Quick Look – The Good Life (#SimulatorGameDec)

Since I like mysteries, life sim gameplay, taking photographs, and adorable animals, I thought The Good Life would be a slam-dunk for me. Honestly, the game has good bones, and all the pieces should work really well together. After five hours of playtime, however, I am put off by awkward controls, unsatisfying photography, unlikable characters, and an absurd amount of mechanic bloat. I don’t expect this is a game I will be going back to.

The player character is photo-journalist Naomi Hayward, whose signature phrase seems to be “A GODDAMNED HELLHOLE” and I am so very tired of hearing her say that already. She’s been sent by her employer to uncover the mysteries of Rainy Woods, the self-proclaimed “Happiest Town on Earth”, somewhere in rural England. I think the big mystery is supposed to be about how the townsfolk turn into cats & dogs at night, and I would apologize for the spoilers, but it’s also in the first paragraph of the game description on Steam, so…

If you’re already thinking, ok, this is a little weird, I’d draw your attention to the fact that this game was developed by the same person who made Deadly Premonition, and then tell you – it gets weirder. It doesn’t just embrace its weirdness, it wears it like a badge of honor.

Then of course, there’s a dead body.


The Good Life leans heavily into adventure game tropes, which by itself, I don’t have a problem with. The Good Life should feel free to be an adventure game if that’s what it wants. However, it gets in its own way over and over with non-adventure game mechanics that are, at best, distracting, at and worse, suck every drop of fun to be had right out of the game.

There’s a lot of focus on earning money – via quest completion (both for townsfolk and for your employer) as well as from taking photographs that align with popular hashtags and uploading them to social media. Hey, a need to have money to pay of a ridiculous amount of debt is a great motivation. The problem here is twofold. One, some of the “life sim” aspects mean you’re spending money faster than you can make it (you’re going to need a lot of food, and I’ve already had to go the doctor multiple times to cure ailments), and two, quest items and necessary camera upgrades are prohibitively expensive. If you’re the type who just wants to follow the story and do quests, well, too bad, because you need to spend an absurd amount of time doing things to make pennies, and most of those pennies will probably go back into buying food so you don’t pass out from starvation.

Also, at least in the early game, traveling around the map is going to eat up a huge chunk of your day. Your home isn’t so much far from the action, but it is somewhat awkwardly placed, and is the only place you can manually save. You can conserve your financial resources a bit by cooking items you find or grow in your garden, but if there’s a way to store pre-made food in your inventory to eat while you’re on the other side of the world, I haven’t discovered it. I found myself frequently wandering away from the active storyline in order to go home, eat, sleep, shower, and check my email. Which is annoying in and of itself, but the main story will occasionally drop you into “urgent” quests, which is bad because you don’t know when they’re coming, and some are rather long. If you haven’t recently refilled your needs meters, you may find yourself stuck and having to revert to an earlier save.

But the final straw for me is that I really am tired of listening to my player character. One of the last sections I played through has her screaming “YEAH BABY” over and over to the point where I almost turned the sound off. There’s another character who shows up way too often for my taste who just screams “LOBSTAH!” over and over and I hate him. I think you’re supposed to hate him, but not enough to want to turn the game off.

Look, I’d like to solve the mystery of Rainy Woods. I really would. Even though the humor is very much not to my tastes, I am fascinated by the world that’s been built, but not fascinated enough to have to jump through all the assorted hoops that are in my way. There are a lot of hoops, and the end of each play session had me more frustrated than entertained.

Nerd Girl Goals – December 2021 (#SimulatorGameDec)

Ah, the last Nerd Girl Goals of 2021. I am very much looking forward to changing at least a few things up in the coming year, but for now, let’s talk about December, the month of “nothing ever goes according to plan”!

GAMING

Really, my only goal for December is to be present for our raid groups’ next Sylvanas kill. Sure, there’s lots of stuff I can (and maybe even should) be working on, but I’m not going to put a whole lot of pressure on myself at the time of year I’m most prone to burn out of every type. I may finally get around to the rest of the 9.1 story, I might just fool around in BFA Islands, or I may just raid-log this month. Any of that is going to be fine with me.

