Bio
he/him

I mostly play narrative-driven single-player indie games on PC.

I rate on vibes. 2★ means mediocre. Don't read into it too much.

I'm a huge Limbus Company fan, my friend code is M678635897. I'm also on Discord as @sirconnie! Come say hi!
Personal Ratings
1★
5★

Badges


Loved

Gained 100+ total review likes

Organized

Created a list folder with 5+ lists

Trend Setter

Gained 50+ followers

Pinged

Mentioned by another user

Well Written

Gained 10+ likes on a single review

Gone Gold

Received 5+ likes on a review while featured on the front page

Donor

Liked 50+ reviews / lists

Popular

Gained 15+ followers

Liked

Gained 10+ total review likes

GOTY '23

Participated in the 2023 Game of the Year Event

1 Years of Service

Being part of the Backloggd community for 1 year

Shreked

Found the secret ogre page

Best Friends

Become mutual friends with at least 3 others

Noticed

Gained 3+ followers

Roadtrip

Voted for at least 3 features on the roadmap

Gamer

Played 250+ games

N00b

Played 100+ games

GOTY '22

Participated in the 2022 Game of the Year Event

Favorite Games

The House in Fata Morgana
The House in Fata Morgana
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
13 Sentinels: Aegis Rim
Library of Ruina
Library of Ruina
Fear & Hunger 2: Termina
Fear & Hunger 2: Termina
In Stars and Time
In Stars and Time

364

Total Games Played

031

Played in 2024

051

Games Backloggd


Recently Played See More

Golden Idol Mysteries: The Spider of Lanka
Golden Idol Mysteries: The Spider of Lanka

Apr 15

Lake
Lake

Apr 14

Neo City Express
Neo City Express

Apr 13

Hello Charlotte: Delirium
Hello Charlotte: Delirium

Apr 13

P.E. Noire
P.E. Noire

Apr 13

Recently Reviewed See More

I'm obsessed with this game. It's a brainrot that consumes me every waking hour. I binged the finale to Canto VI for 5 hours straight and was hooked the entire time. I've been working through reading the literary inspirations for all the Sinners, and what Project Moon have built off the back of Wuthering Heights is incredible. More than anything, the character writing is so movingly human despite the horrors and depravity of the City. Nobody's ever too "broken" to be worth love.

Love must be the reason why
I still believe in this lie
That you'll live a better life
Without me by your side

(This is a rewrite of my first ever review on Backloggd! For posterity’s sake I’ll leave up that review here, but I don’t love it and I’m writing this review as an improvement on what I wanted to say back then.)

━━━━━━━━━

Before I played In Stars and Time in November of 2023, I played the proof-of-concept version, START AGAIN: a prologue a whole year and a half earlier, in April of 2022. I usually don’t play demos, especially not paid demos, but I’d been following this project based on the art style and I felt like it was something special. I liked the prologue well enough. It was charming and I was drawn to the characters. The prologue starts in medias res as the party prepare to defeat the “final boss”, the King, at the end of their JRPG journey. The catch is that the protagonist, Siffrin, is stuck in a time loop and nobody else in the party is aware. Despite this, Siffrin resolves to carry this burden alone, and to use this ability to defeat the King without worrying his allies.

My one big issue with this demo was that, although I liked him as a character, Siffrin’s decision to bottle up his feelings and keep the time loop a secret made no sense to me. It seemed contrived that he wouldn’t, even once, experiment with the time loop and tell his allies about what was going on. If it caused any issues, it wouldn’t matter – he could just loop back and START AGAIN. After the demo, I was a little disappointed but still hopeful the full release could turn my opinion around.



As the full release approached, I grew really excited. I’d been following the dev’s monthly dev logs on Steam up to release, and I bought the full game in the first week after it came out, a rare event for me. I finished it in 6 days, binging it between study sessions for my upcoming exams. I was hooked, and by the end of the game, In Stars and Time had fully recontextualized the demo.

Siffrin didn’t tell his party about the time loop because he loves them. He didn’t tell them because he refuses to be vulnerable.

When I played the demo I saw these characters from my omniscient point of view as the player, as little pawns to command in whatever way would progress the plot. Siffrin’s refusal to open up felt like an arbitrary obstacle put in place by the creator as if to say “but then we wouldn’t have a plot, would we?” But Siffrin isn’t the player, and he isn’t aware he exists in a video game. To him, the rest of the party aren’t pawns; they’re his allies. His friends. His family.

What’s more, Siffrin is incredibly repressed. He’s reserved, happy to nod along in the background because he believes that placing himself as the centre of attention will lead everyone to hate him as much as he hates himself. He sees himself as inherently less valuable than others, and takes the time loop to be his chance to martyr himself in service of his family.

I’m reminded of Jacob Geller’s video Time Loop Nihlism, wherein he talks about Deathloop and the way replaying a game desensitizes us. The more we play, the more we’re able to abstract NPCs from living, breathing people into gameplay systems. Our immersion fades with each repeat as cause and effect become predictable. This was the mindset I had playing the demo.

