In Review – February 2020

Low Spend 2020

Despite spending a couple of dollars mindlessly, I didn’t just throw in the towel. However, it did lead to me thinking more about what I’m trying to accomplish, and making a small revision to the plan.

Sure, some of it is about spending less money, but mostly, it’s about spending less money on things I’m just not using. There’s a huge difference with how I treat PC games and how I treat mobile games. When I’m looking for something new for my phone or tablet, I usually select something that’s a free download, and if I really like it, then I’ll spend money on it, either by purchasing it outright, purchasing a “remove ads” option, or spending an equivalent amount on microtransactions that I would consider paying for a game.

As I see it, I only make mobile purchases when I’ve already played and enjoyed a game, and I’d like to continue doing so. Since my health often keeps me from being upright at my computer for long periods of time, and let’s be fair – mobile games are frequently not endlessly replayable, I’m going to allot myself a $10 per month budget that I can only spend on tablet or phone games.

Otherwise, though, it wasn’t a bad month for testing my resolve. When a few things showed up that I wanted in a Fanatical Bundle, I managed to trade some old keys for them instead of buying the bundle, and getting MORE keys I wasn’t going to use.

Although the All Star Bundle #12 was a fantastic value, I only wanted The Testament of Sherlock Holmes and Tales from Candlekeep from it.

Most of the temptations this month came more from a desire to buy than a desire to own, but a few things did get added to the wishlist, two of which aren’t even out yet.

For the second month in a row, I didn’t use my provision for a paid MMO subscription, and I also didn’t renew my XBox Game Pass this month, so as far as non-mobile gaming was concerned, I played games I owned, or that were available with my (gifted to me) Utomik sub.

The Nope List

Dark Asylum: Mystery Adventure – Tried it out on Utomik, and it felt very very much like a mobile game with timers and lives and that’s just not what I want in a hidden object game at all.

Tiny Force Deluxe – I didn’t hate it. I mean, it’s fun to toss your little guys into the enemy little guys and watch them all bounce all over the place. But I didn’t find it particularly engaging either.

Community Game Along – #DatingSiMonth

I really thought I’d enjoy this one more than I did, but I did manage to complete it. I also did a full write up here.

I feel like my biggest complaint – the need to replay to get the whole story – is a “feature” of the genre, and not specific to Purrfect Date. However for someone like me, who likes my stories to wrap up tidily in the end, it made me hesitant to invest my time in other dating sims. I often struggle with completing a game once, never mind multiple times.

Ten Games to Tackle in 2020

On that note, I’m starting to worry that this was WAY over-ambitious of me. Of course, that’s also the reason I wanted to do this – it’s so hard for me to set aside dozens to hundreds of hours to play a game, no matter how awesome it might be.

I didn’t stop playing Far Cry: Primal because I wasn’t enjoying it. But once I took a week or so off, it seemed less pressing to go back to it. There’s always other things I want to check out.

After a whopping six-week hiatus, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn’t feel an overwhelming need to restart the whole game. Sure, I forgot almost all of the key binds for the game, but otherwise, I didn’t find it particularly hard to get back into.

I am, however, finding all the map markers a little bit overwhelming. I’ve decided for the time being to focus primarily on capturing outposts and bonfires, and doing major quests when I stumble across them. I already know that I’m not going to want to be bothered with finding all the collectibles and such.

Even if I put aside some time tonight to play, and I can get a decent session in without the game crashing, I might get 6 hours in for February.

Other PC Gaming

Cryofall kept me logging in for several days, but mostly, I played things that were super casual.

I somehow managed to play the third Snark Busters game first, and I found it rather enjoyable. Going back to the first in the series was a little jarring, and if I’m totally honest, a whole lot less fun. They’re hidden object / adventure game hybrids with utterly forgettable stories and a neat quirk with mirrors.

Pickers is something I’d dabbled in before, but never finished. I sat down one evening and just played through the 30 day campaign and really enjoyed it. It’s something I might play again down the line – there’s no real story to it other than “find the good stuff & make the money”, but it was a fun little challenge, and a good way to spend three or so hours.

Mobile Gaming

This month was rough for me in a lot of ways. There were a couple of days I barely got out of bed. There were many others that I was up, but only got as far as the couch. And on these days, being able to play SOMETHING on my phone or tablet was a lifesaver.

The surprise “must have” mobile game for me this month was BitLife. It’s fascinating and appalling, and many times, it’s just plain wrong. So far, I have mostly been playing it with an eye towards getting a “win” (a successful happy life), but I expect it won’t be long until I feel like exploring the seedier side of this life sim. A one-time payment of $4.99 unlocked all its features and got rid of ads.

