Inside (PC)

Limbo is another game I sometimes wonder if I should go back and reassess after that game cratered my standards, but for now let's hit up its spiritual successor. Inside is a game of half decent puzzles made needlessly frustrating by the murky graphics making it hard to tell what the fuck I'm looking at or supposed to do.

And maybe clearer visuals would have made the total lack of level cohesion more of an environmental smorgasboard instead of a confusing haze of barely connected set pieces that left me wondering how we got from a plague-ridden countryside to being chased by a ghost in an underwater facility, until finally ending on the biggest WTF moment I've seen in a game in a long time. Yeah, even if I hadn't had the gremlin in a suit popping out of a dumpster and shouting gibberish at you in Deltarune Chapter 2 spoiled to me through Twitter memes, this would have blown that out of the water.


Wings of Fire: Winter Turning (Tui T. Sutherland)

If Moon Rising was about overcoming insecurities and possibly even turning them into strengths, Winter Turning is about overcoming prejudices you've been instilled with by a toxic social environment. Winter was raised in a setting where status, Icewing superiority, and cold, brutal strength were law, but finds himself struggling to suppress a softness that is not welcome where he comes from. And, whatever god the dragons here worship forbid, the idea that dragons of other tribes are actually kinda cool. Then the ending rolls around, and the family he's fought so hard for and to please throws him under the bus to preserve their own standing in Icewing society.

Also, this was published in 2015 so I don't know if Sutherland meant for this to be a thing, but it's hard nowadays to not notice how the Icewings, who are primarily white, have isolated themselves in their part of the world with a wall designed to keep all other dragons out.


Klaus (PG, Netflix)

Movies about how how Santa and Christmas got started are fairly common, though Klaus uses it as the backdrop for a story about breaking the cycle of hatred and greed, and how a little kindness can go a long way. And with the energetic animation and an arrogant manchild having to learn humility from a kind-hearted brick shithouse of a man, I couldn't help but be reminded of Emperor's New Groove. Shit, Jesper even sounds like Kuzco, but he's voiced by Jason Schwartzman instead of David Spade. And Klaus is J. K. Simmons. You know, J. Jonah Jameson and Omni-Man?

I wonder if there could have been more of a reason for the two clans of Smeerensburg to be fighting, even if they had forgotten and it turns out it was something petty that snowballed into the all-out war going on now, and not just "we have always fought." Although I guess it still works as a catch-all for "people just fight for its own sake or other stupid bullshit reasons"