In theory, we all have more time right now. Thanks to social distancing recommendations, the only activities available to us are the ones we can do from our homes. That means it’s the perfect time to get caught up on our video game backlogs — to finish the games we started long ago, or to check out the games we’ve heard about for years and never tried. Here are some games I imagine I’ll finally finish in the next few months, as well as some examples from my colleagues, one of whom just managed to beat his backlog game this week. Bravo to him!
I’ve tried multiple times to beat Bloodborne. I’ve never beaten a Dark Souls game, either, but Bloodborne always seemed like the one that would work for me. I understand and respect what these games are trying to do. They demand that you play them for long enough that you get over the initial difficulty gate and the combat becomes second nature, as easy as breathing. You move past your own ego and embrace the feeling of failure, the grind of going over the same area again and again until you’ve mastered it. Last summer, I hit that point with Bloodborne. After multiple hourslong play sessions of beating my head against the wall, I had a breakthrough. But then I took a break from playing it. I never went back.
Every so often, I see my Bloodborne game case on my shelf, and I feel the shame curdle in my stomach. If only I had stuck with it. I would have gotten to see all of the design choices that this game makes, the ones my friends have lauded over and over again. I want to go back, and I know now’s the time. I just have to get over the frustration of having to start all over. Then again, starting over (and over, and over) is exactly what playing Bloodborne is all about.
Bloodborne is available on PlayStation 4.
Persona 5 isn’t a game that you play so much as a lifestyle choice that you organize a couple of months around. Fans will caution you this game is 90 hours long, but 90 hours is actually the lowball number that they’ll use to convince you to try it. You’re more likely to spend over 120 hours playing it, especially if you’re new to Persona and don’t know how to best spend your time in-game.
I started playing Persona 5 a week before Final Fantasy 7 Remake came out. I got about 15 hours in. I beat the first dungeon, which left me at a good stopping point. I figured I’d get back to the game after I beat Final Fantasy 7 Remake. It’s been weeks, and I haven’t returned to it. I actually liked the game a lot. Maybe even enough to spend another 100 hours on it. We’ll see.
There are a lot of famous Japanese role-playing games that I’ve never played before — most of the Final Fantasy series, for one, and most Persona games, as the previous entry in this list makes clear. But Chrono Trigger feels like the biggest oversight, probably because I don’t even know what it’s about. I hear people talk about this game all the time, and yet I never know what their references mean. There’s time travel, right? Also a frog? I just want to finally understand what this game even is.
Chrono Trigger is available on Super NES, PlayStation, Nintendo DS, iOS, Android, and Windows PC.
“Wait, what is Yakuza?” It’s a question that I’ve been asking myself more and more over the years. I always thought I had a vague handle on it — a crime-filled action game in the vein of Grand Theft Auto, perhaps? — but then I’ll see a clip of a full-blown karaoke minigame and realize I know nothing about the series. With new installments coming out every year, the prospect of finding the truth only becomes more daunting with time. It feels like a deeply weird rabbit hole, but considering that things can’t get much stranger in 2020, I think I’m finally in the perfect mental state to learn what the hell’s going on here. —Giovanni Colantonio
I’ve long wanted to dive into the wild world of the Yakuza series, but my first attempt was cut short after my copy of Yakuza 0 was scratched beyond recovery. But I recently ordered another copy, and already have Judgment, a series spinoff, loaded on my PS4. Not only does social distancing mean I actually have time for these enormous games, but I’m excited to be transported into its realistic recreation of Tokyo’s Kabukicho. It’s been months since I’ve ventured farther than a few blocks from my house. I’m ready to pretend I’m on a video game vacation, and to punch some baddies real hard. —Patricia Hernandez
I’ve been putting off playing The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild for a very long time. I don’t like to remember that it’s been out for years, because it just feels unacceptable. I started playing it in February, when I had a tumor removed from my neck, but I quickly realized I couldn’t really hold my head up that long — it made playing the game uncomfortable rather than soothing. Instead, I binge-watched multiple seasons of Below Deck, and only Below Deck. With that said, I’m recovered and can play my Nintendo Switch for entire days — thanks, Animal Crossing: New Horizons! It’s time for me to play Breath of the Wild. It feels like the right time. I think visiting Hyrule might feel like a vacation. —Nicole Carpenter
I have always been an early riser and early crasher, but last summer I went full night owl as I carved out time to finally catch up on Breath of the Wild. I spent hours and hours roaming the open fields, rocky coasts, and occasional bitter tundra. Like so many before me, I could not get enough of this Zelda game — until I got to the part that felt most like a Zelda game. When I finally breached the castle walls and prepared for my fight with Ganon, I just burned out. Never got to the end. Never went back. Now Breath of the Wild sits in stasis in my backlog. I don’t know if it’s a chore I don’t want to do or an experience I don’t want to finish. Quarantine life has not drawn me into Breath of the Wild as an outdoor simulator because if I pick the game back up, I will absolutely need to complete the indoor activity before moving on. Maybe I just need to take a 100-year nap before I pick up my sword and finish this dang thing. —Matt Patches
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is available on Nintendo Switch.
Final Fantasy 15 has been one of those games that has been looming over my backlog since its release. I tried starting it a few times on PC, PlayStation 4, and even the mobile version, but I just couldn’t find the energy to commit hours to my band of goofy royal sons. It wasn’t until I played through the entirety of Final Fantasy 7 Remake with my partner that I found the momentum to restart the quest with Noctis and the gang until the very end.
As much as Final Fantasy 15 touts itself as ‘a Final Fantasy for fans and first-timers,’ the recently released Final Fantasy 7 Remake was actually the game that got my partner into the franchise’s solo RPGs. She’s been a fan of the Final Fantasy 14 MMO for a while, but never played any of the proper RPGs. We enjoyed the recent remake so much and we were eager to play another Final Fantasy together. I decided to boot up Final Fantasy 15 once again along with her. This time around, I was finally able to tear through the main story all the way through to its ending, which left us teary. Final Fantasy 15 was exactly the kind of game I needed for this moment in time: a story of unbreakable camaraderie in the face of forces seemingly greater than any one person can handle. —Jeff Ramos
Final Fantasy 15 is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and Windows PC.
So many people have told me to play Kentucky Route Zero. So many. Almost every time someone suggests it, I tell the person that I’ll start it that very night. This is always a lie — but it doesn’t have to be. (This last happened when I was talking to Maddy about Kentucky Route Zero last week.) Kentucky Route Zero, all parts of it, have been installed on my computer since the final act was released in January. I say this now — and please hold me accountable — I will actually start Kentucky Route Zero tonight. It’ll be the first game knocked off my summer games backlog. —Nicole Carpenter
Kentucky Route Zero is available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux.