Every month, Team Unwinnable puts together short lists of recommended music, books and games. These lists originally appeared in Unwinnable Monthly 85, Nonsense. If you enjoy what you read, please buy the issue or subscribe.
“Saturaatio,” by Oranssi Pazuzu
“Paranoia,” by A Day to Remember
“Six Years on Dope,” by NoFX
“We the People,” by A Tribe Called Quest
“Catch Fire,” by Periphery
“Cities,” by Talking Heads
“Treaty,” by Leonard Cohen
“Secular Haze,” by Ghost
“Death of a Clown,” by The Kinks
“Second Hand News,” by Fleetwood Mac
“A 1000 Times,” by Hamilton Leithauser & Rostam
“A Little Uncanny,” by Connor Oberst
“Sleep Now in the Fire,” by Rage Against the Machine
“Blue Haze,” by Midnight Faces
“Spit Out the Bone,” by Metallica
“Sersophane,” Gösta Berlings Saga
“To Be a Ghost…,” Jeff Rosenstock
“Bad Boy, Good Man,” by Tape Five
“Hampton’s Floor Plan,” by Bread and Circuits
Selected by Stu Horvath, Matt Sayer, Sam Desatoff, Gavin Craig, Khee Hoon Chan, Michael Edwards, Matt Marrone, Sara Clemens, Corey Milne, Jason McMaster, Melissa King, Erik Weinbrecht, David Shimomura, Jeremy Voss, Casey Lynch, Don Becker, A. J. Moser, Rob Haines and Austin Price
Swift to Chase, by Laird Barron
Story of Your Life and Others, by Ted Chiang
Republic of Thieves, by Scott Lynch
The Wicked and the Divine vol. 1: The Faust Act, by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, by Douglas Adams
Barbara the Slut and Other People, by Lauren Holmes
Judge Dredd Day of Chaos: Fallout, by John Wagner
Catalyst: A Rogue One Novel, by James Luceno
Star Wars: Ahsoka, by E. K. Johnston
Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King
The Last Days of Jack Sparks, by Jason Arnopp
White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America, by Nancy Isenberg
Mervin the Sloth Is About to Do the Best Thing in the World, Ruth Chan & Colleen A. F. Venable
A Million Worlds With You, by Claudia Gray
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
Selected by Stu Horvath, Matt Sayer, Sam Desatoff, Gavin Craig, Michael Edwards, Sara Clemens, Corey Milne, Jason McMaster, Erik Weinbrecht, David Shimomura, Jeremy Voss, Casey Lynch, Don Becker, A. J. Moser, Rob Haines and Austin Price
Dark Moon – After a long break, I’ve once again got board game fever. A hidden traitor game called Dark Moon started the revival. Originally designed as a stripped down version of the Battlestar Galactica board game, we see it as a Panic Station replacement. Unlike BSG, Dark Moon is fast paced and short. Unlike Panic Station, the mechanics seem to be more durable – instead of humans and infected hunting each other, Dark Moon’s real danger is the destruction of the space station. Humans divide their time between repairs and ferreting out potential traitors while the infected secretly sabotage. With no mechanic for direct hostilities between the two parties, the game revels in paranoia. Perfect for fans of The Thing, Alien and betraying your friends.
Pharaonic – I’ve always had a fascination with Egypt, from the miracle of the desert oasis to the monument of hardship that is the pyramid. Pharaonic captures both those elements brilliantly in its side-scrolling Souls-esque adventure, hacking and slashing its way through sandstone ruins and balmy valleys on its journey to topple the Red Pharaoh from his tyrannical throne. Dodging and parrying are key to surviving the hordes of giant scorpions, hulking golems and slimy lizard men standing in your way. With a vibrant look and maps that intertwine in that satisfying Souls way, Pharaonic is the kind of punishment that feels oh so good.
Ratchet and Clank – In the exhausted wake of an absurd presidential campaign season, Ratchet and Clank offered some much needed levity to my days. Bright colors, clever weapons, funny characters – just what the doctor ordered.
