A new form of storytelling medium I got into this year was fictionalized audio drama podcasts. I prefer them to fiction audiobooks because they have a full cast of actors to voice each character in the story. Plus the scripts are written specifically for audio (as opposed to most novels), so the stories are more dialogue-driven and therefore more dynamic and easier to follow while listening. Though, as with television, I prefer self-contained miniseries audio dramas with an ending, rather than series that go on for years.
Some of my favorite audio dramas I listened to this past year were:
Best Video Games I Played in 2020:
Many people consider video games a mindless form of entertainment—and some games surely are—but other video games are quite literary in nature, even more novelistic than most TV shows. They involve not just shooting at things or solving puzzles, but a rich narrative story with character development. The first game on this year’s list (>observer_) and last year’s list (SOMA) fall under that category. Video games are more immersive than television and movies—they are an active form of entertainment. You are a part of the story, doing things rather than sitting back and watching. Plus, video games often involve a lot of actual reading. Games like Mass Effect have entire books’ worth of backstory and world-building within the game.
This game is like a Lovecraftian Blade Runner—a combination I never knew I wanted but absolutely loved. It’s a horror detective mystery set in a 2084 cyberpunk future, some of my favorite genres, but I never thought to combine them all before. I was impressed by how well-done the game was. The horror elements were legitimately creepy—and “creepy” is exactly the right word. You get trapped in physics-defying dream-like mazes. It’s a very Lovecraftian type of cerebral horror rather than gore and jump scares, though there’s some of that as well. Plus, the cyberpunk future aesthetics were eye candy.
Speaking of Lovecraft, this is not a direct adaptation of “The Call of Cthulhu,” it’s more of a mishmash of several Lovecraft stories, plus inventions of their own. You play a private detective who investigates a case in a sea town full of weird cosmic horror.
I had some fun with this game set in the Alien movie universe, but the gameplay was kind of clunky. Dead Space (one of my all-time favorite games) was a better video game version of Alien.
I just started playing this game at the end of 2020, and despite some minor glitches, I am enjoying it so far. Ever since Grand Theft Auto came out in the early 2000s, I’d been hoping for a version of the game set in a Blade Runner-type future, and, finally, this is that game.
Best Comic Books I Read in 2020:
For whatever reason, I did not read as many comics in 2020, but there were a few good ones.
- Plunge by Joe Hill (2020)
- Basketful of Heads by Joe Hill (2020)
- Dying Is Easy by Joe Hill (2020) – This trio of comics from Joe Hill were completely different, but all good. The best being Plunge, a Lovecraftian tale set at sea.
- Self/Made by Mat Groom, Eduardo Ferigato, Marcelo Costa (2019)
- Altered Carbon: Download Blues by Richard K. Morgan, Rik Hoskin, and Ferran Sellares (2019) – I enjoyed this more than season 2 of the TV show, perhaps because it was shorter and more focused.
- Pulp by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (2020) — A nice mashup of western and noir…plus Nazis.
- Nameless by Grant Morrison (2016) A Lovecraftian space horror.
- Sentient (2019) by by Jeff Lemire, Gabriel Walta – Similar to Raised By Wolves, one of my favorite TV shows of the year. Both are about an AI “mother” raising human children.
More Best Comic Books Lists:
Best Music Albums of 2020:
What I love about music is that it directly reflects the consciousness level of the creator at the time. If the listener is at the same level of consciousness, they will like the music too. If not, if they listen to the music long enough, they may rise or fall to that same level of consciousness as the musician.
- Aleksi Perälä — (multiple albums)
- Applescal — Diamond Skies
- Caribou — Suddenly
- Castlebeat — Melodrama
- COMPUTER DATA – Seele
- Dan Deacon — Mystic Familiar
- Daniel Avery — Love + Light
- Daniel Avery + Alessandro Cortini — Illusion of Time
- DJ Boring — Like Water
- Four Tet — Sixteen Oceans
- Fluxion — Perspectives
- Grimes — Miss Anthropocene
- Indian Wells — New Ruins
- Kelly Lee Owens — Inner Song
- King Krule — Man Alive!
- Luke Abbott — Translate
- Luke Slater — Berghain Fünfzehn
- Moses Boyd — Dark Matter
- Nathan Fake — Blizzards
- Nicolas Jaar — Cenizas
- nthng — Hynotherapy
- Omar-S — You Want
- Oneohtrix Point Never — Magic Oneohtrix Point Never
- Out Of Place Artefacts — Vril and Rodhad present Out Of Place Artefacts
- Peaking Lights — E S C A P E
- Quantec — Moments
- Rob Clouth — Zero Point
- Shinichi Atobe — Yes
- Tame Impala — The Slow Rush
- Vril — Bad Manners 4
- Washed Out — Purple Noon
- X.Y.R. — Pilgrimage
Past Music Lists: