Later Levels’ leave: taking a break

Summer is on its way, the weather is getting warmer and a nice glass of something cold is waiting outside. As mentioned in yesterday’s Save Point post, we’re giving ourselves some time off during June and taking a break from both blogging and streaming.

A huge thank you to everyone who has supported us through our GameBlast21 streams since February and helped raise £4,753 for SpecialEffect. This is an absolutely amazing amount and will help many more physically-disabled people across the UK benefit from the joy of video games. Shout-outs to the best mods we could have asked for, Ellen from Ace Asunder and friend-of-the-blog Phil, along with all the regulars who joined us in chat and made each evening feel like we were hanging out with friends.

We’re looking forward to taking some time out over the next month after all that hard work. There are a few family matters which need to be attended to but we have fun stuff planned too: a new barbecue has been ordered for the garden, our local pub has now re-opened and there are people we’re looking forward to catching up with. There’ll also be a few video games thrown in for good measure, along with our regular World of Warcraft and Shadowrun evenings with online friends.

Who knows: we may decide to extend our break into July if we enjoy the next few weeks. We’re due a good holiday after almost five years of continuous blogging and streaming here at Later Levels, and it seems a shame to cut it short if we feel need a bit longer to recover. That doesn’t mean we’re disappearing completely though; you’ll still see us around online and can get in touch if you need us, and we’ll be back properly at some point in the near future.

Whatever you have planned for the summer, we hope you have a great time. Look after yourselves and we’ll see you again soon!

Kim and Pete ❤️

Save Point: May 2021

Welcome to May’s editorial post, a monthly progress report which rounds up all the happenings here at Later Levels in case you missed anything. With summer coming and 75-days of streaming behind us, let’s have a quick recap of recent events.

Blog life
Followers:

  • WordPress:   1,846
  • Twitter:   653
  • Twitch:   281
  • YouTube:   71
  • Posts:

  • Total published:   14 posts
  • Most popular:   How to survive the zombie apocalypse
  • Most liked:   Quizzing the effect of gaming on wellbeing
  • Most discussed:   Your wit’s got to be twice as sharp as your sword
  • My favourite:   Touring England through FMV games
  • Traffic:

  • Views:   2,298
  • Visitors:   1,427
  • Likes:   305
  • Comments:   82
  • Best day:   06:00 on Mondays
  • Other posts worth checking out:

  • Poe and Munro: A Paradoxical Platinum by Ellen from Ace Asunder
  • What GRIS Teaches Us in a Post-COVID-19 World from AmbiGaming
  • It Takes Two to Break Me by Frostilyte from Frostilyte Writes
  • Female Representation in Video Games Meghan Plays Games
  • Celebrating Badass Video Game Moms by Colin from Pinkie’s Paradise
  • This year’s Zombie Awareness Month took place in May, so what better way to celebrate than to stream a few related games and publish some helpful undead posts. I took some time to think about why releases featuring shuffling corpses still remain popular; and if you’re not sure which of them to play, why not check out some of my favourite zombie games. But if you’re looking for something a little more ‘practical’, here’s a full guide to how you can prepare for and survive the upcoming apocalypse.

    Speaking of streaming, Pete and I were sad to announce that we had to bring our 90-days for GameBlast21 to an end early. We tried everything we could to keep going and we’re extremely grateful to our awesome mods Ellen from Ace Asunder and friend-of-the-blog Phil for all their help, but it was important for us to take a step back and give our full attention to some family issues (more about that later). Thank you so much to everyone who helped raise £4,753 for SpecialEffect – you’re absolutely amazing.