Masquerada: Songs and Shadows – A game I played in between long sessions of Witcher 3 (that game is so good, but so time-consuming), Masquerada is a role-playing title that ditches the conventions of its genre for a more linear gaming experience. Its world is rich with lore and story, and its characters are relatable and well-written. However, even though the setting is as colorful and vibrant as a real-life masquerade party, the story was verging on melodrama towards the end. The inevitable final boss fight was also Dragon Ball-esque; it’s not even in its final form yet, you fools! Anyway, by no means is Masquerada a terrible game and you should give it a go if you wish to expand your gaming repertoire. It’s just that it could definitely use more polish for the ending.
(Khee Hoon Chan)
Dragon Age II – I wanted to play a game where I’m the biggest influence in politics and where, if everything went to shit, I could just reload and do it over again until things were right. Or at least OK. I want things to be at least OK.
Darkest Dungeon – I’ve only recently delved into Darkest Dungeon, and oh boy have I gotten many adventurers killed in a myriad of surprising and upsetting ways. The presentation and randomness is enough to keep the feeling your just grinding at bay. After all, there’s more than one way to skin the Crawling Chaos!
Pokémon Sun & Moon – The date is currently November 16th while I write this, so I haven’t actually played the new Pokémon game yet. I’m just here to say that I’ve been here for Popplio since the very beginning and you fools can suck it with your Poindexter owl and wrestling cat. I’ll be over here with my mermaid fairy/water starter relishing the fact that dreams come true.
Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst – Just added to the EA Access vault, I’m finally getting the chance to play the sequel to one of my favorite games. What will likely be an underwhelming experience overall, I’m still looking forward to some roof hopping parkour above an Orwellian city.
Rise of the Tomb Raider – This is the second best Uncharted game and should be ahead of Uncharted 4 on all PS4 best of lists. Fight me.
Dishonored 2 / Titanfall 2 – Re: Dishonored 2, I am . . . terrible at this game. And there are a lot of terrible things about this game (like the dialogue and the voice acting). But goddamn, there is something about it that’s absolutely riveting; I can’t stop myself from exploring every nook and cranny, and there are seemingly hundreds of those nooks this time around. Conversely, I’m also playing the Titanfall 2 campaign, which is far better than I expected it to be, and which has turned out to have some of the most satisfying combat I’ve played this side of Doom16.
Final Fantasy XV – I’m aware I’m biased because I’ve been working on this game for a long time, but I recently completed another full playthrough, this time on the gold master candidate build, and all I can say is I can’t wait until people play it so I can finally have someone to talk to about it.
Geometry Wars: Dimensions Evolved – It’s kinda reassuring that I’m still just as terrible at this game as I was when I first got my Xbox 360.
Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare – After taking some serious time away from the series, I was drawn back into Call of Duty by the sci-fi leanings of the latest offering. Upon completing the campaign, I’m happy to report that this is one of the strongest games in the long history of the franchise. The story has emotional resonance, great characters and the gravity-bending actions sequences provide constant thrills. The multiplayer is a bit run-of-the-mill, but the single-player deserves your attention.
(A. J. Moser)
Dragon Quest Builders – Easily dismissed as “Minecraft for the unimaginative,” it’s in these stressful times that Builders’ deliciously relaxing qualities shine through. There may be monsters out there in the dark, but I’m more concerned about min-maxing the placement of decorative banners and treasure chests in my opulent throne room. While it may lack the procedural freedoms of its inspiration – and it’s Dragon Quest, so it’s twee as hell – I’m still losing five hours at a time to dedicated renovations of my secret underground bistro.
Dark Souls 3: Ashes of Ariandel – I was abroad when the expansion first dropped, so the first thing I did when I got settled back at home was download and plunge back in. I was less than thrilled, sad to admit: while the last third of the expansion has excellent level design and a final boss battle so well designed it bears its own dissection, the first two thirds are uninspired (resurrecting the absolute worst of Dark Souls 2’s dull emphasis on mob encounters and linear progression) and the alternate boss is so lazy it’s a wonder they even bothered. It’s a gorgeous piece of work, no doubt, but if this is any indication of where the final expansion pack will put us I’m a little less than impressed. Crossing my fingers for better things on the horizon.