Late To The Party: Atelier Ryza 1

Ever since I’ve gotten a Playstation 4 in January of 2014 I’ve been a little dragon hoarding all sorts of games. Finally having a disposable income combined with a bad impulse spending habit led to me building up a backlog of almost 300 games in about 10 years time. Even though I do play some games “on time” most of the games I’ve gotten I barely touched, if at all, and are patiently sitting there waiting for me to play it. My goal starting in 2024 is to finally get to all the games that I have neglected over the past 10 years and even though I’m late to the party I still intend to enjoy myself moving through this backlog. I will be writing about the games I finish with full spoilers, so be warned!

My first late to the party game: Atelier Ryza: Ever Darkness and the Secret Hideout.

I picked up the first instalment of the Atelier Ryza series out of curiousity when it was on a Steam sale. There are a lot of JRPG series that I never touched and after reading the description I figured I wanted to give this game a try. This was in 2021. After playing it for about an hour and a half I shelved the game until last week where I dusted it off and started a brand new playthrough.

Atelier Ryza takes you to the world of Reisalin Stout, nickname Ryza, and her two best friends Tao and Lent and their home on Kurken Island where nothing ever happens and Ryza spends her days trying to go on grand adventures away from her parents farm. There are a lot of strict rules on the Island and one of the big ones is that you’re not allowed to go to the mainland for any old reason. However Ryza’s world will change forever when she meets Empel and Lydia who help her save Klaudia, a wealthy merchant’s daughter, from certain death on an illicit trip to the mainland.

After this meeting Ryza turns into an “Alchemist” and the grand adventure starts. A really big part of the game consists around gathering materials and turning said materials into other materials, useful items and armour through Alchemy. Story beats are locked behind certain Alchemy recipes and your ability to craft them to certain standards. Yes, next to being able to craft recipes in the first place all the things you can craft also have a quality level. If you are unable to meet said quality level you have no chance of continuing quests or storylines in the game. If you’re into that kind of gameplay loop it’s very satisfying to do the gather -> craft -> craft bigger loop over and over again. There is 184 recipes to be learned and very high quality items to be crafted. Personally I found the loop to become pretty boring after a while and as such didn’t pursue the Alchemy tied post-game grind after I was done with the mainstory.

Speaking of story. This game is a real coming of age tale with a young girl finding her path in life together with the friends she’s made along the way. It’s a real bog standard JRPG tale where a big bad is threatening the world as our protagonist knows it and that reality isn’t what it seems to be. Of course in the end our group of heroes vanquishes the big bad and after fixing their Island, which turns out to be artificially made, all is well in the world and everyone is able to pursue their dreams.
I think I personally would’ve loved this type of story a lot more when I was younger but now that I’m in my 30’s it kind of falls flat for me. Next to the mainstory there are also numerous side stories to do in the game, and even though I did them all because I’m a dirty completionist, I don’t think they are really worth your time. Apart from some nice recipes and some upgrade gear here and there, which you can also craft yourself if you want, the stories themselves aren’t very interesting or innovative and they are mostly craft/fetch and talk to people quests.

As far as combat goes, there is a combat system and it’s a bit of a weird mix between turn based gaming and real time ticking away. I didn’t really like it all that much because even though the game tries to encourage you to mix and match your party (you will have 6 characters total where 3 can be active in the party at any time) there is no real reason to ever swap characters out once you have found your comfortable playing combo. Just kit out your three main characters with the best gear, completely ignore the other three and you’re ready to tackle everything the game has to offer. The only good thing is that levels are gained group wise so if you ever do want to mix and match you can easily swap out and swap gear and you’re good to go. With alchemy you can make some really powerful items that completely cheese any type of combat in the story mode part of the game which is nice but also makes it kind of dull. I was able to craft an item with which I basically 4-shot the final boss of the game, the Queen of Darkness, just by using it on every turn I got on the character I had it equipped. Not particularly how you want get through a bossfight. It did came in handy when grinding levels though since it would straight up kill any non-boss creature in the area.
Unfortunately the combat turned me off enough that I didn’t want to take on the post-game super bosses which are apparently a lot harder than anything you face during the mainstory.