    Gaming life
    Games played:

  • Cats Organised Neatly
  • Hack Forward
  • Lucy Dreaming demo
  • Someday You’ll Return
  • Strangeland
  • The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark
  • The Puzzler’s Desk
  • The Wild at Heart
  • World of Warcraft
  • Games previewed or reviewed:

  • Lake
  • Lucy Dreaming
  • Murder Mystery Machine
  • Song of Farca
  • Strangeland
  • The Balthazar Stone
  • After LudoNarraCon took place at the end of April, I gathered my thoughts about all the great games I’d tried this year and picked three to highlight. Murder Mystery Machine has been on my wishlist for a while and the demo didn’t disappoint; Song of Farca used a nice digital twist on the detective genre; and the chilled Lake wasn’t one I expected to enjoy but really enjoyed. I also had the opportunity to review Strangeland and I loved the way it gave off the same unsettling vibe as the classic Sanitarium.

    Although Pete and I have always enjoyed streaming together, I can’t deny that it has nice being able to play a few video games offline and I’m looking forward to doing more of this during our break (more about that later again). We finally got around to starting Hack Forward, an escape-room-in-a-box I backed on Kickstarter in February 2020 and then received last year. We’ve only completed the first chapter so far and it’s very well done, so we can’t wait to start the rest of them.

    Real life

    Work has been absolutely kicking my butt. On top of the usual summer projects that happen every year, we’re now taking on an office move, department restructure, change to ‘smart working’ and huge data audit, which means lunch-breaks and finishing on time haven’t happened in over a month now. On top of this, my stepson has been going through a bit of a tough time recently; the teenage years can be hard enough as it is without the added difficulties which come from being part of a separated family.

    It got to the point where Pete and I had to admit that these matters needed our complete attention, and we had to reluctantly bring our 90-days of streaming to a close early. It really wasn’t something we wanted to do but other things need to take priority right now. We were planning to take a break for a month at the start of June anyway so the start of this has been brought forward and we’re going to take some time off from streaming and blogging over the next few weeks. See you on the other side!

    Coming up
    Events:

  • We’re taking a break!
  • Posts planned:

  • We’re taking a break!
  • And now over to you guys: what have you been up to lately, and what have you got planned for the coming month? Is there anything the community can help with or get involved in? Let everybody know in the comments below so we can show our support. Thanks for reading!

    Save point: April 2021

    Welcome to April’s editorial post, a monthly progress report which rounds up all the happenings here at Later Levels in case you missed anything. With the sun starting to break through the clouds in more ways than one, let’s have a quick recap of recent events.

    Blog life
    Followers:

  • WordPress:   1,836
  • Twitter:   645
  • Twitch:   280
  • YouTube:   71
  • Posts:

  • Total published:   14 posts
  • Most popular:   Finding it hard to be bad in video games
  • Most liked:   Finding it hard to be bad in video games
  • Most discussed:   Are you a walker or a fast-traveller?
  • My favourite:   My introduction to speedrunning: right game, right time
  • Traffic:

  • Views:   2,664
  • Visitors:   1,741
  • Likes:   317
  • Comments:   168
  • Best day:   07:00 on Mondays
  • Other posts worth checking out:

  • A Case for Life in the Matrix by Athena from AmbiGaming
  • Favourite Game Aesthetics by Will from Geek Sleep Rinse Repeat
  • The Odyssey of Woman: Representation by Sarah from Just a Game
  • What Makes a Good Achievement? by Brett from Pixel Pricks
  • Does this need to be a video game? by Quietschisto from RNG
  • Blogging has always provided its challenges, but it has got a lot harder over the past six months. The attendance at blog parties and other collaborative events has been dwindling for a while now and the cancellation of the annual gaming expos due to COVID-19 has impacted a lot of my usual content. It doesn’t feel as ominous as writers’ block just yet thankfully, but I’m certainly struggling to find things I want to write about because of a lack of new experiences.

    The fact that I’ve been yearning to revisit older releases from my childhood lately hadn’t helped, probably a subconscious desire to seek nostalgic comfort in memories. The results have been mixed though. I had fun with the over-the-top acting in The 11th Hour after receiving the game as a gift from Darkshoxx, but Dragon’s Lair just wasn’t as magic as it as it seemed to be when I was a kid. My other-half got hold of a copy of The Black Dahlia for my birthday this month so expect to see it on stream soon if we can get it to work.

