Organization is a virtue.
A Great and Terrible Beauty (Gemma Doyle): Victorian schoolgirls and Wicca! In a nod to historical writing, the author avoided actual research and threw in lumps of racism instead.
Animorphs: If you don’t already know, I’m not sure what to tell you. People morph into animals to fight brainslugs.
Baltimore (Comics): Cool setting, questionable execution, lot of women getting tortured to death.
Battle Royale: The original childmurder games novel. Recommended.
Beautiful Creatures: Everything is binding and nothing is binding and everyone rushes around going nowhere while shouting about time limits.
Chosen of the Sun (Exalted): The first Exalted tie-in novel. Full of setting confusion, too many characters, and a plot revolving around finding the legendary +1 sword. The second book, Beloved of the Dead, continues this fine tradition, but perhaps Children of the Dragon will involve them actually getting the sword, maybe!
Darkest Powers trilogy: Chloe can see ghosts and do other necromancy things! The plot crawls along about teen drama instead and eventually lurches to a stop without resolving anything much. Bonus mental health failures abound.
Divergent: Set in the blasted wasteland (?) of Chicago, civilization has split into five factions but the main character is divergent (?) which is bad because she fits into more than one, or can hack simulations, or isn’t controllable, or something. Also, everyone hates Abnegation just as much as Abnegation hates prosperity and joy, but they should still totally run things. The movie improves on some of this at the cost of problems elsewhere, Four’s side-story retelling of an event is just flat out awful, and his longer prequel side story Transfer rehashes what we knew already. The sequel Insurgent is completely incoherent, and the final book Allegiant is just boring with a side of racist.
Dresden Files: Storm Front is badly plotted, extremely sexist, and doesn’t even have a good magic system. Does have an RPG, though. It also has a graphic novel spinoff, covered by SpoonyViking here. Fool Moon is the author thinking the joke of calling women bitches was worth an entire novel. Grave Peril returns to the Storm Front’s mere extreme sexism but makes up for it with an even more hateful main character and not even pretending to engage with the supposed detective elements. Summer Knight is currently in progress.
Fanfiction: Lest we forget our roots.
- Pokemon: Where it all began.
- Homestuck: Primarily involving the best characters, carapaces.
- Undertale: How many ways can the internet squander a story so perfectly suited for fanfic?
- Gravity Falls: THE AUs SHALL FALL BEFORE MY FURY
- Author Responses: Like a dialogue, but with extra swearing.
Graceling: Well meaning attempt at a feminist message that mostly revolves around guys and is full of terrible attempts at characterization, with bonus research fail. Also demonstrates that no matter how simple and straightforward a magic system, authors can still screw it up. Its sort-of sequel Fire is an even more poorly constructed mess, but the third book, Bitterblue, is surprisingly good and corrects all the major issues of the previous two.
The Host: By the author of Twilight. Starts off surprisingly good, maintains it for another ten chapters or so, then takes a nosedive into Failureville where it crashes and burns. The movie manages to be generally worse somehow, though there’s less wifebeating in it.
Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay: The one that started it all. Recced to me due to feminism and worldbuilding, contains a nonsensical world full of basic research failings with a murderhappy protagonist forced into a relationship where she’s constantly criticized for not loving him back enough. The first movie is an improvement, and the second even more of one.
Legend of Korra: How quickly can the sequel to a beloved show destroy all my goodwill?
Matched: In a poorly thought out dystopia with all sorts of problems going around in the background, the heroine just goes on about how in love with a boy she is. Its sequel, Crossed, has all of its many flaws and not one of its few virtues, and the final book Reached is a completely different book clumsily stapled to the previous two.
Magnus: Robot Fighter (Comics): It’s so hard being a kung-fu white guy, and it is you who is the racist if you think otherwise, PC police!!! Also feminists are just brainwashed Uncle Toms because women are dumb like that. Now, let’s murder more robots because they’re an inferior race.
