List of Shame 2021: My Backlog Needs a Shot in the Arm

Here we are again, with another list of backlog games I'll possibly get around to this upcoming year. I'm hoping the relatively lean 2020 means I can finally catch up a little, though looking at this list that seems unlikely. Well, it's not like always having something to play is the worst problem to have coming out of 2020.

Until someone can jab me with a needle (it could have the Covid vaccine or air in it at this point, either's good) I'll be stuck indoors playing the following.

Here's a refresher for the B-W-C system I use for these lists:

  • [B]acklog items are those that I own but have yet to play. My actual backlog is a lot longer, but I've selected the twenty most pressing.
  • [W]ishlist items are games I've yet to purchase but have been sufficiently convinced into someday doing so. It's once again split between last year's best games and those from years prior I've been waiting to get in a sale, fifteen apiece.
  • [C]ompleted games are those I've finished since creating the list on 1/1/2021. I slipped from 66% completion in 2019 to only 52% in 2020, so I'm looking to reverse the trend this year. If nothing comes out because of the lockdown, that'll make things easier (despite being a huge bummer for everyone else).

List items

  • [B] High Priority.

    Since I was lucky to receive Yakuza: Like a Dragon this Xmas, I've more incentive than ever to get to Judgment, which is currently the oldest Yakuza-related game I've not played (besides the Kiwamis).

  • [B] High Priority.

    I liked DQB1 a lot though I wish certain parts of it were better, like not having to rebuild from scratch after every "scenario", and it sounds like DQB2 fixes all that and better executed on its concept of "Dragon Quest + Minecraft". Sounds like a long one, but I'll find some time for it this year.

  • [B] High Priority.

    I grabbed the Final Remix version as TWEWY was one of those big deal, "entered the mainstream" DS RPGs and a fairly big gap in my JRPG expertise. Looking for a chance to get started with it soon.

  • [B] High Priority.

    This is, bar none, my number one purchase priority for games this year and it continues to grind my gears that every time it's been on sale for the past three years since it came out it's never, ever dropped below 25% off. At this point I'm holding out because I know as soon as I fold, it'll suddenly appear somewhere else at 40% off. It's the principle of the thing. Whatever, though, if it's still 25% off in the next sale - either GOG, Humble, or Steam - I'm grabbing it. I need to finish the trilogy and catch up with the rest of the Trails series, damn it.

  • [B] Medium Priority.

    I only just played The Surge back in April, so I'll be waiting until April 2021 at the earliest to get started on what I hear is a superior sequel. With more player customization and deeper mechanics, it sounds like it'll be the Nioh 2 to Nioh, the former being my 2020 GOTY. High hopes for it, though not something I plan to start in the next few months.

  • [B] Medium Priority.

    I'm on the outs with Ubisoft, since they seemed to have been given a free pass not just for the awful work conditions and sexual assaults from the upper echelons of management but in just how lazy their game design approach (if not the game development itself, which I imagine is a tough grind for its many talented workers, and doubly so if they're getting groped every five minutes) has been over the past few years. Even so, while Watch Dogs Legion might not get a lot of positive attention on the GOTY podcasts this year, everyone talking about this decent middle chapter again might be enough to convince me to start it.

  • [B] Medium Priority.

    Kingmaker and Underworld Ascendant are two games I've been kicking around giving a shot once I'm reasonably satisfied that they've been sufficiently improved from the buggy messes they first released as. Playing Tyranny last year and Deadfire the year before that, I've rediscovered my verve for Infinity Engine-style throwbacks, and I like any game that focuses on building up a base from nothing. Maybe 2021 will be the year I make a King?

  • [B] Medium Priority.

    Another holdover from last year's list, I finally got XCOM 2 its War of the Chosen expansion since I heard that promotes a tolerable strategy-sim into an incredible one, but the stress these games generate was a bad fit for 2020. It may be the case for 2021 too, but I could be more amenable to some "world in dire crisis" fiction by the mid-year when most of us will have hopefully had our vaccines.

  • [B] Medium Priority.

    One of the last 3DS games on my backlog, though I've still got a few wishlist items I'm hoping Nintendo decides to discount heavily before discontinuing the 3DS eShop forever. I've liked the Mario & Luigi RPGs in the past and The Origami King won me over last year, so I'm hoping I'll get something out of this. Many more RPGs I'd prefer to tackle first, though.

  • [B] Medium Priority.

    It's been a long time since my usual Tales fix - not since 2017's Berseria, in fact, which is also how long it's been for the true fans who play all the Tales games new - and I could do with retiring my PS3 before I even consider buying the PS5. Ticking Graces F off my small list of unplayed Tales is killing two birds with one stone.

  • [B] Medium Priority.

    Another Indie Soulslike I was motivated to check out, likely to show up on a very early Indie Game of the Week sometime this year. A bit grim perhaps, but then that does fit with the winter doldrums.

  • [B] Medium Priority.

    Steins;Gate 0 reminded me that 5pb.'s excellent Science Adventures series of visual novels exists, and even though Chaos;Child is the sequel to a game I'm unlikely to find in the wild I'm inclined to parse my way through it at some point. There's a dumb feature I'm planning that will involve playing a lot of 2017 games I own but have yet to start, and this is perhaps the most pressing item on that list.

  • [B] Medium Priority.

    Aggelos is a 16-bit style explormer, which is exactly in my wheelhouse. A safe choice for 2021's Indie coverage, but comfort zones are needed now more than ever. (Here's a few more Indies on the backlog you can expect to see in 2021: My Time At Portia, Glittermitten Grove, Earthlock, Unravel One and Two, Tower of Time (thanks ArbitraryWater!), and Detention.)

  • [B] Low Priority.

    I make the same vague promise every year of jumping onto the Cold Steel train and then pausing when I consider how many more Trails games sit between here and there. Chiefly, the third Trails in the Sky and the two interstitials, Trails of Azure and Trails of Zero, both of which will need me to futz around with translation patches and Japanese credit cards. Hmm. Maybe 2022, Cold Steel?

  • [B] Low Priority.

    The rule is that I play one new Yakuza game a year: any more and I'll burn out on the vast amount of content each one presents. This year's Kamurocho-set game will be Judgment, but I suppose if I somehow got Judgment out of the way in January-February and took on Yakuza: Like a Dragon in the late fall or winter, that might be enough of a gap? Of course, then I'll have finally run out of Yakuza games to play, and that would just be tragic.

  • [W] High Priority.

    Of the really, really big games to see a lot of press in 2020, Ghost of Tsushima is perhaps the only one I'm gunning to play ASAP. A generic list of open-world challenges in a beautiful world of the Japanese samurai sounds like just the tonic for the upcoming cold months. My one concern is that it'll feel a little too close to Nioh 2, which I only played in November.

  • [W] High Priority.

    Been having some trouble getting Wasteland 2 to run, which I'd intended to play before this, but it doesn't sound there's a whole lot of connective tissue. (Also, it's not like I'm going to dig up an emulator to play the first Wasteland from the '80s, so I don't know why I'm being precious about playing these games in order.) It sounds like a winner but it won't be cheap any time soon, so I'll keep an eye on it as the year progresses.

  • [W] High Priority.

    A game I've known about for a long time but never had the opportunity to play - at least legally - until just recently with a remastered Switch port. Moon is an important if bizarre milestone for the RPG genre, influencing the likes of Undertale among others, so I'm very curious to get my hands on it.

  • [W] High Priority.

    I liked Marvel's Spider-Man just fine despite my apathy for the character, and Miles is a much more engaging take on the webslinger, so when this half-game expansion drops to a price befitting its size I'll be there. Just wondering if I should hold out for the PS5 version, or simply hope the offer to make the PS4 version forward-compatible for free still stands. (That is if I even decide to take the PS5 plunge this year.)

  • [W] High Priority.