Finally I’m still kind of intrigued by how some JRPG’s use Europe in their games. This particular bit of the Atelier series draws heavily from the German language to name things and even though it’s not immersion breaking at all it sounds weird to hear German in a completely Japanese voiced game.

Final thoughts
All in all I thought the game was okay so if I had to grade it, it would be a 6/10. The story was standard. The combat wasn’t too interesting. Alchemy was fun but also became tedious after a while. The game didn’t pull me in enough to want to try the post-game bosses nor to want to buy into the DLC they added later. I know there’s two more parts to the Atelier Ryza series but I think I’ll let those pass me by for now. I got it off the backlog, it took me about 29 hours and I’m content I got it done.

The Backlog part 2: PC games and MMO’s

Welcome to part two of my backlog series!
In the previous part I talked about the catalog of games I own for my Playstation 4, WiiU and Nintendo 3DS.  With a list of about 40 games to complete there you’d think I would have my work cut out for me. Well guess what! Next to my consoles I’m also an avid PC gamer with a (not that big) catalog of games going on there aswell.
Like most people who play on PC I have a Steam account. Even though I never really got into Steam in the first place, I was forced to make an account so I could play Tomb Raider. Ever since then I’ve been selectively buying the games I would like to play. Steam sales are therefore never really an attack on my wallet because I’m not the type of person to buy a game just because it’s on sale. There’s plenty of games I will never enjoy and thus will never buy, even if they are 80% off on Steam sales and thus “worth” buying.
Because it’s easier to just post a screenshot of my Steam Library than to type up the games I have manually I’ll do just that… And then comment on the games that are listed.

As you can see I don’t really have that huge of a collection of games, resulting in me actually having played atleast an hour or more on most of them. There are a few there which I haven’t touched at all yet which are Child of Light, Rayman Origins, Jet Set Radio and Sega Genesis & Mega Drive Classics. The latter two I got for free with a SEGA/Steam special collaboration. Child of Light was one of those games I was always attracted to but never purchased untill it was on a very big sale. Rayman Origins ties in with refusing to install the damn Uplay client.
As I said, I have put some time in almost all the games that are listed. Usually making my way through atleast the first level or the introductions or whatever. The two games I have played most are DuckTales Remastered, where I am actually close to finished and Civ 5, which I have played on a few weekend nights with my ex. We would start at 22.00 and play untill 04.00 and still not be finished with our playthrough. I have very fond memories of these gaming sessions and although I haven’t really touched the game in a while, I think it was more than worth the money I spent on it.
As you can also see most of the games on there are platformers, my favourite genre. I do really want to start working through these games and I think I’ll pick up where I left off on Ducktales first. It’s the game where I’m closest to actually finishing so that should not be a real issue.
As far as other games on the list go, I am doing a Trine 2 playthrough with a friend and I really want to get into Stardew Valley. Although I have started a playthrough I feel like I messed it up already and I’m a bit lost as to where I was so I think I’ll start anew and stick to it for now.

Non Steam Games
I have a few games that are not tied to steam hanging out on my shelf. I haven’t played much of these at all. Not more than playing past the tutorial anyway. Which is kind of a shame since they are all good games! The (tiny) list consists of:

  • Assassin’s Creed III
  • Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag
  • Warcraft III + Expansions

I never played any of the Warcraft games and the third was the only one still readily available so I picked it up a few years ago to see how it plays. I played through a bit of the initial campaign but due to being busy with my studies and other stuff I didn’t really have the time to dig too deep into it. Same goes for my Assassin’s Creed games.

