Ever since I dedicated myself to increasing my book reading to be more or less what it used to be during my high school and college days, I would set small, attainable reading goals I think I can reasonably accomplish by the end of the year. Since then my reading goals have grown more ambitious. Last year I finished reading 19 books, and this year I’m looking to finish 20-25 books. What may have helped me is reading two, maybe three, books during some months. Is that how I approach all the books I read? It depends on what it is.
In between writing, reading, and gaming I have been watching a few shows and movies on the various streaming services I’m subscribed to. What has dominated my TV screen are shows or movies about teenagers. While I may be past a certain age to be watching this genre I often find some comfort in seeing teenagers discover love for the first time, figuring out their identity, and come of age by the end of the story. Appropriately, two of Netflix’s well received original show and movie have recently finished their run with the streamer—Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before. Did both of these originals get a proper sendoff?
Since the start of the new year I have been hitting the ground running on a number of personal goals I want to achieve by the end of the year. Among them has been to read a lot of books. I don’t exactly have a process for how I decide which books I’ll be reading next. Some of it depends on mood, length, and what format I want to read it in (physical copy, e-book, or audiobook). Despite having quite the collection to keep me busy for the next several months or maybe years, I can never resist compiling a long running list of other interesting titles I hope to finally read.
Being a gamer often means you’ll discover what types of video games you enjoy overtime. There will be genres you’ll most likely play each and every time, and others you’ll prefer to steer clear from. After playing a wide range of games in my short tenure as a gamer, I know what my strengths and weaknesses are. One of my biggest weaknesses are platformers. I’ve never been good with wall jumps or timed jumps that make up most Mario games and others of that type. This is why I mostly avoid them for fear of never really finishing the game, or if I have finished one, it’s almost always with a bit of help from the gamers in my life who are better at these than I am. But when faced with a game that has been given to me as a present, I’m more inclined to try and finish it. This is my current situation with Ori and the Blind Forest.
Originally released in 2015 for Windows and Xbox One, Ori and the Blind Forest became available to play on the Nintendo Switch in 2019. Like all other games that first come out Ori and the Blind Forest was a critical hit and a must-play. The images released from the game were beautiful and reminded me of a well-drawn, animated storybook come to life. When I heard Ori and the Blind Forest was a platform-adventure game, the word “platform” alone was enough to give it an immediate pass. I already knew where my strengths in gaming were and platformers, along with puzzle games, weren’t one of them. Then this past Christmas my older sister thoughtfully gifted me with two highly regarded games, and if you guessed Ori and the Blind Forest for the Nintendo Switch as one of them, you’d be right.
Whenever someone in my life spends the time and money to give me a game I may not necessarily have asked for, but knew it would be a worthy one to have in my backlog, there is a strong desire on my part to play and beat the game. If I don’t there’s a sense of guilt I feel for letting a game go neglected after a friend or family member carefully picked it out just for me. Granted I have just way too many games to play now, but it’s a concerted effort to try and prioritize the ones I received as gifts.
Over the past month I’ve been adding a few hours into playing Ori and the Blind Forest. As I expected the game itself is a beauty to behold from the first and very emotional opening scenes. The story follows a guardian spirit named Ori, with the assistance of a small orb called Sein, who is tasked with restoring a dying forest back to life. As Ori you collect valuable upgrades scattered throughout the forest that will help you along on your journey.
Despite playing on easy mode, because I can’t imagine trying to tackle this game on normal or higher with my poor platformer skills, Ori and the Blind Forest is still a challenging game for me to get through. Again, playing a game where the majority of it requires me to get from one high platform to the next with careful and timed jumps is my worst nightmare. What might probably take a better player about 2-3 minutes to make the jump, it would take me 20 minutes or an hour to finish one section. Once I achieve one hurdle in the game I’m pretty much ready to call it a day.
As frustrating as playing a platformer like Ori and the Blind Forest is I’m willing to try and beat this one, albeit very very slowly. When I’m not about ready to tear my hair out after Ori dies for the umpteenth time or I can’t make a somewhat complicated jump, it is a beautiful world to spend time in. It’s a small consolation for someone like me who has a steep learning curve with platform games.
Have you played Ori and the Blind Forest? What do you love or hate about the game?
As CD Projekt Red’s Cyberpunk 2077 continues to be mired in lawsuits and new issues with the game, I have continued my journey through Night City undeterred. Playing as the mercenary V I have tackled the plethora of side jobs the game has, while leveling up and raising V’s street cred. An open world game as big as Cyberpunk 2077 is you’re bound to get lost in it, and spend more time doing other things instead of really playing the game. Cyberpunk 2077’s photo mode has served as the biggest distraction of all but one I come back to every time I play.
Writing a fantasy world from scratch can be equal parts fun and challenging. Anything is possible and nothing is impossible when you’re building a new world. But trying to decide what the structures look like, who inhabits the world, and what are the laws the denizens of that world abide by can feel like a pretty gargantuan undertaking for any budding writer. While writers may have a clear picture in their heads of the kind of world their main character will be spending most of their time in, it’s also useful to have some visual aids to make the process of world building a bit easier. This is why Pinterest has been largely useful when I’m working on my YA fantasy novel.
A new year means new possibilities and a chance to set some new goals. While we’re nearing the end of January (time flies!), and 2021 is still feeling a lot like 2020, I’ve already begun to add a number of things on my roster as far as leisure pursuits go. Here’s how I’m kicking off my 2021 in video games, TV, and books.
CD Projekt Red’s newest video game Cyberpunk 2077 was the anticipated game on almost every gamer’s wish list. When it finally came out on December 10, 2020 it was revealed to be a buggy and nearly unplayable game for most players, especially if you were playing it on the last gen consoles and not the latest ones. As unexpectedly contentious as Cyberpunk 2077 has been since its release, I had the opportunity to play some of it during the holiday break I had in December on my Xbox One console. What I’ve experienced so far has been fun and enjoyable in spite of the game’s flaws.
New Year’s week often puts me in a reflective mood. I like taking the time to think about all I have accomplished and what I can do to improve in the new year. We all know by now that 2020 was not the year we expected or wished for, especially not how we imagined a new decade should begin. Despite the misery and bitterness this year has brought many of us to varying degrees, there have been some things about 2020 I can’t totally write off.
Interactive, point and click narrative video games are one of my favorite types to play, especially when key decisions in a game will shape how your story unfolds and ends. One of the developers who have been doing an impressive job of creating memorable stories and characters is Dontnod Entertainment. When Twin Mirror came out on December 1st I was eager to check out what new adventure the studio behind Life Is Strange and the recent Tell Me Why will be taking players on this time.