Quick Look – Rogue Lords (Humble Choice – March 2023)

It seems like every other game that blips across my radar lately is waving the “roguelite” flag. My personal experiences with them have been mixed, at best, and yet I keep trying. I selected Rogue Lords to look at from the March Humble Choice for a few reasons. First, the aesthetic is very much up my alley. Secondly, I was hoping for something new to play in short bursts on the steam deck. Thirdly, well, is because no one else picked it.

In this dark fantasy turn-based roguelite, you play as the devil, leading his disciples across the land to get rid of all those pesky demon hunters and get some revenge. It has a retail price of $24.99 and an overall Steam rating of Mostly Positive at the time of this Quick Look.

Although I had hoped to play Rogue Lords on the Steam Deck, I didn’t think to check about compatibility until after the fact. It’s unsupported. However, since quite a few unsupported games seem to work just fine, I thought I’d give it a whirl. Unfortunately, on default settings, the cut scenes were broken. By this I mean there was voice over, and subtitles, but no pictures. Rather than tinker, I decided just to play this one at the PC (although for those who prefer to tinker, it has a ProtonDB Rating of Platinum, and reportedly works just fine with ProtonGE).

After the introductory expository cut scene, Rogue Lords forces you into a fairly lengthy, unskippable, and super hand-hold-y tutorial. Now, I like a tutorial. I don’t even hate a mandatory tutorial. But I detest a tutorial that doesn’t let you make a single mistake all the way through, and then dumps you into an unwinnable battle. Which is precisely what this one does.

The main takeaway I got from the tutorial level is this. You are the devil, and you have a limited (but rechargeable) amount of power which you can use to cheat. And I do mean cheat. You can recharge your disciples abilities. You can fill up their resource bars. You can steal buffs from your opponents or slide your debuffs onto them. The game is actually designed expecting you to cheat early and often. I feel kind of personally weird about cheating, even in single player games, for myself but when the it’s part of the game design? I actually think I kind of like it.

It makes sense, after all. You’re the ultimate bad guy, sending your bad guy minions to do bad guy things. Why would you follow the rules if you didn’t have to? However, if that mechanic makes you feel icky and you think you’d prefer to just not use it, you’re best off skipping the game entirely. I’m not 100% sure it is mandatory, but I will tell you this – it feels mandatory.

Otherwise, this is a neat twist on a very old formula. You have action points that you can split between any of your characters. You start out with five per round, and abilities generally cost 1-2 points. Action points refresh to full between turns, but your abilities don’t – if you want to use something more than once a battle (spoiler, you absolutely will want to use something more than once a battle), you’ll need to recharge that ability. Each character comes with a “recharge” ability that costs action points to use – I found myself using Dracula’s most often since it recharges everyone’s abilities, or you use your cheat currency to do it one ability at a time.

As you can imagine, this doesn’t have a fantastic effect on pacing, and the pacing is already not great. In what I can only assume is an attempt to make players appreciate the art, you need to lumber manually through each map section. Story segments (indicated by an open book on the mini map) feature oh-so-slow scrolling text with voiceover. You can click to make the text appear instantly, and there’s a way to turn off the voiceover if you’d prefer to read, but it’s also really easy to accidentally get too clicky and skip the story segment all together. Not that I did that. Not more than once anyway.

And while the tutorial map had a reasonable amount of nodes, the first actual map seemed to stretch on forever. So many encounters. So much walking. If you’re looking for a short session roguelite this is not it. In fact, it looked like there was no way to save during a run (a personal pet peeve of mine in roguelites), so I ended up frustration quitting when I realized that there was no way I was going to have time to completely the whole map in a single sitting. I can understand no manual or autosave during an actual combat, but not anywhere during a whole run?

Except that the game does save, presumably upon entering a new section of the map. It just doesn’t tell you that anywhere.

While there are more things I like so far about Rogue Lords than not, the things I found annoying I found really really annoying. I do appreciate that there is a difficulty option (and yes, I’m playing on Apprentice, which is easy, and yes, I’m still not having an easy time of it), but I would have preferred more customization than “easy or normal”. I cannot fathom how they came to the decision that RP walking through each map segment, completely with impassable terrain features, was a good idea.

On the other hand, the cheat mechanic is fun, and – at least for me, who’s not a huge roguelite player – unique. The art and sound design is great. There are unlockable characters, but the three you start with are all functionally different enough to not just feel like Generic Bad Guys. If you’re patient, and a fan of turn based strategy, dark fantasy settings, and just being plain evil, this might be worth a few hours of your time.

But if you’re expecting a fast-paced roguelite, one that’s tough but fair, this isn’t likely to scratch that itch.

