In Review – July 2021

Data pulled from ManicTime.

July was another month that went completely off the rails for me. We are still dealing with contractors (although for the past few weeks, they’ve only been working outside, thankfully), and on the ninth, I managed to really mess up my right hand in a dog-walking accident. That left me with nearly two weeks where I couldn’t properly use a mouse, so I was pretty limited by that.

Thankfully, I had already started playing Persona 4 Golden for #JRPGJuly. Although I didn’t think I’d play too much of it, it turned out to be the perfect game to keep my occupied while my hand healed. In fact, that was probably the biggest contributor to my game time being so much higher this month – I’d been spending more time doing crafts which also weren’t an option for about half the month.

This also meant that I missed my guild’s first raid of 9.1 in World of Warcraft, but that ended up working out for me as I decided to switch which character I’m maining for this tier, so I had a little extra time to get caught up. Due to an overabundance of shaman on our team currently, and a complete lack of summoning portal and health cookies, I am running my warlock for main raids this go around.

A late addition to this month’s gaming was the Kainga – Seeds of Civilization closed beta. Kickstarter backers received our keys this past Tuesday, and I’ve been firing it up whenever I had a few spare minutes over the past couple of days. It’s probably a little over-tuned at this point; I’ve only managed to win a handful of scenarios over nine hours of play, and even a long scenario only runs about 20 minutes.

Game (Almost) Over – Persona 4 Golden – #JRPGJuly

The good news is, I actually played a whole lot more Persona 4 Golden this month than I expected to. The bad news, however, is that I have reached a point where I don’t expect to actually finish the game. In a way, it’s sort of a shame to have spent almost 45 hours with it, but for me, there were just a few too many annoyances to get past, culminating in the solution to the Whodunit being wholly unsatisfying.

When a story is a twisty as this one is, there really is no good time to throw in the towel, because until the credits roll it’s always possible that unsatisfying story elements will slide into place in an epic A-HA! moment. In fact, when I last closed down the game, I didn’t intend to stop playing, despite being somewhat grumpy about the direction the story was taking. However, for me something had changed. Before the Big Reveal, I found myself playing at least a little every day, interspersed with a few marathon sessions when I wanted to see a particular story beat resolved before saving for the day.

Somehow, the appeal just disappeared. Sure, a big part of it was that I felt cheated by a major story point that – to me – made very little sense. But another, not insignificant, factor was the fact that I realized I was running out of time, and it was going to be impossible for me to do everything I still wanted to do. Being inefficient in the early game when I didn’t know any better meant that I just didn’t have enough slots of free time left to wrap up all the things I wanted to wrap up. I’m generally not a New Game+ player, so anything I couldn’t finish was going to stay unfinished, and that knowledge sapped my will to continue.

While it’s not that unusual for me to leave something unfinished, what is strange is actually deciding to do so, especially when it’s something I put this much time into. Did I get enough out of it? Yes, I think I did. There were characters I really loved, bits of story I really appreciated, and overall, I felt like it was a really solid game. I just wasn’t, necessarily, the right game for me. I tend not to pursue efficiency while gaming, and I’m not the biggest fan of time limits in a story focused game, even when they make sense inside of the plot, as they do here.

Quick Look – Persona 4 Golden (#JRPGJuly)

I’ve been playing so many shorter titles over the past year or so, it feels a little bit weird to be doing a quick look when I’ve already put more than ten hours into the game. But that is, of course, the good news – I’ve stuck with Persona 4 Golden for over ten hours now, which means I may just have broken my long streak of bouncing hard of JRPGs in general. The bad news is – at least for me – there’s still a lot of game left to go. Using the game play length estimate from How Long to Beat, I figure I’ve gone through approximately 15% of the game.

I do feel like I’ve finally gotten a handle on why JRPGs generally don’t work for me: one thing they all seem to have in common is the pacing of the early game is painfully slow. I would estimate that I wasn’t given a meaningful decision or bit of game play for about the first three hours, and that’s a long time to expect a player to hang in there to find out if they even like the gameplay loop.

Thankfully, this time, my patience was rewarded because I do (mostly) enjoy the game play here, both the life-sim style and the turn based combat of the dungeons. You will spend quite a bit of time with the former, where you build friendships (which are referred to in game as Social Links) and improve your character’s stats. The combat sections are firmly tied to in game dates, so you cannot jump into them until certain story beats are met. However, there are a lot of other things you can (and probably should) be doing, so it rarely feels punishing to need to wait. In fact, due to some early game blundering around, I have felt a little rushed from time to time, and that’s even considering that there are parts of the game I’ve either completely ignored or have yet to figure out.

The visuals on the boss designs are absolutely delightful so far.

I still don’t actually expect to get through the entire game this month – but I’m starting to lean towards the idea that I will finish a play through of the whole story. I am playing through on easy, and am consulting a walkthrough to make sure I’m not irrevocably screwing up my save file, so I don’t think I’m going to run up against a point where I just cannot continue. Thankfully, save points are abundant enough that – for the most part – Persona 4 will work for me to fill in some of the smaller bits of gaming time I have.

