotten so much crap over the years for being a disappointing following up to the first game. It's reputation was so negative that I never bothered playing the sequel despite loving the series. However, now that I've played it myself, it really isn't that bad. I even enjoyed it. Sure the maps are smaller, the story is sparse, and mission objectives are often recycled but it actually works very well as a portable title. I complained about a lot of these aspects when I first played VC3 but, over time, I've realized that these changes to the VC formula actually make the game much better for portable play. VC4, for example, has the same structure as VC1 but it was sometimes hard to play portablely on the Switch since missions were so long. They were better suited for long play session in front of a TV. And honestly, besides the setting, VC2 is almost the same exact game as VC3 which everyone loves. The only thing I truly didn't like about VC2 was the way you had to grind like crazy if you wanted to promote a unit to a new class (something that was fixed in VC3). I feel like if VC2 had been called "Valkyria Academy", instead of being marketed as a true sequel to VC1, it would have been received much better by fans upon its initial release. But anyway, VC2 is certainly not the best Valkyria title but I'm glad I finally played it for myself.

  • (8/13) - Played the PC-6001 version.

  • (8/22) - Murder Club was the first big hit written and designed by Rika Suzuki, the woman behind Hotel Dusk and Trace Memory. Since I'm a fan of her work at Cing, I decided to play through Murder Club. The game is pretty neat. Unlike a lot of Japanese adventure games, Murder Club is almost completely nonlinear and requires the player to go through every step of the crime solving process to find the culprit. I was initially very invested in what was happening but, as you would expect from an older title, progression eventually got so obtuse that I had to break out a guide. Even then it was still pretty hard to finish Murder Club due to some arbitrary and random road blocks. I'm still happy I experienced it since Murder Club has a lot of great ideas that I would love to see in some more modern adventure games.

  • (9/3) - I only finished The Great Ace Attorney: Adventure so far but my opinion on the first game is still pretty much the same from when I played the fan translation back in 2019. The writing, puzzles, setting, characters, presentation, and pretty much everything else is fantastic but the game just never feels like it gets into the meat of its narrative. So much time is spent setting things up which makes the entire game almost feel like the first third of a story rather than a complete experience. Even the final case doesn't have the same climatic feeling one would expect from Ace Attorney. However, since I was already expecting this due to my past playthrough, my second time experiencing The Great Ace Attorney was much more positive and I was able to enjoy the moment to moment story instead of getting bent out of shape about the pacing. Also having the sequel available right away also helped make the sudden ending feel less annoying. I'm very much looking forward to Playing The Great Ace Attorney 2 to see if the sequel can wrap up the story in a satisfying way.

  • (9/11) - Was looking for a game to play with my brother and decided to pick this up when it was on sale. I wasn't expecting a lot from this game but it really charmed me. Not only is it an entertaining co-op experience but the gameplay has so much variety that it is hard to ever be bored. Just when you are starting to get tired of one area or one gameplay style the game will throw you into something completely different. I was also really impressed with how there are a lot of chill-out moments in the game. Of course there are side-games that can be played but I really enjoyed the moments where the game just lets you hang out in an area for a bit (such as the spa in the garden level or the snow town). Also I got a weird feeling of nostalgia from this game. Most of the levels involve running around giant household objects and toys which gave me a lot of flashbacks to my childhood that I wasn't expecting. So yeah, good game. Had a great time playing it with my brother.

  • (9/16)

  • (9/21) - I had a good time with this game but I think it is a good example of how variety is not always a good thing. RE8 introduces so many vastly different locations so quickly that I feel like I never got the chance to fully enjoy them. Characters and villains get introduced and then are quickly killed off so the story can move on to the next thing. I feel like each area could have been its own game but you only spend an hour or two in each of them. It weirdly made it difficult for me to get attached to the world like I did in RE7 and the remake of RE2. However it was still a fun time overall even if the plot gets really silly at the end.

  • (9/30) - I was so excited when this game was announced in 2018. One of my favorite franchises was being revived after over a decade of silence. But I was ultimately pretty disappointed by it. I have so many thoughts on the game that I could write an essay on the subject but instead I'll just say this... The very first Sakura Wars game is a title that is greater than the sum of its parts. The story, characters, and gameplay don't seem like much if you look at them individually but they come together in a really fun way to create a unique experience. Shin Sakura Wars has the opposite problem. Everything about the game seems like it would be good on paper but it doesn't come together. It isn't a total failure or anything and the development team clearly put a lot of effort into the title but it just didn't resonate with me. But that's just my opinion as a long time fan. I'm sure people new to the franchise will have a different take on the game. If nothing else, the soundtrack by Kohei Tanaka slaps.

  • (10/18) - I bounced off the Samus Returns remake really hard when I tried to play it on the 3DS back in the day. I'm not even sure why I disliked it so much at the time but whatever Metroid II did wrong, Metroid Dread gets right. Everything from the gameplay to the presentation was fantastic and it really brought back memories of playing the GBA games when I was a kid (my favorite entries in the series). There are certain parts that fell a little short for me such as the game of Twister you have to play with your fingers in order to perform certain actions and the soundtrack being underwhelming but overall it was a great time.

  • (10/23)

  • (11/20) - Finally managed to get my hands on a PS5 this month and the first game I completed was the Final Fantasy VII Remake Intermission DLC. The story was a great bitesize experience that contained everything I loved about the main game. Yuffie and Sonon were great characters. The combat was awesome. Presentation was top notice. And Fort Condor was a surprisingly engaging mini-game. I had a great time and it reminded me why I loved FF7R so much last year.

  • (12/12) - This was a cute little thing that served as a great pack-in title. I didn't have a PlayStation as a kid, so I didn't think I had a lot of nostalgia for the platform, but this game still managed to give me plenty of warm fuzzy feelings.

  • (12/14) - To be totally honest, I’m still parsing out my feelings on The Great Ace Attorney 2. Gonna have to ruminate on this one a bit.