Every month, Team Unwinnable puts together short lists of recommended music, books and games. These lists originally appeared in Unwinnable Monthly 86, Family. If you enjoy what you read, please buy the issue or subscribe.
“Electric Eyes,” by Terminal Gods
“24K Magic,” by Bruno Mars
“FOH,” by Superchunk
“Don’t Sweat The Technique,” by Eric B. & Rakim
“Starboy,” by The Weeknd
“Karate Man,” by The Super Friendz
“Kodama,” by Alcest
“Exit Music (For a Film),” by Radiohead (arranged by Ramin Djawadi)
“Who Can It Be Now,” by Men At Work
“Perfect Circle,” by R.E.M.
“Mama Said,” by Cat Clyde
“Kirby,” by Aesop Rock
Selected by Stu Horvath, Erik Weinbrecht, Austin Price, Matt Sayer, Melissa King, Gavin Craig, Chan Khee Hoon, David Shimomura, Corey Milne, Michael Edwards, Sara Clemens, Jason McMaster
Tobin’s Spirit Guide, by Kyle Hotz
Star Wars: Catalyst, by James Luceno
Lost Illusions, by Honore de Balzack
Guards! Guards!, by Terry Pratchett
Two Lives: Gertrude and Alice, by Janet Malcolm
Wasp, by Eric Frank Russell
The Satanic Bible, by Anton Szandor Lavey
A Prayer for Owen Meany, by John Irving
Selected by Stu Horvath, Erik Weinbrecht, Austin Price, Matt Sayer, Gavin Craig, Corey Milne, Sara Clemens, Jason McMaster
Rise of the Tomb Raider – You wouldn’t think there’d be a lot of room for the difference between a bad climby, shooting game (Uncharted 4) and a good climby, shooty game, but there is. Rise of the Tomb Raider is superior in every way. Its climby bits are more interesting and never get aggravating (probably because they aren’t married as much with travel) and the shooty bits are, you know, mechanically sound. Rise does pale in comparison to its predecessor, but if you want to . . . climb . . . or shoot some people . . . this is your best option in 2016. A warning for the developers, though: there better be some fucking monsters in the next installment, or I’m out.
Mirror’s Edge: Catalyst – I’m all about things that are catalytic at the moment. Parkour was a hot thing when the first game came out and it garnered a lot of attention. While not as good as its predecessor this game is still a lot of fun and very disorienting after long sessions.
Deus Ex: Mankind Divided – Though it doesn’t do a whole lot to differentiate itself from Human Revolution, Mankind Divided offers a good ol’ sci-fi conspiracy by way of a society on the verge of snapping in two. The conflict between ‘naturals’ and the augmented is occasionally a bit too on-the-nose, but the core message of social division leading to pain, suffering and the eventual degradation of humanity is an important one. As hit-and-miss as it is, I’ll take its flawed ambition over perfectly executed tepidity any day.
Pokemon Sun – I know I had this game on my list last month, but I hadn’t actually played it yet. 2016 has been a terrible, terrible year, but Pokemon came to the rescue by coming out with a solid game that further refines its mechanics and UI and actually has a plot. Not to mention that the plot and characters are actually engaging. My only complaint is that Nebby won’t get in the bag.
Witcher 3 – I’ve been playing – and is still playing – Witcher 3 for the past couple of months. Due to my completionist streak, I wanted to finish every single quest and walk to every inch of the map and, as you can imagine, it’ll be a long time till I get there. It has been fun so far taking my time, picking flowers, hunting deer and killing random Drowners. I’ll probably not finish the game until 2018. I think I’m fine with that.
(Chan Khee Hoon)
Dishonored 2 – I loved Dishonored. I never thought I’d need more but now that I have it, well, I’ll take it. Weirdly, the game feels too heavy at times. I’m too afraid to fail, something I had no problem doing in Hitman. I’m actually afraid of playing this game, but here I am, slowly, tentatively, furtively picking away at it.
Mega Man X4 – Thanks to a recent PSN Store sale, I caught up on some of the Mega Man games I never bothered with due to the craziness of being college. I don’t know if I’m ready for the thematic departure of Mega Man Legends yet so I tried the somewhat familiar Mega Man X4 side scroller. Some may complain these are all derivative of the fantastic original Mega Man X SNES game (and by extension the NES originals) but I still think they’re fun, and hard as hell!
Two Dots – Just when I think I’m done – when the game feels increasingly designed to trap a player in pay-to-win scenarios, when new levels are being released at such a breakneck pace that the distance from my current position to end of the map crosses well over the virtual horizon, when I compare my medal and treasure collection to those of my friends and see I am comfortably dominant – an old college buddy finally syncs his progress with Facebook and reveals himself to be trouncing me soundly. I will build my home on a foundation of broken dots, my golden medals adorning its walls!
Final Fantasy XV – Well, this complete waste of time left me so angry with games that I’ve actually decided to take a long break from the hobby entirely. This just so happens to be the last game I played before said hiatus . . .
This is a game that is clearly broken and held together by bands of duct tape on some very fundamental levels, but the personality infused into its main cast of four lovely precious boys makes me forgive any sin. This is a game about unabashed love and friendship I needed to finish the year with.
I’m playing this game super slowly, reveling in its uselessness. After two weeks, I’ve gotten my car fixed, gone fishing and witnessed the destruction of the city I left but hadn’t managed to get very far away from. Prince Noctis starts the game in no particular hurry and now he doesn’t really have anywhere to go. All of this is just fine with me. I’ll tool around in the car and listen to the radio, maybe spend another night in the trailer by Cid’s. I’m not entirely sure what’s going on. There’s no reason to rush things.