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 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 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, 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.

Game Over – Changeling (#DatingSiMonth)

For me, Changeling was a bit of an off-brand pick for #DatingSiMonth. I have very limited experience with visual novels, and I’ve found them to be very hit or miss. However, the few I have really enjoyed have not been romanced-focused; it’s just not my genre. However, when looking through some of the games I’ve picked up in bundles, Changeling caught my eye for a couple of reasons. First, being about high schoolers was a fairly good indicator that it would be light on graphic sexual content. Secondly, while romance is part of the story, and the final choice you make in the common route locks you into a single romantic interest, each route you play through gives you more and more information about the overarching mystery surrounding the protagonist.

Still, I wasn’t too sure that I’d get invested, but I figured I’d dedicate an evening or two and see at least one story arc before I decided whether or not to continue. I went in completely blind, so the path I ended up taking was not the one I would have chosen if I had realized the decision was one about which boy I’d be spending time with, but I just went with it.

Despite coming to a very dismal end with Corvin’s Route, I was undeterred. I figured I’d try one more route, and see how much the story changed. Now understanding which decision determined the storyline, and having gotten to know the characters better during my first playthrough, I was better prepared to choose a love interest with whom I might actually be inclined to make “best ending” sort of choices.

I did not – in fact – make best ending choices, but I got a better ending with Elliot than I did with Corvin. More importantly, I learned so much more about my character and about what was going on around her. I wanted to see the rest of the stories. I was hooked.

Normally, however, I don’t have the patience to get through all the repetitive clicking to get back to a choice point, and when I started out, I hadn’t yet mastered the visual novel pro-tip of saving often. Very often. On the upside, Changeling‘s skip feature is phenomenal – it takes you to each decision point quickly, and without a whole lot of manual clicking.

I really didn’t have strong feelings about the art style, which may be a make it or break it for some visual novel fans. The writing was solid throughout, which is perfect for me as a plot-first reader because the world building and story is really interesting. The romantic scenes – at least the ones I’ve encountered – are sweet rather than sexy, which I very much appreciated. If I had any complaint, it’s very minor – the side characters (non-love interests) seem to fall neatly into the boxes of either being sympathetic and likeable, or are kind of broadly painted with the antagonist brush. That wasn’t really an issue for me, though, it might read a little dramatic but who among us wasn’t dramatic in high school?

Probably the strongest praise I can give to Changeling is this: after losing access to my original save file, I went back, and manually clicked my way through to be able to start all six possible love interest routes. I’ve found the Steam guides to all the best endings, but I don’t know that I’ll necessarily use them. I kind of want to find out just how bad I am at dating sims, and admittedly, I’m in for the story more than I am for the boys.

I don’t know yet if I will play them all, but I also pretty sure I want to know what happens on the other four routes. I’ve played for about six hours now, reached two of the god only knows how many endings, and I’m still eager to read more. I expect future progress will be somewhat slower since I’ll no longer be able to play on my Steam Deck in bed, but I don’t doubt there will be future progress.

(Bear in mind, I do read rather quickly – the developers estimate most people will need about 4-6 hours per route to reach an ending!)

I don’t know how this stands up againt games loved by visual novel enthusiasts, but if you’re curious about visual novels, and you are interested in a YA supernatural drama with a side of cute boys, this might be a good one to try out. Changeling was part of the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality back in June of 2020 as well as the Bundle for Ukraine from March of 2022. It is also available on and Steam for $19.99.

Steam NextFest – February 2023 Edition – Part One

I was way too ambitious this time around, and I knew it. As soon as the NextFest page went live, I started browsing and downloading demos. Before I knew it, I had racked up an obnoxiously large list of 26 demos – way more than I would have been able to get through no matter how much time I had for the project.

As it turned out, I didn’t have much time for Next Fest this time at all. Still, I managed to poke my head into 11 demos long enough to get a sense of them, most of those in the last 24 hours or so of the event. If you missed any of these games during the festival, it’s worth checking to see if the demo is still available – many developers keep them up for a bit after the end of the event – I’m hoping to play one or two more myself before doing part two!

