To help facilitate my backlog clearing journey in 2021, I’ve decided to take part in the 12 in 12 backlog challenge that I briefly discussed in a previous post. The 12 in 12 challenge is pretty simple – you curate a list of 12 games from your backlog that you’d like to play throughout the year, and then aim to complete at least one of those games every month. It essentially just boils down to a gaming application of the common dogma that dividing larger long-term goals into small tasks makes for more manageable work, but it’s quite effective.
The 12 in 12 subreddit is also one of the friendliest and most active discussion forums I’ve seen relating to video game backlogs, so that also made participating quite enticing. Admittedly, the subreddit seems catered more towards people that have much smaller backlogs than mine, but I think the general principles are sound and that it’ll be a good time, so I’m in!
In my case, I’ll actually be doing a 24 in 12 version of the challenge. I’d like to complete far more than 24 games this year in total, but I’ve set aside 24 “must play” games from my backlog that I’d really like to clear this year, for one reason or another. Without further ado, here’s the unordered list of my 24 in 12 games for this year, accompanied by a brief explanation for each:
Assassin’s Creed Odyssey
Believe it or not, Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is the first Assassin’s Creed game that I’ve played a significant amount of. I’ve popped open a few of them over the years, but none of them ever grabbed me – until Odyssey came along. I know a lot of people have problems with this game, particularly long-time Assassin’s Creed fans that don’t like the direction the series has gone in, but I found it to be a highly enjoyable open-world experience with a great theme, an interesting world to explore, and some really fun (but pretty simplistic) action combat. The only reasons I fell off of this game when I played it on PS4 back in 2018 were that the game is very long (and thus requires commitment), and that it runs like crap on that system. I’m really excited to give it another go, particularly so that I can see some of the mythical stuff I’ve heard about later on in the game.
I never played the original Half Life, and thought I never would. It came out long before I was invested in PC gaming and always seemed like something I had kind of missed the boat on. That said, I’ve heard and seen a lot of great things about Half Life: Alyx, particularly the ending (which I wilfully spoiled myself on), and now I can’t help but want to play these games. The story and world of the Half Life series are super interesting, and I want to play through Half Life and Half Life 2 so that I can be ready to play Alyx at some point later down the line. Black Mesa seems like the best possible way to experience the world of the original Half Life at this point, so that’s how I’m going to do it.
Control: Ultimate Edition
I don’t actually know a whole lot about this game except that Brad Shoemaker really likes it, but that’s all I really need to be interested, so I’m going to check it out.
Dark Souls II: Scholar of the First Sin
I love souls games and soulslikes – so far I’ve beaten Dark Souls, The Surge, Demon’s Souls, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, and Hellpoint: The Thespian Feast, as well as playing quite a bit of Remnant: From the Ashes. I’ve spent almost 400 hours in the original Dark Souls across Prepare to Die Edition (such a great name, by the way) and the remaster, and I think I’m finally ready to play through Dark Souls II. I’ll probably end up enjoying this game through jolly cooperation with my friend Jackquel, so that’s pretty much guaranteed to be a blast through and through.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution – Director’s Cut
Deus Ex: Human Revolution is one of my favourite games that I’ve never beaten. I’ve had a great time playing it every time I’ve given it a shot, but something always comes up and interrupts me before I can cross the finish line. I’d like to remedy that this year.
Divinity: Original Sin – Enhanced Edition
I picked this up a couple of years ago now and never gotten too deep into it, mainly because of the big time commitment required to really enjoy this thing. I’m hoping to set aside a lot of time this year to really immerse myself in Divinity: Original Sin and explore every nook and cranny of this world.
Dragon Quest III
I love the Dragon Quest series and had a great time playing 1 and 2 back in 2019, but got a little burnt out on the classic RPG style after finishing up the second game. I’d really like to play through Dragon Quest III this year so that I can experience all of the additions they made after 2 (party members you can customize and recruit, new character stats, the day/night cycle, etc. I’ve also heard that Dragon Quest XI has quite a few references to the original trilogy, so I’d like to finish up the original trilogy before jumping into that so I can get the most out of it.
God of War (2018)
I enjoyed this game immensely when I first played it, but foolishly chose the “Give me God of War” difficulty right from the start. I really liked the challenge, but it also became grating after a while because it messed up the pacing and flow of the game and story, but I also didn’t want to restart, so it got set aside for a while. I’m ready to go back to this one – and won’t be picking that difficulty this time.
