Short Month, Aim Low - Pile of Shame February 2021

I should take my own thread title advice... I probably won't. While it's only 2-3 days shorter, depending on the month, it feels like 2 weeks less time. It could also be all the other stuff outside of games competing for my attention at this time of year.

Who knows?

Some housekeeping notes.

If you're interested, trueheart78, has the 12 month 2021 pile plan thread over here.

A quick reminder, in order to be considered "Pile of Shame" the game needs to be at least three months old. Otherwise, it's just a new game you haven't gotten to playing yet.

Also, if you are curious about some of the previous threads, Picks of the Pile, etc... Please go here and check out the spreadsheet I setup.

Let's get on to the games!

This month's Pick of the Pile is

Horizon Zero Dawn

"Experience Aloy's full adventure as you fight to uncover her past, discover her destiny… and stop a catastrophic threat to the future." (Official Site)

Assassin's Creed III - bobbywatson
Assassin's Creed Origins - benign1
The Banner Saga - AUs_TBirD
Carrion - brokenclavicle
Control - mrtomaytohead
Dead Island - AUs_TBirD
Dino Crisis - AUs_TBirD
Doom (2016) - iaintgotnopants
Far Cry 5 - Glycerine
Final Fantasy X - Stele
Hades - Eleima, LastSurprise
Heaven's Vault - benign1
Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice - iaintgotnopants
Horizon: Zero Dawn - Glycerine
Inside - iaintgotnopants
Mega Man X5 - bobbywatson
Nioh - Stele
Operencia: The Stolen Sun - LastSurprise
Pillars of Eternity - Glycerine
Remember Me - AUs_TBirD
Resonance - Eleima
Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm - LastSurprise
Star Wars: Squadrons - Stele
Syberia II - AUs_TBirD
Tomb Raider - Glycerine
Touhou Luna Nights - trueheart78
Untitled Goose Game - Bubblefuzz
Wolfenstein: The Old Blood - Glycerine
Yakuza 0 - Forlorn Hope
Ys: Memories of Celceta - brokenclavicle
Zombie Army 4 : Dead War - Glycerine

A Bird Story - benign1
Age of Wonders Planetfall - jdzappa
Before I Forget - AUs_TBirD
Ben There, Dan That - brokenclavicle
The Blackwell Epiphany - AUs_TBirD, Eleima
Elder Scrolls Online: Greymoor - jdzappa
Tyranny - jdzappa

Xbox 360
Too Human - mrtomaytohead

Nintendo Switch
Hyrule Warriors: Definitive Edition - Forlorn Hope
Link's Awakening - Glycerine
Ring Fit Adventure - bobbywatson

Star Fox Guard - Forlorn Hope

Looks like I carried over Nioh (PS4) and Final Fantasy X (Switch, multi). Both to be expected, long games, were going to take more than a month.

But I also dug into Immortals Fenyx Rising all weekend. So maybe I can keep that one from hitting the pile in March. Needed a break from the grueling combat in Nioh and that definitely helped.

I'm carrying Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice and Doom (2016) over from last month. Hellblade should be done by the end of this week and Doom is on the short end of my long games list so I'm confident I'll finish both this month. After those, I'll play Inside.

I refuse to aim low! Declaring:
Dead Island (PC/multi) - thanks for already carrying that over. Will likely finish it tonight for SallyNasty's Jan. 2019 game club, hosted by Clockworkhouse. Budget: 1 day.
The Banner Saga 1 (PS4/multi) - for the CRPG club. Didn't get to it beyond one evening in January. Budget: 12 days.
The Blackwell Ephiphany (PC) - for the adventure game club. Budget: 3 days.
Syberia II (PC/multi) - it's been 10 years since I beat the original. Started last month, and it's something I might be able to play with kids around (unlike Dead Island) Budget: 4 days.
Remember Me (PS3/multi) - my perennial pledge. I actually went from 31% to 63% completion in January, so I have hope that it will finally happen. Budget: 3 days.
Before I Forget (PC) - keeping with the "remembrance" theme, only now it's a short game about dementia. Budget: 1 day.

Stretch goal:
Dino Crisis (Dreamcast/multi) - just kinda feel like trying this one after listening to a Cane and Rinse retrospective on it. Budget: 4 days.

Formatted for Hemidal:


The Banner Saga 1 - AUs_TBirD
Dead Island - AUs_TBirD
Dino Crisis - AUs_TBirD
Remember Me - AUs_TBirD
Syberia II - AUs_TBirD

Before I Forget - AUs_TBirD
The Blackwell Ephiphany - AUs_TBirD

I think I'm about halfway through the story in Assassin's Creed III (multi/PC), so I will start with that this month. And I'm also almost done with Ring Fit Adventure (Switch), so I will declare that as well (provided my left knee doesn't fail me again).

Carrying over two games, and adding some since those other two are close to done.

Ys: Memories of Celceta (Multi)
Ben There, Dan That (PC)
Carrion (Multi)

Those are my picks... Might add something else later in the month, depending on how I do with these.

Ok, I feel like I've said I'd beat Star Fox Guard (Wii U) for like 3 or more months in a row now but this time I really mean it. Put me down for Yakuza 0 (Xbox Game Pass/Multi) too.

As predicted, I put a stake into Dead Island last night.

Thoughts on the game I wrote in the game club thread.


First off - holy cow this game is long! I was not expecting to be playing for 38.5 hours (according to the game...Steam's opinion is 55 hours).

Most people probably remember Dead Island for having the trailer of the year, 2011. The actual game unfortunately does not live up to the level of expectations the trailer sets. It's close in many ways, but falls short in too many others.

The good:
Setting - love the idea of having a zombie apocalypse take place in a sunny tropical resort, having to grab whatever is around (like a paddle, broomstick, or coat rack) to fend them off.
SettingS - actually, there are four distinct environments. While the third was pretty decent and I liked the second (city, but let's ignore the sewers) well enough, the beachside resort is still my favorite.
Gameplay - the hacking and slashing feels good! Good zombie variety. Later on, you fight humans and get various firearms (which also feel good!) as well. That's is a nice change of pace after 20+ hours of just melee.
Atmosphere - it's creepy. At times VERY creepy. I got used to the zombie killing, but some environments kept me tense even at the end of the game.
Semi-open world - At least for most of the game. Oddly, the open world aspect becomes less and less open as you progress through the game.
Four player co-op - Sadly, I didn't get to try this, but I can imagine it being good fun.
Music - not bad. Not amazing, but good enough.
Lots of sidequests.
The analog melee combat seems like it could be interesting once mastered. I didn't bother, and stuck with digital combat.

The pitfalls:
Bugs! - Way more than a game like it should have after 10 years and several rereleases later...or even 6 months after release. I got stuck in environments twice. The NPC I was escorting got stuck. I lost a weapon I threw at an enemy when it clipped through the level upon dying. Fast travel kept sending me to the wrong place one time, preventing me from completing a side quest. Etc, etc.
Sidequests are often very samey. Some outright suck. - Sure, if you have 50 sidequests, they can't all be unique, but some types seem to turn up a bit too frequently. Others are outright illogical. At one point, someone asks you to go back to the police station (where you JUST SPENT AN HOUR!) to find a file for him. Ok, fine. Then, in the follow-up quest, he wants a gun. But not any of the dozen guns you could give him right on the spot. He wants one specific gun from one specific location for no reason other than he remembers it. Wasted time.
I'm the only one doing anything - all survivors on the entire island seem to be waiting on JUST ME to do everything from saving their family to petting their cat.
Weapon durability - it sucks. I get that things degrade, but could we maybe halve the speed at which it happens? I spent WAY to much time and money repairing things.
WTF happened to the world? Most environments look like the apocalypse happened at least a year ago, rather than the few in-game days from when I woke up from my drunken night out to when I beat the final boss.
Padding. - Some sections just seem needlessly long (seriously, why are all buildings, sewers, etc such a twisty illogical mess? Why are there seemingly hundreds of normal zombies in the sewers? I get the floaters, but the other guys?
Enemies respawn too frequently. - Seriously immersion breaking.
Some problematic tropes - I get that the zombie apocalypse is not a nice place, and it's good that 50% of the playable characters are strong women (and 75% people of color), but there is a noticeable amount of damseling happening here (not to mention the implied rape). There's also this annoying naivete of one character - think seasons 4 and 5 of Fear the Walking Dead with the "helping people, no matter how much it's to our disadvantage" unrealistically stupid storyline.
Who ARE all of these people? - Sure, Banoi is an international tourist resort, and many accents are recognizable from various parts of the world. But then there are numerous instances where the accent has no basis in reality - like the voice actor was told to do the accent of someone with native French parents, who grew up in Mongolia, speaking only english.....and the voice actor only knows about french accents and Mongolia from having once skimmed over dictionary entries of both 10 years ago.