Pokemon Black and Pokemon Black 2: A new generation of pokemon, with an absurd plot, a tutorial mode that lasts most of the game, cutscenes that will not end, and constant usurping of my spotlight by Douchy McFlamehair.
Pokemon Blue: The first and best! A run through of the original game and all the million things the players back then believed, in the original colors.
Pokemon Moon: Perhaps the most well-realized world, more evenhanded with the outfits and in a climate where being half-naked is just common sense, all sorts of dark/realistic themes…and the worst railroading we’ve seen yet.
Pokemon Omega Ruby: Utterly beautiful, mostly coherent plotwise, great mechanics that allow me to try out hidden abilities and get my first two legit shinies ever, a painful step backward with gender, and surprise genocide that’s never even properly condemned.
Pokemon X: A huge leap in graphics, minigames, cuteness, and being brain-meltingly easy.
Pokemon Yellow: Pika, pikachu!
The Reconstruction: An RPG Maker game that claims to subvert expectations. The plot is a nonsensical string of cliches filled with far, far too many insufferable stock characters, but there is a cool battle system. Has a generally better sequel, The Drop. Its prequel I Miss the Sunrise is much more polished, but retains many of the same underlying problems while losing sight of the original’s few virtues.
Southern Reach: Astounding environmental horror.
Unwind: Pro-life apologism mixed with organ donation mixed with all-purpose author incompetence. Bonus rape. Also gets a sidestory, Unstrung, about the magical leprechauns who decided to unwind animals instead, but only in the dumbest way possible. The next book, UnWholly, does not improve things.
Wither: In a future where people die young, women are kidnapped by rich men for wives in a way that is definitely not rape at all. And raped thirteen year olds are worse than rapist kidnappers. Fever manages to have even shoddier worldbuilding and jam in more (and younger) rape, and Sever is just a long stream of hateful nonsense with occasional attempts to wrap up the plot as shoddily as possible.
World War Z: Recommended to me as a realistic take on the zombie apocalypse. Is anything but.
100 Floors: They evidently wanted their gimmick of saying their game had a hundred floors more than they wanted a good game.
Alter A.I.L.A. Genesis: Fun sci-fi RPG with clever and original gameplay ideas.
Always Sometimes Monsters: Everything and everyone is horrible, and you have to do boring, repetitive jobs for hours to get anywhere. It’s realistic!
American Chestnut: THIS IS THE BEST NEWS YOU WILL HEAR
Amnesia The Dark Descent: Absolutely terrorizing and utterly brilliant.
Among the Sleep:
A Nightmare in Sunnydale: Fantasy adventure crossover between lots of 90’s TV franchises, starring Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Attack on Titan/Shingeki no Kyojin: The best and most interesting horror comes from things that are inexplicable and people that struggle to understand them.
Augie and the Green Knight: This is a really cute book.
A Very Long Rope to the Top of the Sky: A pretty standard jRPG that starts strong, meanders for a while, then ends with a whimper. Also, depressed orphans are the real evil.
Axiom Verge: Trippy mindscrew Metroidvania with a surprisingly coherent plot!
Beauty Queens: Funny and clever absurdist take on the intersection between feminism and beauty pageants.
Be the Slender Man: Not even interestingly bad.
The Big Bang Theory: is a terrible show.
Bionic Heart: What’s wrong with dating games for guys.
The Black Tapes: Won’t do anything more interesting than regular “real” paranormal events, in which case why admit to being fiction?
BoJack Horseman: Is it good to realistically portray depression if you can’t offer any hope?
Boogiepop Phantom: Strange, confusing, and utterly amazing.
Brave Hero Yuusha: Metafiction without a point.
Bundle For Racial Justice and Equality: In 2020, indie game devs released a bundle to fundraise for Black Lives Matter. It was huge. Part 1, Part 2, Part 3.
Castlevania (TV series):
Christmas Steam Games (2016): To the Moon, Helen’s Mysterious Castle, LiEat, Sunless Sea.
Christmas Steam Games (2017): Anodyne, Thomas Was Alone, Ossuary, Dreaming Sarah.
Christmas Steam Games (2018) Recs: Hollow Knight, Recursed, Ittle Dew 2, The Dweller, Zasa: An AI Story, NO THING, Quell, Qbik, Reveal the Deep.
Christmas Steam Games (2018) Pans: Crown Champion, Sojourner, TAURONOS, Forever Home.
Christmas Steam Games (2019): Hexcells, Her Story, Momodora: Reverie Under the Moonlight, Gravitas, Disoriented, OVIVO.
Christmas Steam Games (2020) Recs: Ittle Dew, Mini Ghost, Papers Please, Pyre, Out There Somewhere, Toki Tori 2, Antichamber.
Christmas Steam Games (2020) Pans: Pinstripe, TIMEframe, Mages of Mystralia.
Cinders: Feminist Cinderella visual novel!
Clock of Atonement: A game with the shocking revelation that repeatedly murdering an innocent woman makes you a bad person.
Composition 83: Wow. Just…wow.
The Crooked Man: Pretty amazing freeware game.
Crossed (comic): What you need to understand is comics can be vile.
Darkest Dungeon: Party-based Lovecraftian roguelike. Complete expeditions before your heroes go insane! Interesting concept, but far too much grinding and RNG.
Daughter of Smoke and Bone: Want wish fulfillment urban fantasy? This has you covered.
Dear Red: Beautiful promotional art and nothing more.
Defender’s Quest: RPG story style tower defense.
Delirium: Somehow manages to be agonizingly boring despite its horrifying setup.
Depression Quest: A really good look at depression.
The Desolate Hospital: Pretty art and a couple spooky bits, otherwise terrible.
Devil May Cry 1: You can still have horror with infinite bullets and a giant sword.
Devil Survivor (Shin Megami Tensei): Fun game mechanics, great characters, weird views on Christianity.
Devil Survivor 2: Boring characters, boring plot, boring centrist propaganda.
Digimon World Re:Digitize: What happens when design-by-committee tries to cash in on nostalgia without understanding what made the original appealing in the first place. The 3DS remake makes superficial improvements without fixing any of the core problems.
Doctor Strange: Gorgeous special effects, and they really tried to do their best with the comic’s bad origin story, but it’s otherwise a disastrous mess of a film.
Doki Doki Literature Club, Meatloaf Cupcakes, and the Unexpected: How do you balance spoilers and content warnings?
Dororo: An enjoyable anime with an interesting character dynamic…and some dire fridging issues.
Dragon Age, Choices, and Railroading: I am so sick of killing people.
Dreaming Mary: A really well done game. Check it out!
Eat Me: Delightfully written, unusually comprehensible text game.
Edge of Tomorrow: An enjoyable, videogamey romp.
Empowered: The better-than-it-sounds adventure of an oft-distressed heroine.
Eon: Rise of the Dragoneye: Asian flavored fantasy that starts good and ends terrible.
Eona: The Last Dragoneye: The same thing, but without the part where it isn’t terrible.
Erfworld, Fate, and Poor Planning: Discussing some (very bad) plot choices.
ERROR: Human Not Found: Cliche storm sci-fi that tries and fails to say something interesting about the personhood of AIs.
Ever17: A visual novel so ridiculous it seems like a parody.
Exogenesis demo: Dubiously coherent, rather sexist.
The Fall: Tries to say some interesting things about AIs, confusingly executed.
FATAL: The infamous.
Fatal Hearts: A visual novel with vampires, impossibly hard minigames, and nonsense choices, oh my!
FATE System: A quality generic TRPG.
Fey: A neat little action adventure game made in RPG Maker 2003.
Final Fantasy X: Primarily on worldbuilding and a plot rewrite.
Final Fantasy Tactics, or, What Are the Real Monsters?: Ruminations on a particularly annoying bait-and-switch common to fantasy RPGs.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Examining the differences between the source and the adaptation. What directions do people take stories in when they only have the opening to go on?
Gamergate: Is bad and I’ll stand by that.