I’ve loved every game Supergiant has put out, and so far this is no exception. I picked up Hades back when it was in early access, but wanted to wait until it was fully finished before diving in. Now that it’s done, I’ve unsurprisingly been enjoying it quite a bit – so much so, in fact, that I picked up a second copy for Switch so that I can play on the go and sync my progress back and forth. Supergiant has once again shown that they are masters of their craft and capable of making compelling experiences from all kinds of different genres, and I’m excited to keep playing and to learn more about this world.
Half Life 2
I want to play this for the same reason I want to play Black Mesa – so I can get caught up on the world of Half Life and be ready to enjoy Half Life: Alyx at some point later this year.
I loved this game when I played it before, but bounced off of it after getting busy for a couple of weeks and returning with no idea what was going on or what I had been doing. This time I’ll keep better notes.
Horizon: Zero Dawn
It looks great and apparently has a very interesting story. I’m in.
I absolutely love this developer’s previous game, Noitu Love 2: Devolution. This game has a similar artistic style, and I’m interested to see what new and creative ideas they bring to Iconoclasts.
Jet Set Radio
The game with one of my favourite soundtracks ever is one I haven’t even played? It’s time to remedy that.
Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-Reckoning
I was introduced to this game by watching TotalBiscuit back in the day, and it looked absolutely awesome. The release of the Re-Reckoning version seemed to mark a good time to finally give it a shot.
Metro 2033 Redux
This is one I’m already working on, and is one of the biggest pain in the ass games I’ve ever played – I’ve experienced a wide variety of bugs, gameplay issues, crashes, strange design decisions, etc… but it’s also one of the most immersive games I’ve ever played, and I love the Metro books and universe. I want to beat Metro 2033 and move on to Last Light and Exodus at some point later down the line.
I don’t know a ton about this game aside from the fact that it’s extremely acclaimed both critically and colloquially, and that my friend Leafynn gifted it to me this Christmas. I also know that you apparently need to play through it three times to get the most out of it. I kind of doubt that I’ll do that, but I’m going to go in with an open mind. I hope I’m as blown away as many others were when they played this game.
Nioh: Complete Edition
I started this game up a week or two ago, but haven’t posted about it just yet. A lot of people always go on about how Nioh is basically a souls game but with loot and more complicated combat, but that feels way off the mark to me. Nioh is very much its own thing in the ARPG genre, though it does admittedly borrow a lot of elements from Dark Souls. In any case, so far I’ve found it to be super enjoyable, not least of which because it brings so many interesting ideas of its own to the table, like the ability to fight other player characters for their loot at the place where they fell in battle.
Another game Brad Shoemaker really likes, but also something I was introduced to by Jackquel – he’s been telling me to play this thing for years, and finally I’m taking his advice! So far it has been one of the most interesting exploration games I have ever played, and I’ve been having a blast exploring this mysterious galaxy even though it’s something way outside of my normal wheelhouse.
Red Dead Redemption
What is there to say about Red Dead Redemption, really? I love the western theme, I love cowboys, and I love interesting stories – all things that Red Dead Redemption has in spades. Red Dead Redemption 2 is also part of my backlog, but I’ve decided I want to check out the first game first.
Shadow Warrior 2
I had a great time with this when I last tried to play it, but fell off because I got busy with school, work, etc. It has a really interesting setting, some gorgeous visuals, and very satisfying gunplay – and I want to go back and start blastin’ once again!
The Ultimate Doom
I loved Doom 2016 and Doom Eternal so much that I decided to go back and play through the rest of the Doom series, starting with The Ultimate Doom, which as I understand it is basically the definitive version of the first game. It still holds up really well, and I enjoyed it quite a bit when I started playing it last year. I want to sit down with this thing again and beat it this year.
The Witcher 3 – or maybe 1?
Another one of my favourite games that I’ve never finished. The Witcher is one of my favourite fantasy series ever – I love the books, I love the Netflix series, and I love the games, despite never having beaten any of them. I’m finally going to play through either The Witcher 3 or The Witcher 1 this year, depending on how I’m feeling.
I started playing Yakuza 0 late last year and was having a pretty good time with it. I love the story, the quests, the minigames, and the world, but am not a big fan of the combat system, which ends up feeling weirdly clunky a lot of the time. I want to dive back into this thing and see it through, lowering the difficulty if necessary, so I can enjoy the rest of this awesome story.
I don’t really expect to be able to get through all 24 of these in just one year, but if I can cross most of them off, I’ll consider that a win. Anything I don’t get to this year will probably be added to next year’s 24 in 12, if I do another one of these next year.
If you’re doing a similar challenge (or even just thinking of it), let me know! I’d love to hear your thoughts on my list and what you’re hoping to accomplish with your backlog this year.