120 Games, 1 Goal - Pile of Shame: 0

Shamelog #031 - A New Dawn on the Horizon

Beginning with Edith Finch, I wanted to check out the few 2017 GOTY contenders I own and haven’t yet played to see what all the fuss is about. The last few years have turned into an end of year ritual for me - the Giant Bomb GOTY podcasts, Kotaku’s Splitscreen rundown of all the notable games of the year, Geoff Keighley’s Game Awards show, IGN/PC Gamer/every other outlets GOTY lists and of course, Waypoint’s excellent GOTY content. These spoilerific discussions are some of the best parts of this time of year, so experiencing some of these mysteries first are always worth the time. Next on that list of games I don’t want to be spoiled: Horizon: Zero Dawn.

25 hours in, I can definitively say Horizon is a great open world RPG, with gorgeous vistas and a strong story hook.

I’m into the premise. Set X years into the future, after civilisation has fallen into ruin and mechanical beasts roam the earth, playable character Aloy must uncover the truth of both her origins and the plague that is The Corruption, a disease that threatens the mental stability of human and machine alike. While the blending of sci-fi and fantasy feels like the result of a board meeting where everyone threw something “cool” into a pot, it somehow combined to create a compelling premise with a believable series of events. It seems like some of the things included are going to be hard to explain, but what I’ve seen so far from Guerrilla has given me enough faith that they could do it justice.

Horizon does admittedly feel a little… formulaic. It might just be all the open world RPG’s I’ve put significant time into lately, but the stuff you do is very much in the same vein as other RPG’s of this era. The mish-mash of inspirations from Far Cry, The Witcher and Tomb Raider are worn on Horizon’s sleeve, but that isn’t to the game’s detriment. Guerrilla have taken the staples of a well known genre and built around it a fun world to explore and fight in, which is more than can be said for others. I’m keen to see the direction Horizon will take me.

Games Left to Play: 111
Currently Playing: Horizon Zero Dawn

HZD doesn’t deviate too much from open world design but the two things that elevate it to me is the lack of recycled sidequests and the combat system which remained fantastic and challenging throughout the entire game. Plus, it nails the scope I want. Big enough to showcase a lot of different environments but not so big as to be tedious to traverse.

I am really liking the quest design actually. Even the quests labelled as “errands” have been pretty great for the little stories they’ve told. The combat feels pretty great, but I think I’m still missing something - the second a machine sees me I’m basically screwed. I definitely like the setting up of traps and then provoking the bots though :smiley:

I learned that investing in the trip wire bombs and learned elemental weaknesses really helped me down the run. Also, I put points into the skill allowing to knock three arrows at once which helped a ton but also forced me to grind resources more.

Shamelog #032 - Happy Holidays!

Merry Christmas / Happy Holidays everyone! See you on New Years Eve for the year in review :slight_smile:

Games Left to Play: 111
Currently Playing: Horizon Zero Dawn

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Breath of the Wild Hunt

Beginning of the month was dominated by big open world games I finished.

Ok, here’s the thing.

It seems that problematic content of some kind is in every game in existence. I still think that it is important to mention it, but if I don’t have anything to say or a lot of people already talked about it, I would rather gloss over it. It’s there, it’s bad, but I don’t want to just say it, you know, drone it out, because I feel it can have almost the opposite effect then. Okay? Okay.

Also, I’m not sure if any of the games I’m gonna mention deserve specific content warning, but obviously horror games gonna deal with some upsetting stuff, so be warned (you can ask me for specifics if you want, but they are obviously a bit spoilery). And “The Witcher 3” is very “mature”. Sometimes for better, but often for worse.

Both “The Witcher 3” and “Breath of the Wild” are huge. Steam shows 130 hours for just main game and Switch… oh… “300 hours or more”. Wow. If my calculations are correct, that’s more than my two playthroughs of “Skyrim” (240+ hours). And you know what? I want more! :­) I already bought Expansion Pass for “Wild Hunt” (it’s Steam Sale that goes to the next year, so I’m not breaking my rule), but it seems like that last DLC is it for “Zelda”. I wish that they would do “Majora’s Mask” type game with assets and mechanics reused, so at least we wouldn’t wait that long for the next one.

