Backlogged – Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

Platform: PC/ Steam Deck

Time to Finish: 12 hours

I was expecting to write more posts about Yonder than I have. I had so much fun playing it that by the time I got around to writing about it it was over. Quite suddenly, I might add. The main quest actually isn’t that long consisting of only 5 or 6 quests that need completed. It’s gated a bit by the number of Sprites found but overall, if I was just doing the main quest, I bet I could finish it in two or three hours.The rest of my time in Yonder was spent doing side quests, finding sprites, clearing murk, occasionaly picking up lost cats.

I bought Yonder in 2017 on release and put about 8 hours in to it before bouncing. I don’t remember why I stopped but it was probably because something new and shiny came along. But it’s a good example of why I don’t get buyers remorse for games I buy and play for only a little bit. Eventually there will be a time and a place where I want to come back and play said game.

Yonder is the game I needed right now. It’s an colorful exploration game with no combat, no real lose conditions, and repetitive but satisfying content. It’s a game I was able to play in short bursts or for long periods when time allowed. It was also a great game to throw on a podcast and wander around or fish. There’s nothing ground breaking here but it is a nice little world to explore and if you really like doing fetch quests this is the game for you.

You’re not wrong Interlade Troll….

Things I Liked:

Map markers every where!

World Exploration: This game’s world map takes inspiration from recent Ubisoft open world games. The map is littered with icons and question marks pointing out Points of Interest. Most of the quests have big markers on the map and mini map of exactly where you need to go. In case, that’s not enough, there’s also a big blue line you can summon to point you in the right direction. Now this might all sound like a negative but when you’re looking for a game where you can turn your brain off it’s a big ol’ positive.

It also helps that the world is easy to get around on foot and it looks great! There were only a few instances where I couldn’t figure out how to get somewhere right away.

The Halloween event in Bobbintoff.

Changes with the Seasons: There are seasons in Yonder and things actually change when the seasons change. And I don’t mean just the weather. Animals migrate to a different area or leave Gemea entirely for the season. There is a Halloween event in Bobbintoff at night in the Fall. Even the lost cats only appear in certain regions in certain seasons.

One of the night time teleports. Not so active in the day.

The Fast Travel System: The more hours I put in to the game the more I appreciated the “fast travel” system. I put that in quotes because it isn’t all that fast but I think it was done well.

There are Sage Stones in every region that lead to a central hub where other Sage stones can be accessed. Sometimes the stones are conveniently placed near a town but most of the time they’re in the middle of nowhere in the region. There are teleports scattered throughout that are portals from one particular spot to another. Some of the teleports are only active at night and some are only active during the day. I didn’t use these too much, I would go in them just to see where they led.

By far the best system was the farm teleports. Once a farm in a region is unlocked, a Traveler’s Knot can be crafted out of vine and stone that will teleport you to that farm. The farms are usually in pretty convenient places to access towns, crafting houses, and regions without farms. I used these the most.

But traveling through Gemea on foot isn’t all that bad. It helps that the total map size isn’t all that large. I found it big enough to find the fast travel methods useful but not so big it was a slog to go on foot. Traveling on foot also has the added benefit of finding treasure chests, tree planting plots, and cats I may have missed the last time I traveled through the region. Traveling in general never feels like a chore.

When’s the last time you saw blogging mentioned in a game?

Things That Could Have Been Better:

Here’s a handful of berries for your manufactured goods.

The Barter System: I see what the intention here is and it is a unique system. You aren’t able to offload extra items in exchange for currency so wealth can’t be horded as easily. Inventory can fill up quickly if you’re adverse to outright destroying an item. Each town’s trader carries different stock, usually related to the Guild in that town and the stock is refreshed and items rotate every day. These traders are also want some items more than others and will pay more for items they need and less for ones they have.

The problem is, nothing is so expensive it can’t be bought with a few stacks of fodder or sticks. Items that are picked up relatively often while traveling. As I got further in the game and needed some more big ticket items to craft, I upgraded to trading berries since no matter where I went, except Mocha Bay with the Chef’s Guild, they were worth 50 value. My farm produced them like crazy so I was never strapped for cash.

Sure, I could have engaged with the system the way it was meant to be but I didn’t find crafting enjoyable enough to make items just to trade for slightly more than a couple berries.

Or maybe food is just scarce on the island.

My feeling exactly…

Crafting: The crafting system is your standard collect materials to make a thing, craft more materials, and use those materials to craft a bigger item. I don’t mind that as a crafting system as it’s really common. The thing that made that particular crafting less enjoyable was not being able to pin materials needed for one of the bigger crafting items as check list. Instead, I found myself constantly having to craft a couple smaller parts and check the big ticket item continuously until I made enough to make the big item.

Now maybe I just have a bad memory for these things and this isn’t a big deal to most. But in a game where everything else has a checklist, it would have been nice to have one for crafting recipes.

How Does it Run on the Steam Deck?

It run’s great! The whole reason I started playing Yonder is because it was one of the first Steam Deck Verified titles that caught my eye in my library. Out of the box everything ran smoothly, all of the cut-scenes played. I didn’t limit the frame rate at all or make any performance tweaks. As a result, the battery usually only lasted two to two and a half hours. Plenty of time for me when it comes to playing on the Deck.

I only encountered on issue while playing on the Deck. I loaded up the game one day and it would start but immediately freeze once I got in to the game. I only had one save at this point and was panicing a little bit. Luckily, when I booted up the game on my PC everything worked fine. I immediately made 2 other save files and didn’t run into the issue again.

Backlogged – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Shredder’s Revenge

Time to Finish: 2.5 hours*

It’s always nice when a game that I’m looking forward to comes out unexpectedly. I’m not sure how long ago I put this one on my wish list but it has been a while for sure. Every few months I would see it on the list, click on the store page, and see that it still didn’t have a release date. Eventually, I just forgot about the whole thing. Until Thursday when I got a email from Steam that it was finally out. Which I found a bit odd as most things seem to release on Tuesdays.

As a child of the late 90s and early 2000s, I will always have a ton of nostalgia for the Turtles. It was one of my absolute favorite Saturday morning shows. Right up there with Power Rangers and Pokemon. Surprisingly, I don’t remember actually playing a TMNT game until I played Turtles in Time with Greg a few years ago on the SNES. There have been quite a few over the years but recently the IP has been used to either make mobile games or cameos in other games.

Things I Liked:

The Arcade Style: My cumulative experience with arcades and arcade cabinets come from the following places: Chuck E. Cheese, Mini Golf/ Go Kart Places, the occasional bowling alley, and those trendy Retro Gaming bars that are so crowded you can’t play anything. If you stuck this game in a cabinet with a CRT TV it would be right at home in any of those places. And probably in an actual arcade as well. This game knows exactly what it is and executes perfectly on it. Gameplay, Music, and graphics come together in one nostalgia fueled arcade dream.

The story mode may be short but it is perfectly paced. Any longer than the two and a half hours it took ups to beat and I’d say the game was overstaying it’s welcome.

The OST: Speaking of the music, this game boasts a fantastic soundtrack. You can listen to it in it’s entirety on Spotify and other music streaming services. Again, everything about it fits the style of the game perfectly from the stage music to the original songs. Some of my favorites include Mutants over Boradway!, We Ain’t Came to Lose, and Outworld Stamgeoids!

Multiplayer: It just works. Anytime I don’t have to fight with in game invites and google how to troubleshoot multiplayer issues is amazing. This was just a simple Steam invite and go situation. While I only played with Greg, I am curious to see if you can run a local multiplayer game and invite online friends in as well. I’m thinking this could be perfect for friends who don’t have the game to Parsec in and play with us.

Controls: Simple yet satisfying. There aren’t a lot of fancy combos to memorize and the inputs are very responsive. There is enough complexity to not feel like it’s just button mashing without the controls getting in the way of having fun. The few characters I’ve played feel different enough from each other that they feel unique even with the simple controls.

Replayability: We played through story mode on the easiest difficulty and it took us about two and a half hours to complete. That sounds short for a $22 game but any longer and I think the game would have outstayed it’s welcome. There’s also an Arcade mode with limited lives and continues that we haven’t gotten the chance to play through yet. Plus there are extra collectables to find in each level that we didn’t go out of our way for. I have a feeling this won’t be a one and done title for me.

It’s also on Gamepass if you find it too short to own.

At the end of these, I usually have a Things that could have been better section. I find myself unable to come up with anything this time. It was a perfect experience for me from beginning to end. I only wish I had 4 more friends to play it with and take full advantage of the 6 person multiplayer!

*I played story mode on the easiest difficulty with one other person. The Story mode may take longer on higher difficulties.

Steam Next Fest: More Demos to Install and Never Play

Hold on a second. Didn’t we just do this?

Checks notes…

Ah yes, way back in February. Well then, it’s time to wade our way through another virtual bazaar teeming with demos. Complete with live streams that follow you around, hawking their wares, form page to page!

I guess I know what I’ll be writing about this week.

This time around, I had more of an idea of games I was looking for. I’ve been in the mood for more relaxed and colorful games as of late. Probably because I’ve been playing a lot of Yonder over the last week or two. Lucky for me there is a Colorful filter by which to sort out games.

I was also on the hunt for demos I could try out on the Steam Deck. Being new demos, most of them are labeled as Untested for the Deck. Still, I was on the lookout for games that looked like they would be fun to play on a handheld if they worked. Plus, I figure I can probably get another blog post out of it….

After an hour of searching I ended up with 17 demos. Probably way more than I’ll have time to play in the coming week. I’d rather download them now and have them sit on my desktop where I can see them rather than sticking them on my wish list.

Still, there are demos I am making a priority to check out this week. There’s 5 of them so that seems reasonable.

Genfanad

Some games break the fourth wall. We simply forgot to put one in ours.

A self-aware parody of beloved MMORPG legends like (insert huge MMORPG franchise that our lawyers won’t let us mention here), manifested in the form of the world’s most committed meme, Genfanad doesn’t take itself too seriously.

In fact, it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. The one thing we are serious about? Giant rats.

It caught my eye because it looked like a Runescape parody. Upon further investigation, it is a Runescape parody. That’s more than enough reason for me to check it out.

Nanomon

Nanomon is a tiny virtual pet that sits on your desktop. Only with your love and training can they evolve into the perfect companion!

I’ve been looking for a new idle game. A Tamagatchi/Pokemon mash up seems like an interesting combination.

The Courier

The Courier is an open world game about running a mail delivery business on a mysterious island. The more letters you deliver, the more you uncover the island’s secrets.

I don’t think I’ve ever played a game delivering mail was the focus. I’m also down to uncover secrets of a mysterious island in the process! I was also drawn to the colorful visuals and the stylized graphics. There’s also some mention of dark secrets of the island and I’m a sucker for things that look happy turning dark. I’m not sure what that says about me

Glitched

When a glitch appears in the video game world of Soren, an NPC named Gus becomes aware of you- the player. Travel together to solve the mystery of the glitch and save Gus’s friends, hometown, and digital world. As the story unfolds, Gus might start to question what role you play in his world.

This is one of those games that looked like it would be fun to play on the Steam deck. We shall see if it actually runs. Also, and NPC gaining self awareness sounds like an interesting plot hook.

Nobody’s Quest

You start with nothing, not even your body!

Play as a wandering soul in this cozy sandbox RPG adventure and discover a mini pixelated open world!

Explore the realm of Hubbington, collect crafting materials and resources, save the citizens of Hubb Burg so they can help you in return, defeat Evil spawns and eventually face the Lord Of All That Horrible Evil… at your own pace!

Ah I see what you did there with the title. This is another one that looks like a good Deck candidate. Interested to see what this one plays like.

Honarable mention to the other icons on my desktop. These are the “get to them if I have time” demos.

I’m Not a Fan of Hard Games

This is a fact I have to remind myself from time to time. This isn’t to say I don’t like a challenge in my video games but that I don’t like when difficulty is a core feature of a game. One or two difficult bosses in a game is a challenge. The game only having difficult bosses is tiresome.

What happens with the “difficulty as feature” games is that they start off harder than your average game and they get harder from there. At the start I might die a lot. The game is suppose to be hard so it’s expected. But then the mechanics click for me and I’m able to progress a bit. That feels good so I keep going. There are a few bumpy parts, some times it takes longer to do something but eventually I succeed.

But in all of these games there comes a point where I don’t have the mechanical skill and/or I don’t have the motivation to put in the effort to improve to continue. Not to mention, as time goes on the feeling of accomplishment from “overcoming” an obstacle fades and what’s left is just fatigue.

Which leads to even less motivation to overcome it. With all that said you think I would know when to hang it up. But by this point I’ve invested so much time it’s hard to walk away. Until I step back and realize I’m not having fun and probably haven’t been for a while.

In my defense, I didn’t know Valfaris was a game that wanted me to “git gud”. I didn’t even know I owned it until it showed up in my Steam Deck Verified collection. Admittedly, I should have realized what kind of game it was going to be when I not only died in the tutorial but received an achievement called “Get Used to It”. Yeah, ok that should have tipped me off.

Originally, this post was going to be about how the short distances between checkpoints made Valfaris’s difficulty a fun rather than frustrating challenge. It’s something I could pick up and play for a level/checkpoint or two and put down which makes it an ideal game for the Steam Deck and it looks really good on the Deck too. Playing in small sessions mitigated the frustration I usually feel when playing games like this.

Or so I thought.

7 and a half hours in I had to bow out. As things got more difficult, I found myself dead more often than not. By the time I got to a boss called the Bloodroot Demon and died a handful of times I was done. By that point I spent more time feeling frustrated and angry than anything remotely resembling fun.

This is by no means unique to this game. Probably against my better judgement I bought Elden Ring on day one.

But Kluwes, you haven’t played a Souls game since Demon Souls….

That’s true, but it’s been a while, I’m ready to try that style of game again!

You do recall the only way you beat Demon Souls was by getting each boss stuck on a piece of scenery and picking them off with a bow?

Ok fine…but this is Elden Ring, the most accessible Souls game yet! I’ll be fine, I know what I’m getting in to even though I probably won’t be able to pull that trick again.

Some things never change.

And it was fine until it wasn’t.

After playing it for 40 hours, I found myself more and more frustrated when I was playing but more importantly irritable and on edge when I wasn’t. There was no way I was going to put another 40+ more hours in to it. When a game start effecting you emotionally when you’re not playing is a sure sign that you should step away

It wasn’t you Elden Ring, it was me.

Fighting this guy with a boat anchor just felt right at the time

At least in Elden Rings case, this can be eleviated by playing with a very skilled buddy. The game and it’s encounters are certainly not balanced for co-op but it sure is a lot more fun that way. Other times, you end up with games like GTFO which seems hell bent on ending your friendships by the time you fail your missions a few times.

But again, that’s a me thing and not the fault of the games that want to implement such difficulty.

I think my tolerance for difficulty maxes out at Monster Hunter levels of hard and goes down from there. It can be difficult at times but there are so many ways to mitigate damage, get heals in, and get out of the way that it’s never frustrating.There’s also the allure of crafting weapons and armor out of my enemies that leads to a certain kind of satisfaction when things get tough.

Valfaris has a lot of good things going for it. It’s sitting at Very Positive reviews on Steam, it’s got a rockin’ metal soundtrack, it’s got great art, and interesting environments. I’m just not skilled enough, nor am I interested in becoming skilled enough to go any farther. But if you like difficult side scrolling shooters it may just be for you.

A Visit to Wimblewick and Bobbintoff

I have one more quest to complete in the Grasslands area. A sailor is looking for his missing crew and he’s given me some hints as to where they could be. Surprisingly, they are not marked on the mini map or glowing off in the distance brighter than the sun so it appears I’ll actually have to look for them. I’ve run around the area a few times and come to the conclusion that they aren’t in the Grasslands and I’ll need to venture out to a new zone.

Yonder has quite a few boxes to tick for each zone. The main ones tracked on the map are mist cleared, farm progress, Sprites found, quests completed, and trees planted which increase the happiness of the region. The happier the region the more bonuses for that region. Every region seems to have the same bonuses: 1.5x harvest, 1.5x animal sightings, and 1.5x faster farm production. I’m already past the 75% happiness for the last bonus in the Grasslands so it’s probably time to move on anyways.