    Although these games have enabled me to create content in the form of reviews, there are only so many of these that one blogger can publish before they want to do something different. The news that gaming events are due to be back on this summer is pleasing but I can’t help thinking: will the UK really be ready for large-scale expos like that again by July? I guess there’s no harm in being cautiously optimistic and starting to look ahead to brighter days when I get to meet up with my blogger-friends at the usual events again.

    Gaming life
    Games played:

  • Coloring Pixels
  • Grim Fandango
  • Hitchhiker
  • I Saw Black Clouds
  • Internet Court
  • Nanotale – Typing Chronicles
  • Someday You’ll Return
  • The Balthazar Stone
  • The Cat That Got The Cream
  • The Darkside Detective
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • Several demos from LudoNarraCon 2021
  • Games previewed or reviewed:

  • Dragon’s Lair
  • GHOSTS
  • Hitchhiker
  • Invasive Recall
  • Murder on the Nile
  • Nanotale – Typing Chronicles
  • My other-half’s quirks have provided a welcome break from writing reviews this month after I started to notice how different we are when it comes to gaming. I always find it hard to be evil in video games and end up choosing the ‘good’ decisions; Pete on the other hand has no qualms about slaughtering innocents in every town he visits. He always uses fast-travel whenever the option is available whereas I’m more likely to take to my feet or a mount, in case there’s something to be missed on the journey.

    It seems that a lot of people have been considering their careers or trying new hobbies during the latest lockdown, as the number of projects on Kickstarter and their quality has been on the increase. Two more have been added to my backed list this month. GHOSTS is a modern full-motion video (FMV) horror which, going by the trailer, looks like it’s going to be as scary as hell; and Invasive Recall is a futuristic point-and-click adventure which isn’t aiming to reinvent the wheel, but celebrate the classics.

    Speaking of adventure games, this year’s LudoNarraCon took place on Steam last weekend and I managed to find some great games to add my to wishlist so stay tuned for more about those coming in early May. I also had one of the most interesting gaming experiences so far this year with Hitchhiker, which won’t be to everybody’s taste but left me thinking about it long after the credits rolled. And then there was Nanotale – Typing Chronicles, a typing game that I really enjoyed but still needs a few bug fixes.

    Real life

    I’ve been able to take quite a lot of time off work during April and the break has been appreciated. Pete and I had a lovely Easter alone together during which we went for a walk through the woods, completing several video games and ate far too much chocolate. We spent my birthday finally playing The Balthazaar Stone, an escape-room-in-a-box I backed on Kickstarter last August and received in February, so look out for a round-up of our thoughts coming next month.

    We also had the opportunity to briefly meet Darkshoxx in person! While making his way from Germany to Scotland for a new job, he spent his 10-day isolation after arriving in the UK in a nearby town which allowed us to take some books and cider to him (following all appropriate guidelines). He was also kind enough to guide Pete through a speedrun master-class during a stream one evening. We’ve both now got the speedrunning bug and have been trying to beat our fastest times in Myst.

    That’s not the only kind of running I’ve been doing this month: after signing up for new event StrideQuest, I’m aiming to complete 100-miles by the end of May for SpecialEffect. This has done wonders for my motivation when it comes to fitness and I’ve been more eager to get on the treadmill at 06:00 in the mornings than I have been in a long time. At the time of writing, I’ve got less than 20-miles to go and a new pair of trainers to break in. Let’s do this!

    Coming up
    Events:

  • 01-29 May: #DaysForDonations for GameBlast21
  • 01-31 May: StrideQuest for SpecialEffect
  • 01-31 May: EXP Share – Topic #7
  • 01-31 May: Zombie Awareness Month
  • 13 May: Shadowrun stream
  • 22 May: The Eurovision Division 2021
  • 27 May: Shadowrun stream
  • Take a look at the Side-quests page for more!
  • Posts planned:

  • A round-up from LudoNarraCon 2021
  • A celebration for Zombie Awareness Month
  • Our escape-room-in-a-box experience
  • Our puzzling time with Journal 29
  • Travelling though the UK in video games
  • And now over to you guys: what have you been up to lately, and what have you got planned for the coming month? Is there anything the community can help with or get involved in? Let everybody know in the comments below so we can show our support. Thanks for reading!

    Save point: March 2021

    Welcome to March’s editorial post, a monthly progress report which rounds up all the happenings here at Later Levels in case you missed anything. With spring on the horizon and Easter just around the corner, let’s have a quick recap of recent events.

    Blog life
    Followers:

  • WordPress:   1,817
  • Twitter:   635
  • YouTube:   68
  • Twitch:   262
  • Posts:

  • Total published:   14 posts
  • Most popular:   Gamers blog party: spring 2021 invitation
  • Most liked:   Gamers blog party: spring 2021 invitation
  • Most discussed:   Gamers blog party: spring 2021 invitation
  • My favourite:   Do you need to complete a game to review it?
  • Traffic:

  • Views:   3,308
  • Visitors:   1,830
  • Likes:   572
  • Comments:   306
  • Best day:   07:00 on Mondays
  • Other posts worth checking out:

  • The “Choose Your Ending” Problem by drmabian from Abstracting Games
  • A Quick History of Fast Travel by Gavin from Bits & Pieces
  • Games for when you want to relax by Stephen from GamesandStuff
  • Most valuable Amiga games in 2021 from Ghost of Games Past
  • Bugsnax out of real food by James from The Gaming Dashboard
  • Community projects have taken centre-stage this month. The latest EXP Share hosted by Tales from the Backlog saw me share a post about some of the gaming moments that have shocked me the most; and next I made my way through Machinarium after buying it eight years ago, for the annual #MaybeInMarch event co-hosted with Ellen from Ace Asunder. We then wrapped up the month with the spring 2021 blog party during which 19 awesome posts by some talented bloggers were shared on social media.

    I spent some time outside of these events thinking about whether it was necessary to finish a game to review it. This subject came onto my agenda after receiving a review key for Mutropolis, a sweet adventure from a small indie team, and getting stuck at a certain point before any walkthroughs had been published. The consensus seems to be that all opinions are valid regardless of how much you’ve completed of release – but it’s important to be honest in your critiques when it comes to sharing your progress.

    This question and the limited success of the community projects mentioned above have planted a seed in my mind when it comes to Later Levels. Most of my content nowadays is filled with reviews due to the cancellation of gaming expos during the past year; and turn-out for the blog parties and other collaboration events has been dwindling for a while. Perhaps it’s time to do something different. An idea is forming but it’s something I’m going to need help with, and so I need to have some conversations over the coming weeks.

    Gaming life
    Games played:

  • Coloring Pixels
  • Corpse Killer
  • Dragon’s Lair
  • Five Dates
  • Machinarium
  • Murder on the Nile
  • The 7th Guest
  • The Curse of the Wolves
  • The Dark Side of the Moon
  • The Typing of the Dead: Overkill
  • Tiny Room Stories: Town Mystery
  • World of Warcraft
  • Games previewed or reviewed:

  • Calling Card
  • Mutropolis
  • Shadow of Memories
  • The Dark Side of the Moon
  • The 7th Guest
  • I’ve been revisiting some classic games over the past month and reliving my youth. After receiving The 7th Guest as a Christmas gift from Ellen and playing part of it during our GameBlast21 marathon stream, I decided it was time for a proper playthrough and lost myself in its spooky nostalgia. And I shared my thoughts on playing Shadow of Memories on my PlayStation 2 last month, and the feeling that I’d played it before even though it was a release I don’t actually remember.

