On Your Mark. Get Set. Game.
Summer is here, and with it comes cookouts, beach days, block parties, and plenty of sunshine. It’s the perfect excuse to go outside—or, in the case of the Punished Backlog crew, to stay in and game.
Given how slow the summer can be for new gaming releases, we figured now’s as good a time as any to chip away at our poor backlogs. (Hey, it’s in the site’s name.) So, we came up with a challenge! Think of it as our take on the summer reading list.
The rules are simple. Each member of the team plays three games: one shared group game, and two “flex” games of our own choosing.
For our collective backlog, we voted on Fire Emblem: Three Houses (“FE3H”). Some have always meant to try it, while others have played it multiple times but still have a run to go. (There are three distinct paths to take, each about 50 hours long, making a completionist’s run upward of 150+ hours, not including the DLC.) It’s also perfect timing, given the upcoming release of Fire Emblem Warriors: Three Hopes. We’ll be debating our favorite students and skill builds in our Discord channel, and will report back on how we fared at the end of the summer.
In addition to FE3H, we challenged ourselves to each play two games from our backlog. (We may or may not have given ourselves a prize of a new video game for the most successful backlogger.) Check out what’s on our docket this summer, and let us know in the comments what’s on yours.
What’s on Your Summer Backlog?
Of all the games staring at my face on my backlog, I’ve not been proud to see Devil May Cry 5 staring back at me… while probably giving me the finger. I’m a big beat-em-up guy, so it’s a solemn reminder that I just never sat down to clear through the most recent endeavors of Dante and his crew of punk kids. I’ll be happy to pull myself back into the mobile home of death and destruction.
And on a somewhat similar—yet somehow completely different note—I have never been so excited to continue my first official Summer Backlog with… Brütal Legend. Not only have I seen this game in glimpses, à la fever dream, but I know the entire pull comes from the main character being Jack Black… full stop. I’m super excited!
The group project being FE3H is perfect! I haven’t been able to sit down and just clear out the game, which is a crying shame. This is the best excuse possible to be caught up! I went on a huge Fire Emblem binge just a year ago, so this’ll be a good point to come back to an RPG series that I’ve fallen in and out of love with.
I’ve loved playing Fire Emblem: Three Houses for the past few years, and am pumped to do my last run-through. By contrast, I’m embarrassed about my personal backlog. Hopefully that shame will spur me on toward actually playing and finishing these games.
Hollow Knight came out five years ago, and ever since then, trusted gamer friends have been telling me to play it. I’m not a big platformer so I’ve always had an easy excuse in my back pocket. But with all the excitement around Hollow Knight: Silksong being officially on the horizon, the time is now. I’ve started playing, and all I can say is that I would do anything to reunite those lost little worms with their dad.
I love story-driven games. I was a very early adopter of Life is Strange and have played all the iterations… except for the most recent, True Colors. This is especially egregious given that the protagonist is a young Asian American woman, an identity I’m always looking to see represented in the media. Life is Strange: True Colors released last fall during a very stressful time in my life, and given the series’ propensity for truly heartbreaking content, I just didn’t have enough serotonin to give it a shot. But now the sun is out, and I will play this game or cry trying.
For this summer’s backlog challenge, which I’ll colloquially refer to as “backlog szn,” I will be playing, of course, Fire Emblem: Three Houses (one of the few Nintendo franchises I haven’t fully cracked) as well as two wildly popular AAA titles from the Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 era: Mass Effect 3 and Dead Space. Unfortunately, no cool indies or hidden gems for me this szn.
My rationale for selecting ME3 is fairly basic: I played the first two games in the trilogy earlier this year (as part of the Legendary Edition) and I have yet to play the final entry. While I understand that ME3 has one of the most polarizing endings in video game history, the main question I want answered is not “How does it all end for Shepard and company” but rather “Was this really that bad?” I’m a Matrix Reloaded twist ending apologist, so I’ll probably think ME3’s ending is Fine, Actually.
