Bio
ˢʰᵉ | ʰᵉʳ
My username is supposed to be a Joanna Newsom reference, but it's exactly one letter too long.

My reviews are not reviews but just me writing random things so in the future I can remember what I thought about a game. Cause otherwise i forget.

Ratings explained:
★★★★★⠀ᶠᵒʳᵐᵃᵗᶦᵒⁿᵃˡ/ᴬˡˡ ᵗᶦᵐᵉʳ
★★★★½⠀A favourite
★★★★⠀⠀Great
★★★½⠀⠀Pretty Good
★★★⠀⠀⠀Solid
★★½⠀⠀⠀Not Quite There
★★⠀⠀⠀⠀Misses the mark
★½⠀⠀⠀⠀ᵉⁿʲᵒʸᵉᵈ ᵛ ˡᶦᵗᵗˡᵉ ᵃᵇᵒᵘᵗ ᶦᵗ
★⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Bad
½⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀Trainwreck
Personal Ratings
1★
5★

Badges


Replay '14

Participated in the 2014 Replay Event

Trend Setter

Gained 50+ followers

Adored

Gained 300+ total review likes

Gone Gold

Received 5+ likes on a review while featured on the front page

1 Years of Service

Being part of the Backloggd community for 1 year

GOTY '23

Participated in the 2023 Game of the Year Event

On Schedule

Journaled games once a day for a week straight

Busy Day

Journaled 5+ games in a single day

Loved

Gained 100+ total review likes

Well Written

Gained 10+ likes on a single review

Popular

Gained 15+ followers

Pinged

Mentioned by another user

Donor

Liked 50+ reviews / lists

Liked

Gained 10+ total review likes

Roadtrip

Voted for at least 3 features on the roadmap

Best Friends

Become mutual friends with at least 3 others

Noticed

Gained 3+ followers

Elite Gamer

Played 500+ games

Shreked

Found the secret ogre page

Gamer

Played 250+ games

N00b

Played 100+ games

Favorite Games

Dys4ia
Dys4ia
Kentucky Route Zero
Kentucky Route Zero
Flower, Sun, and Rain
Flower, Sun, and Rain
Dark Souls
Dark Souls
Rez
Rez

698

Total Games Played

021

Played in 2024

000

Games Backloggd


Recently Played See More

Lorelei and the Laser Eyes
Lorelei and the Laser Eyes

Jun 20

Dragon Warrior
Dragon Warrior

Jun 15

Silent Hill 4: The Room
Silent Hill 4: The Room

Jun 10

Mother 3
Mother 3

Jun 08

Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys
Ys IV: The Dawn of Ys

Jun 02

Recently Reviewed See More

1. Myst for millennials let's goooooooo! (Actually, more Resident Evil. There’s even a square crank reference in it. My game has a square crank reference in it too, so I already feel a connection with the Simogo guys)

2. This game has kinda Killer 7 vibes, in that, if I had played it when I was a kid it would have absolutely terrified me, and I wouldn't have gone back to it until years and years later. The fact that nothing horrifying happens in it kinda makes those terrifying vibes even worse. Every second that nothing horrifying happens, I'm expecting something horrifying to happen more and more, that's how you know you have good vibes going.

3. The Mazeheads kinda clear out those vibes, by being an explicit horrifying (or at least horrorific) thing. I like them! The first time they're hinted at it made me super paranoid, and then when the first one shows up it's such a cool "oh shit!" moment. Maybe 9 of them was a bit too much though. Zelda is a 3 game and it generally rules; There are many 4 games around and they work fine; But 9 (nine) is kind of a big number to base your Everything around. Makes a lot of tasks overstay their welcome.

4. I was expecting something more open-ended, given the vibes, but actually, Lorelei and The Laser Eyes is very "modern indie ease of use". All the documents you find around the house are recorded in a menu that's accessible at any time, and the game is full of carefully placed splotches of red paint to guide the player's attention. Is it a meta-commentary on the Twitter yellow paint discourse? Maybe. But it's also elegantly designed in the context of that kind of "ease-of-use" mode of play. A very successful balancing act between the puzzles being fairly obscure, and the game really wanting the player to actually play through it.

I'm not sure Nero would have appreciated such a non-player-hostile video game though.

5. There's one place where this fails though. Most puzzles require one or more documents to be solved. These could be found near the puzzle itself or somewhere completely different. Problem is, there’s no way to know if you have obtained all the relevant information to solve a puzzle, which led me, on multiple occasions, to bang my head on a puzzle for hours before realizing that I just didn’t have all the documents to solve it.

6. In my Tactics Ogre log I talked about how the fiddly-ness of that game’s menu adds “weight” to the general vibes of the game, and that it complements how seriously its narrative takes itself. I think Lorelei and The Laser Eyes lacks that kind of weight.

It follows all the precepts of good ease-of-use, the player moves fast and intuitively, the menus are well-organized and reactive, hidden things are hidden but not Too hidden, etc.; It’s Great! But it’s also trying to convey an idiosyncratic, mysterious and “weighty” tone, while at the same time having the same game feel as Celeste (hyperbole), which makes it feel a bit too breezy and silly.

7. I am very bad at puzzles and solved most of the game on my own (only looking up a couple of things near the end). Great experience for me! But this might mean that true puzzle fanatics might find it a bit easy? Unsure.

8. The mad lads did it! They made a whole surreal mystery narrative about “are games art” discourse. When I got to the room with the exhibit’s reviews I stood up and cheered.

9. The narrative is a lot more straightforward than the surreal vibes would suggest; in fact the final act puts things together in what’s maybe an excessively heavy-handed way.

That whole ending bit felt a bit like the devs were really afraid that a player could finish the game without fully understanding the implied backstory, which… I guess it’s a fair concern, but I honestly think that being able to leave the game with holes and questions in my literal interpretation of the facts would have made for a better experience.

10. That said, the game Does touch on a lot of interesting themes regarding art and media in general. I’m still not sure how to feel about Nero as a character, and I kinda like that.

11. God bless Italians for providing the world with the one nationality that you can write as having silly accents, broken English and weird fake idioms, and get away with it unproblematically. They should give us free international visas, so we can go around the world spreading unproblematic foreigner vibes everywhere. 🇮🇹

12. The Quiz Club was a bit tedious. I would have complained endlessly if instead of a carefully curated puzzle experience, that segment was just a big monster chasing the player around the maze. But after playing the carefully curated puzzle experience… maybe it should have just been a big monster chasing the player around the maze

13. That said, I liked this game. It’s pretty good. I’m too old for stuff like Void Stranger, but I can vibe with this game.

It's 6am and I spent all night getting through this and I'm sleepy but this game very much rules.

I think I'm just a huge fan of how console rpgs of this era mixed the exploratory and freeform adventure elements of games like Ultima and the more linear and guided structure of Adventure games, to create something that almost feels like very time-dilated puzzle-adventure games. Of course, the grinding gets kind of miserable in Dragon Quest (Ys combat system makes it way more fun to grind, to use a game with similar vibes as an example), but the simplicity of battles being basically level-gates is something I find incredibly charming.

Dragon Quest's massively successful streamlining of rpg mechanics, at this point in history, could have gone anywhere, and it's interesting to imagine what the rpg genre would have looked like nowadays if its successors, instead of building on the linear/guided narrative aspects of the game, would have instead focused on the level-gate-based adventure-puzzle structure of it.

It's an interesting thought. Not sure I would have liked it though. I don't remember enjoying much most modern games that tried to do that (Zeboyd games are kinda that i seem to remember? I don't remember hating them, but they were a bit too ease-of-use modern-indie-design-y for me). I think the earnest quaintness of Dragon Quest is very much a part of why I enjoyed it this much.

Oh, also the Akira Toriyama designs for the enemies are amazing. Slime might be the best character design in video games of all times.

1. There’s something about Silent Hill that makes everyone want to write very wordy explorations of trauma, and like I get it, y’all are queer and flock to the generational trauma game about body horror, guilt and religion like flies to honey (in fact, it’s a testament to the series’ quality as a landmark in the horror genre that people are not weirdly horny about it; a lesser work would be all over nsfw Tumblr tags with that combination of themes); but yea, ultimately that’s never been what I got from those games. Like there’s a good depth of themes to delve into after playing it, but my in-the-moment experience has always been more focused on “damn these games are scary”.

And like, scary in a way that I don’t think any other game has ever been. There’s just something in the framing and structure of Silent Hill, that really “gets me”, in a way that goes beyond the pleasant spooks of most survival horror, and starts veering into borderline unpleasant. To the point that actually going through one of these games takes way more effort than it should for me.