Overall I enjoyed my time with Dead Island, but I uninstalled it immediately after the credits and I don't intend to go back, nor to pick up Riptide. I found it interesting how I went from fearing all the monsters (hearing super-zombies roaring in the distance is extremely fear inducing early on) to eventually mowing them down (most of the time). I wonder if killing the undead would become similarly routine in a "real" zombie outbreak.
I also relaxed when I began worrying less about dying (sometimes nearly unavoidable with special zombies), and the associated cash penalty was less of an issue.

Dead Island is a definite 3 out of 5 game that just needed more polish and a better editor to have become something that was memorable for the right reasons, rather than for just its trailer and what could have been.

Baron Of Hell wrote:

The story isn't anything to write about but there is one really bad part. You get this scene with Jin driving off and your group talking to her on radio phones. It is clear that part of the story was just skipped over. They are talking like there was a previous conversation that would make the scene make sense but that didn't happen.

That cut-scene was jarring to me as well - I thought I had totally missed something at first. The reality is that it refers to something you WILL experience as if it had already happened.

Baron Of Hell wrote:

Kind of odd you don't get more guns until 25 hours into the game.

Kind of cool, I thought. It only works because the melee combat is so good though.

I’m all pile...well, most of the least until Mario 3D World comes out next Friday. In between all of these I’m also playing Zombie Army 4 : Dead War on PS4 Pro just because it’s so damn fun. Currently attempting to finish and strike from my ever-ballooning pile:

Pillars of Eternity (PC) - Almost done with a saved game I started way back in 2016, working on WM2 right now. Once I’m done with that I’ll head back to the main area to finish Act 3 and wrap up all the remaining quests.

Wolfenstein : The Old Blood (PC) - Aiming for 100% in one run on Death Incarnate difficulty, just hit Chapter 3.

Horizon : Zero Dawn (PS4 Pro) - I think I’m about 1/2 to 2/3 done, starting to find out about Alloy’s past and who she really is so the story is getting interesting. Also have The Frozen North to play at some point.

Tomb Raider (PS4 Pro) - About half way through this one, haven’t picked it up in a few weeks but plan to try and finish it this month.

FarCry 5 (X One X) - I’ve taken down one of the Seed clan, but still have quite a ways to go. This one will probably end up holding over to March. Also want to run through the Hours of Darkness DLC before I call it “complete”.

Link’s Awakening (Switch) - Just started, heading for the second dungeon I think. Such a cute little game, love the art style, though I wish there was an option to turn off the over used depth of field.

AUs_TBirD wrote:

Formatted for Hemidal:


The Banner Saga 1 - AUs_TBirD
Dead Island - AUs_TBirD
Dino Crisis - AUs_TBirD
Remember Me - AUs_TBirD
Syberia II - AUs_TBirD

Before I Forget - AUs_TBirD
The Blackwell Ephiphany - AUs_TBirD

You are a prince among men, and maybe I should read the whole post before I start working the list.

Yup, got most of the way through and had Dino Crisis left, then saw the spoiler section. That's on me.

Gonna try and get through Touhou Luna Nights on Xbox. Short game, but I’ll take the small wins.

Wolfenstein : The Old Blood is finally complete as of this morning. It was a great game overall, but man what a terrible finale.

Right then. Let's give this another go. Put me down for Kentucky Route Zero (Multi) againm Resonance (Multi) and Hades (Multi) as well. You can also sign me up and cross me out for Blackwell Epiphany.
Thanks Hemidal!

Saw the credits roll on Star Fox Guard last night. Had a fun time unlike a certain other game.. *cough*StarFoxZero*cough*

I posted about it in the 12 month thread, but I beat Too Human (360) on the 2nd. Hardly a pile game for me since I started it the moment I had access to the game and a 360, but it's an ancient game at this point.

I think I'll declare Control (PC/Multi) for the month. It will be off by the end. Either finished or abandoned.