MMO’s and other “neverending” games
Here is the section with my favourite game genre: MMO’s. Although many games try to fit into this category for me it just means the MMORPG’s like WoW, Wildstar, FFXIV and the like. I have gamehopped quite a bit throughout my MMO career and still have about 4 big MMO’s lying around, of which three are waiting to be picked up and played again. With other neverending games I mostly mean games with ladder systems like MOBA’s and Hearthstone for example. Games that keep you busy and reset themselves often so you’re never actually done with them. Here’s the list of games of that type that I have installed, own and/or play.

  • World of Warcraft. Although currently being on hiatus untill Legion I don’t want to look at my /played time. I think I’ve sunk most of my time into this game out of all the ones out there.
  • FFXIV. My current MMO.
  • Wildstar. Bought it at release, never got past level 20 though, sadly.
  • Guild Wars 2. Same story as Wildstar. Liked the game a lot, but never got past level 25.
  • Diablo III. Still actively playing. Season 6 just started and I have a level 70 character! I just really want to get the rewards so I should start working on finishing up Chapter 4.
  • Hearthstone. Somewhat active play. I make sure I get rank 20 atleast in every season for the card backs and slowly work my way through the adventures. I don’t do serious ladder play.
  • League of Legends. Dormant at the moment. Ever now and then I fire it up for a game. I don’t seriously rank.
  • Heroes of the Storm. See League of Legends
  • Overwatch. See this game isn’t technically out yet, but I know I’ll be playing a lot. A LOT of my friends pre-ordered it and from the beta stuff I’ve seen it’s an awesome game so I’m really looking forward to putting time into this. Not sure if I will ladder, but you never know!
  • I’ve also dabbled around in Blade & Soul, Lord of the Rings Online and Star Wars: The Old Republic but never really enjoyed those games so uninstalled them and never looked back.

This really concludes my PC “collection”. Most of the games I own are in my Steam library and I have a lot of games that I play that I can’t really finish. I’ve tried playing multiple MMO’s at once, but just couldn’t make it work. I really hope I can keep up playing both FFXIV and WoW when Legion launches, but I’m sure my other games will suffer for it. Especially with me being in the working force I just have much less time to play games than I used to have. And now I regret not using the free time I had before to go through atleast a part of my games catalog.

For part three I will have to dig around and dig up my old games collection. Although I have gotten rid of a lot of my old games (we used to borrow stuff from family and copy it with CD-key, yes I was a pirate of the digital times from very early on!) I do have a lot of original copies of stuff lying around. I also still own all my old SEGA games plus the console, all my old various Gameboy games and old Nintendo DS AND a Playstation 2 with a nice catalog of games. Not sure when part three will be arriving, but I’ll do my best to not keep you guys waiting for too long!

Nostalgia, tome grinding and am I going to comment on WoW? – Blaugust day 5


After reinstalling Mickey’s Castle of Illusion on Steam I was happy to find out that Steam actually saved my progress in the cloud! Which means I didn’t have to work my way through the first world again and could immediatly dive into the second world (or act as it’s called in game).

Act 2-1: Angry toys everywhere!

It was a blast from the past. I have actually played my way through Mickey and Donald on my old Sega (which also included toy like levels) and Mickey Mania, but never got Castle of Illusion. I’m so happy I picked up the remastered version during the Steam Summer Sale this year! It’s taking me all the way back to when I first got my Sega Mega Drive when I was about 6 years old. Back then they had the better graphics compared to Nintendo and I remember a childhood filled with playing Sonic and Disney games. A feeling that this particular game brings back.
I love how they only remastered the sound and graphics and left the gameplay itself be. It’s still damn hard at some points, just how I remember the old platformers.
This is one of those games of my gaming-to-do list that I’m happily tackling, because honestly it’s just too much fun. I’ll keep you updated as I progress through the game, but to give a little more info (and a feel of what I’m doing in there) I have added the official launch trailer below. If you like what you see, go get it via Steam!

The Grind
One of the goals I have set for myself is to get my Esoterics cap on FFXIV every week. This means having to do ex-roulette every day. Which, honestly, I kind of hate. There are only two dungeons available for this roulette currently, Neverreap and Fractal Continuum, and I’m not a fan of either. Fractal takes a bit longer and has more trash. Neverreap has the most godawful endboss that I’ve seen in a dungeon so far. It’s safe to say I’m not really looking forward to doing this. Add in the horrible DPS queue times and you get a grumpy Sandy.
Next to this I’m rather frustrated with how my FFXIV raiding group has turned out. Ofcourse it’s summer and holidays are in the way. But still, we aren’t doing anything as group and grinding most content solo is boring as hell. It feels like a venture doomed to fail, especially since we have one more DPS spot to fill. Queue tremendous sigh.
I also wish I could show off more of the stuff I do from FF. But since I play on the PS4 it’s actually kind of a hassle to get decent screenshots. I wish I could just somehow connect and copy/paste stuff but I’m being forced to use a USB stick, not the most elegant way. I’ll try to add a bit more pictures, but don’t pin me on it!
The WoW Thing
By now most people have seen (Activision)Blizzard’s announcement about their financial Q2 and the tumble that the WoW subs took. Sitting on 5,6M currently it’s a number that we haven’t seen since Vanilla! All of which is due to the horrible lack of content that Blizzard provided with their latest expansion.
Queue some big names leaving in the past year or two aswell (Ghostcrawler and now Bashiok) and I wonder what is left of the old Blizzard core. Yes I do realize that those two had completely different roles within the organisation, but they were people that were out there in the community.
Everyone has had their opinions on WoW lately. I remember writing a post a few weeks ago that for me it was just done. I had my reasons. Cataclysm was the last really active expansion for me. I was an officer by the end of the xpac and the sole person keeping our tiny guild going, it drained me and the moment raiding didn’t happen in MoP I decided to take my leave of the game entirely. I did not like the setting of Mists of Pandaria, was not enamoured with the Panda’s as a playable race (I only made it to max level on a lvl 90 boosted Panda Monk) and the Daily grind for rep was… Horrible.
I came back every three to six months or so and started raiding again casually at the end of it, ready to come back fully for Warlords of Draenor which looked to be promising..
For the first few months it actually was. The leveling was much better in design than it had been since Wrath of the Lich King, there was enough content to keep you going for a while, the raids proved to be challenging enough. The only downsides for me were the horrible Garrison chores and the utter lack of decent PvP. Realizing that if I wanted to make gold or be self sufficient in any way would mean I had to run Garrisons on multiple characters was a nightmare and a huge turnoff in the end.
When patch 6.1 hit I was majorly disappointed. Instead of delivering more promising content we were stuck with a SELFIE camera, Twitter integration and a Garrison music box. Out of the three I think I’ve used the music box the most. I think I can count the amount of WoW selfies taken on one hand. Next to some newly added pets that was all the content we were going to get. And it sucked.
Queue 6.2 after barely logging in for a few weeks (we had killed Blackhand and had all done our Legendary quests) and again a huge disappointment. You got a second mission table, this time for ships, and an island that was even worse in design than the Timeless Isle. I hated doing the dailies the moment they appeared and haven’t touched a single one of them solo. The few times I did do them were with a gaming buddy, but we both quickly grew wary of them. What grinded my gears even more is that Blizzard locked the Legendary profession behind your little ships table. A whole world of frustration that I can’t even begin to describe right now. Let’s just say I’ve lost enough epic ships to more or less want to shove the whole idea through the throat of the devs who came up with it.
So yeah. Blizzard dropping sub numbers like no tomorrow has come as no surprise to me. Ask my guildies, but I’ve been complaining about the lack of content since January. And Blizzard has done nothing about it. If they want to keep their game going steady, or want to get people to come back to the game they really need to do something special with the next expansion. Pump out way better and way more content. Listen to your playerbase. Communicate with them again. Otherwise I predict the giant that was once World of Warcraft to plummet down to f2p status. And I’m not sure if the game will survive that.