Three minutes is not a long time to spend on a game. However, Sorted! has a pretty basic premise, but with a more-engaging-than-expected gameplay loop. There’s a conveyor belt with trash, and you need to sort it into the proper bins for recycling or disposal. Sounds easy? Maybe.

The first round I failed miserably, mainly because I struggled to identify the items on the belt. The second round went better, and by the third, I was starting to get the hang of combos. It’s definitely a neat little time waster game, something I’d keep an eye out for on a deep discount or in a bundle.

My time with Sushi for Robots wasn’t much longer, but it gave me a feel for the type of puzzles it would feature, and although it seemed like a neat idea and a competent puzzle game, I realized it probably wasn’t going to be for me.

Using the pieces you’re given, you need to make sure every robot gets the appropriate colored sushi plate in a set amount of moves. Although the store page says it “encourages creative problem solving” the puzzles I played through seemed to have only a single set solution. Still, the graphics were downright adorable, and for an enthusiastic puzzle gamer, this might be a bit hit.

Mineko’s Night Market has been on my wish list for over five years now, and for awhile I’d mostly assumed it was abandoned. So I was super excited to have a shot a playing the demo.

Which made it extra disappointing that I really, really didn’t care for it. I maybe could have gotten past the humor I didn’t find particularly amusing, but the mandatory sneaky puzzle section right near the beginning was very frustrating, and I ended up having to force quit because you could not return to menu once you started it. Thanks, but no thanks.

I’ve been a long time fan of the Cook, Serve, Delicious! franchise, so I was excited to see what they’d come up with next. The demo was quite short, and only featured the core game play (no menu selection or even any hint at the overarching story), and it felt like a huge departure from the previous titles.

Cook, Serve, Forever! seems to have parted ways with the varied preparations, and ingredient shortcut memorizations in favor of using just the arrow keys, presumably to make it even more controller-friendly. Initially, I was disappointed, but the concept grew on me, and I feel like even though it’s quite different, it could still be an enjoyable gameplay loop.

Shumi Come Home is an adorable little 3D platforming adventure that I was completely charmed by. It’s super wholesome, with new friends to meet, some of whom will need your help as you try to find your way to where you belong. I don’t expect most players to find it particularly challenging, but if you like games like A Short Hike or Haven Park with lots of exploring and no fail states, you might want to add Shumi Come Home to your wish list.

The Magical Mixture Mill was the game from this batch that kept me playing the longest. In this slow-paced crafting adventure game, you’ve been rescued by the elderly owner of Griselda’s Magical Mixtures, and she’s asked you to help her get her potion shop up and running again. Gather materials to brew potions, and to build up an automated potion making factory. This is definitely one I’d like to pick up when it comes out later this year.

In Review – January 2023

  • Make at least 10 blog posts during January.
  • Play and write about two games for #PuzzleGameMonth.
  • Get at least two more characters to level 70 in World of Warcraft.
  • Get the Loremaster of the Dragon Isles on at least one of my alts in World of Warcraft.
  • Participate in the group Humble Choice review.
  • Play and write about at least one game I bought during December.
  • Make a post about co-op game night.
  • Read at least four books.
  • Watch at least one new-to-me movie.
  • Watch at least one new-to-me season, series or mini-series.
  • Finish reorganizing my crafting area.
  • Do at least 2500 stitches on any current project or combination of current projects.

I feel like I did pretty good this month for how un-focused I was feeling. When it came to playing games and blogging, I mostly just did whatever felt right at the time, and I made a more determined push towards my other goals. Mostly, I’m happy with how it all shook out – I managed to keep myself from feeling overwhelmed while also avoiding decision-paralysis problems.


I expect that I’m probably pretty close to being done with Against the Storm, at least for awhile, but it dominated my January game time, with over 100 hours played. I’ve put well over 150 hours into this one since I started playing it late December, and although I’ve already turned the difficulty up once (something I rarely do in games), I don’t feel a particular need to make it even harder, so I think I’ve just about gotten what I can from it.