In Stars and Time actively subverts this idea. Siffrin refuses to allow nihilism to overtake him. Sure, if anything happened to a family member, he could reset the timeline and fix it. But in that moment, in that present moment, his family would suffer, and that suffering would be real. For the same reason we wouldn’t kill a person even though they’ll die sometime in the future anyways, Siffrin won’t let his family come to harm even though he can reset the harm they suffer. The time loop is his burden and his alone, and he will do everything in his power to allow his family to be happy for as long as he can.

In Stars and Time is repetitive. You will repeat the same dungeon over and over for the game’s entire runtime. You will fight the same enemies over and over. The same bosses. Siffrin’s family will repeat the same dialogue again and again. You will find the same items scattered throughout the dungeon. You will walk between the same rooms in the same layout looking for the same keys to progress. There are plenty of quality-of-life features to reduce frustration; you can loop to specific areas in the dungeon after dying, you can skip seen dialogue, and Siffrin retains levels between every loop while his family retain their levels at checkpoints within the dungeon. But, no matter what, you will repeat the same events over and over. You will be sent back and forth, and at several points you will progress to a certain point in the dungeon only to realize you had to do something in a now blocked-off area, forcing another reset. The ludonarrative is excellent and encourages the player to experience Siffrin’s frustrations alongside him.

This is why Siffrin’s character arc is so compelling. The whole game, he does his best to protect, long past the point the player has. Every so often he’ll make a major breakthrough, and his enthusiasm is extreme. This is it! He’s figured it out! That enthusiasm soon fades as his plans inevitably lead to more and more dead ends. Even Siffrin has his breaking point, and his growing disillusionment with the repetition, the monotony, makes him a fascinating tragic protagonist. I won’t say much because of spoilers, but the toll the time loop takes on his mental health, compounded with his poor self-esteem and inability to show vulnerability, make Siffrin an amazing and relatable protagonist.

I could praise everything about this game if I wanted to, but I chose to focus on Siffrin because his characterization is central to what makes In Stars and Time so engaging. I love its characters, its world-building, its music, its everything. Please, if what I’ve written above is at all interesting and you can stomach the repetition, you owe it to yourself to play In Stars and Time.

I’m a big proponent of the idea that “limitations breed creativity.” That’s part of the reason I love indie games so much! Gorgeous photorealistic graphics and hundreds of hours of gameplay are all well and good, but with a low budget comes a willingness to experiment, to be rough around the edges in a way that connects with its target audience with a specificity that something with a bigger budget could never manage. That ambition is what I see most in I Was a Teenage Exocolonist.

IWATE is, first and foremost, a coming-of-age story. Mechanically and thematically I’d liken this game to Citizen Sleeper, but unlike that game which takes place over a couple months, IWATE is set over the course of 10 years. Your protagonist, Sol, is only 10 years old when their spaceship, the Stratos, arrives on the alien planet Vertumna. In this new and dangerous world, Sol navigates their teen years alongside the foundation of their colony.

The breadth of IWATE’s themes is astounding. The inter- and intrapersonal journeys had while growing up juxtapose the material conditions of the colony and their settlement in new territory, with environmentalism and colonization being the primary ethical issues explored. As a teenager, when can we trust authority? As a civilian, when can we trust those in charge? What do we do when those stupid, no-good, bossy adults are the ones waging war? What about when community leaders neglect the needs of the next generation they’re meant to foster? Being a teenager is hard, but try going through puberty and adolescence in the uncharted alien wilderness. Through these topics and more, IWATE masterfully weaves together sci-fi and coming-of-age into something greater than the sum of its parts.

\\ (The following section has minor spoilers.)

During your first playthrough, you eventually learn that Sol is in a time loop. This is, in part, a diegetic justification for New Game+; it’s not like, say, Undertale, where the true story can only be unearthed through repeat playthroughs. If you’re satisfied, you can put down IWATE after your first playthrough. But you’d be missing out on a lot.

For Sol, this time loop is a blessing, not a curse. IWATE holds a great love and empathy for humanity and our potential. You can’t do everything in a single playthrough. There’s no “Golden” end, where you max out every stat, befriend everyone, and lead everyone to a perfect tomorrow. Instead, you’re encouraged to construct the lives Sol could lead, the different people they could grow up to be. Each life is equally as valid as the next. What role will you play for your community?

\\ (Spoilers end here.)

Of course, it’s only natural that IWATE falls into some pitfalls with its limitations. The more choices there are for a player to make, the more choices there are that need to be accounted for. I wish there were more ways for characters to die, I wish there were more unique endings instead of career endings, I wish romance didn’t fade into the background after you’ve gotten into a relationship. I wish the team had more resources to really flesh out everything I’ve mentioned and more. But if they had had those resources from the start, would I Was a Teenage Exocolonist exist? Limitation breeds creativity, after all.

I’ve played through IWATE twice, and I plan to play it many more times in the future. It’s ambitious and its breadth of scope is breathtaking. I haven’t discovered everything and I don’t think I ever will, but it’s that sense of infinite possibility that compels me to see what else I Was a Teenage Exocolonist has to offer.

The child you were will not return.