Summer Vacation Playlist

With Ramadhan so close to the regular between-semester vacation, plus that my college releases its students earlier than any other school in the country, this year’s “summer” vacation is pretty wildly extended for me. Some of my friends stick around school for some organizational works, but I honestly don’t want to have anything to do with college for the time being. I’d rather be at home spending time with my family. Sometimes I feel like I’m just leeching off them, considering that I don’t have a steady job or even any idea for a steady job… But I’m digressing.

Point is that I have so many time on my hand and I’m trying to figure out how to spend it wisely, without guilt-tripping myself over and over again. So here’s a couple of games and books that I’ve been enjoying, in no particular order. I might, should, write a review for them eventually.

Games

Persona 4 by Atlus
The classic JRPG, on the now-ancient PlayStation 2. This game is pretty much my childhood (preeteenagehood?) game, and I have so many fond memories associated with it. I didn’t actually play it back then; only when I was at a friend’s place. But we talked about it a heck lot, and I ended up getting really into the Megami Tensei series since then. I still remember most of the story, but man, playing through it myself now is still awesome. Probably the only game in literal years that I can comfortably play for hours on end.

Read Only Memories by Studio MidBoss
A lovely little adventure game and pixel art heaven. Contrary to its promotional material, definitely not something that I’d call cyberpunk. Too happy and casual to be one, but that might just be because I was fresh out of the gritty grounds of Shadowrun. I find the, ah, bravery of the game rather discomforting, but I think it’s a good thing that I’m dealing with it. Lovely game. Might have to make a full write-up about it.

Stellaris by Paradox Interactive
I’d like to say I’m a fan of strategy and 4X game, despite that my experience with it is laughably shallow. I played Age of Empires, StarCraft, Civilization, and that’s about it. But Stellaris is great, so great, so lively I ended up spending long hours building my intergalactic empire, even though I still have absolutely no idea what I’m doing. I’m just rolling with the punches. Maybe I’m just being lucky, but I love that I can make a safe pacifist empire here.

Broken Age by Double Fine
Ah… classic adventure game. Classic, as in walk everywhere, click on everything, and try to interact everything with everything else because I have absolutely no idea what I’m supposed to do next. You can’t tell me that’s not charming. Broken Age has this beautiful hand-drawn art and a lot of whimsical, fantastic weirdness going on with it; that’s a lot of plus.

VA-11 Hall-A by Sukeban Games
Been waiting for this game since forever. Can’t believe it’s already here. Still haven’t played it yet; wants to beat ROM first. But man, man.

Books

Mortal Engines Quartet by Philip Reeve
I’ve formed a healthy dislike for young adult novels since I was sixteen, but I will always have a spot for Philip Reeve. Mortal Engines is definitely a YA sort of novel, but I really quite enjoy it. It has this unique, sprawling, endearing world and lore in it. Sometimes it plays its fantasy tropes and cliches very, very straight, but it seems to be fully aware of it, the stigma around them be damned, and run ahead with them anyway.

Nightmares! by Jason Segel and Kirsten Miller
A children’s book about a kid who wouldn’t sleep at night because he’s been having bad nightmares, his stepmother is probably a witch, and he’s man enough to drink coffee at night. I like the stories for its interesting double-takes, love the characters for their, ehh, they’re lovable, okay. I can totally understand the horrors children put up with here. And the prose is fun. Fun, if you can stop saying “God, didn’t anybody proofread this mess” because it is, indeed, a disjointed mess.

It’s a children’s book. I guess I’m not supposed to expect much, but with a base this interesting I definitely expect a lot more care in the writing. Also, it has fine illustrations.

For The Win by Cory Doctorow
I first read this when I was, I don’t know, eleven? I was old enough to read it, but so young that a lot of what I was reading was new to me. I liked it then, but didn’t finish it for technical reasons. Reading it now and, wow, this is like, completely ridiculous. Really over-the-top. Pompous, even. But I can understand how it can be enjoyed. Over-the-top is definitely what its teenage characters are feeling, how kids those ages see the world…. I guess? I have to take it with grains and grains of salt, but it’s really a pretty good novel. Educational in some ways. I definitely learned a lot about economy from it when I was eleven.

Heart-Shaped Box by Joe Hill
Okay. This one I’ve finished reading before the vacation started, but I want to talk about it. For the longest time, I’ve had problems with my head. I can’t really say what it is, let’s just put it as a lot of headaches and plenty of pretty dark thoughts. Heart-Shaped Box is a pretty dark story and it’s brutally unapologetic about it. I needed it. I needed its no-nonsense take, I needed its literal ghosts and violent prose. You put your fears into a form that you can fight, and they’re a lot easier to handle.

Films

Hahaha. Thought I’ll just stick with books and games, didn’t you.

Now You See Me 2
I love Now You See Me, the first movie. I love how it twists and turns your idea of what a plot should be, and even its own idea of what its own plot is. Its characters and their exploits are completely ridiculous, and I love how far and away the film takes it. It’s basically a magic show, a magic show with plots. Lots of flair, lots of misdirection, will be taken as a cheap trick for the Serious Films folks.

The second movie: more of the first, ramped up. Ramp up the ridiculous, ramp up the tropes, ramp up the twists. But I think the second movie is pulling far too much than it can handle here. Too many tricks and it becomes too absurd. Still a great movie. Would recommend it to anybody who loves the first film, would warn anybody who hasn’t watched the first film yet because the whole story is based on a spoiler.

Online Hangouts

Twitter
Twitter has been a great source of… information? News? Entertainment? I followed a lot of artists and gamedev, but my twitter feed is also full of politics thanks to authors like William Gibson. I’m pretty up-to-date with American current events now, thanks to that. It’s kind of weird how fast things fly out there.

Storium
Storium‘s more or less a play-by-post roleplaying place, with its own narrative-supporting system. It’s pretty great.

Lands of Evelon
Evelon‘s primarily an adoptable pets site, which I discovered about, eight years ago? It also has a forum-based roleplaying and game-like system running with it. It has a small, active, closely-knitted communities of exceedingly friendly people. I was last there about three years ago, and it’s great to be back.

 

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