Second part of December was about “SOMA”. I played it in a “safe mode”. Then I watched couple of videos and a full let’s play. Great game. Long, btw – I mean that as a compliment: it kept my attention for 11 hours! Annoyed that diverse cast is voiced by only white people.

And then I played some more.

House of Caravan” is your run-of-the-mill short spooky puzzler. It’s fine. I liked that all puzzles are contained to one room, so if you miss that thing to do that other thing, you know it’s around here somewhere.

CAT Interstellar” doesn’t have a good story, which is upsetting, because otherwise it’s very nice.

Radiator 2” is awesome. Fair warning, tho, some of those games are full of puns! :­)

I really liked “Seasons After Fall” that I got thanks to a cool thread we have going on. It’s lite metroidvania type game, with good puzzles and gorgeous art. Now I’m thinking if I should dig into proper metroidvania game (never played one for long).

I’m pretty sure what I’m gonna do for the next year, but that’s for later.

Shamelog #033 - The Year That Was: 2017

2017: The year that games were at their best, and also at their most needed.

Personally, it ended up a healthy mixture of new and old for me - 360 games sat alongside PS4, tiny indies bumped shoulder with the largest AAA’s. I whittled my list down from 120 to 112 games (even with several additions!) with a good chunk of them being big worlds with tons to do in them.

Here’s some stats (all relating to May-Dec 2017, from when this project began to now)

Number of games finished: 17
Number of games added to the list: 9
Number of hours played: ~620
Dollars spent on games: $220
Number games I would’ve bought if I wasn’t doing this project: 52
Dollars I would’ve spent on games if I wasn’t doing this project: ~$1570

Here’s the list of games crossed off the list

Watch Dogs
The Witcher
Horizon Zero Dawn
What Remains of Edith Finch
Wolfenstein The New Order
Kirby and the Rainbow Curse
Code Name: Steam
Assassins Creed 3
Far Cry 3
Tales of Berseria
Far Cry Primal
No Man’s Sky
Super Mario Odyssey
Wolfenstein II: The New Order
Runescape (for now)

Here’s the list of games I passed over in 2017, instead of picking up and leaving sit unplayed for years

Yakuza 0
Gravity Rush 2
Persona 5
A Signal From Tolva
Old Man’s Journey
Danger Zone
God Wars Future Past
Crash Bandicoot N’Sane Trilogy
Black The Fall
Yonder: Cloud Catcher Chronicles
Lone Echo (VR)
Aporia: Beyond the Valley
Hellblade Senua’s Sacrifice
The Shrouded Isle
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
Uncharted: The Lost Legacy
Last Day of June
Mario + Rabbids Kingdom Battle
Ys VIII: Lacrimosa of Dana
Subsurface Circular
Heat Signature
Divinity Original Sin 2
Middle Earth: Shadow of War
No Heroes Allowed! (VR)
Megaton Rainfall (VR)
Super Lucky’s Tale
Far From Noise
.hack//G.U. Last Recode
West of Loathing
Assassins Creed Origins
Star Wars Battlefront 2 (for campaign only, buy used copy only)
Dishonored: Death of the Outsider
Horizon Zero Dawn: Frozen Wilds
Romancing SaGa 2
Finding Paradise
Stories Untold
Okami HD
Tokyo Xanadu EX+
Spellforce 3
Blackwood Crossing
Bridge Constructor Portal
Blossom Tales

A few notes

On purchasing games: I broke down and bought SteamWorld Dig 2. I also opened the wallet for that Xenoblade Chronicles 2 collectors edition, Xenoblade X is one of my favourite games ever, so I couldn’t pass that up. I really want to use the Switch more, as I was reminded how awesome that system is while playing Super Mario Odyssey. Blue Reflection ended up being an impulse buy, I know it might be weird but I loved Sailor Moon as a kid and this game sounds like sweet, wholesome fun. Apart from that, I did pretty good in not spending money on games, apart from buying some games for collection purposes only (a story for another time, perhaps - Limited Run Games and $5 deals on 360 & PS3 games - it’s a bad habit I’m slowly breaking).

I think, beginning 2018, I’m going to switch it up a little - instead of flat out not buying any games whatsoever, I think I want to set myself a budget for the year. $300 for the entire 12 months, in which I can buy a few new releases (side note, games are $100 at release in Australia). This gives me a bit more flexibility to play a few of the titles I just don’t want to miss - as I would’ve this year with Mario & Wolfenstein 2, if it wasn’t for my lovely lady - while being wary of not wasting tons money as I have to stick to a $ budget (bargain hunting y’all, is good.)

On the games I missed: There were so many games I would’ve loved to play from this year - Hellblade, Yonder, Last Day of June, Divinity 2 all are standouts - but knowing I have this list I can reference back to in years to come helps me almost let that go in a sense? Part of this project is about learning to let go of the need to buy/play everything immediately on release (a particular challenge around GOTY time) so that old adage of writing things down and locking them away is weirdly relevant here. Maybe one day I’ll return to this list and pick up a few of these games on the cheap - then again, maybe not. The important thing is I didn’t waste my money buying these games even though I know I wouldn’t be playing them for years.

Games played over the past 2 weeks

Horizon Zero Dawn: What a game. I ended up much higher on this once finishing it than I felt 2 weeks ago. I enjoyed it so much that I wrote a full piece on it, which I haven’t done in a while. You can read my full impressions here.

Wolfenstein II: The New Order: My lovely partner got me this for Christmas, which I promptly started and finished across 2 days. What a ride. Everything in this game is even better than the first, from the pacing to the weapons to the character moments to the overarching story. It was cathartic to an extreme degree, and I thoroughly enjoyed letting it out through this game. Still mulling over proper thoughts, may end up writing a piece on this as well, so TBA on that for further words.

Everything: I usually dig philosophy a lot, but this was almost a little to far out of my wheelhouse. Maybe I wasn’t in the right state of mind when jumping in, I dunno. Still pretty awesome for what it is, especially once you fully unlock your potential so to speak. Is especially cool to sit the controller down and just watch it do it’s thing.

On the year ahead

2017, personally, was a break year from personal projects. After some time off I’m itching to get working again, so I’m looking forward next year to start learning, experimenting and creating once more. I bought the humble bundle relating to GameMaker Pro, which I toyed with a bit a few years back, and am keen to dig into that more and try to make some cool little games. Apart from that we’ll be moving into our new home in the first half of the year (!) which will be big. Apart from that, it’s full steam ahead here - playing and writing and talking about games with all of you!

So that’s my question for you this week - what are your plans for 2018? Do you have resolutions or goals to work toward? Just a theme of how you want to live your life for the next 365 days? Let me know!

For those that are interested, I usually do a yearly wrap up thing on my website Press Play Gaming. I like to kind of give props to all the games that mattered for the year, so 2017’s coverage was The 58 Best Games of 2017. Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3 can all be found here if y’all want to check that out.

And that my friends is a wrap for 2017. What a fucking year, in every sense of the word.

Games Left to Play: 112
Currently Playing:
Budget Remaining for 2018: $300

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@onsamyj not bad my dude. I would bloody love it if Nintendo did a Majora’s Mask style game from BOTW - I’m already sooo looking forward to a new world on that level again. Also interested on your thoughts with safe mode SOMA - I always was like “that game looks cool as, but noooooooope with the monsters” kind of deal. It doesn’t ruin anything with the safe mode active?

Simply put, monsters are still there, they do their thing, they are still scary. They just can’t hurt you. Which means that I can play “SOMA” more like immersive/walking simulator – go around kinda freely (there are still puzzles, so you can’t just open every door), exploring everything, reading and looking at stuff. In my opinion, it’s just better. Story alone can carry that game.

But it is interesting to look at that game, and addition of a safe mode, in general.

Ok, I said that monsters are scary, and they are, but only for some time. First, game is actually knows, that what you can’t see is way scarier, so it very cleverly introduces monsters. But what would happen after that in original game, is that you may die to a monster, maybe a lot, and you would see them more clearly, and it would be just frustrating, like a death from a regular enemy in any game, and no more frightening (well, at least less so). In safe mode it is similar, because you can just walk up to a creature and stare at them.

In Patrick’s piece, developers admit that there are inherent flaws in a game where you can’t fight monster, and they thinking how to approach that differently. I’m curious about what they can come up with.

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Shamelog #034 - Doki Doki SteamWorld

The Switch is a neat ass system. Some people bemoan its lack of functionality, but I think that’s what makes it great - it keeps it clean, fast and, most importantly, all about the games. Maybe Microsoft should take a cue?