Community Game-Along – #SimulatorGameDec

Picking a main “goal” game under the Simulation umbrella was hard – my library in this genre is deep. However, I’ve been procrastinating starting up Planet Zoo, so I decided to put that at the top of the list for the month.

Subscription Game Service – XBox GamePass for PC

However, I also expect I’ll be playing some Evil Genius 2: World Domination as well on GamePass this month. I have fond memories of the Evil Genius game from 2004, but I don’t really remember ever getting very far. I don’t honestly know what to expect from this one – reviews have been all over the place, there’s a bunch of weird paid DLC, and … I’m not sure I’m enthused enough about it to drop real money on it. Which, really, is exactly why I keep my GamePass sub most of the time.


As has become my habit, I am not adding anything else significant to my December goals. What I do want to make some time to do, however, is make some notes about what I’d like to change about the blog in the coming year. I really enjoyed the posts I did during Blaugust about what was working for me, and what ideas I had that didn’t really pan out the way I’d hoped. I am finding that I’m not putting the energy into this that I would prefer to be, and some of that is just getting in my own way.

In Review – November 2021

I may be feeling like I dropped the ball on a lot this month (although, I also was really overly ambitious!), my gaming hours were way up from last month!

Most notably, my WoW time was higher than it has been since I re-upped my subscription several months ago, and that’s almost entirely due to the 9.1.5 changes. Probably more than half that time was spent on Island Expeditions, and I’ve collected a bunch of pets, a handful of transmog items, and a whole bunch of doubloons. Which is great, but not as great as my guild taking down Sylvanas for the first time mid-month, but I unfortunately missed out on that particular raid night. I have completely moved back to my shaman full time, and I did enough Torghast to swap my legendary over to my cloak, so overall, decent progress on my goals in November.

I also played two games to completion this month, Unpacking and Grow: Song of the Evertree. Despite my best intentions, playing through Unpacking was the only use I got from my GamePass subscription this month, despite having downloaded quite a few games.

With the majority of my played time spend with World of Warcraft, Grow: Song of the Evertree, and Wildermyth, I didn’t spend a whole lot of time on #VNNovember; my first choice didn’t thrill me, and I never even loaded up any of my alternates. Although I plan to see it through the end of the year, I think I’m losing interest in keeping up with the Community Game-Along. It’s a great concept, but the themes often are a stretch for me, and I can’t help but feel like it works better for folks who stream than people like me, who just write about things when we’re done with them.


I’m a few days away from finishing up my cross-stitch project, and about a half dozen episodes from finishing up with Castle, so I’m on schedule with that at least. However, I’m resigned to missing my 2021 GoodReads goal (although I did finish two books in November), and I totally spaced on IntPiPoMo. I had some cool ideas, but I never put the pieces together. Going into the final month of 2021, I know I have to ease up on goal-setting, because December is almost always a difficult month for me.

With 2022 just around the corner, though, I’m starting to brainstorm a bit about what’s next.

Quick Look – T-Minus 30

Sometimes, I really like a game with a hard time limit. In T-Minus 30, you have 30 real time minutes to harvest resources, develop an infrastructure, and build as many rockets as you can to get people off the planet before it gets destroyed. You’re not going to save them all. You’re not going to even come close.

Including the one tutorial level, there are 10 different scenarios that, honestly, play just about the same; although I have yet to replay any so I’m not sure if they’re static or just themed. You can also generate custom maps. No matter the map you’re playing on, you have the exact same goal – build as many rockets as you can. The real longevity of the game comes from the scenario ratings – the more people you save, the more stars you get at the end of the level. There are even leaderboards if you want to see how you measure up to other players.

Unlike a lot of city building & resource management games, speed matters in T-Minus 30. It’s not a relaxing game, but the game play loop is satisfying, and I found myself desperately clicking as time ran out to try to save just a few more people.