GoodReads Challenge (8/36)

In anticipation of watching Netflix’s Locke & Key, I decided to run through the graphic novel series via Kindle Unlimited. This was great for the first five volumes. The main story has one more collection, but I decided against buying just the last book, which wasn’t available to borrow, and instead decided to just read some summaries online. I suspect this wasn’t the best of decisions, but I couldn’t justify the expense for a digital book I’d likely only read once.

I also hunted down some used physical copies of some of my all-time favorite books, and ordered the newest novel by my favorite author that no one has ever heard of, so I have those to look forward to.

The Smolder Scrolls Online – #DatingSiMonth

Oh, lordy. Zenimax has really done it this time.

If you’ve played through pretty much any of the Elder Scrolls Online base game content, you’ve likely run into Razum-dar, Naryu, or Darien (depending on your faction). At least for the moment, you can try to romance the character of your choice in a super-short dating sim available on the Elder Scrolls Online website.

I have no idea how long the game is going to be around, but you can absolutely play it a matter of minutes per character, so if you’ve ever daydreamed about one of these ESO heart throbs, now is your chance.

5 Fandom Friday: Female Friendships

I spotted this topic on Nerdy By Nature and Hello. It’s B. and decided to take my own swipe at it. With so many movies and television shows either focusing on a romantic relationship or dude-ships, really fantastic girl buddies really light up the screens.

Five: Garcia, Emily and JJ – Criminal Minds

Going a little off track here starting out with a trio, but let’s be real, these ladies were at their peak when they were all together. My favorite opener from the entire series will always be the episode where some random dude hits on Emily at a bar, and tries to pick them up by telling them he works at the FBI. This trio very quickly puts him in his place, showing their own badges after he tells them “It’s Classified”, and then they share a laugh, and you know these characters feel such incredible affection for each other.

Four: Ruth and Bettina – Six Feet Under

Despite the fact that Kathy Bates’s Bettina only appears in 10 of the 63 episodes of Six Feet Under, she might have been the very best part of Ruth’s storylines over five seasons. When Ruth and Bettina are together, they both light up, and their wildly different personalities complement each other perfectly.

Three: Liz and Maria, Roswell

Sure, Roswell was a love story first, and sci-fi thriller second, but I would argue that it’s also a high school bestie fest. Every girl should have a friend who will help her hide the fact that her boyfriend is an alien.

Two: Cece and Hillary – Beaches

For women of a certain age, Beaches was probably our first glance into friendship that lasts a lifetime. Not only was it oh-so-precious, it was also very real – Cece and Hillary drift apart and crash back together, but they always love each other with everything they have to give.

One: Meredith and Cristina – Grey’s Anatomy

Despite their soap-opera lives, these two are Squad Goals, and a big part of the reason I watched Grey’s for as long as I did. The relationship between these two is often so raw, but it’s so very very important. I hope everyone is lucky enough to have a person like Meredith or Cristina (depending on which one you personally identify with more).

Have a favorite pair (or trio) of gal pals? Tell me all about it in the comments or post your own Fandom Friday.

Quick Look – Cryofall

Please note: I have not played Cryofall on a PvP server, nor do I have any intention to. This quick look is more from the point of view of someone who wants to screw around mostly single player, despite the game being billed as a multiplayer survival game.

Despite the fact that I rarely get as much bang for my buck as I theoretically could, I really enjoy seeing what shows up in Humble Choice (formerly Humble Monthly).

This month included only two games I already own (Book of Demons and The Hex), so I don’t need to make the hard decision of what NOT to pick, but as per usual, I’m only activating a few titles off the bat and waiting on the others.

As someone who is – at best – meh on multiplayer only titles, Cryofall was not an instant unlock for me. Instead, I wandered over to the Steam store and downloaded the 8-hour full game demo. Within an hour, I knew that this was something I’d like to keep checking out as it progresses, especially since the devs are listening to folks, and working on improving the PvE experience.

Right now, for me and the way I like to play, Cryofall is in a great place – interesting enough to keep me coming back, not so interesting I lose entire days to it.

The quest system isn’t story based at all – it’s a huge non-intrusive tutorial. Completing quests gives you extra LP, or learning points, that allow you to unlock new technologies. Early on, it seems to think you should unlock absolutely everything, but it cautions you against trying to do too much as you get deeper into the tech trees.