I expect my World of Warcraft time would have seen a dip this month, even if I hadn’t been enamored with another game, but the dip likely would have been a bit less, and I might have even met one or both of my WoW-related goals this month. I’m not upset about it by any means – I feel like I’m still playing enough to make the subscription cost worthwhile, but I’m hoping to find a better sense of pacing than how I’m currently playing.

Starbound was a one-and-done, we tried it out on co-op night, and neither of us much cared for the experience. Instead, we started up The Survivalists, which definitely has more than its share of flaws, but is still a pretty enjoyable co-op experience.

Everything else I played in January for any significant amount of time was either for the group Humble Choice review, or for #PuzzleGameMonth.

Gaming Related Spending

I mostly threw my money at other hobbies this month, which was a nice change. I did buy the Wadjet Eye bundle on Humble, and picked up a couple of games during Steam’s recent Base Builder Sale. I also grabbed a couple of companion pets for WoW at the beginning of the month that I didn’t have and that were leaving the store. When you add my Humble Choice and World of Warcraft subscriptions, my total gaming related spending for January was $78.



After a slow start, I ended up finishing five books this month, although I was lukewarm on most of them. The exception was In My Dreams I Hold a Knife, which I found myself reading a chapter or two of every chance I got until I finished it. Two of these books I picked up because of their associated TV adaptations, but I still find myself mostly picking books by whatever sounds good in the moment.


Although I didn’t manage to get myself away from re-watching things this month, I still managed to catch a few things that were new to me.

Firstly, despite owning the entire series on DVD, I had never actually watched the entire final season of Sanctuary, which I have now remedied, and I appreciate the fact that the show didn’t go out on a huge cliffhanger. Then, on a whim, I binged the entirety of Panic on Amazon. It’s only a ten episode series, and it definitely lends itself well to a marathon watch. Amazon decided against making another season, which honestly, is probably best. It was a complete story, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with doing a limited series that doesn’t drag on into ridiculousness.

I managed to make a bit of time to squeeze in a movie, and I decided to go with Escape Room. I walked away with very mixed feelings. The puzzle design in the game was pretty impressive, but man, everything else about it felt mediocre. The acting was hit-or-miss, the plot was threadbare, and if you’re the type to struggle with a suspension of disbelief, it’s better to just skip the whole thing. There was almost nothing in the entire movie that felt even slightly plausible.

Stitchcraft Etc.

Logically, I realize that I’m just struggling a lot with this particular pattern, and I haven’t lost interest in the hobby itself, but this project is dragging on forever. I’m unwilling to abandon it, however, so I’ve been telling myself to just do 100 stitches every day. Some days, that’s all I can handle. Others, I end up working on it for twice that or more, and then there have been a few days where even that felt like too much, so I didn’t force it.

Sometime over the course of the month, I managed to eke past the midpoint, and although I expect this will take at least another couple months to finish up, I’m not longer questioning if I’ll be able to finish it.

However, I’ve been working on other types of projects that take far less concentration. I’d gotten away from yarn work because although I enjoy the process, and have no shortage of supplies to work with, I’d gotten tired of finished projects just piling up. I’m in a weird place with most types of crafts in that they are strictly hobbies, and I doubt that I’m proficient enough anyway to sell my work for anywhere near what I should based on material costs & time spent. I’ve also been doing it long enough that I’ve gifted many projects to family and friends, and I just don’t know what to do with any of it anymore.

The scarf I’m currently working on, though, that one I’m keeping for myself. It’s a fairly basic stitch, but a really lovely yarn.

I’ve also started playing with diamond paintings again, which are typically not very impressive when finished, but super meditative to do, and I’m okay with them being solely about the doing, and less about the having at the end.

Diversifying in this way means that no matter what kind of day I’m having, there’s something enjoyable I can work on, and I think that’s helped me get past some of my winter doldrums & frustrations.

I know we’re only a month in, but so far 2023 seems to be about figuring out how much space I need to make for myself for the things I enjoy, and what level of rigidity works best for me. It’s a process, but this feels like a pretty solid start.