SteamWorld Dig 2 is a fantastic little gem, something that seems to be fitting the niche of the Switch just perfectly. I only spent 9 hours working through this cool little metroidvania game, and it was a joyous time. The pace keeps up at a good clip - you’re moving through environments, picking up upgrades, mastering those upgrades, then obtaining more, while always maintaining a forward momentum. Moving through and finishing this game was satisfying from end to end, without any unnecessary fluff or extraneous systems. I never played the first, but after digging this, I certainly want to.

I’ll keep my thoughts on it it short because I’ve got big piece going up on it soon, but Doki Doki Literature Club is fantastic and you should definitely play it if you are ok with the themes. Damn this game goes places… even when you’ve seen the credits, there’s still so much more to it. Also, it’s free!

Games Left to Play: 111
Currently Playing: Suikoden
Budget Remaining for 2018: $300

Shamelog #035 - 108 Stars of Destiny

Suikoden somehow blends the dichotomy of a tight, personal experience and a world-affecting JRPG. I was surprised to find that despite travelling the entire world, visiting dozens of towns and recruiting up to 108 characters in your posse, Suikoden clocks in at 20-25 hours of game - not that that’s a bad thing by any stretch. Suikoden has a clear beginning, middle and end without having hours of excess side content and grinding built in - something modern RPG’s could well learn from.

That 108 characters to recruit was a particular sticking point for me - I was sure that I 1) would barely recruit 50% of the characters, and 2) wouldn’t remember most of them anyway. Suikoden somehow endears every single character to the player, having the collecting aspect be a (quite fun) key part of the game. I used a guide for some - Clive and Jabba were a bit more difficult - but are 100% worth it for what happens toward the final battle.

The game has a real good flow to it - once you get into the thick of it, the rhythm of heading to a new area, moving through the localised story beats, hitting the crescendo of that area’s plot then having the downtime to explore and recruit is satisfying. I especially loved the storyline involving Neclord and the Warriors Village.

8 hours into Suikoden, I still wasn’t sure if I was getting into this game, which seemed damning. But at 10 hours, something weird happened with the save file on my Vita, causing me to need to rebuild the Vita database, delete the game and re-download it - at which point I breathed a sigh of relief at the game working. I realised just how bummed I was at the idea of not seeing Suikoden through to the end during this process, and how much I was really getting into this adventure. Also, reading this tips post at Kotaku really helped me right the rudder in those beginning to middle hours.

Early on, I was of the thought that maybe these PS1 JRPG’s are only great if you were really into them at the time. Having completed the game, I can safely say that they are still 100% worth going back to, regardless of if you were into them or not - they set the stage for what has come since, and stand as excellent stories (and fun games) in their own right. Very much looking to digging into Suikoden 2 some time this year - I hear that’s an alright game?

Games Left to Play: 110
Currently Playing:
Budget Remaining for 2018: $300

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Shamelog #036 - More Short Games Please

I wasn’t really keen on jumping into the Zelda DLC… until Austin’s story came up. Breath of the Wild - turns out, still a fantastic game.

This week, I’ve tackled a few smaller games in between Zelda sessions - dipping into Kamiko and playing through Monument Valley.

Kamiko - a cool 2D hack and slash game, quite short. The epitome of a good game to get at launch for the Switch, but given the calibre of releases now available on the system, it becomes harder to recommend. I get the feeling this is a game that is meant to be speed run, as each level is only short - the first couple took me ~10 minutes to complete, but I’m willing to bet completion of levels in a few minutes/seconds are achievable.

Monument Valley - A fantastic example of great puzzle game design specifically for mobile. I played it all through in a sitting, it was pretty engrossing. It is also absolutely beautiful on the big iPad screen. I almost wanted to spring for the extra downloadable packs it was that good.

On a tangent note, and something I will probably include as a check in each week to keep me on track - I started diving in to GameMaker Studio today. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for so long, and finally am biting the bullet. Like many here I imagine, I have all these ideas swirling around in my mind, which I’d love to at least try and make a reality! Completed the first tutorial today, which was fun, so… onward!

