Cube Drone’s List
Every year, near the end, I try to make a list of the media that I’ve personally found most impactful. This isn’t a “best of the year” because, of course, best is a wildly subjective term and I maybe only got around to sampling about 10% of the content in any given year, anyways.
Hades. It’s Hades, no question. I’ve always found Supergiant wildly inspirational. I want to be Supergiant. Hey Supergiant, do you need a pretty good backend integration engineer? Maybe your next game should be a MMO, have you thought of that?
You’ve probably read enough people effusively praise Hades at this point. It’s the best parts of Dead Cells, it manages to wrap a narrative framework around the game’s endlessly-repeating-loop that’s satisfying and thematically appropriate - not even a hint of ludonarrative dissonance here.*
* Imagine when I’m saying “ludonarrative dissonance” I’m saying it with the faux-haughty “condescending thesaurus” voice of a HackerNews comment come to life.
I’ve seen some people arguing that Hades is not just the best indie game of 2020, but the best indie game ever made. Which, uh, I don’t necessarily agree with - that’s obviously either Minecraft, which I didn’t really care for, but dominated the world and made eleventy fo-jillion dollars, Undertale, whose music was so instantly catchy that its entire soundtrack immediately crashed, whole, into the “video game music standards canon”, or Stardew Valley, which is utterly perfect.
Other Games I Loved
There is no Game: Wrong Dimension was charming enough that I wrote a whole post about it.
Paradise Killer, the cosmic horror vaporwave detective game (yes, that is what it is) deserves a whole post, too.
Despite not being “of 2020”, I still played a bunch of Cities: Skylines and Sims 4, because these games are reliably great and consistently updated.
Wolfwalkers, no contest.
Cartoon Saloon and Laika (and Aardman Animation) aren’t really “indies” - they’re full-on studios - but relatively small studios that punch way out of their weight class using virtuoso technique in more traditional media (2D animation and stop motion, respectively).
Cartoon Saloon has primed me to expect bittersweet endings from their movies. This is not a studio who’s movies tend toward saccharine outcomes - which had me actively worried and engaged all the way through this film, because I felt the very real concern that they were going to kill off at least one major character to really seal in some tragedy.
So: it was good, rul good. Go watch it.
Other Good Movies
I … didn’t watch an awful lot of good movies this year.
I really liked the Disney+ recording of Hamilton. Like, more than I expected I would. American History? That’s not even the country what I live in. But heck, good musicals are few and far between.
Some Great Youtube Clips
this isn’t even a ranking, I just usually end the year by grabbing a bunch of stuff out of my youtube history and going “ha ha, that WAS funny”.
This works surprisingly well. Heavy metal and fire and brimstone preachers - who knew!
This Three-Cheese Pizza Blend recipe makes my list every single year. I will maintain that it is the single best YouTube video ever made.
This clip is made awesome by the fake documentary on the arrival of the “circle” in Canada, the bold new shape that took the colony by storm.
Wow, what an entirely-too-many of Youtube videos. Okay, let’s move on to Voxel’s list.
Best Netflix Series Soundtrack: Umbrella Academy - Season 2
Best Ongoing Comedy Series: What We do In The Shadows
Best Webtoon-turned-Kdrama-that-felt-like-a-live-action-anime: Sweet Home
Best 90s Teen Film Rebooted as a Horror Film: Freaky
Worst 90s Horror Film Rebooted as a Teen Film: The Craft: Legacy
Worst Damn Adaptation Of “The Turning of the Screw”: The Turning
Most Mediocre Things Watched Out of Boredom: Space Force, Tiger King, Queen’s Gambit, The Flight Attendant
Things that Made Me Engage with Apple+: Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet, Servant, Central Park, WolfWalkers (I love this studio and everything they do.)
Best Horror That Stoked my Fear of Growing Old: Relic
Best Historical Drama: Mrs. America
(Pictured: the real Phyllis Schlafly and Gloria Stienem and their actor dopplegangers from the series, Cate-Blanchet and Rose Byrne)
Best Older Things I Finallly saw Because New Seasons Came Out During Covid: Big Mouth, The Boys, Pen15, Dead to Me
Best Series Wrap-up: The Good Place
Best Musicians That I Didn’t Know Existed Last Year
Angie & Harrison
Best Hot Take on WAP:
Best New Albums from Old Artists
Such Pretty Forks in the Road: Alanis Morisette -
Miss Anthropocene - Grimes (She’s gone extra weird since marrying Elon Musk, but I still can’t help but like a lot of her old stuff and some of the new, and she’s a hometown Vancouver girl… -
(Cube Edit: oh yeah, this was the music video where I kept trying to process the cipher language while I was watching it, like with Al’Bhed, I liked that)
Best Game if you Overlook Horrific Working Conditions and the Entire Release Being Overshadowed by Trolls: Last of Us II
Runners Up: Ori & The Will of the Wisps, Atomicrops, Animal Crossing: Horizons, Divinity 2, Gloomhaven, I haven’t gotten to Hades yet much, but I feel like I’ve watched Cube Drone play it so much that I’ve mostly experienced it vicariously at this point.
Best Clone of Breath of the Wild with a Greek Skin Over Top: Immortal Fenyx Rising
Games I Keep Meaning to Get To: Spiritfarer, Outer Wilds, The Witness, Don’t Starve Hamlet, The Outlast games, The Evil Within Games, Metro: Exodus, Hellbalde: Senua’s Sacrifice in VR, Walking Dead: Saints and Sinners in Vr
Games I started this year that didn’t stick at all; like I tried, and people said they liked them but… nah: Kentucky Route Zero, Planet Zoo, Greedfall, Graveyard Keeper
Games I’m looking forward to in the New Year: Dying Light 2, Little Nightmares 2, Baldur’s Gate 3, Prince of Persia remake (?), Boyfriend Dungeon, Far Cry 6, Resident Evil 8, Horizon Forbidden West, Fable 4, Everwild, Beyond Good and Evil 2, Diablo 4
DLC in the New Year: Mortal Kombat 11 (FINALLY, Mileena!!! Whoop whoop! And… Rambo, for some reason ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ )