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EVERY game I played during the second quarter of 2021, rated!


Afternoon, fellow cool kids! Welcome to the second of four blogs detailing what video games I've been kicking off my backlog, because clout trumps private matters nine times out of ten. Because I need validation of my opinions to quell my debilitating insecurities. 

Judge me, daddy! I'm ready and willing to accept the consequences of sharing my thoughts on the Internet. 

BUT, before we get started with this past quarter of a year, let us recap what all went down towards the beginning of the year. Ya know... just in case you may have missed it (and to pad out the word count)!


* = Did not finish 
# = Finished the majority of
^ = Replay or retry
   = Finished


Hollow Knight

+ Excellent use of a simplistic combat system
+ Phenominal OST
+ Solid lore
+ Wonderfully unique, beautiful world to explore

- Occasional poor boss design
- Essential lore locked behind a bonkers endgame
- Backtracking can be a smidge too cumbersome

(SIDEBAR: It's hard to find a video game that is quantifiably perfect, but games like Undertale, Journey, Mario Kart 8 Deluxe and Hollow Knight are pretty fucking goddamn close.)

[Score = 9.5/10]

Bit.Trip Runner ^*

+ Incredibly expressive 3D visuals for its time and indie budget
+ Probably the most satisfyingly challenging runner you'll play

- The actions on-screen have audible feedback to the beat of the song, but you have to often react approximately 1/8th of a measure before said feedback or obstacle and this can throw off one's performance

[Score = 8/10]

Dicey Dungeons

+ Inventive and satisfying core gameplay loop of puzzling out battles and general min/maxing
+ Great OST
+ Charming character art

- Lategame comes too quickly, requiring expert strats and foresight within single digit hours logged despite its roguelike structure implying a larger scale
- Would've worked infinitly better as an 8-10 hour, slightly more ambitious single player experience as the content feels a little stretched

[Score = 7.5/10]

Dig Dog #

+ Solid enemy design
+ Good OST
+ Excellent pun

- Borrows a lot from Downwell's design doc, only it's far slower and tens of times more stilted in its controls
- In desperate need of a dedicated quick 'dig' button as opposed to it sharing a command with 'jump'

(SIDEBAR: Holy shit! From his YouTube avatar, the developer is a spitting image of Cliffy B.)

[Score = 5.5/10]

Downwell ^#

+ Genuinely addictive
+ Plenty of enticing unlockable visual palettes
+ Expert usage of a singular jump-to-shoot mechanic

- A, personally, useless wall jump that's easily unintentionally triggered, leading to ruined combos and avoidable damage being taken
- Approaching enemies from the side feels inconsistent

[Score = 9/10]

Ori and the Blind Forest *

+ Pretty visuals

- Controls are far too floaty
- Between the fast enemy respawns, lack of direct input and sometimes harsh damage penalties, combat is simultaneously pointless and frustrating
- Story feels ever so pretentious and bored me to the point skipping dialogue

(SIDEBAR: fite me)

[Score = 3.5/10]

Bot Vice #

+ Incredibly faithful to classics like Street Fighter II, Contra and Sunset Riders in its excellent OST and sound design altogether
+ Tight gunplay
+ A commendable amount of variety, with new enemies and bosses between each stage

- Needs a possible radial weapon menu for the 5 different pickups you get at random

[Score = 8.5/10]

Luigi's Mansion 3 *

+ Nice OST
+ Great visuals

- The charm tops out during the intro segments, later devolving into Luigi being frightened every 5 seconds
- Directional controls during combat can feel clunky
- Despite its prevalence, collecting money is pointless unless you somehow want to make the game even easier through extra lives or collectable markers

(SIDEBAR: fite me)

[Score = 5/10]

Hollow *

+ Inventive map UI

- Unwieldy and unbalanced combat
- The extreme linearity, reused assets and drained color scheme work to create what amounts to a boring walking sim much of the time
- Absolutely non-existent atmosphere other than "sloppily stitched together indie horror game that you could easily find on Gamejolt for free"
- Uninspired environmental design

[Score = 1.5/10]

Paper Mario: The Origami King #

+ Absolutely gorgeous visuals
+ Incredibly charming, generally witty writing
+ Amazing, fresh OST

- You're stopped for fluff dialogue from Olivia too often
- Combat can be a mixed bag despite its inventiveness and improvements over the previous two iterations
- Writing post-chapter 3 feels like mostly filler

(SIDEBAR: Were they to expand upon the combat just a liiiiittle more and the dialogue in the latter half not mostly a snoozefest, this would be the second best Paper Mario. 

The first best is Super Paper Mario. 

fite me)

[Score = 8/10]

Galaxy Champions TV

+ Fun boss fights
+ A solid, imitation-brand Smash TV

- ... sans all the charm of Smash TV
- Virtually no differences between its two modes of play, leading to repetition setting in early on

(SIDEBAR: An additional point was added to the score because Smash TV is currently unavailable through any legitimate online storefront and owning a $40 physical copy means also owning and maintaining an SNES or Genesis. Gah!)

[Score = 7.5/10]

Away: Journey to the Unexpected *

+ Great OST
+ Fun, vibrant visual style

- Incredibly dull and repetitive combat
- Severely unpolished, particularly in its sound design
- A hodgepodge of roguelike and a fixed open world full of empty space

(SIDEBAR: The trailer definitely makes this game look far better than it actually is. If anything, I'd recommend "demoing" the game on Steam and returning it within two weeks and two hours of playtime if it doesn't strike your fancy.

I'm such a naughty boy. Come roll in the mud with me!)

[Score = 3/10]

Diggerman *

+ Appealing pixel art

- Highly repetitive
- Dull sound design/OST
- Feels focus-tested to the point of sanitization

[Score = 2/10]



Colt Canyon #

+ Nails the Old West atmospherically and stylistically (best to play w/o music)
+ Gunplay is swift and incredibly satisfying
+ Visually gorgeous

- The red thorns and bushes post-stage 1 feel unecessary and can be a huge pain, with them easily blending in with blood splatter
- I began to receive crashes (on the Switch version) every couple or so runs, suddenly, after having put probably 8+ hours into the game
- A vast majority of guns that use multiple rounds/shells per shot (among others) feel useless/wasteful

[Score = 8.5/10]

Skelly Selest

+ A variety of fun modes, including it's own card game
+ After some getting used to, the combat has its simple pleasures
+ Sports an endlessly charming Halloween mode that spooks up the aesthetics
+ A great combination of the pacing and progression of a roguelite, with the hooks of a score 'em up

- On an objective level, the combat doesn't stand out from many other indie score 'em ups

(SIDEBAR: This one was tough to score, as there really isn't anything I found necessarily wrong with it. It's just a simple, good time! It does what it sets out to do, which is be an enjoyable, tight indie joint. Though, the stilted combat will not be to everyone's tastes.)

(SIDE-SIDEBAR: This very same developer also put out Straimium Immortally, another very good roguelike!)

[Score = 8/10]

Super Mario 3D World + Bowser's Fury ^

+ Wonderful OST
+ Varied, albeit low-difficulty, level design (within 3D World)
+ Beautiful visuals

- Bowser's Fury contains far too much filler and repetitive objectives despite good level design

(SIDEBAR: Using my own damn screenshot, because fuck yo couch.)

[Score = 8.5/10]

Cave Story+

+ Varied and satisfying combat and boss scenarios
+ Great OST
+ Using the Machinegun, Jetpack Joyride-style, is awesome

- Despite great story beats and character design, the dialogue lacks nuance and leads to some unintentionally unceremonious events (ex: character death)

[Score = 9/10]

Post Void *

+ Visually striking
+ Exhilarating gunplay
+ A shotgun to rival Doom II's

- Getting back into a new game could stand to be slightly more instantaneous

[Score = 9.5/10]

Overwatch ^

+ Amazing character design
+ Excellent map design
+ Any player, at this point, will find at least half a dozen characters to come back to time and time again

- The microtransaction scheme can easily breed contempt and exhaustion

(SIDEBAR: fite me)

[Score = 9/10]

Caveblazers #

+ Satisfying smooshes and crunches to the combat
+ A surprising amount of dynamic build opportunities
+ Its brisk pace, among other things, makes it highly replayable

- Very dull, droning OST for the first couple levels
- The unpredictable, gut-wrenching, Spelunky-esque sudden deaths always leave a bad taste in your mouth

(SIDEBAR: I'm still occasionally playing it to this day. So, that says something, I'm sure!)

[Score = 8.5/10]



Death Road to Canada

+ Events and NPC's remain interesting hours upon hours in
+ A genuinely thrilling roadtrip as its real-time scavenging is more tactics-based than one may assume
+ Excellent OST
+ Many fun modes of play

- Occasionally finnicky interact controls
- Pathfinding around doorways is egregiously strict
- Sometimes mechanically inconsistent in regards to character stats

[Score = 8.5/10]

Loop Hero

+ Amazing OST
+ Relaxing and addictive
+ Beautiful pixel art, recounting a style long lost to the RPG's of old

- Less exhaustive than other grindfests, though just as real
- Tactically repetitive

(SIDEBAR: I still need to experiment with the other classes. I had only unlocked the Knight when I stopped, deliberately avoiding anything else in favor of min/maxing my health buffs and such.

Bread and rocks are hard to come by. What can I say?)

[Score = 8/10]

Alien Escape *

+ Concise, fun, occasionally challenging puzzles
+ Enticing cosmetic unlocks

- Good, though very limited OST
- Puzzle mechanics won't hold your attention for too long

[Score = 6/10]


+ Ambitious with really good execution on most core aspects
+ Incredibly solid combat
+ Generally rewarding exploration
+ Visually gorgeous

- The Journey-esque online mechanic is very poorly-handled
- Enemy respawns are based on a timer and too short of a distance away
- Bosses are entertaining, but unimpressive
- Loot becomes far less rewarding towards the end
- NPC dialogue is a bunch of bullocks, high fantasy word salad

(SIDEBAR: Considering all those negatives, you'd be forgiven if you presumed I would rate this much lower than I have. But, my critique mostly comes from affection! It's a very special game that needed just little more time to simmer. I do think it is gaming's most ambitious Souls-like and that going in knowing what you're getting is paramount.

Yes, it's Dark Souls in at least two dozen big ways. In the beginning, you may even write it off completely as a carbon copy. But, give it time. It's a memorable experience!)

[Score = 8.5/10]

NoReload Heroes *

+ Really good OST

- Supremely boring
- Droning audio design
- Little to no sense of momentum thanks to a plethora of arbitarily limiting design choices
- Would better suit a weekend college project, less a premium product

[Score = 2/10]

99Vidas *

+ ... I guess the intro cinematic was pretty ok?

- Unbalanced combat
- Little to no strategy required
- Annoying, repetitive voice clips
- There simply aren't enough hours in the day to commit to such (initially) milquetoast experiences

[Score = 1/10]

Bug Butcher

+ Excellent application of a simple "shoot exclusively up" mechanic
+ Charming creature art
+ Exciting gunplay

- Presentation is very choppy (on Switch)
- Reloading a Panic session takes upwards of 15 seconds (on Switch)
- Dpad/stick deadzone makes it practically unplayable (on PC)

(SIDEBAR: This game would be an easy 8.5/10 were it not for either issue on either platform I played it on. Your mileage may vary with issues like I listed, but they, for whatever reason, pushed past that irk threshold. I'll definitely try it again and qpost about my experiences with it using my soon-to-arive PS4 controller if things are any different!)

(EDIT: The PC controls are actually fine! It was obviously just my controller. Bumped it up to an 8.5/10, but only for the PC version. Though, I'd recommend "demoing" it on Steam using the 2-hour/2-week refund period just in case.)

[Score = 8.5/10]


And, now, without further ado, let us continue down this road of depravity...



High Noon Revolver *

+ Servicable gunplay
+ Good OST

- You can forward jump, but, frustratingly, you can't move in either direction mid-jump when jumping from a stationary position
- Some of the laziest audio design I've ever experienced in a video game (some public domain af soundbytes on inanimate objects, animals grunt when killed as though they're human, seemingly outright missing sounds for getting hit or dying, etc.)
- Generally unpolished

[Score = 5/10]


+ Yet another enjoyable twist on the old PAC-MAN formula, with gameplay retaining some of CE's mechanics whilst making the general act of play more proactive and more like the original PAC-MAN
+ Nergasmic cosmetics (albeit with some of the best ones requiring a purchase)
+ Slick presentation
+ Great OST

- The specifics on how to obtain certain essential time extensions in Blind Time Attack are very unclear
- Whilst F2P is appreciated, I would have approached what content was locked behind a paywall and for what price much differently



[Score = 8.5/10]

PAC-MAN Championship Edition 2 PLUS *

+ Appealing mechanical depth for what was previously such a simple formula

- Said mechanical depth doesn't always translate to a satisfying gameplay experience, especially when compared to the original CE or 99
- Unfair time restraints plague the 3 and even some 2-star challenges
- UI must've been designed by an intern overnight
- Same for the OST

[Score = 3.5/10]

PAC-MAN Championship Edition DX+ *

+ Flexible course selection
+ Really good OST
+ Great core gameplay

- Butt-fugly UI design
- Progression between courses/modes is undesirable and leads to repetition
- They barely scratched the surface in regards to creative course design

(SIDEBAR: Ghost Run and Score Attack feel like the only two modes with substantive differences as both Score Attack and Time Trial offer clearly-defined routes in order to min/max scores with the only difference there being Time Trial being, well, timed. Time Trial should've been scrubbed in favor of another completely different mode.

Normally, in any other type of game, I'd simply avoid Time Trial were it unfun. But, given the scorechasing x completionist nature of the game, with Time Trials being a huge contributing factor to your overall Course Rating, it feels like an inescapable oversight.)

[Score = 7/10]


+ Tons of liberties are taken with the formula and they all work so well in tandem
+ The glitching effect that chases you upward is surprisingly spooky
+ Incredibly fun skill pickups

- Virtually no OST
- In serious need of some sort of other cosmetic unlocks or anything to keep you pursuing more currency besides upgrading your skills' timer or power
- Global leaderboards are faulty, as they always show my high score at the 101st spot when there's a very clear discrepancy between mine and the 100th spot

(SIDEBAR: It was in playing both 99 and 256 that I realized why CE doesn't quite speak to me like it seems to with most people.

The gameplay of CE is simply too passive. Much of a stage is spent leisurely racking up a score, only to pick up later and become about some quicker reactions and (upon your first attempt) short term strategy. This is pretty fun for a while and definitely a good mental exercise, but I found the mechanics of both 99 and 256 far more engrossing. There's a heightened element of risk, slightly more variance in AI behaviors (CE seems to like to funnel the AI into running specific patterns, depending on the stage), and just more to take into account at any given time.

... though, I must say, why the pretense of unlocking a lootbox when it's the same damn currency everytime? Eh?)

[Score = 8/10]

The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth - Repentance #

+ Meant to be broken in the best possible ways
+ Coupled with all the expansions, this is an absolute mountain of worthwhile content to seep through
+ Genuinely addicting
+ Amazing OST

- It takes an unnecessary amount of time to unlock some of the game's best content
- The game's combat can feel mega garbo, depending on what items/drops a seed may throw at you

(SIDEBAR: Starting the game from scratch, I could see how a newcomer would presume the game actually LACKED content. Unlocks are dripfed consistently, but painfully slowly. I think I speak for most when I say that the Cathedral, Sheol, etc. floors should unlock far earlier/faster or in a generally less obtuse manner, with the DLC areas being what one actually works towards.

Really, this game's biggest issue is its pacing. If you're coming into this one cold, you're in for a looooooong haul. But, if you're enticed by what to expect, which is a lot of awesome stuff, it might just be worth the dedication. For me, I think it is.)

[Score = 8.5/10]

Cozy Grove

+ Gorgeous artwork
+ Relaxing
+ Decorating the landscape and guiding the props to light the world around you feels so very fulfilling, thanks in part to the two afforementioned qualities

- Daily tasks, amoung other things, running out until the following real-time morning is restrictive at best and unbelievably pointless at worst
- Characters feel homogeneous and shallow for a game seeming to focus on each respective "story"

(SIDEBAR: I'm not entirely sure what would've needed to have been done to make this formula really work. I see that they wanted tasks to expire, for you to come back the next day with the color from your world having vanished yet again (yeah, that's a thing), to then potentially decorate the landscape with fixtures to extend the reach of any one NPC's light, complete tasks again, then finally watch the world come alive more and more each time you help them.

But... why not just craft a larger world with the NPC's set further apart, more sights to see, more space to decorate, restrict access to certain features by way of a light meter that ranks by world percentile lit, and voila! You have incentive to build, light, and help flourish the space around you! The fetch quests expiring is wholly needless and restrictive.

I think that would've done it. The game is something to look forward to when I go through my daily routine and a recommendation, but with a hard asterisk.)

[Score = 7.5/10]


Minit Fun Racer

+ Mechanically enthralling compared to most runners
+ Great sound design all around
+ Proceeds go entirely to charity(!)

- Hit detection is so strict, one might be forgiven for any potential Paperboy flashbacks

[Score = 9/10]


+ The time constraint mechanics of Majora's Mask without the strenuous nature of the somewhat obtuse (by comparison) objectives
+ Awesome OST
+ Charming sense of humor
+ A real treat to attempt to 100%

- Inconsistent with the rules around the cursed sword
- The camera and running shoes could've been utilized more

(SIDEBAR: This is literally a top-down Majora's Mask in a satisfyingly tighter, more concise package. You are never too far from succeeding or clearing an arbitrary goal, so the pacing, unlike in Majora's Mask, doesn't falter.)

[Score = 9/10]

Orbital Bullet

+ Appealing mix of 3D and pixelized graphics
+ Great sense of locomotion and combat feel
+ Fun weapons

- Presentation is severely lacking
- The few Perks available don't exactly inspire

(SIDEBAR: As it is currently in Early Access, it's hard to judge it as a full product. However, the promise is there. The action and movement are both very fluid, and it makes one curious why we haven't seen more shooters in this Defender-esque style.)

[Score = 8/10]

Turnip Boy Commits Tax Evasion

+ Good OST 
+ Occasional, genuine laughter
+ Solid puzzles towards the end

- Limp combat
- Very mixed quality humor
- Puzzles could've been greatly expanded on
- A disproportionate amount of walking to and fro
- Most boss fights were either lazily designed or deeply frustrating

(SIDEBAR: Looking forward to the sequel, Turnip Boy Starts a GoFundMe to Pay for Court Fines.)

[Score = 5.5/10]


Strikey Sisters *

+ Solid reimagining of Breakout
+ New enemy types every level

- Very repetitive after a couple hours, despite efforts to spice up the encounters

(SIDEBAR: DYA Games' previous joint that I tried, Bot Vice, was far more engrossing. It sported a very similar MO, but you were always either ducking, shooting or dodging. In Strikey Sisters, 60% of your time is either triggering spells that clear enemies and blocks in various manners or waiting to bounce your ball back. It's far more passive and, therefore, could've used further mechanical depth to keep the player busy.

As a huge fan of Breakout growing up, I was expecting a lot more from this one. Perhaps it simply wasn't challenging enough?

And while we're on the subject: We have plenty of Breakout clones, Galaga clones, and we've even had some Defender clones in recent years. When the fucking hell are we getting a solid Dig-Dug clone?)

[Score = 6.5/10]

Super Mutant Alien Assault

+ Mechanically builds on the wonderful foundation of the game that inspired it, Super Crate Box
+ Solid gunplay
+ Tons of enticing unlocks

- Most of the soundtrack is pretty awful
- Whilst it builds upon Super Crate Box's core, the pacing is much slower (also see: less satisfying) as each stage is objective-based rather than based upon a frantic crate-nabbin' escapade

[Score = 7/10]

Enter the Gungeon ^*

+ Fun weapons and engaging combat
+ Excellent pixel art
+ Great soundtrack

- Load times can be a slight bother (on Switch)
- Feels as though there needs to be an extra i-frame or two applied to the dodgeroll

[Score = 9/10]

Miitopia (3DS) *

+ Charming sense of humor and general flair
+ Solid OST
+ New, appealing, laid back approach to typical JRPG combat
+ A surprising amount of leg for a Mii game

- Ideas, events, etc. exhaust pretty quickly, leading to boredom
- Unnecessarily extreme streamlining of everything outside combat

(SIDEBAR: I'm all for this game's approach to combat. It's a fun, friendly take that henges on your relationships between each Mii. However, everything else, from your gear upgrades, exploration, etc. has been toned down as well. After some time, you're begrudgingly pressing an occasional button or two every 5-10 seconds, wondering what's even the point. 