    My favourite title of March however was The Dark Side of the Moon, an awesome modern full-motion video (FMV) adventure that was added to my wishlist a while back as soon as I found out it was going to star two well-known names from the genre. Thanks so much to the guys from Tayanna Studios for surprising us by popping up in Twitch chat and sticking around to answer questions until the end of the game! This started me on a bit of an FMV binge and we progressed on to Five Dates the following weekend.

    Our 90-days of streaming for GameBlast21 continues, and we’d like to say a big thank you to everyone who has guided Pete for a ‘master class’ this month. Please do get in touch if you’re interested in teaching him how to play a game he has never tried before! It was a conversation which took place before Frostilyte’s Monster Hunter: World session with him that got me thinking more about character creation in video games: I tend to spent a lot of time on my protagonist whereas my other-half is more likely to click on the randomise button.

    Real life

    Although it seems like the light at the end of the COVID tunnel is getting closer, we’re still not out of the woods just yet. My motivation has taken a huge hit over the past few weeks and I can’t seem to work up the enthusiasm for most things. I remain grateful to the friends I’m in regular contact with because their jokes and memes make each day go a little faster, and I’d like to give a shout-out to the streamers whose lovely voices can usually be heard throughout the Later Levels’ household.

    Speaking of friends, I made the decision to remove some of the social media channels for both the blog and me personally this month. I talk to my good blogger-friends regularly and can be contacted directly whenever anyone would like to speak to me; and certain social media platforms have been incredibly negative and draining over the past year. What reason do I therefore have to keep them? The Later Levels’ Twitter account remains for now even though I’m not always incredibly active on it.

    Perhaps my mood will turn more positive as spring approaches, because the lighter days and milder weather make it my favourite time of year. Easter is coming soon too so that means some well-deserved time away from work along with plenty of Creme Eggs and video games. Pete and I still need to figure out a way to celebrate our birthdays next month because it doesn’t look as if we’ll be going out, but hopefully we’ll be able to come up with something fun.

    Coming up
    Events:

  • 01-30 April: #DaysForDonations for GameBlast21
  • 01-30 April: StrideQuest for SpecialEffect
  • 01-30 April: EXP Share #6
  • 01 April: Shadowrun stream
  • 15 April: Shadowrun stream
  • 23-26 April: LudoNarraCon 2021
  • Take a look at the Side-quests page for more!
  • Posts planned:

  • My StrideQuest progress
  • Dragon’s Lair isn’t the game I remember
  • Why I find it hard to be bad in video games
  • Not so much a mystery in Murder on the Nile
  • A round-up from LudoNarraCon 2021
  • And now over to you guys: what have you been up to lately, and what have you got planned for the coming month? Is there anything the community can help with or get involved in? Let everybody know in the comments below so we can show our support. Thanks for reading!

    Save point: February 2021

    Welcome to February’s editorial post, a monthly progress report which rounds up all the happenings here at Later Levels in case you missed anything. With Valentine’s Day out the way and GameBlast21 coming up this weekend, let’s have a quick recap of recent events.

    Blog life
    Followers:

  • WordPress:   1,752
  • Twitter:   630
  • Facebook:   94
  • Instagram:   240
  • Twitch:   224
  • Posts:

  • Total published:   13 posts
  • Most popular:   #LoveYourBacklog Month 2021
  • Most liked:   #LoveYourBacklog Month 2021
  • Most discussed:   #LoveYourBacklog Month 2021
  • My favourite:   Video game lessons: how not to flirt in real life
  • Traffic:

  • Views:   2,537
  • Visitors:   1,570
  • Likes:   307
  • Comments:   97
  • Best day:   06:00 on Mondays
  • Other posts worth checking out:

  • ACEapp: Choosing the right sugar daddy by Ellen from Ace Asunder
  • Intimacy Issues: Game Lovin’ by Athena from AmbiGaming
  • Great first levels in video games from GamesandStuff
  • I want to be evil but not too evil by Dan from Indiecator
  • Nintendo’s Bizarre Game Boy Adverts by Travis from Wardculture
  • February wasn’t just about spending time with your loved-ones for Valentine’s Day – it was also about showing your appreciation for your video game library with the #LoveYourBacklog event. Alongside my blogging-partner-in-crime, Ellen from Ace Asunder, we set out to encourage everyone within the community to show their backlog a little bit of affection by dedicating a post to it. Thank you to everybody who joined in this year; hopefully we’ll see you again when #LoveYourBacklog returns in 2022.

    Coming up this weekend is GameBlast21 and I’m so excited! We’ve been preparing for the annual gaming marathon for several months and are looking forward to doing our bit to raise funds and awareness for SpecialEffect. Check out our press release for the formal details, and this post for information for what we’ve got lined up. We’ll be live on the Later Levels’ Twitch channel from 08:00 GMT on Saturday for 24-hours – and yes, Pete will be wearing his Pikachu costume for the whole thing.

    I’d like to send my love to everyone who has donated through our JustGiving page so far and raised over £3,500 for the charity. This is a fantastic amount which will help SpecialEffect continue their work to support people with physical disabilities to play video games. Big hugs too to Ellen, Kevin from The Lawful Geek and friend-of-the-blog Phil for everything they’ve done to help with the event, and to the friends mentioned in my EXP Share post this month for keeping me sane throughout.

    Gaming life
    Games played:

  • Blackwood Crossing
  • Chicken Police
  • Mutropolis
  • Silver Creek Falls
  • The Elder Scrolls Online
  • The Long Dark
  • The Room 4: Old Sins
  • Witch’s Kitchen
  • World of Warcraft
  • Several games from the Steam Game Festival
  • Games previewed or reviewed:

  • EXITUS
  • The Mysterious Museum
  • Several games from The Big Adventure Event
  • Several games from the Steam Game Festival
  • There’s no sign of digital expos stopping and the first took place at the end of January. The Big Adventure Event was successful for me as I ended up adding five more games to my wishlist, with my favourite being The Drifter. Next up was the first Steam Game Festival of the year. It’s getting harder and harder to find demos I want to play because I’ve tried so many over the past 12 months but I still managed to dig out eight; Blind Drive was a lot of fun and I’m looking forward to streaming it in early March.

    I still need to decide what to play for the #MaybeInMarch event though and no doubt this will end up being another stream. While writing my own #LoveYourBacklog post recently, I realised there are seven games I’ll have to choose between but it’s either Dragon’s Lair or Machinarium I’m drawn to most right now. There’s still some time to think about it though and more details about how you can get involved with #MaybeInMarch will be revealed on Monday.

    My favourite game of the month was Chicken Police, a title gifted to me for Christmas by Phil. I’d recommend it if you’re a fan of visual novels and noir detective stories – but it’s worth taking a look even if you’re not because the black-and-white style and anthropomorphic animals are something special. After finally playing escape-room-in-a-box The Mysterious Museum during a power-cut last month, I’ve also been enjoying a break from video games with some activities such as jigsaw puzzles.

    Real life

    I’ve reached the point where it feels as though every day in lockdown-life is the same as the last and it’s hard to recall where we are in the week. But at least there’s a light at the end of the tunnel now, with 15-million people being vaccinated here in the UK and the government revealing their roadmap to ease restrictions. I can only hope that people continue to follow the advice we’re given to prevent another wave and we can finally start moving forward.

    Pete and I didn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day during lockdown but that’s nothing unusual for us. Neither of us are particularly interested in it, so we did what we normally do rather than partake in mass-produced romance: cook something nice for dinner, drink wine and play video games. He’s no stranger to a bad chat-up line or euphemism, but I’m very pleased to say he didn’t try any of the lines featured in my post about the worst pick-up lines in gaming.