Steam Summer Sale 2021

I have – mostly – been doing better about impulse purchases since I really took stock of both my game-buying and game-playing habits about a year and a half ago, but I definitely allow myself a good-sized splurge twice a year. Both the Steam Summer Sale and the Steam Winter Sale are less exciting than they once were for me, but I still always manage to fill up a cart or two with stuff that has caught my eye.

Towards the end of June, I did pare down my wishlist significantly (at least, as it pertained to games that were already released), but I’m not sure if that made deciding what to pick up easier or harder this time around.

My first cart towards the beginning of the sale was a small one, and I pulled the trigger primarily because I wanted to pick up Exodus Borealis while it still had its release discount. Tametsi is a neat looking puzzle game, which is a spin on Minesweeper, and Koi Farm is a chill little simulation game I’ve had my eye on for a bit. I made the call to otherwise put off doing any shopping until after the reveal of the July Humble Choice, because buying a bunch of stuff just to see it pop up there is something that would absolutely happen to me.

This cart was my big purchase for the sale.

I’ve been meaning to pick up LOVE – A Puzzle Box Filled with Stories since playing the demo last year, but I knew I wanted to wait for a sale because $20 felt a little steep for what was on offer. I then added my other bigger purchases to the cart – Before We Leave, The Dark Pictures Anthology: Man of Medan, and Weedcraft Inc. before poking through the smaller games that looked just interesting enough to spend a dollar or three on.

Ticket to Earth is a combination of a match-3 and a tactical RPG, and I’m excited to see how it comes together. I’m not sure if Galimulator is going to be up my alley, but the idea of a galaxy simulation with three different game modes was interesting enough to at least give it a try. Finally, I picked up The First Friend, which a short story-driven game with beautiful art, and maybe a little bit of a mystery to it.

My biggest Summer Sale purchase wasn’t made on Steam, but rather on the Humble Store, as I picked up Planet Zoo Deluxe edition for just under $20 – my subscriber discount made it just a little bit cheaper than it was on Steam. I’ve been eyeballing that one for awhile, and I have been talking myself out of it, and then almost immediately regretting not picking it up as soon as it goes off sale.

To top everything off, there were seven games in the July Humble Choice that I have a more than passing interest in, so even with the headliners being meh for me, this bundle is going to be a great addition to a library that’s already pretty overstuffed.

All in all, a great haul for this sale season. Now I just need to find the time to play all of these games!

Nerd Girl Goals – July 2021 (#JRPGJuly)


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.

Patch 9.1 is finally here! I suppose the reason it feels like it’s been forever is because, well, it’s pretty much been forever, although it’s really only been a little over a couple months since I decided to take a break.

I’ve just barely dipped my toes into the new content, but it looks like even if I only focus on a couple characters, there’ll be enough to keep me interested for a bit. I still have many alts to level, and I’d like to start working on one of those (either the hunter or the priest, most likely) in earnest.

I’m also going to need to get back on my money making game, because I used my very last hoarded token to reup my sub, and token prices have nearly doubled since the last time I was in the market.

Community Game-Along – #JRPGJuly

I haven’t had a whole lot of success playing JRPGs – for whatever reason, they tend to just not grab me. Which is a shame, because I keep right on buying them, thinking this one will be different. For July, I’m going to dive into Persona 4 Golden to see if this one will actually be different. I have no delusions of actually finishing it during July, but we shall see how far I get.

As per usual, I’ve selected a couple of back-ups – this time, they’re games on the periphery of the JRPG genre, but just outside of it for one reason or another. I have Rune Factory 4 Special for the Switch, and Siralim 3, which I bought forever ago and never actually fired up. While I’m sure genre purists would say that neither of those count, I’m ok with pushing the boundaries a bit for a theme I’m not super comfy with.

I’ve filled out my “try these games out” category back to the 15 – I’m finding that number gives me a good amount of choice during the month without triggering decision paralysis. I’m also considering adding some games from the two ginormous bundles I picked up, because, I’ll be straight with you – I frequently forget I own those games!

So far, I’m pleased with this small, low-pressure project, even if it’s mainly resulted into me kicking some games into the “not really for me” part of my Steam library.

I am anticipating spending some serious time with a a game that I kickstarted that is supposed to drop its backer build some time in July – Kainga: Seeds of Civilization. I played the demo version for over two hours during Steam Next Fest, and that came with just barely a teaser of content. I’m hoping I find the rest of the beta to be equally engaging. I’m also planning to spend some time with the new city builder / tower defense hybrid Exodus Borealis that I just picked up a few days ago.

Lastly, the Steam Summer Sale is running through July 8th, and I’ve started poking around and building my cart, but I may have finally hit the point where these sales are just not as fun as they once were. I’m still loving doing the Steam Sale Santa thing, but I’ve already gone through and pared down my own wish list quite a bit, at least as far as things that have already been released are concerned. I may actually have hit the point where I have more stuff on there that isn’t out yet than stuff that is. Still, I have my eye on a handful of stuff, but am leaning towards waiting until after the Humble Choice reveal next week to actually purchase things, just in case.