As for value, this isn’t a title that’s seen many deep discounts (and none at all on Steam itself), so if this one has been on your wish list, it might be worth grabbing the bundle for, and definitely if there’s at least one or two other games that strike your fancy. That said, it is a second row title, which is where they tend to drop all the niche indie games, so if there’s nothing on the top row that’s appealing, Rogue Lords isn’t the type of game that’s going to carry the bundle on its (admittedly very very evil) shoulders.

Game Over – Ephemerid: A Musical Adventure (#MusicGameMarch)

I don’t believe that one has to really understand art to appreciate it. Ephemerid: A Musical Adventure is definitely more art than game. Despite being interactive and having a few true gameplay elements, for the most part, it seems to be designed as a pretty backdrop for a rather epic soundtrack.

Completing the game is simple. There seems to be no true fail state, although there are at least a few spots where interaction is required to advance. In fact, if there’s a point where you’re unsure what the game requires of you, hints come early and often. Which makes sense, the game has an agenda, a certain amount of story it wants to tell accompanying each track.

Players that come into this looking just to experience it will probably have a fine time. The art and the music are pure joy, and despite the lack of text, there is a clear story happening. However, if you really hate bugs, or have severe arachnophobia, you probably won’t have the best time. Yes, there’s an antagonist, and it’s a big ol’ spider with a boombox.

The entire game took less than an hour from start to finish. I didn’t struggle with any of the adventure game / puzzley segments, and the game didn’t seem to penalize me for being downright awful at the rhythm parts. I was, however, surprised that after the credits, I had only unlocked one solitary achievement. Achievement chasers should be aware that the only other non-hidden achievement requires perfection in all 7 of the rhythm game sections.

There is definitely more game here if you want to look for it, but for me, I was satisfied just to have played through to the end. In a lot of ways, it reminded me of a music video or a laser light show, but I didn’t find any of the game play elements compelling enough to play through it multiple times. For the scant asking price of $3, I didn’t even mind the short play time.

In Review – February 2023

  • Start using my content planning calendar again.
  • Make at least 10 blog posts in February.
  • Get at least one more character to level 70 in World of Warcraft.
  • Max out at least one faction of renown on one character in World of Warcraft.
  • Make at least one post related to World of Warcraft.
  • Make at least one post for #DatingSiMonth
  • Make at least one post for Steam NextFest.
  • Play and write about one title purchased in Janaury 2023.
  • Participate in the group review of the February Humble Choice.
  • Read / listen to at least four books.
  • Listen to at least one audiobook.
  • Watch at least one new-to-me movie.
  • Watch at least one new-to-me series, mini-series or season.
  • Do at least 2,500 stitches on a cross-stitch project in progress.
  • Finish any non-cross-stitch project in progress.
  • Re-organize my craft cabinet.

February this year was the very definition of a not-according-to-plan month, so I was surprised to sit down and see just how much I managed to get done of a perhaps overly ambitious goal list. Between all the challenges of my day-to-day, and the associated demands of my body for more rest, I didn’t want to force anything that didn’t feel right. I guess that means that – for the most part – I set appropriate goals for myself.


Gaming hours were way down this month. Sure, some of it was just a complete lack of focus, and part of it was being much busier with non-nerdery. That said, I probably would have clocked more game time if this hadn’t also been when the small irritations with my Steam Deck escalated into actual problems, and I needed to send it in for repair. On the upside, if this was going to happen, I’m grateful it did so within the warrantee period, but man, the timing was inconvenient. Assuming that it arrives back here on the expected delivery date, I will have been without it for the better part of three weeks, which, as it happens, was most of the month.

Really, I’m not sure what parts are left that they didn’t repair!

World of Warcraft takes the top spot again this month, but it’s not like there was a whole lot of competition. We got nearly 10 hours out of The Survivalists on co-op game night, and we don’t seem to be anywhere close to the end, having just started exploring our fourth (of five) islands. I put a little less than six hours into Changeling for #DatingSiMonth and was surprised by how much I liked it. An impulse purchase as part of Steam’s Mystery Week saw me ending the month playing some older hidden object games; I wasn’t much in the mood for stories, so the Mystery PI series was pretty much perfect for my purposes.

My remaining gaming time this month was a bunch of demos from the Steam Next Fest, with special attention to the Desynced demo, which I kept going back to until it was taken down about a week later, as well as a couple last rounds of Against the Storm.

I did not, unfortunately, get around to playing anything I bought in January – my original plan had been to play something from the Wadjet Eye Bundle on the Steam Deck, but with the Steam Deck taking its little vacation this month, and my reduced time at my PC, it just didn’t come around to be high enough on my priority list.