    Right now, we’re trying to figure out how we’re going to fit in those extra #DaysForDonations streams after GameBlast21 this weekend while still keeping some time free for ourselves. We’re really grateful to Phil for helping us out this year and to Ellen for joining us for weekly World of Warcraft sessions. We’re thinking of taking a break from both blogging and streaming once the event is over so we can have a few weeks to recharge… before coming back and starting to think about our plans for GameBlast22.

    Coming up
    Events:

  • 01-31 March: #DaysForDonations for GameBlast21
  • 01-31 March: #MaybeInMarch 2021
  • 01-31 March: EXP Share – Topic #5
  • 04 March: Shadowrun stream
  • 06 March: #MaybeInMarch stream
  • 15 March: Gamers’ blog party: spring 2021 invitation
  • 18 March: Shadowrun stream
  • Take a look at the Side-quests page for more!
  • Posts planned:

  • Lessons learnt from GameBlast21
  • A review of Mutropolis
  • Do you need to complete a game to review it?
  • That sense of déjà vu with Shadow of Memories
  • A round-up of my #MaybeInMarch experience
  • And now over to you guys: what have you been up to lately, and what have you got planned for the coming month? Is there anything the community can help with or get involved in? Let everybody know in the comments below so we can show our support. Thanks for reading!

    We’re taking part in GameBlast21 to support SpecialEffect, the gamers’ charity.
    Making a donation will bring you great loot, increase your XP by +100 and make you immune to fire.*
    (*Not guaranteed.)


    Save point: January 2021

    Welcome to January’s editorial post, a monthly progress report which rounds up all the happenings here at Later Levels in case you missed anything. With 2020 behind us and brighter days hopefully ahead, let’s have a quick recap of recent events.

    Blog life
    Followers:

  • WordPress:   1,725
  • Twitter:   630
  • Facebook:   94
  • Instagram:   236
  • Twitch:   208
  • Posts:

  • Total published:   13 posts
  • Most popular:   Taking note: keeping records during video games
  • Most liked:   The curious case of the Xbox Series X
  • Most discussed:   Taking note: keeping records during video games
  • My favourite:   Do walkthroughs make you a bad gamer?
  • Traffic:

  • Views:   3,074
  • Visitors:   2,026
  • Likes:   459
  • Comments:   189
  • Best day:   06:00 on Mondays
  • Other posts worth checking out:

  • Have you seen this Man? by Darkshoxx from Darkblox
  • Being an Active Audience by Elise from Game Praisers
  • To Be A Gamer Dad by Toasty from Games With Toasty
  • Critics and Casuals In Gaming by Emily from Monsterlady’s Diary
  • Scariest Horror Games by Chris from Musings of a Grouch
  • January is normally when I make arrangements to attend the annual gaming expos – but this isn’t a normal year and blogging is becoming more difficult. I’m writing more reviews nowadays as both events and releases are postponed, and the only thing to do is stay home and play existing video games. I’m grateful for community events like EXP Share, for which I wrote about my recent experience with Yakuza 0 this month, and hopefully things like this will keep me working towards my 2021 blogging goals.

    All this extra gaming is very good practice for GameBlast21 and there’s less than a month to go until our streaming marathon for SpecialEffect. The games we’re going to play were announced on Wednesday and we’re halfway through our fundraising targets for the charity, achievements that wouldn’t have happened without your help! I’m pleased to report that efforts to find a Pikachu costume for Pete are underway and he’ll be wearing it on stream for 24-hours from 08:00 GMT on Saturday, 27 February 2021.

    Before that though, the annual #LoveYourBacklog starts on Monday – and this time it will be taking place over a month rather than a week to give everyone more opportunity to appreciate their backlogs! The event is now in its third year and was created with Ellen from Ace Asunder in 2019 to encourage us all to be grateful for our pile of games rather than feel guilty about them. Keep your eyes peeled for more details on how you can get involved next week.

