List-o-Mania – March 2016

Every month, Team Unwinnable puts together short lists of recommended music, books and games. These lists originally appeared in Unwinnable Monthly Seventy-Seven. If you enjoy what you read, please buy the issue or subscribe.



“Something,” by Julien Baker

“Brain in a Fish Tank” by Shpongle

“Love Me Like That,” by The Knocks

“Loveless,” by Electric Wire Hustle

“American Car,” by Mike Doughty

“My Shadow in Vain,” by Tubeway Army

“No Cities to Love,” by Sleater-Kinney

“Face Breakout,” by Tobacco

“FACTS,” by Kanye West

“Easy Livin,” by Uriah Heep

“Make Some Room,” by The Suffers

“All Res,” by GoGo Penguin

Listen now on Spotify

Selected by Mitch Bowman, Jeremiah Cheney, Jose Cardoso, Sara Clemens, Gavin Craig, Daisy DeCoster, Stu Horvath, Melissa King, Kenneth Lucas, Matt Marrone, Gus Mastrapa, Tim Mulkerin, Jeremy Voss


UM 77-smallReading List

South of the Border, West of the Sun, by Haruki Murakami

Fates and Furies, by Lauren Groff

Blood Fame Citrus, by Claire Vaye Watkins

The Glittering World, by Robert Levy

The Crying of Lot 49, by Thomas Pynchon

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Questions, by Randall Munroe

What the Dog Saw, by Malcolm Gladwell

The Last Wish, by Andrzej Sapkowski

Foucault’s Pendulum, by Umberto Eco

Selected by Mitch Bowman, Sara Clemens, Gavin Craig, Stu Horvath, Matt Marrone, Tim Mulkerin, Matt Sayer, David Shimomura, Jeremy Voss


Now Playing

Witcher 3: Hearts of Stone – Stu Horvath
Firing up the first Witcher 3 expansion was like visiting an old friend. It confirmed something I have been thinking since I finished the main campaign back in July, namely that The Witcher 3 thoroughly destroyed the AAA game. Nothing since has measured up, except Hearts of Stone. I fear nothing ever will (except the forthcoming Blood and Wine)

Devil Daggers – Mitch Bowman
I picked this up on Steam after seeing a bunch of talk on Twitter about it. The trailer looked interesting and it was only five bucks, so I took the plunge without knowing much about it. Turns out it’s a super fast-paced perma-death shooter with Doom-style low-res visuals. It’s relentlessly difficult – the longest I’ve survived so far is just over 60 seconds – and surprisingly deep for how simple it is. I suspect that, in the tradition of Spelunky, this is going to be a game that causes some serious leader board brawls among Steam friends.

Far Cry Primal – Jeremy Voss
Because I rented it, and currently have nothing else going on.

Rayman Legends – Tim Mulkerin
When my brain starts to feel fuzzy in the middle of a workday, this game has been the perfect antidote. Gorgeous illustrative art style, thoughtful and challenging puzzle design and a staggering number of stages. If you can get past the Facebooky hub world UI, this game is pure joy.

Train Conductor World: European Railway – Sara Clemens
I’m not very good, so my trains crash into each other a lot. Every time they do, uncontrollable giggles pour out of me like colorful bubbles. I love this game.

Shadowrun: Hong Kong – Extended Edition Bonus Campaign – Matt Sayer
A free six-hour campaign for one of my favorite games of last year? Sign me up! The stellar writing, gorgeous art and satisfying tactical battles are all as impressive as the base game and the narrative ties to the main campaign make it well worth returning to the neon-lit streets of cyberpunk Hong Kong.

XCOM 2 – David Shimomura
Hour 27…

Darkest Dungeon – Gus Mastrapa
I’ve played for over 100 in-game weeks and I still haven’t delved into the titular dungeon. This game is bananas.

Pokémon Y – Melissa King
In French.

Baldur’s Gate: Enhanced Edition – Jeremiah Cheney
My first PC game from childhood; an updated version got tossed up on Steam some time ago. For the dozens and dozens of hours I played Baldur’s Gate as a kid, it’s mind boggling how little I actually accomplished in the story. My fifth level party (I’m a wizard) of five has purged local mines of kobolds, taken down the leaders of three bandit factions that were conspiring a devious plan and are preparing to run headlong into the darkest part of the deepest forest to find the head honcho they were reporting to.  It’s too bad the days of the CRPG have been replaced by shooters with four-hour campaigns. Even on the old Infinity Engine, this is some of the most engrossing storytelling I’ve experienced in a while.

Krautscape – Jose Cardoso
Krautscape is like a live track editor, where the lane you’re in will determine subsequent track pieces as gates are crossed. Flight is a big part of the game, and it works like a catch-up mechanism. Same is true of spontaneous trap switches, which appear on existing track pieces for mildly disrupting the leader’s pattern from behind. Using identical vehicles, players regularly take risky shortcuts to try cutting the leader off, and a strict respawn system ensures consequential failures. With training, though, the results can be satisfying. Although there are no item gimmicks to fault, races are unbalanced in a certain respect, especially in Snake mode –stragglers who fumble can’t compete with someone who keeps driving unimpaired. Still, despite the occasional assured victory and a feeble online community, Krautscape’s unpredictability and demands for quick thinking make it a memorable diversion from the norm.

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