World of Warcraft

Although I played about 1/3 less this month than last, I felt far more focused when I did log in. I met both of my goals this month, with my hunter reaching 70, and my shaman maxing out her reputation with the Dragonscale Expedition. Most importantly, I’m still enjoying my gameplay time, and I’ve managed to avoid having much of anything that feels like a chore – all of my joking about “doing wizard chores” notwithstanding.

Between now and 10.1, I will likely be mostly focusing on alts and crafting outside of raid nights, although I’ve also been feeling the itch to go and do some old content farms. Although the first couple weeks after an expansion or major patch are my favorite, these lull periods, where I’m not feeling any pressure and can just do whatever tickles my fancy are a close second.

Gaming Related Spending

February had some pretty great bundles on offer. I couldn’t resist the Safe In Our World charity bundle that Fantatical put out (which was 25 items for $12 minimum donation), and I also picked up the Love Is In The Air Humble Bundle for $10. I grabbed four hidden object games on Steam for just over $2, as well as a game for #MusicGameMarch for another $3. When added to my WoW subscription & Humble Choice, my gaming related spending for February was $58. I’m pretty sure I definitely got my money’s worth this month.

Other Nerdstuff


I only managed to finish three books this month, and one of those was an audiobook I’d wandered off from awhile back. The Blackstone Chronicles was a re-read, and I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I thought I would based on what I could remember, so I kind of poked at it for a few weeks. Overachieving a bit in January has me still on track for the year, however.


And here it is, where all my time went this month. I started off with a new-to-me miniseries in Nine Perfect Strangers which was made more interesting having just read the book and seeing what they decided to change up. The answer is, a lot. The show was fine, but I think I preferred the book.

The rest of the month, I did a lot of mindless re-watching. I got through three seasons of True Blood before I felt like the level of ridiculousness was too much to continue. Then I swapped to Dexter, which I’ve watched the first five seasons of in the past, and got just about caught up to what I’ve seen. I’m considering trying to finish out the series, and then watching the epilogue mini-series, but I haven’t fully made up my mind either way.


While I finished the small diamond painting I was working on last month, after that, I was completely scattered. I reorganized my craft cabinet, and after a few frustrating stitching sessions, decided to break down my scroll frame for a bit and work on other things. I started another diamond painting, worked on that for a few days, and then packed it up and took out one of my many paint-by-number kits, which I’ve then poked at a little bit every few days.

I also played with yarn quite a bit. Most of that was progress on my scarf, but I definitely did a substantial amount of crocheting, and then ripping it all out to test out some stitches I haven’t worked with much before. Really, I didn’t have a plan, I just wanted something mindless to do while I laid in bed & watched TV.

The last few days, I’ve really been wanting to get back to the cross-stitch project – finally – so in the next few days, I’ll probably pack up the paint-by number and move the scroll frame back to my desk. Probably.

Although there absolutely were reasons, February really was a scattered mess for me. Most of what I did manage to accomplish happened either in the first few days, or a kind of frenetic last week. I think I’m starting to get a feel for the pace of things around here now, though, so here’s to a much smoother March.

Nerd Girl Goals – March 2023

It probably won’t surprise anyone who’s been reading along for awhile now, but I am not a big fan of change. I like my life organized and scheduled and cobbled together in a way that I always know what to expect. This past month has been full of hard adjustments, and as is typical for me, just the fact that there needs to be an adjustment is a struggle, which makes it hard to know where to set the goal posts. Do I (potentially) overshoot in hopes of finding my rhythm? Or do I go for easier goals for a little while?


World of Warcraft

We’re firmly in the first real lull period of Dragonflight, with the next major patch not expected until later this month at the soonest, and the next tier of raid even further out than that. We have one more boss to kill in normal Vault of the Incarnates, and it’s likely we’ll see Razageth fall before the end of March. I haven’t quite maxed out all my reputations, but it’s highly likely that’ll happen this month without too much effort on my part.

Which means this is the time where I start taking that army of alts I have a 60ish seriously. I plan to continue weekly wizard chores on the ones already leveled, but there should be enough time to get at least one more character to 70 this month.

Community Game-Along 2023

I always try to pick out more games than I expect to play for the Community Game-Along because I don’t want to be stuck in a scramble mid-month if I only have a single option and I find I’m not enjoying it. For #MusicGameMarch, I picked out and installed four titles, but I’ll be happy enough if I play two of them. My top choices are two short games Shrug Island – The Meeting and Ephemerid – A Musical Adventure. I’d like to play and write about both of these titles, which I expect to be able to complete in a single sitting each.