Finished Hellblade: Senua's Sacrifice. Overall, I would say I like it but I was, honestly, a little disappointed based on what I had heard going in. The narrative was good and some of the puzzles were cool. But, those same puzzles got pretty repetitive the third time you had to do the same thing. The combat was tedious and it's a little annoying that the game has a mechanic that if you fail too many times you lose all progress (unless the game lied to me). That immediately took away any reason to try to play at anything other than easy. And, that credits song was...something.

Now on to Doom (2016). Which I'm sure is not at all a change of pace.

Psst, the game lied.

I freaked out too, googled it, checked the thread here.

Stele wrote:

Past, the game lied.

I freaked out too, googled it, checked the thread here.

I figured as much but, having seen how slow the run speed was, was not going to take any chances.

Hah stupid autocorrect. I didn't catch it until the quote. Psst, not past

I'm going to carry over -- and declare finished -- Operencia: The Stolen Sun (PC). Finished it a day or two into February, before I found this thread.

For this month, I'm going to declare Sid Meier's Civilization VI: Gathering Storm (multi). Just bought the expansion pack and i'd love to actually finish a game. Aspirationally, I'd love to finish Hades (multi), but that probably won't happen. I've gotten through the credits but will call the game done when I can host a party.

Well I started Star Wars: Squadrons (PS4, multi) yesterday.

I'm probably spreading myself too thin for a short month but what the hell.

Stele wrote:

Hah stupid autocorrect. I didn't catch it until the quote. Psst, not past

I figured as much but, having seen how slow your run speed is, was not going to take any chances.

So Control is pretty unstable on my machine (i5 6600k, GTX 1080, 32 GB RAM) Not sure if I'm gong to fight my way through this or not.

I'll throw in...

Untitled Goose Game (multi) get done this month.

Assassin's Creed III is done! That game was... kind of okay. I liked the father character. The cities were small, with a whole lot of nothing between them. I don't think the engine was good enough at natural environments to justify having so much wilderness in this game. I can see why Ubisoft decided to keep the ship battles and make a whole game around it, and for this only I am looking forward to playing ACIV. Someday. After 3 AC games in six months, I need a break.

Also finished Super Mario 3D World this weekend, but that does not count, since I played it back in... 2016? Still great!

No idea what I'm going to play next. Other than Ring Fit Adventure, but this is a game I can't exactly rush due to being old. Maybe it's time I finally took that videogame break I've been talking about for months.

bobbywatson wrote:

Also finished Super Mario 3D World this weekend, but that does not count, since I played it back in... 2016? Still great!

Dang how long is it? Only through 2 worlds over here

Stele wrote:
bobbywatson wrote:

Also finished Super Mario 3D World this weekend, but that does not count, since I played it back in... 2016? Still great!

Dang how long is it? Only through 2 worlds over here

Just to get through the main game can be less than 15hrs. To see every level, you have to finish every single level prior to the final bonus world with all the characters. There are 4(?) extra worlds after finishing the game. And once you beat the game, you should at least beat the first level in the first post-game world. It's worth it if you don't already know what happens.

EDIT: I may have to take back my "I'll be done with Control this month no matter what" statement. I'm enjoying it, but it crashes constantly. More than any game I've ever seen before. A good night involves only a couple crashes in an hour or 2. Tonight in 3 hours, it probably crashed about 15 times. I failed a bonus encounter because of the crashes. I think I need to put it on hold until it gets patched.

Regarding Super Mario 3D World: I think it took me around 12 hours to finish the main game. The first post-game world is kicking my ass. I haven't touched Bowser's Fury yet.

bobbywatson wrote:

No idea what I'm going to play next. Other than Ring Fit Adventure, but this is a game I can't exactly rush due to being old.

I've decided: Mega Man X5 (multi) it is. I expect to finish it this month, as it's reasonably short.

Ben There, Done That is done.

I wrapped up Syberia II last night.

Boy, have I got disappointing thoughts about this game...

In fact, I'm going to take my 2011 review of Syberia, - which I looked up to see what my opinion of it was back then - and just edit it a bit for the sequel.

I always expected Syberia II to be better. The screenshots had always been gorgeous and coupled with The Longest Journey, it appeared as if the adventure genre might make a resurgence at the time. Now that I've finally played it, I understand the mixed reactions. It's like a chocolate chip cookie recipe that calls for the chocolate chips to be replaced by dung beetles.

