Operation Finish All The Games: January 2016

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Operation Finish All The Games: January 2016
Broken Age
Lots of people have New Year's resolutions, but I'm throwing mine up here on Engadget for you, dear readers, to gawk at my successes and failures. Back in December I vowed to finish one game a month throughout the entirety of 2016. Now that January's done and over with, how did I do in the first month of 'Operation Finish All the Games?'First, let's recap the rules I've set for myself:
  1. One game must be finished per month. This generally means wrapping up the story mode and prompting a credits scroll.
  2. Side-quest and post-story content do not have to be completed; I will play them at my own leisure.
  3. I can finish more than one game a month, but the extra games will not count toward future months' quotas.
  4. I do not have to start and finish a game in the same month. If a particular game takes several months, so be it.
  5. I am not required to play every single game in my backlog or every game I've left unfinished. Sometimes they go untouched for a reason.
  6. Single episodes of an episodic game do not count toward the quota. It's every episode or bust.
  7. If I buy a new game, I have to finish at least one additional game that month to make up for it.

Those last two rules are new for the 2016 edition, and they've already come into effect in January. My roommate and I started playing Sam & Max Beyond Time and Space together back in December, with the intention of plowing through all five episodes before the end of last month. Sadly, we haven't really come close to finishing. After starting Episode 1 (a very seasonally appropriate chapter where you go to the North Pole and have to rescue Santa from a demon), we didn't get back to it until late January.

We did at least plow through the rest of it and quickly started up Episode 2, though that's been left off somewhere in the middle. It's not for lack of interest -- just a matter of finding two straight hours where we'd rather play than watch the latest episode of The 100 (seriously guys that show is great).

I knew full well that failing to complete Sam & Max in January was likely, but had a fallback in place. In fact, I was pretty much counting on it. Back in November I started Yo-Kai Watch, the new(ish) monster collecting game from Level-5. I was actually enjoying it quite a bit thanks to its sense of place and exploration.

However, in addition to dealing with the usual holiday crap, I was also trying to finish a book I'd been struggling with for a few months -- Neal Stephenson's Seveneves. It's really long, thanks to an enormous amount of worldbuilding that, while interesting on a conceptual level, was not entirely necessary toward conveying the basic story. I still muscled through it, though at the expense of my game play time. Suddenly it was the last week of January, and I wasn't entirely sure I'd finish Yo-Kai Watch, even with 20 hours of game play under my belt.

The thing about having a backlog of 41 games is that there's a bit of variety hidden in there, in terms of genres and systems... and play time. I quickly scanned my list for something I could knock out pretty quickly, and stumbled across a title I should have finished a while back: Broken Age.

Broken Age
You see, I was one of the Kickstarter backers way back in 2012 -- I love adventure games, especially the old LucasArts oeuvre, so it seemed like a pretty safe bet to throw down my $15 at the time. Of course, it went on to be one of the most successful Kickstarters in history. And my wait began. After quite a few delays the game finally arrived in January 2014... but only 'Act 1,' with 'Act 2' due later that year. So it goes: I played Act 1, finished it in a few hours, logged it as part of the original 'Operation Finish All The Games' and moved on to other things. When Act 2 finally came out the following year, I was in no rush to complete it... until now.

Sometimes it's hard to go back to a game you haven't played in a while, as it brings a litany of questions: "Where am I? What am I supposed to be doing? How do I even play this anyway?" Luckily, Broken Age had a pretty natural break in the middle, both story-wise and puzzle-wise, and it's a basic point-and-click adventure game so I didn't need to relearn the controls. I did, however, find myself struggling with some of the more convoluted, opaque puzzles. I admit it: I had to consult a walkthrough at various points.

The final puzzle was particularly maddening as it things needed to be done in a specific order and a bit of metagaming on the part of the player was required -- that is, I was required to use knowledge that the characters wouldn't (and couldn't) have. Some games can break the fourth wall and be better for it, but in Broken Age it was just annoying. In all, while I mostly enjoyed my time with this game and would gladly play it again, there were elements that left a sour taste in my mouth. I don't feel like the themes from the first act really carried over into Act 2, and some plot twists felt like they came out of left field and weren't always explained fully. At least the game was gorgeous, and I really enjoyed hooking up a laptop to my 42-inch plasma to get the full effect of the art style and voice acting.

So that's one game down, bringing my backlog to an even 40 titles. I've been really good about obeying rule #7 as well: no buying new games. It was a real struggle during the Steam Winter Sale, but I should be okay for the next few months, even as I'm tempted by new releases like Oxenfree. Hopefully next month I'll have some success on the Yo-Kai front to report.

January tally:
  • Games finished: 1
  • Ships destroyed: 2
  • Yo-kai befriended: 33
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