I think what could've dramatically improved this would be the ability to put your 3DS in Sleep Mode and have the game grind out XP. Instead of it being something you have to actively participate in, it'd be something you simply checked in on every now and again. But, alas...

I honestly got more milage out of Tomodachi Life.)

[Score = 6.5/10]


Well, then. Seems I didn't play nearly as many games these recent months when compared to more towards the beginning of the year. Honestly, I was starting to get more than a little apathetic, as I used to be for such a long time before the past several months. 

I hope to pull myself back up from this spell of despair and to keep on kicking away at my miles long backlog! I just gotta believe. 

However, since this update was a tad shorter than expected, here's a bonus round featuring some of the demos I played during the Steam Next Fest:



+ The small town vibe is an unending charm
+ Visually impressive for a 3D open world indie title
+ Very relaxing

- Poorly-optimized, chugging seemingly no matter what settings I turned down or off
- Occasionally disjointed dialogue

[Score = 7.5/10]

Death Trash

+ Great, desolate atmosphere
+ A particularly Fallout 2-esque sense of humor
+ Simple, but effective player character building
+ Solid real-time combat

- More visual player character customization would be appreciated, including armor pieces altering your appearance rather than just your stats

[Score = 9/10]


+ Striking, gorgeous visual style
+ Great vehicle controls

- Far too text-heavy
- No vsync option to fix screen tearing
- Bugs pertaining to the UI and audio abound

(SIDEBAR: For me, this game will live and die by its open world and precisely how it entices me to explore said open world. I can only assume that my stamina can be increased through trading currency or other collectables for upgrades, which will then open up further access to each area and with the same MO applied to vehicle upgrades. 

Unfortunately, the exclusion of such a system would likely kill my interest. Unless there is something else to this game I've yet to see. Exploration for exploration's sake will only take me so far.)

[Score = 6.5/10]

Chasing Static

+ Great storytelling/voice performances
+ Awesome, Silent Hill-esque atmosphere
+ Excellent, lo-fi aesthetic

- I predict that without objective markers, the non-linear hub worlds might make the game feel slightly aimless

[Score = 9/10]


+ Perfectly encapsulates ye olden Silent Hill/Resident Evil
+ Intuitive UI/controls, allowing you to play one-handed with your keyboard
+ The steps required to solve the demo's puzzle(s) were logical, inventive and satisfying
+ Fun sense of humor

- The pixelated effect on the player character feels cheap when compared to the rest of the visual design

[Score = 8.5/10]


+ Outright charming from head to toe
+ Variety in objectives
+ Great OST

- Many of the art assets are very noticeably low-res when zoomed in

(SIDEBAR: I still have no idea what the fuck a Toem is.)

[Score = 8/10]


If you want to check me out playing these demos and more, look below.

Until next time, gang!

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About Seymourone of us since 7:20 PM on 08.28.2011

Your resident sad queer and Shin Megami Tensei lover. Just don't ask me to place a name to most of the demons.

I also love musical sounds and even make them! Check it out!

Favorite Games:

Credit to Dango for this awesome side banner!

Honorable Mentions~!

The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess
Enter the Gungeon
GTAIV: Episodes from Liberty City
Super Crate Box
Half-Life 2
Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne HD
Ratchet & Clank: A Crack In Time
Dead Rising
Dead Rising 2: Off the Record
Uncharted 2: Among Thieves
The Long Dark
Deadly Premonition
Team Fortress 2
The Darkness
The Stanley Parable
DKC2: Diddy's Kong Quest
Halo: Combat Evolved
Left 4 Dead 2
The Last Of Us
Elite Beat Agents
The Last Of Us: Remastered
Silent Hill: Shattered Memories

Xbox LIVE:iAmHammett
Steam ID:isthisusernamecoolenough
Mii code:I have one, but f- friend codes
3DS Code:I have one, but f- friend codes


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