Because I always feel the need to be overprepared however, I’ve also chosen a couple backup titles. Figment is a game I sampled briefly in 2018 and never got back to, and Wandersong I picked up in the May 2019 Humble Monthly but have never played.

I did not, however, even look at any rhythm games, which is probably what most people think of first when talking about music games. I’m absolutely dreadful at them, and I’m not really in a place right now where I expect to have much patience for being frustrated by gaming.

Other Gaming

I don’t really want to drop any of the other blog-related gaming I’ve been doing, although I haven’t exactly been successful getting all of it done consistently. Two things I’d like to make more of an effort to do every month is play and write about a purchase from the prior month and play and write about something from my Itch.io library. I also plan to continue with the group review of Humble Choice, and for co-op game night, we’re still working our way through The Survivalists, and I expect that’ll continue to be the game through all of March.

I should also be receiving my Steam Deck back by the end of this week from its RMA adventure after not having it for awhile now. I’m really looking forward to being able to game in bed again, as I’ve been having more and more difficulty spending extended amounts of time at my desk. I am not sure how to best translate this into something goal-worthy, so for March I’m going to try out spend at least 10 hours gaming on the Steam Deck.

Other Nerdstuff


I’m every so slightly behind in my reading goal for the year, but since I’m still adjusting, I don’t expect March to be the place where I play catch-up. I’m going to try again for reading at least four books during March.


Another place where I don’t really want to push, but I don’t want to drop my monthly goal of watching one new-to-me movie and one new-to-me series / mini-series / season.


I’ve had to put cross-stitching on hold for a bit; neither my eyesight or my attention span is currently up to the project I have on my frame. However, I’d like to finish the scarf I’m working on and maybe even get to wear it a time or two before spring weather is here.

In Summary

  • Make at least 10 blog posts during March.
  • Reach Level 70 on at least one more character in World of Warcraft.
  • Play and write about two games for #MusicGameMarch.
  • Play and write about one title purchased in February 2023.
  • Play and write about one title in my Itch.io library.
  • Participate in the group review of the March Humble Choice.
  • Spend at least 10 hours gaming on the Steam Deck in March.
  • Read / listen to at least four books.
  • Watch at least one new-to-me movie.
  • Watch at least one new-to-me series, mini-series or season.
  • Finish the crochet scarf I’m currently working on.

Blaugust Reviews – Humble Choice February 2023 Edition

I’m filling in for the incomparable UnwiseOwl again this month on summing up our group review of the offerings in this month’s Humble Choice bundle. Every month, when the bundle releases, a bunch of us get together on the Blaugust Discord and hash out which games we’re most excited about and divvy up the titles for us each to look at during the month. Some folks just take a quick look, and some really go all in, but we want to give you a jumping off point to help you decide if this month’s bundle is going to be worth it for you.

At first glance, the February Humble Choice looks like a fairly meaty offering, with three games that might fill the role of headliner depending on your taste. Pathfinder, Fallout, and The Witcher all bring big-name recognition, but are they enough to carry February’s bundle?

Coincidentally, Stalking Vengeance of Cubic Creativity had just written up some thoughts on Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous a few days before the bundle dropped. While this party-based RPG based on the tabletop Pathfinder system seems to be a game that most people either really loved or really hated, somehow, Stalking Vengeance managed to do a bit of both. The game features an epic story with interesting companions and side characters, but also fiddly combat, obtuse puzzles, and brutally unfair encounters. It really depends on what your tolerance is for the latter if the former makes the game worthwhile.


Fallout 76 seems like it is intended to be a big draw for the bundle as well, but Kluwes of Many Whelps was not too impressed. This MMO (with optional subscription) doesn’t quite live up to the expectations set by the single-player Fallout titles. The combination of awkward building controls and an annoying inventory system left him feeling that there were many other, better games to play unless you were very specifically looking for a multiplayer Fallout game, which, if that’s something you had to have, you probably bought this game three years ago and have no need for it in this bundle.


Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales is quite a departure from the other games in the Witcher series, and if you were expecting more of the same, you’d likely come away a bit disappointed. Naithin from Time to Loot had a pretty good idea what he was getting into, and found the story & quests to be enjoyable, and the variation on the Gwent card game which is the major gameplay component grew on him the more he played. If you also play the multiplayer version of Gwent, you’ll probably appreciate the bonus chests you’ll get while playing, but it is a bit of an odd choice to have rewards that don’t pertain to the game you’re actually playing. Although it’s not the priciest title in the bundle, it’s a solid deckbuilding RPG, and might sway some folks who were on the fence about the bundle.