Games Left to Play: 108
Currently Playing:
Budget Remaining for 2018: $300

I hate to come in and be a critic so long into this project, but I would like to make a gentle suggestion. There are a bunch of notable high budget, 6 or 7/10 games on here, like Assassins Creed 3, Beyond Two Souls, Heavenly Sword, Metro: Last Light, Fallout 4, Thi4f etc.
I’m just wondering, have you considered maybe knocking some of these titles off the list, especially the longer ones, and replacing them with smaller/lesser known games, particularly experimental ones, that might give the list more variety?
Obviously if you want to play these games, more power to you! All I’m really doing here is projecting my own tastes onto you. Still, I wonder if this is something to consider.

Totally know where you’re coming from dude, you are right. For me, this list already is cut down by a fair margin - there are a ton of other games I have (particularly on Steam) that I just am never going to play because I’m not really that interested that don’t appear on this list (Alan Wake, for example, is a game I know people adore, but it’s just not for me.)

The games on here are all ones I’ve been super keen to play through for a long time, I just haven’t had time, been distracted or any number of excuses really. I generally tend to dig those rougher 7/10 games honestly - I’ve already played through AC3, and found that way more interesting than most people seem to (being an Aussie I knew nothing of the civil war, so it was broadly informative in a sense.

One major point of this project isn’t necessarily to play every single one of these through entirely - if I bounce off them I bounce off them, at which time I’ll put it down and move on (which I did with Lumo for example - as interesting as that game was, I never was around for the games it’s cribbing from, so the nostalgia can’t carry me through there.) I suspect there will be a few more of those yet!

You’re right in this list is highly subjective - I’m not playing through “every release” or anything like that. I’m mostly not into shooters for example, so there’s basically none of those on here. These are just the games I’ve found appealing for one reason or another, so I ended up buying them a while ago (years in some cases) and that’s the habit I want to break - spending ridiculous money on games and leaving them untouched. It’s (mostly) worked so far at least! :smiley:

Hah, I’m a kiwi who also knows nothing of the Civil War. But I played through AC3 so I can tell you all about the American Revolution.

Honestly I think the 7/10 games (I hate that dismissive terminology for them) are what lists like this were made for. None of these games are outright bad. They come with a number of caveats, but the good usually by-far outweighs the bad. They just so happen to lack mass-market appeal and thus sit unplayed by many.

Lol my bad :sweat_smile: that is what I meant. In my defense, it was 7am in the morning after a night trying to sleep in 40+ degree Celsius weather without a proper air con, so I obviously hadn’t woken up yet :rofl:

Yeah that’s kinda what I was getting at - these games appealed to me in their own ways, either because of or despite the review scores. My favourite game of all time (prior to Nier Automata at peast) was mostly looked over by the gaming public, but that is a game I’ve played through 10 times and still love going back to it again and again. Throw me an interesting game with a few rough edges over a polished masterpeace any day.

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Ah, ok, I guess I missed that you weren’t commited to completing every game. That makes a lot more sense.
Hello from Melbourne!
@supa_kappa I think you misunderstood me a little. I was actually trying to mainly list games that have mass market appeal, but at the time or in retrospect didn’t actually have the quality to live up to the hype (and expensive marketing campaigns). That to me is what a game like AC3 is. Less an “interesting rough edges” kind of thing and more “a bland waste of millions of dollars”. Though obviously even it has its merits! It’s at least worth playing an AC game long enough to unlock most of the map.

Oh wow, another Aussie! :smiley: I’m also Vic based, but a bit more north :slight_smile: was gonna ask how you’re coping with this heat til I looked up Melbourne weather, turns out I should be moving further south maybe?

That’s also part of the fun to me, digging into games that fell short of the hype. Being removed from all that, it’s interesting to see where the game really lands - you get the high of hype and the low of unmet expectations, but where it eventually settles is different game to game. I ended up quite liking some bits of AC3 I’d never even heard about, like the homestead for example. Building your own little community of misfits was awesome! AC3 was on my list thanks to my deep interest in the modern day stuff from the earlier games (granted which wasn’t wrapped up well with 3) so it was interesting to see that flipped through this game.

I’ve found coming to these games later to actually be really beneficial - having that degree of separation and expectations reasonably set helps me work through what actually is good or bad about a game, separate from the news cycle. Obviously there are some games that are better off being played more immediately - things like Destiny, or even something like Wolfenstein 2 which I think benefits off current politics - but games like AC3 really was a good time capsule project that has a whole lot of added context playing now vs then.