But where to go? I intended to follow the main story and I did for a time. I ended up  in the town of Wimblewick where Rex, the Ferryman was looking for some help to fix his ferry. He sent me to the Carpenters Guild to get some supplies for the repairs. Instead of pointing me in the right direction for materials Agatha Woodgrain inducted me in to the Carpenters Guild with quite a few wood related puns. Then told me to go make the materials myself. Lucky for me, I had most of the raw materials I needed and any extra bits were all readily available at the trader close by. Like I mentioned last time, I had to do one quest to go from novice Carpenter to Master Carpenter so now I’m an expert. Materials in hand, I made my way back to Rex to fix the boat.

With the ferry fixed, Rex can take me across the way to the Old Kingdom in the Radiant Sands. This is where the next step of the main quest line lies. But I somehow ended up wandering down south to the Hearthwind Vale and doing some exploring instead.

Oh is it now?


I arrived in the town of Bobbintoff, which is just a fantastic name for a town,  as the sun was setting. Upon entering, Kit, one of my collected Sprites who looks like a stylized Baby Yoda, let me know that it was Halloween. It’s currently Fall on the Island so this seems to be a seasonal event of some sort. I had a choice to make: dress as up as a Witch or a Vampire Butler (seems oddly specific. I had to go with the Vampire Butler to see what that was about.

Nothing says Vampire Butler like a bowler hat.


Once I donned the costume, I went to each door to trick or treat. Some of the residents were confused, some gave me mysterious candy, and some just weren’t home to celebrate. There were also some green jack-o-lanterns that gave out mysterious candy as well. Having knocked on every door and found every jack-o-lantern I had around 50 mysterious candy rattling around in my backpack. I found a vendor in town who trades candy for some spooky accessories. 50 it seems was not enough to purchase everything so it looks like I’ll need to stop in Bobbintoff next Fall to collect the rest.

I’m getting the feeling some of the spookier residents don’t know it’s Halloween


During the day, Bobbintoff is home to the Tailors Guild. I became a novice Tailor by inquiring with the Guildmaster. It looks like these recipes will be a bit harder to make since they require different color dyes. The trader in town sells only one of each dye so I’ll have to stop back when their inventory refreshes. Whenever that might be. I put all of my collected resources into crafting Tailor’s Kits and Leather Straps which put me around 700 Value, I’m holding out for buying more dye so I can craft some more fashion items. If I’m going to be a Master Tailor after this I have to look good after all.
  
I think my next stop will be popping over to the Radiant Sands and picking the story back up to see where that leads. Hopefully I’ll have enough Sprites to clear out some murk over there and keep the story going. If not, I’m sure I’ll find myself back in Hearthwind Vale before too long!

Wandering Around Yonder

According to my last and only save file, I last played Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles in 2017. I thought I had written a post about it at some point but when I went back to read it there was no post to be found published, in drafts, or otherwise. I must have not gotten around to it. I do remember I was going to call it something like Fetch Quest: The Game though. That’s what has stuck with me over the years when I think of Yonder. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. I remember it being enjoyable actually. Enough to want to give it another shot a few years later.

I didn’t intentionally set out to start another play-through. I was going through my library and looking at Verified games for the Steam Deck. Right there at the bottom of the list was Yonder. I just wanted to see how it would run (it runs great by the way). I started a new game, because there was no way I was picking up a 4 year old save and went through the little tutorial. Then I got to the first area and started to remember a bit more about the game. I did a quest or two, chopped down a few trees and before I knew it an hour had passed and didn’t want to put it down.

Gemea’s Fall Damage Prevention Kit

Yonder is a game about exploration. It has some trading, farming, crafting, and resource gathering in it as well but at it’s heart it’s about exploring the world the world, collecting things, and finding little Sprites scattered aroudn the world.. There is no combat, it’s just you, your tools, and the needy inhabitants of Gemea who can’t be bothered to do things like pick up sticks from the ground or talk to the trader standing next to them. Nope, that’s my job! Happy to do it!

The majority of my time has been running from place to place sucking up every material in sight like a vacuum for these people. . There are a ton of these quests in each zone and the only reward is a little notification about the amount of quests remaining in the zone. That’s good enough I guess.

More often than not these guys are not happy to see me. They do love living in my backpack though.

There’s also a story but I haven’t been progressing it to much yet. A mysterious mist has settled in places around the island and it’s up to me and my spirit friends to dispel it and figure out where it’s coming from. I just have to find the Sprites hidden among the island first. Each mist needs a certain amount of Sprites found to get rid of it. So far I’ve found 7 of these little guys.