The Gamers: Hands of Fate: Gender issues in gamer movies.
Ghost Party: Cute, fun, and packed with delicious flavor text.
The God of Crawling Eyes: Clever concept and nice art, little else going for it.
Hacknet: A game about hacking that features no actual hacking.
HEARTBEAT: Reaches heretofore unplumbed levels of incoherence, also a TERFy cryptofascist dumpster fire. The video game community inexplicably thinks this is revolutionary.
Hellbound: Campy “God is evil” fantasy with surprisingly nuanced handling of mental illness.
Hello? Hell…o?: Well done horror game with a clever mechanic.
Heroes of Might and Magic: An in-depth look at the tactical RPG series.
Heroes, Power Fantasies, and The Legend of Zelda: Chasing a heroism high to the detriment of actual storytelling.
HOME: Fix-it fic style game for OFF that just screws up far far worse.
The Horror of Debate: There’s a point you need to disengage.
I am a Hero: Zombie manga with some unconventional choices.
Ib: Very well done RPGmaker puzzle/horror game.
Iconoclasts: Dubiously coherent not-Metroidvania. Something something capitalism, something something oil crisis.
Immortal Defense: Unusual tower defense game.
It Moves: A game that alternates a creepypasta story and a bunch of disconnected levels.
Jimmy and the Pulsating Mass: A genuinely well-balanced cutesy-horror RPG that can’t stick the landing. Cool ideas, cliched non-ending that doesn’t do much with them.
John Dies at the End: Why I am not going to read that far.
Journey to Northpass: Parody RPG focused on flipping gender roles. Only scratches the surface, and includes some problematic jokes about boys in dresses.
Killer Bear: You can’t parody shitty slasher film writing by just writing more shit yourself.
Kill la Kill:
Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts: Extruded Cartoon Product.
Kuroshitsuji Movie: A joy. And one with great female characters.
Lamentations of the Flame Princess: Weird horror RPG adventures.
Lasting, or What is Horror in Games?: Horror isn’t just about gore and death, and here’s why.
Last Scenario: A really good and intensely difficult RPG.
Lavender Legend: A particularly shitty bait-and-switch, with bonus sexism.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild: A good entry into the franchise that pulls off the open world surprisingly well, but at the cost of a lot of more traditional Zelda elements.
Lion of the Tribe of Judah: Jesus christ is some music about Jesus Christ absolutely terrifying.
Lisa “The First”: Had some interesting concepts, but also hamhanded sexual abuse.
Little Nightmares: A skillful atmospheric horror movie clumsily shaped into a game.
local58.info: Creepypasta modern horror combined with actual skill and effort.
Logical Journey of the Zoombinis: Fun kid’s logic game. The sequels are less impressive.
The Logomancer: While by no means flawless, it is a gem by the standards of free RPGMaker games and, terrible art aside, it can stand up to many commercial games as well.
Long Live The Queen: A princess raising sim where one wrong move gets her killed.
Mad Father: A well-polished horror game that’s a mess of bad design decisions.
The Magnus Archives: Podcast of an institute devoted to archiving snippets of when the world goes wrong.
Maleficent: Surprisingly feminist and enjoyable!
Mario & Luigi: Superstar Saga: A really fun and cute Mario RPG! Got a little repetitive towards the end, but otherwise has great twists on the RPG formula to keep things fun and engaging.
Martian Death Mystery: Quality creepiness.
Maze Runner: I have read a lot of bad books, but I am honestly baffled this was published.
Mermaid Swamp: A gruesome and disturbing horror game with a lot of clever ideas, but comes to a lackluster ending.
Middens, Meows, and Separating Reality from Fiction: You make something meow and I can’t hurt it.
Milk for the Ugly, annie96 is typing, & Format in Horror Stories:
The Mirror Lied: An extremely short, very intriguing and well made game with a poor ending.
Misao: Short horror game where just about everything kills you. Decent plot.
Monster, and False Advertising: A doctor chooses to save a kid over a politician, but the kid becomes a serial killer! The actual story is about none of those things.