Stalking Vengeance also wrote about Othercide, a turn-based roguelike with a dark fantasy aesthetic. This turn-based strategy features challenging combat with decent mission variety against repetitive backdrops. In place of more traditional healing mechanics, Othercide has a sacrifice system which forces you to give up a unit in order to refresh the health of another. Mistakes can be very costly, and resurrection tokens are in short supply, but the game does feature a persistent upgrade system which help ameliorate some of the difficulty of successive runs. For players who subscribe to the philosophy that losing is fun, and who crave difficult tactical challenges, this might be the game to purchase the bundle for, since it’s a mid-priced title that has only rarely dipped below the full bundle price on sale.


Unwise Owl of Leaflocker wasn’t overly impressed by Shady Part of Me. While the game gets points for being pretty, it plays kind of dull, with the early puzzles all being of the single-solution type. Although you can swap between the world of light and the world of shadow at will, there’s only one right path to a solution, and being able to rewind time is just what most games call “saving and reloading when you screw it up.” Overall, he found it a bit too much of the same, and decided he’d had his fill after about an hour.


Magi of IndieCator (review pending) was eager to take a look at ScourgeBringer, a pixel-art action platformer roguelite. This fast-paced game will probably appeal to gamers who want to test their reflexes, although it does have an adaptive difficulty option if it proves to be too challenging. It does have a regular retail price on the lower side, but for folks on the fence, this one has over 90% positive reviews on Steam, and might tip the scales in favor of grabbing the bundle.


Yet again, I took a look at the quirky horror offering, Fobia – St. Dinfna Hotel. It’s a little bit survival horror, a little bit puzzle game, and a little bit walking sim, and – at least for me – just about the perfect amount of creepy right from the start. I would have loved to have played more, but without a field of view slider, I found myself getting motion sick, and then getting irritated by how far apart the save points were. If you don’t mind your horror games a little slower paced, and you don’t struggle with FoV-related motion sickness, this might be a hidden treasure in this month’s bundle, but this title probably won’t appeal to a lot of gamers who either don’t like horror at all, or horror gamers who are looking for something that’s both faster-paced and really terrifying.


Paeroka of Nerdy Bookahs played Five Dates, an FMV rom-com dating simulator. She completed her first playthrough in under two hours, and still thought there might have been a bit too much filler content. Most dating sim fans will dive right into replays to date all five of the love interests, so there’s a reasonable amount of potential playtime for fans of the genre, but this is also probably the most niche title in this months bundle.

That wraps up another group review where the “filler” games once again outshine the headliners. However, the genre spread is wide enough that it’s entirely possible most gamers will only be interested in a couple of titles. If you haven’t yet made up your mind to subscribe or pause this month, you’re just about out of time – non-paused accounts will charge tomorrow, and you’ve only got one week left to subscribe before this bundle is over.

Self-Reflection Sunday – On Grief and Adjustment

Content Warning: Parental death.

Seriously, it’s okay if you want to skip this one.

February has been particularly difficult this year. On Friday, February 3rd, my step-father had his second stroke in as many weeks and this one he didn’t come back from. It was a sudden death, but not an entirely unexpected one. Over the past several years, he’d been diagnosed with multiple health conditions that were scary enough on their own, but particularly difficult in combination.

Now, my family has never been particularly good at grieving. I always feel weird when I tell people that we don’t do funerals – I have a small family, and we all prefer to do our mourning in private. None of us are religious, or even particularly spiritual. I have no idea if there’s anything after death; many of the belief systems sound as plausible to me as any other. What I do know is that our grief is our own – that people get caught up in their loss, and I firmly believe that I don’t have to share that with anyone unless I want to.

This – by itself – is a lot.

But what makes things infinitely more complicated is that my parents have been running a small business, almost completely alone, for the last 10 or so years. Prior to that, they worked alongside my grandparents, and I have known for a long time that someday, one way or another, it would be mine to deal with as an only child. So, in place of a more traditional form of mourning, my mother and I have thrown ourselves into figuring out how to streamline, organize and simplify the business. It is a process that was vastly overdue to be tackled, but it’s always been so easy to put it off.

While I think that having A Project to focus on has been a boon to my mental health, it’s taken quite a toll on me physically. I have a tendency to downplay the severity of my disabilities, and I’ve been able to do so precisely because I’ve built my entire life around accommodating them. My new responsibilities have interfered with my oh-so-carefully constructed routines and processes to the point where I made myself sick enough that I thought I was going to end up in the hospital myself.

The last couple weeks have been a struggle to recalibrate my energy, and of learning to leave the less important tasks unfinished. We’ve ordered entirely too much take out. I’ve spent a lot of my down time in bed, because I’ve overspent my energy long before the day is over. I’ve had to re-evaluate my definition of the bare minimum.