    Genuinely can't get enough of these old-school dungeoncrawlers - the first video game I ever played was the grand-daddy of these particular real-time first-person RPGs, true story - and I enjoyed the first Vaporum immensely. Grabbing this for a reasonable price is one of my main gaming goals for 2021 (along with actually playing it of course).

  • [W] High Priority.

    Loved the first Ori, and I love that Nintendo was able to talk Microsoft into letting its sequel come out on Switch because I'd have no other way to play it otherwise (I don't have an Xbox One and my PC wouldn't be able to handle it).

  • [W] High Priority.

    All I know about this game is what I saw in the trailer and its reputation as an endearing if sometimes heartbreaking experience. I expect to see it many times when GB's GOTY season starts and guest lists start rolling in.

  • [W] Medium Priority.

    More of a THPS4 guy myself, but I've heard this particular remake is nothing short of spectacular and perfectly captures the arcade fun of the two games it features. I'm a little worried about burning through all its content in a single afternoon, so it's going to have to be heavily discounted to turn my head.

  • [W] Medium Priority.

    There's a gaggle of Indies from 2020 that I'm starting to hear more whispers about, mostly from threads on Twitter from major gaming figures wondering about what they missed and what they should look into. Umurangi's name came up a lot around Waypoint's circles, which suggests a socially conscious game with the right amount of weirdness. It's always looked ugly as hell from the outside, but I'm a fan of photography in video games so I could yet be coerced.

  • [W] Medium Priority.

    I probably don't need to add any more JRPGs to my backlog this year, but Trials is another like TWEWY where I've been waiting literal decades for the legal means to play it in one form or another. This 3D remake gives off some potent Ys vibes with its approach to the Mana series's real-time combat, so if I decide I need even more RPGs in 2021 this is going to be a strong consideration.

  • [W] Medium Priority.

    Pretty much the same as Trials of Mana and Moon. I've known about the Sakura Wars franchise for ages but never had the chance to pick one of them up, either because they skipped Europe or if they did come out here it was in extremely limited quantities. It has some harem dating sim nonsense I could probably do without, but its historical setting and generations-long reputation is sufficiently beguiling.

  • [W] Medium Priority.

    Like Umurangi, I've perceived and expect to see even more buzz around The Pathless despite it falling quickly out of the public eye with everything else surrounding the launch of the new consoles. Its fast pace and meditative visuals seem like something I'd be into, though I wonder how similar it'll end up being to Genshin Impact (which, full disclosure, I also intend to play a lot of in 2021).

  • [W] Medium Priority.

    Formerly an Apple Arcade exclusive, the fifth Shantae game hit all major platforms in the middle of last year and is another explormer I'd like to check out eventually. The Shantae games don't really evolve a whole lot between entries, but between the excellent soundtracks and classic explormer gameplay I always have a good time with them regardless.

  • [W] Low Priority.

    Look, I loved the first Spelunky a lot, but the idea of learning an even harder version from scratch gives me the anxiety somewhat fierce. I've also sworn off roguelikes, and I don't particularly care for the flat graphical overhaul this sequel received. Will I still eventually find myself playing it anyway? Almost certainly.

  • [W] Low Priority.

    I'll admit that I kinda ran out of ideas for fifteen 2020 wishlist picks for this list. I usually post the new List of Shame on January 1st weeks after the site's GOTY season, and thus get plenty of inspiration, though that's not the case this year. Jupiter's Picross games aren't bad and they've been steadily improving since Picross S with new ideas and puzzle variations. Picross S4 - and Picross S5, for that matter - may end up on my Switch before too long, especially now that they're getting discounted occasionally. (It's Low Priority because I still need to grab Picross S3 first. Playing them in order is crucially important for some reason.)

  • [W] High Priority. (2019)

    I don't know how well this plays in single-player, but I'm not one to turn down a good Soulslike. Especially if it's weird as hell.

  • [W] High Priority. (2019)

    Speaking of Soulslikes, I suppose I'd better get around to this eventually. I'm put off by the streamlining of the RPG features - I like knowing I can always grind like crazy if the next boss is too much of a wall - but I can't really call myself a Souls fan by skipping the entries that look too hard.