Shamelog #037 - When Something is No Longer Yours

So, I think it’s time we had the talk - about Fire Emblem.

Prior to the release of Nier Automata, a Fire Emblem game was my favourite of all time. The weird thing was which one it was - the Wii iteration, Radiant Dawn. Not the typical answer for a favourite FE game, let alone of all time - often it is referred to as the black sheep of the series. It was the first I played; I fell so head over heels for it that I played it over again twice after finishing it the first time. I bought a Wii U based on the (incorrect) assumption that Nintendo would release a Zelda (they kinda did) and a Fire Emblem (they did not) for the system. Since the last console release, Nintendo have released 3 more FE’s - all on 3DS.

I played through the entirety of Awakening a few months after release. I was so happy to hear the world sing its praises - the series was saved! - but if you ask me now what happened in that game, I couldn’t answer. I can barely even remember the characters, which is so important for a game all about the characters. Fates came along a couple of years later, with the promise of 3 separate storylines - yet, it still sat on my pile.

I think I have to admit something - I’m not a typical Fire Emblem fan. The horniness of the 3DS releases is well known at this point, which is one of the big draws for a lot of players. Now I’m not shy in the slightest about some horny in my games - my sweetest memories of Dragon Age: Inquisition was my time with The Iron Bull - but something about the way it’s focused on in 3DS FE’s just rubs me in a weird way. I totally get that others are into it, definitely no judgement here, it’s what has kept the franchise alive more recently - but I can’t shake the feeling that I used to be the target audience, yet am no longer.

It was with a heavy heart that I shut down my play through of Fates for likely the final time this week. I had tried twice to work my way through Birthright, both times getting around 12 maps in, yet all I could feel was frustrated at the battles and couldn’t care less about the story. It just wasn’t working for me. The story was excessively dramatic, the characters felt overly caricatured and shallow and weirdly enough there were too many characters. The game throws them at you 2 or 3 at a time - you barely get a chance to be aquanted before you’re whisked away to another group of newcomers. Even the number of classes are excessive - there’s just too much to wrap your head around.

What makes my favourite in the series so good to me is it’s restraint - though the story flourishes into a world spanning anime ass anime story, the beginnings see you following a group of half a dozen rebels fighting back against a cruel occupying force. There’s political intrigue and character conflict, racial tensions and strategic warfare. I can barely remember any of this being key in Awakening, and Fates feels even further from that.

I was resigned to my fate (heh) and was planning to leave it at that, but I still have 1 more 3DS FE left to cross off the list. I chucked the cart in not knowing what to expect, though I was optimistic - the story of Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia is a retelling of a much older game, when the series was simpler and smaller scale. The story also follows 2 separate protagonists - another common link with Radiant Dawn. The fact that this game got only OK reviews and not much attention, weirdly enough, gave me hope.

I’m glad I dropped Fates and moved on. Shadows of Valentia is everything I hoped it would be. The story begins as a simple group of ragtag commoners fighting in a resistance against a lavishly hostile regime. The parties remain small throughout, with a total of less than 30 across 2 different character sets 20 hours in. The story unfolds with satisfying reveals at a quick pace. There is still a bit of horny present - I’m all in on the unabashedly gay Leon, and the way Claire handles Grey’s attention is just sublime. In short, it’s everything I’ve wanted in a Fire Emblem since Radiant Dawn.

It’s tough, coming to the realisation that you are a minority in a fanbase. We all love the same basic concept, yet all come at it from slightly different angles. That being said, I hold no bitterness for the fans that are passionate for this series in ways I’m not - they are the ones helping it flourish after all, and we wouldn’t have this fantastic remake if it weren’t for them. And hey, who knows - Nintendo may end up making another Radiant Dawn yet.

Games Left to Play: 107
Currently Playing: Fire Emblem Echoes: Shadows of Valentia
Budget Remaining for 2018: $300

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Yeah I’m with you. Shadows of Valentia is my favorite too. The core gameplay was so much better and the dialogue was actually a huge improvement (thanks 8-4 Play!). I think that the new entry on the Switch should recognize and incorporate Echoes’ best aspects, but unfortunately that probably won’t happen.