Rogue’s Adventures Season Six Recap

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

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.

Gaming Backlog Final Thoughts – Unepic

An interesting 2D action-platformer-RPG with a few too many problems that keep it from indie greatness

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: Francisco Téllez de Meneses

Publisher: Ninagamers Corp.

Release Date: October 2, 2011

rogues adventures final thoughts

Unepic has the unique quality of reminding me of a game I’ve never played. It feels like it utilizes a classic gameplay formula of meshing together elements of Metroid and Diablo in a 2D dungeon crawl, but I’d honestly never played a game quite like it. So while I lack any nostalgia for the gameplay, I found it inventive and interesting, despite some annoying difficulty spikes, immature, reference-filled writing, and a boring art style.

As you can quickly surmise from the banner image, our snarky hero is a modern day 20-something transported into a fantasy dungeon. He spends the entire first half of the game convinced that he’s taken some hallucinogenic drugs, and constantly spouts not-so-clever nerd-culture references at every opportunity. It grows tiresome a few hours in, and this is a 20 hour game.

rogues adventure

The one saving grace with the trite story (besides the surprisingly great finale and ending) is the shadowy creature that possesses the hero early on. Dubbed Zera, the shadow fails to possess our hero (who probably has a name but I don’t remember it at all) and winds up trapped within his body, becoming an unwilling companion to our adventures in the castle.

Zera provides a nice foil for our hero to play off of, as he’s constantly trying to get the hero killed so he’ll be freed. In one of the better nerd-references, their relationship is compared to X-Men‘s Xavier and Magento. Their respect for each other gradually builds over the course of the adventure, and by the end I grew to love Zera – murderous tendencies and all.

While the story isn’t exactly as captivating as even the relatively simplistic tales in Castlevania or Metroid (or even Diablo), the gameplay makes up for it. The dungeon is made up of individual rooms that take up a full screen. Each room is darkened and made up of multiple levels filled with ladders, platformes, and enemies. Lighting the torches along your way becomes critical, and a neat way to gauge your progress through each zone.

rogues adventure

The castle is divided up into over half a dozen areas, each with around a dozen screens, creating an impressively large dungeon. I actually found it just a bit too long as the overall gameplay and tactics grew repetitive toward the end – not to mention some rough patches where enemies grew wildly in strength and numbers. Damn the skeleton-filled catacombs!

Unepic leans heavily on the RPG aspects of the genre. Leveling up awards 5 skill points that can be pumped into various weapon and magic skills. The system isn’t very user-friendly, and it’s designed for those that want to min/max their characters by dumping everything into only a few skills to get the best abilities and wield the strongest weapons. Of course you won’t know which skills and weapons you’ll want, so it’s a stressful bit of planning ahead in the early levels. There is a side quest about halfway through that allows you to reset your points – a very helpful feature.

Each area has its own major quest that results in learning a new piece of magic. While some of the quests are fun and take you to different areas of the castle, it also leads to lots of backtracking. It also downplays the latter magic skills (Alteration, Protection) as presumably you’ve already put points into the early ones like Fire or Frost.

By the way, I went with a rogue/ranger type build, focusing on daggers, bows, and axes. A unique dagger I earned from a side quest carried me far, but eventually dropped them to focus on bows and axes. I found a late-game unique bow that absolutely decimated everything, and became my weapon of choice, along with some support from Fire and Healing spells.

rogues adventure

Backtracking is alleviated with an admittedly great fast travel system. Especially coming from Ori and the Blind Forest, which didn’t have one at all. Gates are scattered around the castle, usually 2 per zone, and teleport you to a central room filled with other gates.

In addition you can buy scrolls and spells that instantly take you to the merchants in each area. Quickly moving around the relatively large dungeon wasn’t an issue at all, though trying to remember which merchants sold what ability tomes was a bit annoying.

Limited animations and pixelated graphics are more than fine for a one-person indie project, but I was disappointed at the very limited palette selection throughout most of the castle. The individual room designs are nice, but so much of the castle is brown and gray that it grows repetitive after a dozen hours. Enemy types are also repeated to a high degree, with skeletons, snakes, and goblins making up a bulk of the foes I killed.

rogues adventure

Bosses fare a little better, taking a cue from the large, area-defining bosses of other metroidvanias. Oddly enough despite my haphazard skill management and character planning, I found most of the bosses quite easy. Zera helpfully warned me about each one, and most were slow with easily dodged attacks.

With better writing and a tighter, more varied focus Unepic could’ve been something really special. It’s still an impressive collection of genre parts all working together to produce a fun experience. By the final few areas I was definitely ready for it to be over, though I did very much enjoy the twist ending and interesting gameplay mode they introduce for the final battle. An interesting indie RPG experience that rewards persistence, exploration, and careful character planning.

rogues adventure

 

Pros

  • Solid 2D action-platformer gameplay with lots of loot and side quests
  • Rooms are well-designed and fun to explore and lighting mechanic works well
  • Fast travel system works incredibly well, minimizing backtracking woes and death penalties
  • Neat twist ending that introduces a last minute gameplay switch

 

Cons

  • Immature writing filled with references that are more miss than hit
  • Each area has the same basic structure, which quickly grows repetitive
  • Not enough enemy or art variety for the 20 hour length
  • Bosses are mostly slow and easy, while certain areas are annoyingly difficult

 

Final Say: An interesting 2D action-platformer-RPG with a few too many problems that keep it from indie greatness.