The Moon Sliver: While a lot of the reviewers seem more impressed by the current helplessness of the character, it was the long-established hopelessness of the whole world that stuck with me.
Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit: The surprisingly grounded fantasy story of a female bodyguard.
Mortal Engines: Moving cities that devour each other. Just go with it. Sequel is the same thing.
Mownt: For Peace: We’re going to show you a narrative that’s nothing but misery, but also you’re dumb for focusing on the misery.
Nachtigal: This was haunting, but not in a good way. An abused girl stumbles into brand-new abusive relationships but who cares about her when the boys are sad?
Night in the Woods: Realism done right.
OFF: A well done game overall with a fascinating setting but fumbled conclusion.
Outlast: Immersive and disturbing, but presents the mentally ill as corpsefucking psychopaths.
Oz the Great and Powerful: Why this movie is a stain upon existence.
Paper Mario: Funny and adorable, with great characters. Interesting mechanics, but did get a bit repetitive towards the end, moreso than Superstar Saga.
Paranoiac: Okay horror with some unnecessarily frustrating parts.
Perfected: Like Wither, but just regular bad, not weapons-grade.
Planet Stronghold: Hilariously bad, also a grindfest.
Pokemon Character Thread: Still think this is a bad idea, for the record.
Pokemon GO outfits: What is and what was and what could have been.
Pokemon Miscellaneous: Posts involving sexism in the games.
Pokemon ORAS Sprites: There are some problems.
Pokemon RMN: So much polish put into something that really didn’t have much underneath.
Prom Dreams: Really good atmosphere/well populated world/slow-build for the horror, but a number of problems in execution.
Quick Recs: Bonfire, Majesty: The Fantasy Kingdom Sim, The Blue Contestant, The Heart Pumps Clay, Crazegames, Midnight’s Children.
Quick Recs 2: RPGMaker: Grist of Flies, Red Syndrome, Born Under the Rain, Sunken Spire, Null Regrets.
Quick Recs 3: Webcomics: Dumbing of Age, Awkward Zombie, Polokoa Quest, Leftover Soup.
Quick Recs: Anime: Trigun, The Vision of Escaflowne, Mob Psycho 100.
Reap and Sow: A handful of lovely ideas in a very incomplete demo.
Re Kinder: So many promises of good ideas, so much failure to have them actually in the game.
The Sandman: Sequel to The Crooked Man. Recommended.
Schuld/Guilt: Some clever ideas and settings followed by disappointment and cliche.
Science Girls!: Girls from a high school science club fight aliens! Despite the great premise, completely fails at both gameplay and story.
Seeds of Wither: A short story with Rose, set before Wither begins.
Shadow of Mordor: In which torture and mind-control is a mark of heroism.
The Sick Land: Intensely disturbing. Recommended.
Siddhartha: Morally bankrupt.
Skinwalker: Successfully unsettling horror. Flawed, but short enough to be worth it.
Skyline: What alien conservationists would look like.
The Spirit Engine II: Extremely difficult RPG with interesting mechanics and characters.
Spooky’s House of Jumpscares: There’s a purpose to the repetitiveness of a thousand rooms that’s leveraged in some interesting ways. And yet…it’s still incredibly repetitive and full of padding.
Soma Spirits: Morality is really complex and all choices are valid! Now pick the True Ending or else you’re a horrible person. The remake does not improve things.
The Stanley Parable, or, What is Metacommentary?: Pointing out the wires often isn’t enjoyable for anyone else.
Star Trek and Superman movies: What did they have in common? Disregard for human life.
Stasis: A point and click game with gorgeously bleak atmosphere and even more gorgeously bleak prose popping up whenever you mouse over things. It does not live up to any of its promise, but the promise alone is worth a look.
Steven Universe: Steven Universe is an experience. It starts slow. It becomes awesome. It ends terrible.
Summon Night: Twin Age: Amateur writing, bland characters, completely fails to address its central conflict. Bonus sexist outifts.