Finding a place to set down your land claim can be challenging, and I dropped my first one at a decent looking spot just barely out of bounds of other players’ claims. I’ve since spotted much better locations while exploring, but the lack of any sort of deconstruction or moving mechanism has made me hesitant to start setting up a new base somewhere else. Traveling around can be tedious – the map is huge to accommodate Cryofall’s multiplayer aspirations, and there doesn’t appear to be any speedy way to come back to your base when your inventory is full up (which happens more often than I would like).

Skills are acquired automatically from just doing the associated tasks, and this seems to be the only leveling system in game. It feels a little bit slow, but not frustratingly so, and I expect it’ll be tweaked as development proceeds.

So far, the biggest irritations for me are the smallish inventory, and the rate at which perishable items decay. Even with a primitive fridge-box, I cannot prepare food during one play session and expect to use it the next, and although I’ve not been burned yet by leaving crops growing when I log off, I can see that being a problem as well.

I was apprehensive about the PvP multiplayer focus of Cryofall, but playing on a PvE server has been enjoyable for the four or so hours I’ve put in so far. It’s not something I would have sought out or purchased on its own, but I feel like it’s an interesting indie for inclusion in Humble Monthly, at worth at least trying out for anyone who has a fondness for survival-style games.

#LoveYourBacklog Week 2020

So, I’ve been seeing a lot of entries popping up the past day or so talking about loving our backlogs, so I went back to the source, and then decided I could get on this bandwagon as well.

I actually love my backlog (or library, as I prefer to call it) all the time! What could be better than hours upon hours of entertainment right at my fingertips?

Starting from my GoG Galaxy stats, and adding in my Twitch games, as well as games I have on and some others that are on stand alone launchers or that are DRM free, I’ve skyrocketed past 3000 games. Sure, they’re not all backlog titles per se – some I’ve finished, and some others I’m unlikely to ever return to for one reason or another. But they’re there, and I could play any of them at any time.

Nothing wrong with a 10,000 hour library, right?

And with that giant admission out of the way, on to the questions!

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

Ignoring for the moment the 10 games I am planning to dive into during 2020, I am really itching to get into Re:Legend.

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

Bioshock. I am forever getting a couple hours into the game and wandering off. It’s absolutely not because I’ve terrified myself or anything*.

*this is absolutely why I keep wandering off.

The most recent addition to your library:

Earlier today, I was adding games from the February Humble Choice, and the last key I redeemed was for Eliza.

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

I picked up a free copy of Portal from Steam way back in May of 2010. Still haven’t touched it.

The person responsible for adding the most entries to your backlog:

Seriously, I have no one to blame but myself. I love all kinds of games, and I cannot resist a deal.

As for #MaybeInMarch? Well, I suppose it could happen.

Game Over: Purrfect Date (#DatingSiMonth)

Although I’ve often played games with dating sim elements, I think this is the first game I’ve played where I went into it thinking about it as a dating simulator, if that makes sense. I’m not sure exactly what I expected, but in more ways than one, for me at least, Purrfect Date fell short.

Here is the most frustrating thing: I made one mistake, and my only recourse if I want the “true” ending is to replay the entire game. Now, the game was only four hours long, but that’s an awful lot of rereading just for .. a cut scene? Some exposition? I don’t know, and I don’t expect I’ll run through the game again to find out.

There is no going back to a save point, no replaying single chapters. There isn’t even a fast replay option; you’ll need to page through all the dialogue, even if you don’t re-read it. If you only want to play the game once, chances are you won’t get the best ending.

Putting that (admittedly not so minor) gripe aside, I liked the game well enough. Although I was disappointed in the inability to date more than one character simultaneously (once you pick a date, that character is locked into that choice for the duration of their chapter), I did enjoy the distinct personalities of all the date-able characters.

That said, the “game play” portion of the game felt very forced. After every three events, you need to rest (and if you forget, the game will remind you). The only reason I could fathom for this mechanic is to toss in an achievement (and potentially an “ending”) for completely ignoring the mechanic, but it’s another thing I really don’t feel compelled to go back and check out.

I managed to successfully romance each character, and I felt like the “correct” response was always pretty obvious. A successful romance, however, only requires 2 of 3 correct answers, so if that’s your main goal, you can actually afford to make an error.

I got the happy ending in five of the six chapters, and I found those resolutions satisfying – an “awwww” or two might have even escaped my lips.

I really hate saying that I walked away from the game feeling very meh, because almost all the pieces were really well put together. Normally, I can overlook a clumsy element or two when everything else feels right, but for a narrative driven game, I feel like a second full play through in which I need to only make a singular different choice is too much of an ask.

While I like a game that is built with an eye toward replay value, I think Purrfect Date swings for that, but misses, and that miss makes it far less appealing for even a single play through. Which is a shame, because there’s a lot of great stuff here.

#DatingSiMonth – A Small Sample of Free Dating Sims on

Although I’ve decided to go with Purrfect Date for my Community Game-A-Long during #DatingSiMonth, I wanted to do a quick post highlighting some interesting looking free dating sims, available on, for anyone who wants to just dip their toe into the dating sim waters.

Cooked With Love: With a playtime of only about 20 minutes per run, you can cook for your crush. Will you win them over, or crash and burn?

Hot Date: If, like me, you’re more of a dog person than a cat person, you can go on a speed date with a pug!

Last Minute Love: It’s never too late to find that special someone. Play as a nursing home resident, hoping to have one last great romance.

Kill Your Darlings: Dating can be scary! Who will you woo during the masquerade party?

Dino Dearest: Win the heart of one (or more than one) delightful prehistoric creatures.

I’m hoping to play all of these myself this month, but if you beat me to any of them, let me know how you liked them!

A (Micro) Transgression

I knew I was going to have issues with Low-Spend 2020, and just over a month in, I’ve made my first forbidden purchase.

I’ve been on a kick for mobile slot machine games lately – more so since I discovered that some evil geniuses have decided to add quests to the mindless game play loop.

Normally, this would be just another guilty pleasure, nothing worth even mentioning, because despite these types of apps being absolutely infested with microtransactions, I’m pretty good at resisting the lure of “free money” (which isn’t actually even money!)

But here’s the thing – I also fully believe that if you’re enjoying a free-to-play game, no matter how inane, it’s actually a good thing to throw a couple of dollars at the developers, just as long as you never go over what you would have paid for the game if you had bought it outright.

Last night, I got home late, I was tired, and was unwinding with a slot-machine focused quest or two, and one of those amazing deals popped up. And I thought, I’ve been playing this game every day for over three weeks now, I should toss a couple of dollars at it.

And without any more thought than that, I did.

Obviously, I’m not going to waste a lot of time lamenting that I failed in my low-spend goals over a measly $2.11. I’m still in it for the year, but I wanted to make a short post in the interest of full-disclosure.

Nerd Girl Goals – February 2020

Play to Satisfaction

For me, saying “Play to Satisfaction” gives me explicit permission to drop a game that’s not working for me, but also to grind away for nerd points if I’m really loving something. I’m trying to make it a policy for myself that I will always play to satisfaction – no more, no less.

I still have a few outstanding game-related stuff I’d like to finish up over the next few weeks, but there’s plenty of stuff I haven’t already talked about I’d like to add onto my plate this month.

Ten Games to Tackle in 2020

  • Finish up Far Cry Primal.
  • Start Borderlands.

#DatingSiMonth – Community Game Along

To tell the truth, my initial reaction to #DatingSiMonth is “What the hell am I going to play for this?”

As it turns out, I had more options than I realized. This, friends, is what happens when your gaming library gets out of control.

I’ve already played Danganronpa 2, and put over 100 hours in to Stardew Valley.

Then there were a few that seemed to be … miscategorized. (Of course, if Killer is Dead is actually a dating sim, feel free to correct me.)

I settled on Purrfect Date to be my primary Community Game-A-Long game this month, although I did also take a peek at free Dating Sims on Steam, as well as browsed through for free dating sims, so it’s entirely likely I may hit up more than one.

Other Gamestuff

  • World of Warcraft: I’d really like to put some time in grinding out the rep for BfA flight. Also, there’s that bee mount I’ve been ignoring that I would like. And two plus worth of patches to check out. I guess I’m back (but I’m still on token-time, so we can see if I can also rack up some gold while I’m at it).
  • Utomik: For my birthday, I was gifted an entire year of Utomik subscription. Since I checked last, they’ve added Rise of Industry, Coffee Talk, and Ministry of Broadcast to their offerings. I would like to try out at least one of those this month.
  • XBox Gamepass for PC: Although I currently have my sub paused, it’s active through mid-month or so (and let’s be real, I’ll likely renew it because it’s only $5). Here there are also a handful of new-ish games that I’m interested in, namely Gris, A Plague Tale: Innocence, and Children of Morta. I’d like to dabble in at least one of these as well.

I think that’s probably more than is realistic, honestly, especially if I’m going to read another 3 or more books, finish up the deck building, and maybe even start trying my hand at making some custom Magic: The Gathering lands and tokens.

I’ve ordered myself an inexpensive set of acrylics, and bookmarked a couple of tutorials, and I absolutely intend to document the process. I have very little innate artistic talent, but a near insatiable drive to make stuff, so this should be interesting if not immediately successful.