Going from Worst to Best, here’s my ranking of every Movie/TV Show/Game I’ve played/watched this year. For the record, I enjoyed all of these and can recommend all of them. Let’s get this going.
I have a long history studying Greek Mythology and reading books inspired by it. While I had fun watching this, I was never blown out of the water by it. Plus I didn’t like how the show portrayed some of the gods. Hera was a great villain, but I wish the writers treated her more sympathetically, perhaps by showing Zeus in a negative light sometimes. I will watch season 2 if it comes.
This is a city building/colony building game set on Mars. Your job is to found a human settlement where you mine resources and try to survive against the hostile elements, aliens, and occasionally Satan. Your ultimate goal is to turn mars green and make it’s atmosphere breathable.
The game’s fun, but it suffers from ‘just one more turn-itis’… meaning I lost many an hour of sleep playing this game. My biggest regret is buying this on PS4 and not PC, because the controls were janky with the controller.
Wheel of Time (Amazon Prime TV Series)
I’m only a few episodes into the series at the time of writing this, and I have to say that I have mixed feelings.
On one hand, the production values and the acting in this are simply SPECTACULAR.
On the other hand, the show sometimes gives off weird CW vibes to it, drawing me out of the show. Everyone is too clean, too pretty. The plotting/dialog/setting sometimes feels fake. And the cinematography occasionally has moments where I was wondering ‘How did that shot get added to the final cut?!’
I’m not a huge fan of the source material. I read the first 5 books in the series, and I felt that ‘Eye of the World’ was the weakest of what I read. I feel that this show is more interesting for me than the books were. I’ll finish this season, and see where we go from there.
I enjoyed the time I put into this. While this is the worst Souls-Like I’ve played so far in terms of combat, I enjoyed the climbing/platforming components. The story was a fairly bland hero’s journey, but it was well executed and well acted by the voice actors/motion capture artists. I really enjoyed the ‘found family’ vibe the characters were giving off. I enjoyed the metroidvania aspect of going back to previously explored zones again and again.
Could this have been improved? Yes. I am a fan of Sekiro, and in comparison the combat here was clunky and unintuitive. This game felt BAD due to it’s lack of warping from checkpoints; getting around Zeffo felt confusing every single time. (At least give me a free teleport back to the ship!) And the hero’s journey could have been improved if the writers were willing to make a few more daring choices with the protagonist. But overall I had fun, and intend to play the sequel whenever it comes out.
Mass Effect 1 (Legendary Edition)
The combat was a bit clunky by modern standards, the Mako handled like a drunk Subaru in 0-Grav, and some of the acting was unintentionally hilarious (don’t make the same mistake as me; go Fem-Shep). But overall I had a stellar time. I very enjoyed how daring the writers were with Virmire. I romanced Ashley before the event, and after the event I was stunned that it actually happened. The Virmire plotpoint was the game’s highpoint, but everything after that was strong as well. I enjoyed the lived-in feel of the Mass Effect future.
I have Mass Effect 2 installed, and am trying to find time for it.
Having quit WoW a few years back, I decided to put down stakes back in Morrowind. Growing up, I would check out my library’s copy of Morrowind, so I am fond of the setting. I played through the Morrowind Content in Elder Scrolls Online, and was impressed at the narrative culmination of the storytelling. It was a fun, low-stakes adventure with surprisingly dark moments involving the traditional slavery practiced by the Dark Elves. Moving on to Blackwood, I was similarly impressed with the narrative and setting, even though I didn’t enjoy it quite as much as I did Morrowind.
At the end of last year, From Software released a free DLC patch introducing a boss rush mode for Sekiro. At the beginning of this year, I returned to the game, platinumed it, and then beat it on NG +7/Demon Bell/No Charm. That was hard. Would not recommend. The skins are nice though! I like the Tengu skin best. And Inner Father is an intense fight.
Another Souls-like, but instead of being an single-map game like Dark Souls/Sekiro/Bloodborne, this is a series of missions which you load into and exit. While the single-map vibe of From Software’s games is very investing and fun, I actually really liked Nioh’s level design. They got a lot of use out of relatively little.
I also really liked the weapon system- you can use 10+ different weapons, each of which has three different stances. The combat overall is excellent, arguably better even than Sekiro’s, with good magic and transformation abilities.
But I never finished it. I really should get back to it.
Dune is a really good movie. I saw it first in IMAX, and the audio experience was otherworldly good. (It was a bit loud though; I wish I brought earplugs to mute the sound levels a bit.) I next watched it on HBOMax, and the audio just wasn’t good. I’m not going to rave how much I loved how well the director brought this world to life, because other people have already.
Another Amazon Prime production, this baby was magnificent. Great characterization, art style, and the suspense from episode 2 through 6 was heart-in-your-throat intense. When the secret finally got out there, it was fantastic. And that last episode… good god. I wish I could say more about this, but anything I say would spoil it. Go watch it if you haven’t already.
What a great game. The gothic/lovecraftian vibes just ooze of this game’s every pore. Every time I loaded into the game I’d look at the random statues which are laying around and think ‘Why would the people of Yharnam put all these gothic statues here? This is the middle of nowhere! Are they crazy?… Oh, yeah. They are crazy.’ This game is precisely where aesthetic + narrative + combat make a fusion of perfection. I pity whoever’s going to make Bloodborne 2, because no way it will ever match up.
But it does have problems. After playing Sekiro, I decided to do a parry build/dex build in bloodborne. That was a mistake, because it made the game too easy. This game was poorly balanced around the parry/visceral attack mechanic. Parry was too cheesy when it was usable, so to make it balanced the game devs made it so you can’t parry everything. As a result of this design choice, some enemies fell over super easily, while others were annoying to grind down. I hope that for Bloodborne 2 the mechanic is balanced to be less boom/bust.
This was an unexpected surprise. The Forgotten City is a narrative-based, time-loop mystery story, where you travel back in time to an ancient Roman City which is about to be destroyed by the gods, and you try prevent that destruction. I can’t say more than that without major spoilers, so suffice it to say that if you are in the mood for a good, 6 hour story, check this out.
I despise League of Legends with an undying, perfidious, infernal passion- the sort of passion one can only feel if you once loved something. With great sadness I must say that Arcane is an excellent show. Even if you haven’t played the game, you should watch it. It is well acted, well directed, well written, well animated, well structured, well paced, with good social commentary and use of themes and worldbuilding. It’s so good I’m annoyed with how good it is.
I must confess that after watching this show I was momentarily tempted to relapse and download LoL. Thankfully, my cognitive dissonance of “Wait, if Arcane is good, is LoL good? IS MY LIFE A LIE?!” did not last very long. Arcane is excellent, League is still bad, this list is over, have a nice day.