Rogue’s Adventures Season Six Recap

Detailed stats, rankings, and summaries of Season Six of my backlog gaming group, Rogue’s Adventures.

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Follow @RoguesAdventure for live tweeting and screenshots, join the Rogue’s Adventures Steam group for updates, and Follow me on Twitch and Subscribe on YouTube for videos.

Rogues Adventure Season Six collage

Season Six represented the inevitable decline in my overall gaming time. For the previous three Seasons (a year and a half) I’d been able to play through about 145 hours worth of backlogged games in a 6 month period. That doesn’t represent my total gaming time, just the amount I was willing to set aside for Rogue’s Adventures.

As my daughter gets older and transitioned from infant to toddler to young kid, that time has naturally dwindled. On top of that I began freelance writing for several websites as well as putting a lot more time and effort into my blog and central hub at RogueWatson.com.

Despite all of that I was still able to play quite a few games this Season. I adjusted my goal from 7 hours a week to 5, giving myself more time in between games. My new goal was a little over 100 hours, and I managed to just squeak that in.

The theme this season was recent indie games. Every single game was released in the last few years, with Ori and the Blind Forest, Hand of Fate, and Tales from the Borderlands releasing earlier this year in 2015.

Season Six Schedule

(Google Sheet Link)

Game Estimated Hours to Complete Start Date Total Hours/Completion Date Goal
Ori and the Blind Forest                     9 7/14/2015 10hrs/July 22, 2015 Jul-15
Unepic                     22 7/28/2015 21hrs/Aug 19, 2015 Aug-15
Child of Light                     13 8/31/2015 11hrs/Sept 15, 2015 Sep-15
This War of Mine                     13 9/22/2015 12hrs/Oct 2, 2015 Oct-15
Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse                     12 10/07/15 12.5hrs/Oct 23, 2015 Oct-15
Gunpoint                     4 10/27/15 4hrs/Oct 29, 2015 Oct-15
Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine                     14 11/03/15 10hrs/Nov 16, 2015 Nov-15
Hand of Fate                     15 11/24/15 11.5hrs/Dec 7, 2015 Dec-15
Tales from the Borderlands                     10.5 12/10/15 11.5hrs/Dec 24, 2015 Dec-15
  • Ori and the Blind Forest – 10 hours in 9 days = 7.77 hrs/wk
  • Unepic – 21 hours in 23 days = 6.39 hrs/wk
  • Child of Light – 11 hours in 16 days = 4.81 hrs/wk
  • This War of Mine – 12 hours in 11 days = 7.64 hrs/wk
  • Broken Sword 5 – 12.5 hours in 17 days = 5.15 hrs/wk
  • Gunpoint – 4 hours in 3 days = 9.33 hrs/wk
  • Monaco – 10 hours in 14 days = 5 hrs/wk
  • Hand of Fate – 11.5 hours in 14 days = 5.75 hrs/wk
  • Tales from the Borderlands – 11.5 hours in 15 days = 5.37 hrs/wk

Total Hours: 103.5 (Estimated 112.5)

Total Average Hours per Week: 6.36

Six hours a week doesn’t seem like a sharp decline from last year’s 7.25 average but over a 6 month period it definitely adds up. I’m surprised I still made it well over 5 hours a week, though Gunpoint‘s very short run time probably helped inflate that number quite a bit.

Thanks to some much shorter games on average, I was still able to complete the same amount of games as last season, despite spending about 35 less hours. Yay indie games!

rogue's adventures

Season Six Stats (with last Season’s numbers)

  • Tweets by @RoguesAdventure: 340 (501), Total tweets: 5, 449
  • Total Number of Screenshots Taken: 1,936 (1,984)
  • Average Number of Screenshots per Game: 215 (220)
  • Most Screen Captured Game: Tales from the Borderlands 669 – 1/3 of my total screenshots this season and a new record! (Assassin’s Creed IV Black Flag 643)
  • Total Games Completed: 9 (9)

Season Six Rankings

  1. Ori and the Blind Forest – Beautiful, poignant, challenging, and fun, Ori is easily one of the best metroidvanias I’ve ever played.
  2. Tales from the Borderlands – The Telltale narrative adventure is brilliantly grafted into the zany Borderlands world, excelling with witty writing and fun action.
  3. This War of Mine – Effectively combines the emotional toll and physical danger of war with a strategy layer of managing survivors and resources.
  4. Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine – A brilliantly designed and cleverly themed top-down cooperative stealth game that’s much less fun to play by yourself. 
  5. Hand of Fate – Despite some frustrations, Hand of Fate successfully layers in 3rd person combat into a highly randomized card-based tabletop adventure.
  6. Broken Sword 5: The Serpent’s Curse – A satisfying, if overly long, fifth entry that has the fun characters and varied puzzles of the venerable adventure franchise.
  7. Child of Light – Ubisoft effectively distills all the best elements of a traditional JRPG into a fun and beautiful 10-15 hour package.
  8. Gunpoint – Rewiring security in this 2D stealth-puzzler is a blast, but it’s too short to fully embrace more advanced levels.
  9. Unepic – An interesting 2D action-platformer-RPG with a few too many problems that keep it from indie greatness.

rogues adventure

Indie games are in a really fantastic place right now. Many of these titles started life as dreams on Kickstarter and blossomed into really memorable, fantastic, and maybe most importantly, compact experiences. As I get older and my game time becomes more and more precious, being able to play through an entire game in the span of a dozen hours (or less) becomes more and more attractive.

Both Ori and the Blind Forest and Tales from the Borderlands made my 2015 Game of the Year list. I like the trend toward playing more recent game – mostly afforded by the fact that I’ve gone through a good chunk of my older backlogged games in previous seasons of Rogue’s Adventures.

This Season was definitely punctuated by bulk sale purchases during Steam sales, particularly during this year’s Steam Summer Sale. Six of the nine games I played this Season were bought during the Steam Summer Sale, which is an incredibly satisfying turnaround.

As my gaming time continues to dwindle each Season, I’m thankful I still have time to play games. Between family life, running an online D&D campaign with friends, and my freelance writing career, Rogue’s Adventures has kept me constantly playing fun games. With so many awesome, big games this last Fall it has been a tricky balance, but I like the interaction and writing that comes from playing through these backlog games.

I’d like to keep Rogue’s Adventures going as long as I can, and hopefully next Season I can maintain a similar schedule and pacing. See you next year, and happy gaming!

tales from the borderlands episode 2

Follow @RoguesAdventure for live tweeting and screenshots, join the Rogue’s Adventures Steam group for updates, and Follow me on Twitch and Subscribe on YouTube for videos.

My Top Ten Games of 2015: Full List and Awards

My annual Game of the Year list ranks my favorite games of 2015, as well as other fun awards and categories.

ori and the blind forest kuro

This year I wanted to do something a bit more fun with my annual Top Ten Games list. I wanted to give each game their proper due, with their own blog post for each of the 10 days leading up to Christmas. I barely kept pace but it was a lot of fun.

So if you’ve been following my blog you already know my Top Ten Games of the Year. This final list is important for other reasons: I directly compare the results of last year’s Most Anticipated list and 2015’s Mid-Year Top Five list, as well as assign various fun awards and rankings at the end.  Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2015: Full List and Awards”

My Top Ten Games of 2015: #7

Beautiful and challenging action-platformer Ori and the Blind Forest is #7 on my Top Ten Games of 2015.

My Top Ten Games of 2015

#10 MASSIVE CHALICE

#9 Starcraft II: Legacy of the Void

#8 Tales from the Borderlands

#7 Ori and the Blind Forest

Ori-and-the-Blind-Forest banner

Read my Final Thoughts on Ori and the Blind Forest

When you first see screenshots or videos of Ori and the Blind Forest your initial reaction is probably, “ohh, pretty.” Your second reaction might be, “oh, another indie metroidvania.” Stylistic action-platformers have become all the rage in the indie gaming scene, and Ori isn’t even technically an indie game, having been published by Microsoft Studios.

I dismissed it at first but readily admit to my terrible mistake. Ori and the Blind Forest is indeed beautifully drawn and emotionally engaging. Cute characters in peril tear at your heart strings. But the hidden depth and challenging difficulty are what really make Ori stand out as one of the shining examples of the genre. Continue reading “My Top Ten Games of 2015: #7”

15 Great Indie Games That Shouldn’t Be Dismissed

Here’s a list of 15 indie games that shouldn’t be so quickly dismissed.

Read the full list at Playboy

Deceiving Indie Games Intro

We’re told not to judge a book by its cover, but we do it anyway. Our brains are wired to make snappy judgement calls, from the people we meet to the media we consume.

With so many great indie games out there it’s easy to quickly judge them based on their cutesy art styles or fairy tale stories. But you’d be missing out on some incredibly deep, rewarding gameplay if you didn’t give these ones a deeper look. Here’s a list of 15 indie games that shouldn’t be so quickly dismissed.

Read the full list at Playboy

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Ori and the Blind Forest

With its perfectly balanced difficulty, simple but emotional story-telling, and intriguing world, Ori and the Blind Forest is easily one of the best metroidvanias I’ve ever played.

I have finished another backlogged game via Rogue’s Adventures. You can read my latest Final Thoughts below and also on my gaming blog on Game Informer.

Developer: Moon Studios

Publisher: Microsoft Studios

Release Date: March 11, 2015

rogues adventure

In many ways Ori and the Blind Forest has become the new standard for typical indie games; gorgeous 2D art, hardcore platforming, and a whimsical, faerie tale-like story. It also helps to be published by a giant like Microsoft. Thus it’s easy to initially dismiss a game like Ori. I know I initially felt a been there-done that vibe, even when the great critical reviews started rolling in.

I finally decided to take the plunge when it went on sale during the Steam Summer Sale, and now I’m ashamed at myself for dismissing it so quickly without ever having tried it. With its perfectly balanced difficulty, simple but emotional story-telling, and intriguing world, Ori and the Blind Forest is easily one of the best metroidvanias I’ve ever played.

rogues adventure

The story centers on the titular little spirit creature that becomes lost from its parent tree during a great storm. In searching for Ori, the great tree ends up burning through the forest, and the giant owl named Kuro fights back by stealing away its light source. It’s up to Ori and little tree spirit companion Sein to gather together the other elements around the forest and restore the tree’s light.

I’ll understand if that little story causes a hefty amount of eye-rolling. It’s difficult to convey how well the relatively simple tale is effectively told using poetic narration (translated via text on screen by the tree spirit – who sounds like an operatic Jabba the Hut). There’s very little dialogue; Sein is the only one that really speaks to explain about new abilities or tasks, while Ori’s journey and Kuro’s backstory are told via beautiful cutscenes. The presentation is just fantastic.

The gameplay is pure metroidvania. The beautiful forest can be easily navigated thanks to the lovely in-game map, probably one of my single favorite feature of the game. It’s a really great map. If you’re game has a great in-game map, chances are I will love it.

rogues adventure

Ori steadily gains new traversal abilities, allowing it to climb walls, float, bash through rocks, and stomp through the ground, gaining access to new areas and previously unreachable goodies. Collectibles come in just three flavors, life and energy cells that give you more…life and energy, as well as ability cells that are essentially big experience point boosters. These can be spent on three different skill trees to grant Ori various passive buffs and help, like revealing secrets on the map or granting double and triple jumps.

Without any loot or weapons, Ori’s sole means of attack is through the spirit Sein, a constant hovering point of light that fires off a rapid burst of fireballs at the nearest target, not unlike Dust’s companion in Dust: An Elysian Tail. Enemies are auto-targeted once they’re in range, allowing you to focus on avoiding their attacks as well as the many traps and pitfalls that remain a constant threat.

The game is challenging as hell, and it knows it. The biggest innovation comes from the ability to expend energy to create manual save points called Soul Links. In the early game I was quite nervous about hoarding this ability, but by the midpoint I had so much energy it was never an issue. Good thing because creating constant Soul Links becomes imperative if you want to minimize redoing a particularly difficult section over and over. The stats screen ominously keeps track of your deaths; by the end of the game I had over 150.

rogues adventure

Though the gameplay is metroidvania, the actual structure is more akin to The Legend of Zelda. Each of the three main areas you travel to after meeting the tree first has an object you must acquire, followed by a dungeon that must be completed. Each of these dungeons has a unique hook that utilizes a certain ability or feature in all its puzzles and platforming challenges, like the shifting maze of the Misty Woods or the gravity-defying orb of the Forlorn Ruins. It made each area have a really unique spin on top of its lovely aesthetics.

Pretty much the only complaint I had while playing was the complete lack of fast travel. Most metroidvanias have some sort of limited fast travel between certain areas, allowing for some quicker means to backtracking and gaining previously missed collectibles. Ori and the Blind Forest has no such convenience, and the world is just big enough to make me really miss it.

Ultimately it prevented me from going back to some of the more remote areas to gather the last few pick-ups I had missed (I left most areas at around 95% completion). At least one area you were prevented from returning to after beating due to story reasons – an aspect I wish we would’ve been warned about.

rogues adventure

The story ends up being predictably sappy and sentimental but it’s wrapped up in such a beautiful package that I couldn’t help but be swept up in Ori’s plight. The scripted and challenging gauntlet sequences with Kuro are the right mixture of stressful and fun, though the shine wears off when you have to repeat them more than half a dozen times. The final one is especially brutal, allowing little room for error. I found it annoying that I was simply prevented from using a Soul Link to at least create checkpoints for myself.

At around 10 hours Ori and the Blind Forest never wears out its welcome. New abilities come quickly and the world is a joy to explore, discovering new secrets and gameplay mechanics. Wondering how the hell you reach an unobtainable goodie, only to smugly return later armed with your handy new ability is par for the genre, but Ori really creates a satisfying experience with its intuitive map design and streamlined experience.

rogues adventure

Pros

  • Beautiful artwork and world design
  • Perfectly balanced and steady ramp of challenge and difficulty
  • Effective story-telling and presentation
  • Streamlined experience focuses on all the best parts of the genre
  • Soul Link mechanic is brilliant

Cons

  • No fast travel or teleportation system
  • Numerous scripted chase sequences are especially difficult, and offer no checkpoints or Soul Link usage

Final Say: Beautiful, poignant, challenging, and fun, Ori is easily one of the best metroidvanias I’ve ever played.