Best of the Rest of 2021

I already went over my favorite movies, TV shows, fiction books, nonfiction books, and comic books I consumed this past year, so now it’s time for one last look back at 2021 for the best of the rest: video games, audio dramas, and music.

Best Video Games I Played in 2021:

Cyberpunk 2077

I mentioned that I started to play this game at the end of last year, and this year I finished it. There were some bugs, but I ultimately loved it. The world was amazing—a Blade Runner-esque futuristic mega-city. Normally I don’t like open-world games, but this world was worth exploring. (I just wish they had flying cars.) I prefer more streamlined games that focus on a narrative because in open-world games you spend so much time driving and walking from place to place—which is what I hate about reality. Video games are supposed to cut out the boring parts of life. Plus, I often feel lost and overwhelmed with too many choices of where to go and what to do (like real life). Still, I enjoyed playing this game, and the story (starring Keanu Reeves) explored many of the cyberpunk themes that interest me including computer hacking, human augmentation, artificial intelligence, and mind-uploading.

The Sinking City

A Lovecraft-inspired open-world game set in a New England city that is half-sunken underwater after some cataclysmic event from the past. The gameplay itself was a little clunky, but the story was intriguing—though I preferred the Call of Cthuhlu game from last year.

Limbo

A minimalist black and white puzzle game with some legitimately tough puzzles involving inventive physics. I find simplistic games like this with complicated puzzles more entertaining than elaborate games with mindless killing. I also liked how Limbo was shorter than the above two games. Though I enjoyed them, after a while I start to grow bored and want it to end sooner. But when you pay $50+ for a new game you expect it to be longer to get your money’s worth—which is why I never buy new games and instead wait a couple years until the price comes down by 50+%.

Inside

This puzzle game was made by the same people as Limbo. They took it up a notch, with more colors, more advanced graphics, more complicated designs, and a more elaborate story (which is told with almost no dialogue). The result was just as good, if not better.

Fictional Audiodrama Podcasts:

  • Bridgewater – A horror/mystery miniseries about a folklore professor exploring the Bridgewater woods, rumored to be haunted by a cult, where his father disappeared years ago.
  • The Message & LifeAfter – Two near-future science fiction podcasts, the first about deciphering an alien message, and the second about an artificial intelligence service that creates digital versions of your loved ones after they die (similar to Black Mirror).
  • MODERATION – A stage play performed as a podcast, about two content moderators for a big tech company, who must view the most disturbing content on social media and decide whether to approve or remove it.
  • DUST – Audio adaptations of modern science fiction short stories.
  • The Oddcast – Audio adaptions of famous weird fiction stories, with eerie music and sound effects.
  • Soft Voice – A thriller about a woman who hears a voice in her head that tells her everything to do…until that voice suddenly disappears.
  • X Minus One – Podcast collection of old-time radio dramas of classic science fiction stories written and performed in the 1950s.
  • Knifepoint Horror – An anthology of short horror stories by Soren Narnia. Each story is different and self-contained, but similar in that almost all are told from the first-person perspective of a narrator (the author himself) recounting a horrific event from his past. I like the idea of authors narrating audio versions of their own stories and am planning to eventually do the same myself.

Nonfiction Audiodrama Podcasts:

  • To Live and Die in LA (seasons 1&2) – I normally don’t listen to true crime podcasts, but I made an exception for this because I’m a fan of the host/author Neil Strauss. And I was not disappointed. Both seasons, following two different true crime cases in Los Angeles, were the audio equivalent of page-turners.
  • Radio Rental – Each episode (hosted by Rainn Wilson as Terry Carnation) features normal people talking about an abnormal experience they had in life—such as narrowly escaping a serial killer and possible glitches in the matrix.
  • The H.P. Lovecraft Literary Podcast – The two hosts review every single Lovecraft story (and other weird fiction writers) plus record audiobook adaptations of select stories.
  • Voluminous: The Letters of H.P. Lovecraft – In each episode the hosts read then discuss one of the thousands of letters H.P. Lovecraft wrote during his life.
  • Art of Darkness – A podcast co-hosted by the writer of Moderation. Each episode is a biography of a different artist/writer/musician, exploring both the greatness and the darkness that came from their creativity.

Best Music Albums of 2021 (alphabetical by artist):

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