  • [W] High Priority. (2019)

    Trippy as hell, Manifold Garden reminds me of my dear Antichamber: a game I sorely wish there was a sequel to, or at least a game willing to follow in its non-Euclidean footsteps. This Escher-esque game feels as close as I'm going to get to a new one of those.

  • [W] High Priority. (2019)

    Torment: Tides of Numenera was a little too strange for most people, but this more cerebral entry in the very niche subgenre of "talky CRPGs" sounds like it captured the imaginations of many, including those like Ben Pack who don't normally play games of this sort. Breakout hits are always exciting revelations, especially if they broke out of a genre I already like.

  • [W] High Priority. (2019)

    People are still praising this early internet sim to the high heavens, lauding its mix of Geocities-era verisimilitude with its bizarre premise and overarching story. Not learned too much more about it myself - savoring the surprise - so I'd better play it before any more of its wacky webzone content is spoiled.

  • [W] Medium Priority. (2019)

    Lost Sphear's first few hours were generic as hell, but some late-game developments to its gameplay eventually won me over. I don't know if Tokyo RPG Factory really has figured out how to deliver on their throwback RPGs reliably, but I'll try their newest to see how they're coming along. (I'm also not against picking up their first game, I Am Setsuna.)

  • [W] Medium Priority. (2019)

    Another 2D Soulslike, though one that's a little more mixed and lukewarm with its reception. I'm a sucker for these games, so even if it's just halfway decent and mostly uninspired I'm sure I'll get something out of it.

  • [W] Medium Priority. (2018)

    Scenario-based JRPGs have traditionally been some of my hardest ones to get into, mostly because of the way it keeps dragging you back to square one with a new set of characters. Like Disco Elysium though, Octopath Traveler was enough of a success to break free of its niche and find a wider audience, so maybe it's worth a shot.

  • [W] Medium Priority. (2018)

    I liked Xenoblade 2 plenty, even if I acknowledge that it's the weakest in its particular trilogy of games (after 1 and X). The Torna expansion, which delves into some of the original game's lengthy backstory, seems like something I'd enjoy just as much. Worth reiterating again though how much I don't need another giant JRPG right now.

  • [W] Medium Priority. (2017)

    This fascinating to watch if perhaps ghoulishly hard to play Fleischer-inspired shoot 'em up is one of the few big 2017 games I've yet to personally countenance, and since I'm doing a huge 2017 feature this year it might help to have a centerpiece like this for it. Both Cuphead and Trails in the Sky the 3rd are going to be integral chapters to write before I can close the book on what was the best recent year for gaming.

  • [W] Medium Priority. (2018)

    I usually snap up all the Wadjet Eye games within months of their release, but one of their reportedly best adventures keeps eluding me. If nothing else is going down when it shows up in a Steam sale again, I'll be sure not to miss it that time.

  • [W] Medium Priority. (2016)

    Bitten by the visual novel bug again, and there's a short list of standouts I'm working my way through. On that list is the enigmatic The House in Fata Morgana, along with the two When They Cry serials, the other Science Adventure games, and Suda51's The Silver Case. Always plenty of homework to do whenever I get into a new genre.

  • [W] Medium Priority. (2019)

    A gentle adventure game about translating some ancient hieroglyphs through guesswork and exploration. Sounds like my kind of pace, as I'd like something cerebral and slow to keep myself nicely distracted from the terrors that await.

  • [W] Low Priority. (2015)

    This will naturally have to wait until after Dream Team, above, but I'm anxious to grab it before the 3DS eShop closes down and it becomes unavailable forever (or, more likely, it shows up on Switch in a few years with an additional campaign).

  • [C] Completed 19/01. (Medium Priority.)

  • [C] Completed 23/01. (High Priority.)

  • [C] Completed 28/01. (Medium Priority.)

  • [C] Completed 30/01. (High Priority.)

  • [C] Completed 17/02. (High Priority.)

  • [C] Completed 31/03. (Medium Priority.)