It’s hard, staring my limitations in the face. I’ve been hiding from them for a long time now.

But I also know it will get easier. This is much like the process of learning (and leaving behind) that happened when I first got sick. I’ll work out new routines. I’ll do my best to meet my body halfway – I know it’ll give me more if I give back in the form of extra rest, even when I’d rather be doing something.

Not everything gets better with time, but most things get easier with repetition.

How Much Does Mythic Plus Matter in Dragonflight?

Looking back now at Shadowlands, and all the issues I had with it, I’m sort of surprised I returned for Dragonflight with as much gusto as I did. As someone who absolutely hates the gameplay loop of Mythic Plus dungeons (and honestly, doesn’t even care much for 5-man content), a big draw of this expansion was that world content would be a viable alternate gear path for players. In the early days of the expansion, I started to doubt the truth of the situation, and now that I’ve had a few months to really feel it out, I think I’ve decided that it’s technically, but not completely, viable.

Here’s why: the amount of time it takes to get geared up, especially at the start of the expansion, is an important component of whether or not something feels viable, and Blizzard has stubbornly clung to time gating gearing from every source but one – Mythic Plus dungeons, which you can run as many of in a week as you can find time and groups for. Sure, the M+ currency, Valor, had caps until about a week and a half ago, but if you were lucky, or very very determined, you could be kitted out in full M+ gear within days of hitting 70. I know this, because it’s precisely what my husband did.

Fortunately, I had a bit of luck of my own with weekly quests and world event boxes, so I wasn’t in terrible shape when Elemental Storms started spawning in mid-December, offering yet another route to getting gear that was a bit better than LFR, but not quite as good as normal raids. Since normal raid gear for me is pretty much the peak of each tier, that feels pretty good.

This past Wednesday, I got my first piece upgrade from a raid drop. Now, that isn’t counting the vault pieces I’d picked up (although I think at this point, I’m about 50/50 for getting either an upgrade or something to disenchant for purple mats), but as far as raw item level is concerned, I’ve done fairly well this tier. I did do a handful of low mythic keys with folks from the guild, but as you can see from my M+ score in the screenshot above, I’ve done very little of that content overall. I haven’t timed any key higher than a 6, and at this point, I don’t expect to go back to doing any mythic keystone dungeons, hopefully for the rest of the expansion.

That said, raiding normal with my guild is the only group activity in World of Warcraft I have any real interest in, and I probably would have done whatever I had to in order to meet requirements. I have no intention of pushing harder content, so I don’t really need better gear on my main than what I’m currently kitted out in – I even managed to complete my four piece tier set this week with a vault drop and a catalyst charge.

Which means it’s time to start looking at how my alts are faring.

The only group content my warlock has done since hitting 70 was one set of Timewalking dungeons for one of the weeklies. I’m not even sure she did leveling dungeons, and I’m positive she hasn’t done a single heroic or mythic one. I haven’t taken her to LFR. The majority of what she’s wearing has either come from the weekly “Aiding the Accord” quest, or from various bags & boxes that you get for participating in world events like the Siege on Dragonbane Keep and The Community Feast.

It’s taken forever, but as far as my guild is concerned at least, I could take her to raid if I so chose.

My death knight character hasn’t had quite as much luck, but I’m still seeing a path for her as well that doesn’t include doing 5 mans. I’ve had somewhat limited playtime recently, but I’m fairly certain a couple of upgrades from doing elemental storms, and perhaps a crafted or two will boost her over the sticky place she is now that’s making upgrades hard to come by. She has a few pieces that are still left over from leveling quest rewards, and if I can replace those, it should bring her item level up enough to start getting actual upgrades from open world content again.

Mythic Plus has become an endgame in its own right, and it’s clearly here to stay. While I’m not 100% pleased with the pace of gearing up a new character without it, I am glad that other methods feel comparable in everything but speed. The rework of the crafting system is pretty excellent for freshly leveled characters, in that the gear is both not prohibitively expensive to craft and feels like a solid starting point. While I wish world quests were more abundant (and more generous with the item levels they reward), I’m mostly content with my experiences getting adequate gear while living a dungeon-light life.

#LoveYourBacklog – 2023 Edition

I’ve never cared too much for calling the oodles of unplayed games I’ve purchased and just not yet gotten around to my backlog. To me, backlog feels like word that should be attached to some odious chore, and although I will admit to being sometimes overwhelmed by my gaming library, I don’t have any sense of shame or feelings of pressure about it. Games don’t have best-by dates, after all.