Game Over – Grow: Song of the Evertree

I am usually firmly in the camp of “wait and see” when it comes to new releases, and I didn’t actually intend to pick up Grow: Song of the Evertree the day that it was available, despite having been excited for it since I saw it while watching Wholesome Direct back in June. It just so happened, however, that my roommate tested positive for COVID-19 the same day that the game came out, and I made the snap decision to pick it up for myself as something to maybe keep me occupied during isolation.

… and then I proceeded to play it for almost 30 hours over the next 5 days.

Grow is kind of an odd amalgamation of genres, but what it most closely reminded me of was Animal Crossing: New Horizons, if you weren’t restricted by the real time clock. You can expect to spend the majority of your time catching bugs & fish, playing with woodland critters, breaking rocks, and tending to plants. You start out with a single World Seed, which once planted, is – frankly – a big old mess of a place, but after three in-game days of tending, expands, and after nine in-game days is fully formed, and I’d say more than half of my game play hours were spent tending to this world (and the others that open up as you progress through the story).

There is also two other types of games mashed up in here – a rudimentary city / community builder, and some exploration & puzzle style game play, which is somewhat reminiscent of the Zelda games. What you won’t find is any combat at all – in fact, one could argue that you won’t find any challenge at all, and obviously, that makes the entire game play loop unsatisfying for some.

While it’s true that nothing in the entire game feels particularly difficult, I still found it all immensely satisfying. The story is just enough to hold the disparate pieces together, but it’s not particularly memorable. City building is looking at a list of tasks and working your way through them. Some of the exploration focused puzzles might have had some modicum of difficulty, but the game shows you all your objectives in a cut scene upon entering.

… and I still couldn’t stop playing.

The only part of the game I didn’t particularly enjoy was the villager quests. None of them were particularly interesting – with only a couple of exceptions, they were all of the “Bring me this item when you get one” variety. These quests could pretty much universally be ignored, however, although a couple of town building checklists had a line item to fulfill villager requests, it seemed like you could always reach 100% happiness & progress the story without completing all the requirements.

People who are particularly drawn to customization & decoration will likely get even more from the game than I did – there are tons of cosmetics you will either stumble upon during caring for your Worlds, or that you can buy from the associated business once you’ve built it. For me, decorating and customizing houses was something I did because I was required to, and let me tell you, I ended up with some seriously ugly buildings because of it.

The contents of each World you create are dictated by the ingredients you use to make the seed, so Worlds aren’t really customizable in the way that towns are. The plants, rocks, logs, and weeds you gather in one World can be deconstructed in your home to provide you with new essences, and the essence balance of each World determines what kinds of essences you get back out. For a good portion of the game, I was lacking in several kinds of essences, until I realized that you need to have a balance of different types of Worlds to get a good selection of essences.

You also have the option to sell the items you collect to the Everkin (who you are introduced to fairly early in the story) for a currency you can use to purchase essences you are missing, although the game never explicitly tells you this. Vendor essence availability is both random and limited, so the earlier you can manage to get some diverse worlds working, the easier time you’ll have for the rest of the game.

In the very early parts of the game, resource scarcity might be a little annoying, but it doesn’t last. In the latter half of the game, I could buy anything or build anything I wanted, and I probably rushed the end a little bit. I did get 18/22 achievements just from playing normally, and the only one I missed that would have been grindy was making all the Perfect World Seeds. As someone who isn’t that into exploring, I know I missed secret areas, but it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the game as a whole, and would provide more to do for someone who was into that sort of thing.

I don’t think Grow: Song of the Evertree is going to be a game for everyone, not by a long shot, and it’s certainly not a perfect game, but I found it to be completely satisfying. Give it a pass if you’re motivated by challenge, or if you get irritated by methodical, repetitive game play. For players who just want to make plants grow, pet animals, and chase bugs with a net in a pretty fantasy world, you will easily get your money’s worth from this one.