Supergirl: It is worse than the prophets foretold.
Super Mario Odyssey: Gorgeous ideas and presentation, insubstantial gameplay.
Sword Art Online Abridged: It isn’t merely hilariously adapting a shitty anime into a string of jokes, it’s transforming it into something new and better.
Symbiosis: Completely failed to integrate gameplay and moral, plus it was a terrible moral.
The Talos Principle: Ostensibly about robots and the meaning of personhood, actually just a bunch of nonsensical platitudes about death that comes to no meaningful conclusion. Puzzles and DLC are cool though.
Telepath RPG: A well-written RPG with interesting mechanics.
Telepath Tactics: A mixed entry into the series.
Temeraire: Dragons in the Age of Sail.
Teragard: A cross section of poor RPG Maker design decisions.
The Tenth Line: “I routinely found myself getting lost from line to line in cutscenes, because nothing anyone said or did made the slightest bit of sense.”
Thor: God of Thunder: Fun platformer, fumbled attempt at feminism.
Thor: Tales of Asgard: Pretty decent save the sexism.
Trash Planet: Campy post-apocalyptic RPG from the creator of HELLBOUND. Good characters, wonky gameplay.
Twelve Forever: A really great coming-of-age story about kids who fear growing up and kids who want to grow up.
The Twilight Zone: The Midnight Sun & Thursday We Leave for Home are terrifying.
Two and a Half Men: Worse than Big Bang Theory.
The Uncle Who Works For Nintendo: What happens when CYOA and creepypasta have a beautiful baby together.
Undertale demo: Amazing.
Unworthy: Short but enjoyable Soulslike Metroidvania, though it’s not so much “like” Dark Souls as much as it copied it wholesale.
The Void: Gorgeous game with a weird story and some unnecessary nudity.
Wandersong: Cute and colorful adventure game about a bard who solves everything with the power of song! Also an incredibly bleak and depressing rumination on the end of existence.
The Witcher (Netflix), Misogyny, and Narrative Trust:
The Witch’s House: A generally solid game with a lot of clever bits, but hampered by sticking to certain game conventions that don’t work well in it.
The Witness: “Metroidvania” puzzle game where you learn puzzle mechanics non-linearly. Great idea, bogged down by poor execution and a lot of really annoying mechanics.
The Wolves in Dionaea: A text game getting into one aspect of the complicated lore of Rabbits of Downtrodden.
Worm: An extremely long, very inventive and clever superhero story…that is mostly about the universe shitting on the protagonist regardless of what she does.
WWZ the movie: Nothing much to do with the book, but pretty good itself.
Yahtzee’s Dev Diary: In 2019, Yahtzee Croshaw (of Zero Punctuation) challenged himself to make 12 games in 12 months. My favorite was “The Life of Erich Zann”.
Yo-Kai Watch: Is not a Pokemon clone, but accomplishes this by removing everything good about Pokemon and doubling down on its worst mechanics. Fun monster designs, though.
Also, there’s fanfic. For Hunger Games, I wrote Fox Games, where there’s no clause limiting things to district partner. For more on the subject, there’s also Zero Sum by Ember Keelty. I also wrote a Wither fanfic about advice for daughters in the world. My brother wrote I Miss the Sunrise fanfic: Monsters, a reimagining of Tezkhra’s character arc; At the End of Everything, an AU alternate ending based on his proposed plot rewrite; and The Reconstruction fanfic: The Cure For Nothing, a Qualstio character study. We both wrote additional Steven Universe meta and an ending rewrite, The Darkness Between Stars.
If you enjoy the idea of Let’s Reads, you may also like Dodging the Anvil, doing The Taking; Point Stick, Vent Spleen doing Rowling works that aren’t Harry Potter as well as Homecoming by OSC; Something Short and Snappy is doing other OSC works; Doing in the Wizard has a wide mix of media reviews and hatred; Reading With a Vengeance has a similar YA focus with bonus writing tips, a quick sporky summary of Eragon; and more positively, a readthrough of Casual Vacancy.