Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Dec 312017

Another year is coming to a close.

With 2017 almost over, I’d like to look back at my favorite games I played this year. As usual, these aren’t necessarily games that came out in 2017 (although they can be), as long as I completed them this year.

Games I haven’t finished yet don’t count for this year, so as much as I’m enjoying Xenoblade Chronicles 2 so far, it won’t appear on this list.

I played a lot of fantastic games this year, so it was pretty difficult to narrow it down to just 5. Before we get into the main list, there is one honorable mention…

Honorable Mention

You might be surprised that Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue only gets an honorable mention, since I was so excited for it and enjoyed every part, but I decided it was too mixed to be among the top five. Dream Drop Distance was great but suffered from pacing and presentation (review), χ Back Cover was quite entertaining but felt incomplete (review), and while 0.2 Birth By Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage was awesome (review), it got me excited for Kingdom Hearts III more than anything else.

Nevertheless, it was definitely an enjoyable collection and an important part of the story leading up to Kingdom Hearts III.

Now, let’s move on to the top 5 games I played in 2017!

5. Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse

I enjoyed Shantae: Risky’s Revenge, but it pales in comparison to Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse (review).

It’s surprising, since 2D platformers aren’t nearly as high on my list as other genres, but this one’s humor, fun, and almost Zelda-like style of gameplay made me pick it over many other games I played this year.

I played Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse on the Wii U, but it’s available for many different systems, so you can pick the one you like the best.

4. Muv-Luv Alternative

After playing/reading Muv-Luv last year, I went into 2017 with Muv-Luv Alternative as one of my most-anticipated games, and I definitely enjoyed my time with it (review).

While I found the conclusion to be a bit abrupt, it’s hard to criticize a visual novel too much when your biggest complaint is that you want to see more of the story. It was an intense, wild ride, and it might have made this list for that moment and its aftermath alone.

I look forward to seeing more from the Muv-Luv universe, and I encourage you to read both Muv-Luv Extra/Unlimited and Alternative if you enjoy visual novels.

3. Finding Paradise

Finding Paradise was another one of my most-anticipated games of the year, since it is the sequel to one of the best games I’ve played, To the Moon.

I just finished Finding Paradise last night, so I haven’t reviewed it yet, and it was wonderful.

Was it as amazing as To the Moon? No, but it’s hard to top something that great. Finding Paradise was an enjoyable experience with some very thought-provoking ideas.

My full review should be ready early next week.

2. Super Mario Odyssey

I wanted the new 3D Mario game from the moment it was first teased, and Super Mario Odyssey was everything I wanted (review).

From its surprises and unexpectedly cool moments, to its wonderful homage to past Mario games, to the sheer fun and delight of playing a new exploration-driven Mario game, Super Mario Odyssey was incredible.

After going through the entire Wii U’s life without a Mario game like this (and even longer if you only count 64 and Sunshine), it was wonderful to get a new one and see that Nintendo hasn’t forgotten this style… or how to make it great. If you love 3D platformers like I do, Super Mario Odyssey is a must.

And that brings us to the final game on this list, my #1 favorite game I played in 2017…

1. Persona 5

Is anyone surprised?

Persona 5 wasn’t on my radar going into 2017, because I’d never played a Persona game before despite loving JRPGs. The glowing praise for this one got me to try it, and Persona 5 turned out to be an incredible turn-based RPG that kept me captivated for hours upon hours (review).

Between the addicting mix of dungeon exploration and daily life, the twists and turns of its long story, and the group of lovable characters I didn’t want to say goodbye to, Persona 5 and its Phantom Thieves certainly stole my heart.

It’s also just so good to see a high-profile JRPG released in modern times with turn-based combat and have it be one of the most well-received games in the genre. With more and more games switching to action combat, I hope this encourages a few more to stick to this style.

Of course, loving Persona 5 so much means I need to check out more Persona games now. I’m looking forward to that a lot, even if my backlog is not.


While I played a ton of great games in 2017, Shantae and the Pirate’s Curse, Muv-Luv Alternative, Finding Paradise, Super Mario Odyssey, and Persona 5 are at the top of my list, with an honorable mention for Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8: Final Chapter Prologue (such a wonderful title).

What games did you have the most fun with in 2017?

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Dec 222017

The final episode of Life Is Strange: Before the Storm is now out. There’s still the bonus episode, but since that isn’t part of the main story, we can consider Before the Storm complete.

In many ways, Before the Storm is a lot different than the original Life is Strange, and not just because the main character is Chloe. It doesn’t have the same intensity and darkness. Before the Storm could be emotional at times, but not in the same overwhelming way as the first game.

At times, it almost feels like more of a slice-of-life story, even though it definitely has some pretty serious moments. The first two episodes were fantastic and really made me excited to learn how everything would come together. Unfortunately, Episode 3 is easily the weakest.

It felt very linear, without a lot of important choices, and while that wouldn’t be bad if it brought everything from the first two episodes together into a solid conclusion, it didn’t quite manage that. It felt like it set things up but then didn’t follow through.

