Articles, games, music, podcasts from May, 2022.
- Can Matt Pike Face the Music?
- Cool Things People Do With Their Blogs
- Is It Love If You Can’t Hold His Dick While He Pees?
- Listen to the Eerie Sound of Black Hole ‘Echoes’ for the First Time
- Margot Heuman, Who Bore Witness to the Holocaust as a Gay Woman, Dies at 94
- Our Moloch by Garry Wills
- The Surprising Truth About Pixels and Accessibility
- The Final Fantasy XIV adventure continues, this time with my wife playing, too. That’s been good.
- I could write a whole long thing about Labyrinth of Refrain and how bizarre, flawed, and unique it is. I’ll try not to, but it’s been on my mind so much this month and I have to get some of this out of my head. It’s a first-person dungeon crawler with art by the Disgaea guy. And it has a lot of Disgaea’s near-infinite progression systems, too. These systems are, of course, a min-maxing dweeb’s addictive worst nightmare/best time. Systems aside, the plot of the game is fucked. The gist is, you’re a book (the Tractatus de Monstrum, or “Tractie”) being used by the witches Dronya and Luca to explore a labyrinth in a well with enchanted puppets Luca makes (the puppets are your party). These puppets are placed in covens (little boxes at the bottom of the screen) with each other where they can trade off each other and work together. They can be classed and reclassed and reclassed again, with each reroll increasing their stat scaling. You can equip all sorts of random gear drops on them. They’re mostly extremely titties-out and lewd. And look, I get that a dungeon crawler might need something else to it to keep your attention for, in this one’s case, 100+ hours, but boy are these puppets boob-y. Anyway, the game is long and takes dozens of hours for the plot to slowly unfold. Dronya is mean and ungrateful to maybe eight- or nine-year-old Luca, who is sweet and kind and only wants to impress and please her. While witches are generally mean, duh!, Dronya’s meanness is maybe excessive. This pays off if you’re willing to stick around for 40+ hours for the reveal that Dronya is herself one of Luca’s magic puppets, but with an actual soul. Dronya’s soul belongs to the dead witch Velnya, the gf of Luca’s mom from witch school. Luca’s mom dies and leaves her in the care of Velnya, who immediately also dies in an accident, which Luca feels responsible for. Luca puts Velnya’s soul into the puppet Dronya, kinda sorta bringing her back to life. So, the reanimated Velyna’s yelling, hitting, and tormenting of Luca can be read more as a manifestation of Luca’s guilt, and a dark joke, rather than entirely for shock value. But, again, you have to put up with the game for 10s of hours to find this out. (Important, I guess: the reason you’re exploring the labyrinth is so Dronya can find magic keys she needs to bring Luca’s mom back to life.) And then, oh yeah, there is of course alternate timeline stuff going on where Luca is actually the teen witch Mezzaluca who exists a few years into the future and is trying to stop an evil witch from destroying the world (I’m not sure you even find this out until the postgame, or thereabouts). It’s complicated. There’s a lot of stuff I didn’t touch on. The art of the monsters is cool (although a few are, naturally, horny monsters), some of them are very gross looking, and the way the game will pan up when you encounter a large scary monster creates a somehow dizzying, creepy effect for the player. The game’s biggest flaw is that it tries to blend a serious, actually enjoyable dark story of witch romance and child abuse/guilt with the juvenile humor more common in this type of JRPG (very specifically, Disgaea). Also, there is some body horror that could be read as transphobic if you wanted to be uncharitable. It’s one that will stick with me for a while, because there isn’t much else like it. A particularly bonkers example, wherein the game invents 'mommy milkers.'
- Rune Factory 4 has been an interesting playthrough. It came out in 2013-ish, probably around when ConcernedApe started working on Stardew Valley, and I imagine he played it because there’s so much in it that seems directly from inspired by RF4. It’s also interesting to see what he left out; RF4 is relatively player-friendly for this genre. The characters aren’t super interesting (but neither are Stardew’s) and some are outright obnoxious (but so are some of Stardew’s). Everything else about the game, though, makes it a satisfying, deep timesink.
- Cave In - Heavy Pendulum
- Not my favorite of theirs, but still good.
- Daniel Rossen - You Belong There
- Hatchie - Giving the World Away
- Really loved this. FFO late era Lush, Bowery Electric, Golden Palominos, maybe some Garbage.
- MJ Lenderman - Boat Songs
- So many earworms on this one. “You’re Every Girl to Me” is so good.
- Peaches - The Teaches of Peaches
- I saw it’s the 20th anniversary of this. I’ve never liked her music, but I knew a lot of people who did growing up, so I thought maybe I’d go back to it as an Adult. Does not work for me, could not finish the CD. She’s so committed to the bit but the bit is so fuckin’ goofy that I can’t help but eyeroll at the whole thing. It’s a level of goofy where this may not even be a bit for her anymore. When I read that she called an album Fatherfucker because, Hey man, everyone is always saying “motherfucker,” I was like… Yeah, no thanks, this is an Anthony Kiedis-level observation. And I’m mad I keep hearing her say “suckin’ on my titties” in my head.
- PUP - THE UNRAVELING OF PUPTHEBAND
- I remember liking the other PUP I’ve heard, but did not enjoy this. Can’t put my finger on why. It’s very Superchunk-y, or the guy just sounds like Mac, which made me realize how odd it is there haven’t been more bands doing Superchunk. Like their other stuff, there’s a lot of Titus Andronicus. The track “Waiting” is Harvey Danger. Every once in a while the guy’s voice will do a Craig Finn thing. The opening track is haughty in the way Harvey Danger and Titus Andronicus sometimes are, but doesn’t feel self-aware enough to get away with it, so maybe it poisoned everything else for me.
- Sidney Gish - Ed Buys Houses
- Friend Em recommended, twee-r than anything I've heard in ages. Nice and fun.
- Sweet Trip - Seen/Unseen
- Viagra Boys - Troglodyte
- Another one off the upcoming record.