    Gaming life
    Games played:

  • Blacksad: Under the Skin
  • I Love You, Colonel Sanders!
  • Post Mortem LA: Death in La-La Land
  • Quern – Undying Thoughts
  • Shadow of Memories
  • The Eyes of Ara
  • The Long Dark
  • The Sojourn
  • World of Warcraft
  • Several demos from The Big Adventure Event 2021
  • Games previewed or reviewed:

  • Call of the Sea
  • Post Mortem LA: Death in La-La Land
  • Quern – Undying Thoughts
  • Röki
  • World of Warcraft
  • Yakuza 0
  • Since working our way through Call of the Sea’s series of beautiful escape rooms in December, puzzle games have featured heavily in our gaming line-up and you can read about my recommendations here. Looking back over our notepad of scribbles and gallery of photographs afterwards made me realise how much I enjoy taking notes while playing video games. It also made me see that you shouldn’t feel bad about checking a walkthrough if you’re stuck: better to complete a game with a bit of help and enjoy it, than get frustrated and put it down.

    Other puzzle-orientated releases completed have been Röki, a lovely fairy-tale for this time of year and Quern – Undying Thoughts, perhaps the closest we’re going to get to playing Myst for the first time again. We also enjoyed a physical detective thriller in the form of Death in La-La Land as it felt like we’d been dropped straight into our own noir story. My favourite game of January however was Blacksad: Under the Skin and I’d love to see the protagonist return for a crime-filled sequel.

    These titles reminded Pete and I of how much we like playing puzzle titles together because they’re the sort of games we bonded over when we first met. This realisation caused us to think about our streams and we’ve decided that we’d like to showcase more adventure and narrative releases; not only do we enjoy them, but we’ve found a great bunch of people on Twitch who love them as much as we do. Let us know youre recommendations so we can add them to our wishlist.

    Real life

    The COVID-19 lockdown continues here in the UK: the situation currently being reported in the news is that this is going to be the case until at least March. While I understand that such measures are important and required for keeping everybody safe, the days are starting to merge into one another and it’s hard to plan anything to look forward to in the future. Perhaps I need to start being more positive and seeing the good in small things to get me through it, like my stepson’s has done with his Xbox Series X.

    The thing that makes this difficult is that several relatives are slowly starting to buy into the conspiracy theories about the infection and death rates not being as bad as reported. I know it’s a reaction to how long they’ve spent in lockdown but I can’t justify their opinions or actions: I just don’t get how you can think that what’s going on isn’t real or that the state of emergency declared by our local hospitals is exaggerated. It’s meant we’ve had to make some difficult decisions lately but we’ve got to do what’s necessary to keep our family safe.

    Speaking of my family, who’d have thought that Pete and I would be able to put up with each other as husband-and-wife for two years? We celebrated our second anniversary in a low-key but enjoyable way, by playing World of Warcraft with Ellen and Phil and eating KFC. At some point in the future we’ll celebrate properly once the lockdown is over. In the meantime we’ll continue playing video games – and trying to drag Ethan away from his new Xbox every once in a while.

    Coming up
    Events:

  • 01-28 February: #LoveYourBacklog Month 2021
  • 01-28 February: EXP Share: Topic #4
  • 04 February: Shadowrun stream
  • 18 February: Shadowrun stream
  • 19-20 February: BlizzConline
  • 27-28 February: GameBlast21 for SpecialEffect
  • Take a look at the Side-quests page for more!
  • Posts planned:

  • A round-up from The Big Adventure Event
  • An escape-room-in-a-box review
  • The worst pick-up lines used in video games
  • A post dedicated to my backlog
  • Our GameBlast21 press release
  • And now over to you guys: what have you been up to lately, and what have you got planned for the coming month? Is there anything the community can help with or get involved in? Let everybody know in the comments below so we can show our support. Thanks for reading!