A couple of weeks ago I had this weird nightmare; Like, nothing particularly spooky or meaningful, just some weird thing about getting in a car accident; But upon waking up from it, for a couple of minutes, I was filled with this ominous feeling that something unspeakably horrible was going to happen to me. That there were, in fact, evils beyond our human comprehension in this world. And like, of course it wasn’t (most horrible things that happen to me are fairly speakable), and of course there aren’t (the world is full of evil but it’s fully within our comprehension), but the mix of remembered trauma, general sleepiness and the quiet of the night really enabled all the wrong brain receptors to flare up in that moment. And I dunno, Silent Hill games remind me of that feeling in a way no other game does.

These games really commit to building unsettling and hostile environments in ways that hit pretty much the same wrong brain receptors in me, and while it makes it kinda difficult for me to play them through, it also rules. It’s the small things sometimes, like how, in this case, Silent Hill 4 abruptly cuts to black when going through loading transitions, often placing the transport points way early than you’d expect. That shit’s genius, but it also makes me feel the kind of anxiety that makes me want to die.

2. We talk a lot about how flawed art can still be incredibly appealing and creative despite its structural limitations, but I think that sometimes we fail to understand that there are innate important politics in recognizing where those limitations come from.

Horror itch games are generally limited in their scope and polish because they’re smaller projects, generally from solo devs, often outsider or otherwise marginalized voices. We overlook their technical “flaws” because we value their unique perspective more than we value those other bits that might not feel right (sometimes those other bits not feeling right is actually part of a successful aesthetic and not a “flaw” to be fair, but hold on, I’m going somewhere with this).

The original Silent Hill games are games forever bound to that “flawed” label, and Silent Hill 4 is the poster child for those flaws. Too long, stretches its length with some backtracking escort segments that are more irritating than scary, misplaced focus on combat, etc.; But I think it’s important to recognize that the source of these flaws is very different from what we see in smaller more modern projects.

Silent Hill games were, in the end, mainstream 00s console games, and despite all their genius and structural innovations, they are still clearly trapped in that framework. I am personally much less forgiving of structural flaws derived from this context because, while I want to see more flawed itch horror games, I definitely want to see less stretched, uncommitting, mainstream games.

Some Silent Hill games thrive, despite being locked into having to be early 00s mainstream disc releases, while others, like Silent Hill 4, can’t get there.

This game has some amazing ideas, and some great execution in places. But can’t really make them work in the context of a game that needs to have 10 hours of content.

I don’t feel more scared or anxious when I’m carefully dodging and striking while engaging monsters, that a minute ago were terrifying, in boiler-plate overlong melee combat. I don’t feel more scared or anxious when half of the game length feels like pointless filler (and I’m not only counting the backtrack levels; which could have been fine in moderation). And I don’t feel the need to justify these choices, because they could be avoided if this game was made in a better game industry.

3. This is all to say, I haven’t finished this game. There’s so much I enjoyed from it. So many little details it gets right. But ultimately It started feeling like an unpleasant chore. I watched the rest on YouTube tho and it was neat. Ngl I think the plot is kinda dumb and the environments are not varied and interesting enough to justify its length, but throughout it I was furiously taking notes about the cool shit it does. So that’s definitely worth something.

4. Like, the first door you open in the game leads to a corridor that immediately leaves you facing another door (in first person). It's a small bit of weird and confusing layout that's neat af.

5. This is clearly not what this game committed to, but I'd love to see some similar takes on mundane urban horror. The quiet surreality of hanging out in the apartment and peeping at its surroundings is something I really loved in the opening hours of the game (I'll gladly take recommendations on games with similar vibes as those bits if anyone has any)

6. I feel like I wrote a bunch of words and said nothing here lol. Originally, before I stopped playing the game, I was thinking of writing something about how there's this weird tension in horror games, where they're built to be, on a fundamental level, unpleasant, but they also kinda need to find a hook for the player to keep them playing (and for a lot of games their solution is generally to... just not be unpleasant... which is kinda the coward's way out). I think that would be an interesting thing to talk about... but like... maybe on some other Silent Hill games, cause the break here for me wasn't really about the game being too scary/intentionally unpleasant, and more about me not caring nearly enough about managing my supply of golf clubs to continue playing.

7. I love my Steam Deck, cause it's allowing me to casually go back to a lot of stuff I never had access to as a kid, but Silent Hill is the one time where I really wish I was playing it on a CRT instead. For how cool the Deck's OLED screen is, the jagged-ness of emulators in this case really makes the game lose something over the ominous blurriness of PS2 games played over original hardware.

Maybe, one day, I'll reach the kind of life stability where buying a big-ass CRT TV might make logistical sense. I've kinda been waiting for that moment for a decade though, and life has only gotten More unstable, so y'know, probably not.