Last but not least there is a bunch of things to collect along the way. There are missing cats, treasure chest, clothes, hair styles, fish, crafting recipes and more cats. I was also given a farm not long after my arrival. If I lure animals in to it after feeding them their favorite food I can “adopt” them. And by adopt I mean put them in a pen and have them make trade goods while I’m out and about. I think they can also come on my adventure with me if I so choose. I’ve set up my farm with a large animal house for my Griff, a small animal house for my fox, and a garden for the seeds I’ve been picking up.

I’ll trade you six bundles of sticks, 5 bundles of grass, and a fish for a pickax. Seems fair.

The trade system is based of bartering. Goods have an assigned currency value at the traders but there isn’t any currency. Most raw materials are worth around 1 currency with the crafted goods going for a lot more. Each town has something they need so goods in one town are worth more than another. With all the raw materials I’ve been picking up, I’m usually able to get what I need just trading the grass and sticks I’ve picked up. It’s a good thing my inventory is so large.

There’s a crating system which involves finding the different guilds on the island and asking nicely to join. There isn’t much to it, as long as you have the required materials in inventory you can make the item. So far I have joined the Carpenters Guild and the Tailors Guild. I started out as a novice and was given some basic crafting recipes and a quest to craft enough items to be worth 1000 in value. You might think, like I did, that there would be a couple of the quests to do. Each time increasing your rank, unlocking some more recipes, and having to craft a a greater value of items. But like me, you’d be wrong. As soon as I turned in the quest to the Carpenters Guild I was told I was now a Master Carpenter. I’m assuming the same is true for the rest of the guilds. Though right now I’m having a hard time sourcing materials for the Tailors guild since the trader there seems to only stock one of each item. I’m not sure how often their inventory updates. It’s something I’m still looking in to.

Objective straight ahead!

Yonder is not a challenging game, it’s not a game that you have to use critical thinking skills, it’s a game that literally points out the next objective with a very bright light. It’s a game where boxes are checked, items are discovered, and there is no danger in exploring. It’s a very relaxing game and it’s one that I’m very much in need of right now.

My Steam Deck Has Arrived

Yonder: The Cloud Catcher Chronicles

I reserved my 512 GB Steam Deck last July, 25 minutes or so after the reservations opened. After many months of waiting and many weeks of checking r/SteamDeck for reservation queue times I finally got the email to order on May 19th. It took a few days to ship and arrived on May 25th. So far it’s everything I was expecting and maybe even a little bit better than I was expecting.


I’ve always love handhelds and I saw a device that would allow me to spend less time at my desk while I game. I work from home at the same desk where my gaming PC is I thought it would be nice to go downstairs every now and then.Plus, I wouldn’t need to re-buy games I already own. That’s the main reason why  my Switch sits mostly in docked mode. Also, the tech geek in me is intrigued by a full Linux PC in a handheld  console form factor.

Now, I went in knowing I was an early adopter buying the first iteration of a new device. I had heard that some models were coming with whinny fans. I’m not sure if this was exaggerated or if I was lucky and got a quite one because mine runs quietly even with some more demanding games. The battery reports it will last a little over 3 hours with a few 2D games I’ve booted up less heavy 3D games the battery reports a little over 2 hours of power. That’s without messing with frame rates or tinkering with any additional settings. I’m happy with those times personally.

I think I’ve spent more time downloading games and opening them to see if they’ll run more than  playing so far. It’s nice that the library can be sorted by Verified, Playable, Untested, and Unsupported. Verified is the “This works as soon as you start it up with controls already mapped and ready to go” tag. Playable seems to be the “This will run, you’ll have to adjust some setting and maybe tweak the controls a bit” tag.

For the Untested and Unsupported tags I’ve been heading over to ProtonDB to check if anyone has tested it out over there. This is a great site where users leave some steps for getting games to run or leaving a comment when they don’t run. A lot of the fixes are to run the game with either an older version of Proton or a version of Proton GE. I followed a tutorial here to get Proton GE installed. A few of the Untested games I’ve tried seem playable but were missing audio until Forcing them to run with Proton GE.

In the process of installing Proton GE I got to check out Desktop mode. You can navigate it with just the steam deck inputs but it’s not the best experience. Just going to the Discover app store and searching there took longer than it should. That’s because the search bar would clear out what I was trying to type it I didn’t type fast enough on the on screen keyboard. A USB-C hub is for sure going to be a must have when I decide I want to start messing around with Desktop mode.

Overall, I’m very happy with my purchase and think it was well worth the wait. I will probably be sticking to Verified and Playable games for now until I really feel like tinkering around with more work-arounds or run out of games I want to play in that category.  Now the only question is…what to play first?

XCOM 2 Blogger Succession Game – Mission 27: Operation Half-Eaten Rose

At the conclusion of the last round Rakuno offered some advice to make contact with Europe to do the story mission or Blacksite facility there. I decided I would start there and see what I could do.

Looking at our resources we are running low on just about everything. Including intel, which is exactly what I needed to make contact with Europe. So the question became, how can I get us some more intel.

I was immediately warned of an incoming interception by ADVENT. Taking some evasive actions halfway around the globe we managed to avoid interception. On my way back to base the mission popped. Sadly, no intel was gained in the Geoscape Phase.

Operation Half-Eaten Rose

Luckily, one of the rewards for this mission was a fair bit of intel. Completing this one would get us some more resources to make contact with Europe.

I was happy to see that some familiar faces were available going in to this mission. I was less happy to see the mission was a VIP extraction. I remember playing this type of mission before on a different save. Not only does it have a timer but everyone needs to get to extraction or be left behind. The timer for this one was 12 turns.

The VIP needed captured or killed. Before the squad even dropped I knew which option I was going with…

Once the squad landed I could tell this was one long map. The drop point at one end and the extraction on the other. Somewhere in between was the VIP.

The first building contained and Andromedon and a Codex. The squad took the Andromedon down pretty quickly. The Codex managed to disable most of the squads weapons forcing them to reload and get out of the way of the AOE bomb that was about to go off. The fight was over in 2 turns without anyone getting hit.

I sent most of the squad towards the extraction and making sure they ended their turns in the most cover possible. There weren’t any enemies in sight so everyone kept moving up until Naithin spotted the VIP through a window. I figured most of the enemies would be inside the building and I didn’t want to risk sending the squad into a trap if I didn’t have to. So Naithin took the shot and finished off the VIP.

Then all the enemies showed up. A mix of ADVENT units including a MEC and a Sheildbearer and one Sectopod. All of them were waiting by extraction and started moving towards the squad.

I had Magi take the high ground on a building behind most of the squad. This afforded for some great 100% chance shots on the majority of the enemies. Bookahnerk and Volcano went for the flank while Black Widow, Naithin, and Rocket took the fight to the enemy up the middle.

Bookahnerk and Volcano, with a few supporting shots from Magi, were able to take down the Sectopod without taking too much damage themselves. I made the mistake of sending Naithin a little to far forward causing him to be the primary target for 6 Advent units. Oops. Through sheer luck and poor enemy accuracy, Naithin managed to get through a turn without taking damage. I was able to move Black Widow close enough to land heals on Naithin if needed. Backed up with the heals from Black Widow, Naithin was able to stay ahead of most of the squad and brute force a path even closer to extraction.

There were only a few enemies left but reinforcements were on the way. Time was running out and I didn’t want to risk leaving squad members behind. I started rushing soldiers to extraction. Bookahnerk and Volcano made it out first managing to avoid overwatch shots from the enemy. Advent reinforcements arrived.

Again Naithin and Black Widow managed to take out most of the fresh enemies. Naithin made it to extraction with two turns left. Sadly, Rocket wasn’t so lucky, getting taken out by the Advent Officer.

I had Black Widow make a run to extraction setting off 2 enemy overwatches. Both missed and this cleared the way for Magi to get to extraction safely.

Aftermath

Naithin got a well deserved promotion after the mission. Keeping with the Assault skills I went with Untouchable.

Unfortunately, killing the VIP didn’t net us any intel. That would have been nice to know going in though I’m not sure it would have changed my decision in the moment. We did get some supplies and a Codex Brain out of it.

The end of this mission could have been a lot worse. Sure, everyone is injured for at least a few days, and sure Rocket died, but if anyone was going to die on that mission, I’m glad it was the guy with the least missions under his belt. I was almost certain I was going to lose Black Widow or Magi or both at the end there.