I last participated in #LoveYourBacklog back in 2020, when apparently it was only a week instead of a full month! Since then, I’ve managed to add quite a few games to my library. Grabbing some quick stats from Playnite, which isn’t completely up to date, but it’s at least fairly close, I’m creeping up towards 4500 games owned, with over half of them never even launched!

Thanks to Kim from Later Levels for this fun set of questions all about the backlog.

A game you’re eager to play, but haven’t yet started.

I was super excited about Atrio: The Dark Wild when I played the demo back in June of 2021, and I bought it as soon as it came into early access that August. Since then, it’s gone through its entire Early Access period, and had a full release in January of this year.

I still have yet to launch the game, and I cannot explain why that is.

A game you’ve started several times but haven’t yet finished.

Oof – this is really my shelf of shame, here. I don’t feel bad when I buy stuff and then don’t end up playing any of it, and I’m perfectly fine with games I start and decide I don’t care to finish. But the games that I play for a few hours (or a few dozen hours) and really want to finish but just wander off from? Those get to me, and there are dozens upon dozens of them.

For purposes of this question, though, I’m just going to pick two.

I have spent almost 120 hours playing My Time at Portia and have yet to reach the halfway point of the main story. I have promised myself that I will go back to it, and I will not start fresh this time. I think this one is a case of the game just feeling too damn long – it’s not that it drags, even, just that it’s overwhelming. I don’t tend to do very well with long games (although I can put an ungodly amount of hours into endless ones).

Another contender for the “I have started this far too many times” award is Dead State: Reanimated, but at least a couple of times I’ve bounced off of it due to a mid-game difficulty spike I couldn’t work my way through. I still hope to finish it someday, but I don’t know when someday is going to come for this one.

The oldest game in terms of release date.

The original Might & Magic RPG, originally released in 1986 is probably the oldest game in my library by release date. I grabbed this as part of the Might & Magic 6 pack: Limited Edition on GoG.com, fully expecting I would probably never play the first couple titles. I never played any of these myself, but some of my earliest gaming memories are of watching my uncle play this series. So this was more of a nostalgia buy than really any intent to actually play them myself.

If we’re talking about the oldest game that (a) I didn’t play when it was a new game and (b) I actually would like to get around to someday, that would have to be Planescape Torment from 1999. Even here, though, I’m far more likely to play the Enhanced Edition that came out in 2017, but the GoG package came with the original as well, so I do own that version.

The most recent addition to your library.

Is it really an addition to the backlog if it’s bought with purpose and the intention to play right away? I just added Ephemerid: A Musical Adventure to my Steam library the other day, but I picked it up to play during #MusicGameMarch for the Community Game-Along.

Incidentally, I paid full price for it, which I almost never do. Of course, full price was only $3.

The game which has spent the most time on your backlog.

Most of my early steam purchases & activations are things I actually played at least some of. I realize most people consider any uncompleted game to be part of the backlog, but if I’ve hit my satisfaction threshold with a title, I don’t feel the need to push through and see the credits as well. So, looking for titles I’ve never even fired up, it looks like Thief II: The Metal Age, which I purchased in July of 2012 (along with the other two early Thief games) has been hanging out, completely ignored, for almost 11 years now.

However, since then, I’ve realized that I don’t particularly care for stealth games, so it’ll probably continue to languish unless my tastes change again.

The person responsible for you adding the most entries to your backlog, due to their good recommendations.

I am my own biggest and best enabler when it comes to adding things to my backlog. I love shopping. I love research. I love finding quirky indie games that I just have to have. I’m the person who’s pointing out game giveaways and bundles that are a complete steal to everyone I know.

I am most definitely the problem.

Quick Look – Fobia: St. Dinfna Hotel (Humble Choice – February 2023)

I really want to like horror games, but since I never enjoy them as much as I want to, Humble Choice is a great way to check them out. Fobia – St. Dinfna Hotel was the horror offering in February’s Humble Choice, and I volunteered to take a look at it for our group review. This survival horror / walking sim / puzzle game is an interesting mashup of genres that retails for $29.99, and has a playtime of around 12 hours according to How Long To Beat.

I’m not sure what it is about hotels that make them such a popular setting for horror (and horror-adjacent games), but yet again, I find myself playing a rousing game of “where’s the next key” in Fobia – St. Dinfna Hotel. The protagonist is a journalist named Roberto, who has come to the St. Dinfna Hotel to investigate a series of strange events plaguing the town. After a week of getting absolutely nowhere, you wake up one morning to find your room has been ransacked, and there’s a strange note from someone you don’t remember, but who seems to know you.