Click for Before the Storm spoilers
The fire was a huge moment at the end of Episode 1, but it remains a background event. Rachel doesn’t have powers, they don’t deal with the consequences of her causing so much destruction… nothing.

Why was Sera smiling at the end of Episode 1? Seeing her smile as the fire spread made her seem like a very sinister person, which doesn’t fit the Sera we see in Episode 3.

Moving on to Rachel, I didn’t expect Episode 3 to give a definite answer on whether or not Rachel was manipulative, but I thought it would come up. Maybe we’d see more evidence one way or another. Maybe Chloe would have to deal with figuring out Rachel’s intentions. Instead, it was dropped and only referenced by Eliot.

Ah, Eliot. My theory about Eliot turned out to be correct, but it felt pointless. I thought he would be tied into the plot somehow. Instead, the entire Eliot scene in Episode 3 could be removed and change nothing. Did they just want a stalker character? Or was the point to give all of the “Rachel is manipulative” arguments to a crazy character, so it could be shot down without dealing with it in a more meaningful way?

Finally, while I didn’t pursue a romantic path with Rachel, I get the impression I saw about as much romance in Episode 3 as anyone else did. Instead of continuing the Friendship/Romance split paths, Episode 3 returned to being more ambiguous no matter what you picked.

And strangely, while Before the Storm is Chloe’s story, it always felt like the story of Chloe and Rachel… until Episode 3, where their friendship takes a backseat to Rachel’s family, and Rachel herself is less present for a lot of the episode.

Still, Before the Storm had some fantastic moments, even if its conclusion wasn’t the best. The tabletop game in Episode 1, the play in Episode 2, most of the dream scenes… it was filled with great moments.

It also feels like a much happier story than the original, despite some emotional moments, as long as you pretend it isn’t a prequel. Since it is a prequel, it’s hard to escape the feeling that no matter what choices you make, you can’t really change anything.

Click for Life Is Strange (both) spoilers
I tried to make peace with David and accepted his photograph, but in three years, Chloe will still hate him.

My game ended with Nathan and Samantha happy together, but in three years he’ll be a wreck, not getting the help he needs, kidnapping and murdering people while being used and ultimately disposed of by Jefferson.

Chloe and Rachel are happy together now, but in three years, Rachel will be dead, and either Chloe or the entire town will have to die.

It was nice to go through Before the Storm thinking that maybe the right choices will actually create an alternate timeline not canon with the original game… but the post-credits scene destroyed any hope of that.

Just like with the original Life Is Strange, the conclusion of Before the Storm feels unsatisfactory and maybe like they intended to do something different and changed their minds near the end. Nevertheless, it still had many good moments and is even a somewhat happy story if you pretend it stands alone!

What did you think about Life Is Strange: Before the Storm?

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Dec 202017

Today’s post was delayed because I was off watching Star Wars, but don’t worry, no spoilers here! Instead, just as I did last year, I’m going to take a look back at the writing goals I set for the year.

I said that by 2018, I would:

  • Complete my revisions of Hero of the Falari and turn it over to someone to critique.
  • Complete my revisions of The Nightbringer.
  • Revise Unto Dust and give it an actual title.
  • Search for an agent, both by looking for agents in my genre and by participating in events like #PitMad, for Penteract, Agent, and The Nightbringer.
  • Have at least 3 short stories which have either been accepted or I’m actively submitting to markets.
  • Complete my role in at least 3 more video game projects.
  • Earn 50% of my freelance income outside of Fiverr/Upwork/etc.
  • Take steps to double my blog traffic.
  • Participate in at least two book signing events.
  • Seek opportunities to give a presentation to a class at my undergraduate school.

So how did I do this year?

As planned, I revised Hero of the Falari (and had it critiqued), The Nightbringer, and my third novel, which lost its working title in favor of The Time of Adversity. I’ve been diligently searching for an agent.

I focused more on my novels this year than short stories, but I still met my goal. It Came Back was published this year, and I have three other stories I’ve been submitting.

Next up, I made a good deal of progress on video game projects. In addition to completing my role in Ascendant Hearts, Chaos Souls (available now), and Parachronism: Order of Chaos, I also wrote scripts for several short puzzle games.

My remaining goals for 2017 focused less on writing itself, and more on the business around it. Due to the fees involved with freelance sites like Fiverr and Upwork, I wanted to lower my dependence on them. This year, I shifted away from Fiverr entirely, and I now make 50% of my freelance income from outside such sites, just as I promised.

However, I did not take steps to double my blog traffic. I admit I forgot.

I participated in three book signings, one at Seton Hill University, one at a local fall festival, and one at the Wellsboro BookFest. They were worthwhile events, and I hope to continue participating in them.

Finally, I didn’t give any presentations at my undergraduate school, because the classes I’d intended to approach weren’t being offered.

Overall, it was a good year. I didn’t accomplish all of my goals, but I completed the majority of them. Now it’s time to set my goals for 2018…

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