There weren’t any pips added to the ADVENT project this turn so we’re still in the same predicament of needing to make contact with Europe to complete the story mission or the Blacksite mission. We’re also still really low on intel.

Next up is UnwiseOwl. Good luck Commander!

Steam Next Fest: The Demo Flea Market is Back

The Steam Next Fest started yesterday. If you’re unfamiliar, it’s a week long window shopping event with hundreds of demos to download and play. Sounds like a good idea on the surface right?

For the most part it is, if you can wade through the mountain of games to find ones actually interest you. There are a lot of filters to help sort through the noise but even narrowing down the field to sub genres leaves a lot of games to go through. Clicking to the store page of any given game will reset the event page which isn’t the least bit helpful. I’m more likely to check out another genre or sub-genre page then scroll through the page I was on to find where I left off.

I took a brief look last night for about an hour just to see what was out there. The last couple of times these demo events have come around I’ve had an idea of what kind of games I would like to try. Yesterday though, I wasn’t feeling drawn toward any particular style. I mostly scanned through a few genres and the lists within and downloaded whatever grabbed my attention from the thumbnails.

I found the VR category, which was not very big. Totaling 19 games in all it was easy to look through and find a few demos that looked interesting. I grabbed Hyper Hook a grappling hook arcade game, Desolatium a Lovecraft inspired point and click adventure, and Now there Be Goblins a VR tower defense game, which I’m going to make a priority to try this week. There was another game that looked interesting, The Last Taxi but a 30 gb demo is a lot of space. Maybe if I finish the other 3 VR demos I’ll try it out.

I do wonder how effective these events are in selling games afterwards. For me, it’s fun to try a demo, maybe stick it on the wish list, but that’s where it stays for the most part. I think the only game I’ve bought after one of these events is *Sable*. Loved the demo, bought the game when it came out but haven’t made the time to play it. Everything else seems to sit on the wish list and I’m reminded of it’s existence only  Steam emails me about what’s on sale. I think I’d be more likely to buy if the game was available for purchase after I played the demo rather than sometime later this year.

So maybe I’m not the target consumer for these kinds of events but they must be effective. There seems to be a number of them that pop up throughout the year. I ended up with 12 demos in all downloaded from yesterday. I know I won’t play all of them but maybe one will generate enough interest to buy at 50% off a year from now…

Backlogged: Sizable

Time to Finish: 2.4 hours

I got Sizeable in the Yogcast Jingle Jam 2021 bundle. A bundle I bought mostly to pick up Wildermyth and support charity. It also came with a few titles that had been on my wish list for year but never got around to buying. Sizeable was not one of these.

I was in the mood for a puzzle game and decided to look through my steam library first before going out to the store. A decision I should make more often than I do. That’s where I found Sizeable waiting for me. It seemed to give off the vibe I was looking for at the time.

Things I Liked:


The Simplicity: *Sizable* is a simple puzzle game. The goal is to find three pillars on the map. You’re able to shrink and grow most objects on the map and move them around. Some of them interact with each other or need to be placed in a certain spot or be a certain size. For example, on some maps, there is a pillar hiding in the trees that you won’t find until you shrink the tree and it falls out. I’m surprised this isn’t a mobile game as well. It seems like it would be a nice little game to play on a phone or tablet.


Collecting Turtles: In addition to the pillars, there is a hidden turtle in each level. They very in difficulty, from hiding in plain sight to secret compartments in the level. I found it fun to hunt for each turtle in the level before I moved on.

The Length of the Game: Overall, *Sizable* has a good chunk of content for what it is. There are 50 levels, each with their own theme and 10 extra secret levels. These are unlocked by finding all of the turtles. It doesn’t overstay it’s welcome but I wish it was just a little bit longer

Things That Could Have Been Better:


The Difficulty the Puzzles: I wish the levels were a bit longer. They don’t really vary in difficulty. Once you’ve done a couple of levels you’ve seen all the different ways to interact with the maps. I like my puzzle games easy but I feel like adding just one more pillar to find or an extra turtle on each level would give just a bit more playtime. With that said, some of the secret levels have interesting interactions. You can also play without the hints for the pillars on top if you wanted to. The game defaulted with them on so I left them there.