I played for just under an hour, and would have liked to continue, but I got seriously motion sick from playing, and probably stuck it out longer than I should have looking for a save point that didn’t require epic amounts of backtracking. Oh, did I not mention that this – like many games in this genre – operates on a save point system? Because of course it does. In fact, I wouldn’t recommend diving in unless you have at least 20 to 30 minutes to commit; there’s a prologue and a some story bits before the save system even becomes available. This is probably fine for most people, but I wish it had been clearer, I almost quit out shortly before this assuming it was a checkpoint system.

Anyway, motion sickness issues notwithstanding, the atmosphere and sound design is really great. Inventory management originally looked like it was going to be a pain, but it soon became clear that it was well handled here. Items disappear when used if they’re no longer necessary, and you can find bags as you explore that increase the number of inventory slots you have available. Documents & other notes don’t take up space you’ll need for usable objects, and although some items need to be combined before they can be used, it didn’t feel like you needed to wait too long to find all the parts you need to make a complete item.

Now I’m not a survival horror aficionado, but the mechanic of looking through the camera to see into another time felt fresh to me, but some may find it irritating because it does slow the pace of the game somewhat. But I don’t think Fobia – St. Dinfna Hotel is meant in any way to be fast-paced. You’re expected to look at every piece of paper, and open every drawer and cabinet, and the longer you linger, the creepier it all feels, but there’s nothing rushing you along other than your own fear.

While there aren’t standard difficulty settings, there are some pretty robust accessibility options, but I didn’t manage to get to the parts of the game where most of them would apply. I was particularly interested in the ammo assistance – when it comes time for the shooting to start, I tend to subscribe to the “spray and pray” method of dealing with whatever awful things are trying to murder me. Unfortunately, changing around the graphical settings to try to ameliorate the queasiness didn’t do much for me, but they might work better for others.

Maybe it doesn’t all pan out further in, but if you’re picking up the February Humble Choice, and you like horror games (and aren’t prone to motion sickness from first person perspective), I’d say it’s definitely worth checking out. It’s a cool concept that seems to be mechanically sound, if a little bit plodding, and the story was shaping up to be pretty interesting as well.

Steam Next Fest – February 2023 Edition – Part Two

I may have been disappointed with my time management during this iteration of Next Fest, but I certainly wasn’t let down by the quantity and quality of demos that were available. If you’ve been checking out these three times a year events, you may notice there’s not a lot of overlap and that’s by design. Steam has decided that each game can only participate in one Next Fest prior to releasing. Somehow, this hasn’t seem to have much impact on the total number of demos available, and despite originally downloading more than twice the number I managed to play during the event, there were still quite a few that caught my eye that I knew I wouldn’t have time for.

Although it’s probably too late to play these demos for yourself, some developers have left their demos up, so it’s worth checking out if something seems right up your alley.

A Guidebook of Babel is a quirky time-manipulation puzzle adventure that looks like it has a lot of potential. Figure out where exactly things go sideways, and then rewind time to set things right. It looks like a fun spin on your classic point-n-click adventure backdrop.

My biggest gripe with Mika and the Witch’s Mountain was that, despite being playable with mouse and keyboard, all the tutorials were for a controller, so there was a lot of trial and error in trying to figure out how to make it work. But this cozy adventure about delivering packages and trying to find your way back to the place where you think you belong looks delightful.

Lakeburg Legacies is a charming little city builder with a twist – your towns need the power of true love in order to run and grow! Study your townsfolk’s likes & dislikes in order to find them the perfect match in a Tinder-inspired interface, and then take your new couple on a date to test their compatibility.

This one went right on my wish list, and may even be a day one purchase for me.

Playing the demo of Horticular brought to mind an old favorite series – Viva Pinata. Although Horicular has a simpler pixel art style, the gameplay is similar. Make over an abandoned garden, figure out how to bring back your animal friends, and make things beautiful and vibrant again.

There are plenty of goals, but also a lot of space to just be creative with the space and tools you’re given. It’s shaping up to be a lovely story-light gardening sandbox.

I wanted to like I Am Future a whole lot more than I did. I found the tutorial seriously lacking, and the humor wasn’t really to my taste. Although the concept of a cozy post-apocalyptic survival game is right up my alley, the actual experience of playing didn’t live up to my expectations.

There’s still a few months before the anticipated release date for the developers to clean up the rough edges (and to seriously rethink the fishing mechanics), but for me, I’ll be waiting for a deep discount or a bundle on this one.

Desynced was – for me – the big hit of this Next Fest. This sci-fi city builder leans heavily into automation and programming mechanics, and while it is admittedly a bit fiddly, even the early game is quite enjoyable.

The developers have said that the Early Access release, which will feature only sandbox gameplay, isn’t too far off now, and multiplayer will be in the game from the start. This one has potential to be a co-op night hit for me.