The cookie dough is great; a light adventure game set in a fantastical world with a unique and intriguing premise, strange characters, and the promise of a journey to far-off destinations. A beautiful musical score accompanies the gorgeous scenery (well, not so gorgeous anymore. The past 17 years have left their mark on Syberia II), with each location having its own unique architecture and sometimes sad history. The journey taken by the protagonist, Kate WALKER, Kate Walker, Kate Walker, omg, stop saying her full name all the time!!!!!! I can still understand the automaton doing this, but everyone else just, for the love of youkis, call her either Kate OR Ms. Walker!, is not only a physical one, but also an examination of her life to this point, and the mobile phone is an integral gameplay element to furthering this element Actually, the mobile phone - which gets astoundingly great coverage at the edge of civilization and beyond, barely factors into Syberia II anymore. All in all, this is a very promising start. No...let's just say I had high hopes going in because in the past 10 years I had forgotten how I felt about the original.

Sadly, we now get to the "chips." To begin, Kate's internal journey is handled in a terribly ham-fisted way due to the caricature nature of the people she interacts with on the phone and nearly everywhere actually. She really can't take two steps in this world without running into a personified trope - from a borderline moustache-twirling incompetent villain and his good natured, but "imbecile" brother, to good hearted but shockingly "simple" natives (in fact, there are an awful lot of "simple" folk in this game), and onward to religious zealots; Syberia runs the gamut, and some of these tropes are far more problematic now than they were even in 2004/2011. During one reveal that should have been painful for Kate, instead of any sympathy, I merely felt glad to be rid of an utterly unlikeable moron.

Other physical characters in the world are typically more believable, but the poor script and delivery undercuts my suspension of disbelief, as well as much of the sympathy I may have felt towards some of them. Add to that voice actors who sometimes change bad accents in the middle of a sentence, where neither of the accents fits the character's origin, as well as the liberal use of American phrases by supposedly aged, rural Eastern Europeans, and the entire game takes on an unintentionally surreal atmosphere. Actually, I didn't notice the bad accents and out of place American phrases as much this time around, but the script is just so....incompetent! There is a good overarching story that WANTS DESPERATELY to be told here, but the actual script is absolutely painful much of the time. On top of that are several completely unbelievable events - even accepting this world of automatons, youkols, mammoths and the like - that ripped me out of my attempt to be IN the setting. At one point, a nemesis manages to - in the span of mere moments, with at least a half dozen people watching the area - infiltrate and hide away in a heretofore impossible to access craft, only to (much later) pop out and attempt to foil KATE WALKER at a convenient moment.

It's all so infuriating because it could have, and should have been better!

Coming to the actual gameplay, it must be said that almost none some of the puzzles provided any a significant challenge with the exception of one puzzle that gave no apparent clue as to its solution, even after looking up the answer. A few instances of being stuck, however, are explainable by my inability to notice a tiny discoloration that is an item I could pick up - seriously, at one point I could not find kindling IN A CONIFER FOREST because I did not see the one specific bit of it that could be interacted with. Some puzzles were an exercise in massive trial and error extreme busywork, which would not have been so bad except that the game's creators loved their world so much that they inserted many, completely non-interactive beautiful screens to show it off, all of which must be traversed at a maximum speed of Kate's slow jog or pathetically slow stair climbing (this has not changed - too many empty, pretty scenes - sometimes several in a row - that have to be crossed multiple times). Finally, there are ridiculous logical inconsistencies such as an automaton companion who wishes to not expose himself to various instances of corrosive air, but then gleefully waits on Kate in the OPEN locomotive cabin Sokal got rid of that one, but added several new jaw-droppers. Near the end of the game, KATE WALKER increasingly often just shakes her head, like she can't believe the lunacy of it all. I'm right there with you girl!

Perhaps it is simply age which has not been kind to Syberia II, but I imagine all of these warts would have been visible in 20022004 as well. It can still should be a charming, fantastic trip to take, but one should be sure to pack some vodka to dull the pain shut off one's ability to critically think about things in order to be able to enjoy this ride.

Needless to say, I will neither be buying nor playing Syberia III.

I would not recommend Syberia 3 at all. I tried playing it last year, and.... yeaaaaaaah. It gets worse.