As every year, I like to highlight some of my favorite moments of the past year. Especially in a year with so much bleh, it’s nice to look back on the good times.
During the first lockdown we thought “this would be a good time to raise a pup”, as I think many did. So we got a second dashshund, Vos, and she’s a little sweetheart. We’re very happy with her, and I think so is our first dog. You can follow their adventures on Instagram.
Riding an electric bike
I’ve wanted a motorcycle since I was a kid, but considering the hassle of lessons and the protests of the wife, I’ve never pursued this. But last year I became aware that e-choppers exist. They are essentially mopeds that look like bikes. This summer we looked up a place where we could rent one and took a tour, and I enjoyed it a lot. I’m still debating the practicality, but next summer I might have to pull the trigger.
I bought my last laptop when The Witcher 3 came out, and it has held up pretty well, but you couldn’t really call it a modern gaming rig anymore. I actually transitioned to doing most of my gaming on the PS4, and I didn’t think I’d go back, but when my wife’s laptop broke, it made sense for her to take my still-powerful-but-aged one and for me to upgrade. And I didn’t expect it, but it led to a PC gaming renaissance. The machine itself is peak Gamer Aesthetic garbage, but wow it’s powerful.
Which leads me to:
When the magic of VR started wearing off , I got dissatisfied with the lower quality graphics of Quest games. But when I upgraded my laptop, I got access to the Oculus Link, and the world of PCVR was suddenly open to me. And Half-Life Alyx and Lone Echo pulled me back in in a mayor way. This is VR on a whole new level. I’ve spent countless hours on these games and I’ve still not finished them! What a gift.
Man of Medan was unexpectedly good. Jedi Fallen Order was finally a Souls-like made for me. I made it through my first Overland campaign in one piece, thank god. Black Mesa was very very impressive for a ‘fan’ game. I played a fair number of matches in Hunt Showdown and Warzone with friends.
But mostly it felt like the year of indie games. A Short Hike, Overland, Mutazione, Tangle Tower, Concrete Genie, Teardown, Call of the Sea, Alba, these were all bangers. And topped off with some exciting announcements at the VGA’s: Season, Open Road, Forever Ago, OFK, Road 96, it’s gonna be good. I feel like this is the prime time to make a story-rich adventure exploration game.
Now, as for my GOTY… You’d say the Mafia remake was a shoe-in. The original has been in my top 3 favorites since it came out. I know every street in that city. And they did the remake right, it’s gorgeous and fun to play.
But I think I’ll have to go with Return of the Obra Dinn. I finally got around to playing it recently, and holy cow, the way this game matches narrative and gameplay is fantastic. It’s smart, it’s efficient, it’s fun, and the atmosphere is amazing. I’ll be thinking about this game for a long time coming.
Notable movies and shows
Not from 2020, but I rediscovered this show on Amazon Prime late last year, and have been binging it from the end of season 2, where I stopped watching years ago. I remember I found season 2 slow and confusing, but season 3 really got me back into it, and the final few episodes of season 4 are some of the best tv I’ve ever seen. I’d tell you to watch episode 407 right now, but I don’t think it will land without the knowledge of the rest of the show before it, but wow. That’s a masterclass in storytelling. I might just watch that again after I finish writing this…
I didn’t expect much from this, but the show really surprised me. The tone is so different from regular Trek, but it’s not a bad thing. The cameos were really heartwarming, and the ending legit fucked me up for half an hour. What an emotional gut punch for someone who’s watched these characters since being a little kid.
Finally, the mind-bending story of Jonas and Martha wrapped up this year. I had to push my brain to the limits to keep up this season, but it’s incredibly clever how they tied everything together across multiple years and realities. I hope I can write something that intricate someday.
Speaking of brains struggling to keep up, the only movie I saw in theaters this year (because, you know), was Tenet. I can’t say I was blown away amazed like with Inception, but it was still very good and very well executed.
Normal People + Dublin Murders
I mention these two shows because they’re both Irish and I watched them back-to-back (they even have some actor overlap), although their subject matter is miles apart. Normal People is a beautiful tale about growing up, and Dublin Murders could be another True Detective season. Both inspired me in different ways, and bonus points for making me speak in an Irish accent for a week after.
And finally, the second season of The Mandalorian. Everyone’s talking about that surprise ending, but many episodes from this season set a high bar for Star Wars storytelling. They’re not trying so hard, is the thing, it all feels effortless and relaxed, they’re having fun with it. Great stuff.
I mentioned Taylor Swift and her new album Lover last year in my recap, and dang Taylor managed to drop not one but TWO new albums of wistful quarantine songs this year! They’re quite different from her other work, the songs by themselves I’m not wild about – they’re good for cozy evenings reading or walking through the woods, but not really any bangers – but I deeply respect and admire the artistry in her finally being herself and doing whatever she feels is right. I’m very happy for her that she’s in this place.
Ok, so, it sounds weird to say, but I even went to some CONCERTS.
Freya Ridings in Amsterdam was lovely, I’m glad I got to see her live. And Mika, that was something else. It was a concert I accompanied my wife to, but I was awestruck by what a performer this guy is. It was a joyous ride with many great songs I had forgotten. A night to remember.
Unfortunately concerts are nonexistent now, but I hope maybe next year we’ll get the opportunity again.
Other than that nothing much exciting this year music-wise, which feels weird to realize. I mostly stuck to my faves and listened to my comfort songs, which I suppose makes sense. I’ve attempted to capture the vibe in this playlist if you’re interested.
That’s a wrap
I hope you too got to enjoy moments of levity, beauty and excitement via games, music, movies, books, activities or other distractions this year. Let me know in the comments what your faves were if you’d like to share!