Dead Space, on the other hand, is a game I’ve always had an eye on but never the stomach to actually play. Most horror games don’t do much for me, and the ones that do aren’t actually that scary. In this case, I’m more interested in the gameplay elements of it: limited HUD, atmospheric storytelling, etc. Plus, it seems like a good time to check out this series before 2023’s much-anticipated reboot.
First off, let me just say it’s a pleasure to do another group challenge with the Punished Backlog team. The last time was in… 2019, I believe? A few of us played EarthBound for the first time to commemorate the game’s 25th anniversary.
For this summer’s challenge, I’m glad we settled on Fire Emblem: Three Houses as a group pick. That’s one I’ve had in my collection for at least a year now, and I haven’t booted it up once! Can you believe it? (If you know me, you probably can.) In any case, I’m looking forward to doing a run of the game from Claude’s perspective. #TeamMelanin
As for my personal picks, I really had a tough time whittling the list down to just two! Enslaved: Journey to the West, Prey, and Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance all made the shortlist… but ultimately I decided on a pair of games I’ve had on my to-do for a while, now.
The first is BioShock 2. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the first game—not for any reason other than I found the gunplay lacking. BioShock Infinite remedied that for me, and I’ll go to my grave a fan of Booker and Elizabeth’s story. (To my grave, Sam. My grave.) With BioShock 2, I’m excited to enjoy a return trip to Rapture, with hopefully (fingers crossed) some compelling gameplay to keep me hooked.
My second pick: Dishonored. I’ve been meaning to buy and try Deathloop for a while, and was captivated by Redfall after its latest gameplay trailer. That said… I’ve never actually finished either Dishonored game, for which I’m deeply ashamed. From what I’ve played, it’s good! Really good, even. I promise to rectify that gap in my gaming resume this summer.
The summer backlog! I’m really excited to take on this challenge as it is a great way to make myself branch out of my usual comfort zone of Dark Souls, Zelda, and Devil May Cry. I will be playing the group choice of Fire Emblem: Three Houses and then my choices: Pokémon Legends: Arceus and Horizon Zero Dawn. I know, I’ve got my work cut out for me.
I’ll take on FE3H first. This is going to be great because I’m going in completely blind. I have never even played a Fire Emblem game before! The only experience I have with the series is being chain grabbed by Marth back when I was a Fox main during my competitive Smash Bros. Melee days. So, all in all I have no idea what to expect, but I’m excited to delve into this series for the first time and see what the game has in store for me.
I am a huge Pokémon fan, but I have yet to play Pokémon Legends: Arceus. (Amanda and Sam both had opinions.) My girlfriend got it as soon as it came out and held my Switch hostage until she beat it. From what I’ve seen of the game, it looks like a fun and unique spin on the series. I’m very excited to finally journey through the Hisui region myself! It will be the perfect warm up before Pokémon Scarlet and Violet come out in November.
Horizon Zero Dawn… now this game has been looming over my head for some time now. I tried playing it once when it first came out and probably got one fourth of the way through. I never finished it because I kept getting lost in my incessant need to pick up every collectible; eventually I ran out of steam. Now that Horizon Forbidden West is out, it’s time to try again. This time I’ll be doing my best to stay focused on the main missions because I’ve heard that, if anything, this game is worth a play-through for the story alone.
I’m hopping on the Fire Emblem: Three Houses train despite having beat the game before because it’s the perfect excuse for me to actually finish the DLC, which I never got around to. I’ve played every mainline Fire Emblem game (including the Japanese-only ones), and it’ll be great to knock this off of the bucket list, so to speak.
My other two backlog games are Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice and Kentucky Route Zero. Sekiro is one of those games I absolutely should’ve already played—despite being a huge FromSoftware fan I’ve simply never got around to it, and David has been hounding me to play it for months.
Kentucky Route Zero is more of a nostalgia pick, if you can be nostalgic for a game you’ve never played before. David and I heard about this game’s Kickstarter when we were in high school and the first episode has been sitting in my Steam library since we were seniors—literally nine years ago. I’m determined to finish this game just because I think it quite literally may have been my first Early Access purchase and one of the first games I bought on Steam!
Stay Tuned To See Who Wins the Summer Backlog Challenge!
What’s on your backlog this summer? Let us know in the comments.