Quick Look – PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness (#VNNovember)

It’s been over a week now since I tried out PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness. I kept procrastinating writing about it, though, because I tried to tell myself I was going to go back to it. However, I’ve now accepted that, while it absolutely might be a great addition to someone who loves the anime it’s based on, it’s just not really for me, as someone completely unfamiliar with the constructs of the universe.

While you’re not exactly thrown into the middle of a story, the game doesn’t feel like it makes any attempt to introduce the player to the setting. Maybe that’s intentional – the character I chose to play as has a very specific sort of convenient amnesia. She can still function within the world, knows the rules of this society and her job, she just doesn’t remember anything about herself. It didn’t feel like that was any sort of attempt to allow the player to imprint themselves onto the playable character – I think that the protagonist’s story would have resolved on some level in the course of playing through the story. But it’s an odd set-up – if the character isn’t invested in herself, how is the player supposed to care?

I played through the first full chapter. I liked the procedural-ness of the game – making decisions about how to investigate a case with the risk of a wrong choice getting someone killed. But I couldn’t get past feeling detached from the setting. While it seems obvious that the characters would have a full understanding of the society they lived in, and their roles within in (weird-ass amnesia notwithstanding), I would have liked something like a “previously on” to get me up to speed.

Clearly, I’m just not the target market for this particular anime spin-off. It’s just unfortunate because even in my short play time, I could see how this could have come together to make it more enjoyable for newcomers. I have a soft spot for almost all media that revolves around solving a mystery, but I couldn’t chew my way through so much weirdness to get to the meat of this one.

Game Over – Unpacking

It was a pleasant surprise to see Unpacking pop up on XBox Game Pass for PC hours before it was slated to officially release, and on a night where I didn’t have much else that I needed to be doing. I didn’t intend to complete the game, mind, you just take a slightly closer look to see if – at least for me – it was something I’d want to spend enough time with to justify what felt like a rather steep asking price of $20.

Now, I don’t make games, and I don’t even have any aspirations to make games. Sure, I get an idea every now and then for something that I think would make for a fantastic game, but I wouldn’t have the slightest idea of where to start. What I do know is that every game takes infinitesimally more work than anyone who has never made a game could ever imagine.

This digression is a round about apology for what I’m about to say next: after playing from start to finish, I would be furious if I spent $20 on this one.

Which is not to say there were not parts of it I loved very much. The care that went into making sure the environmental storytelling was spot and would make the player feel something cannot be understated. In fact, I’d say that for me, the story was probably the best part of the game – it was masterfully crafted without actually saying much of anything at all. The only text in the entire game is a single sentence at the end of each level. Still, I feel like I learned a lot about the nameless protagonist to whom all of this stuff belonged throughout the years.

And at first, the gameplay is also immensely satisfying. But as there are more room to unpack, and more objects that just don’t seem to fit where the game wants you to put them, every level ended in a burst of frustration. Maybe it’s because I am a person who lives my life in clutter, but some of placement puzzles felt too rigid. Why can I put something on this windowsill, but not that one? Why can I move some of the stuff that’s already present, but not all of it? Why must the ice cream scoop live in a drawer instead of on a shelf? I realize it’s a game, and a game must have some sort of success and/or fail state, but I dreaded the last few minutes of each level. In a game that’s all about putting things where the player thinks they should be, I hated looking for the one or two items that the game insisted were still out of place, because damnit, isn’t the whole game about me – the player – deciding what to do with my things?

But my biggest gripe is the length of the game relative to its price point. I was done in less than three hours, and as I felt like the story was the best part of the game, I just don’t see it as having any replay value. Having followed the developers on Twitter, it felt as if the concept really resonated with people, and maybe they just set the price at what the market will bear, but I know I would have felt ripped off. For the asking price, I would expect a second (and maybe third) protagonist’s story. For the game I played, I’d expect a retail price of about $10, half of what the game sells for.

Truthfully, I’m kind of annoyed with myself for this way of thinking. I really have been enjoying compact but fulfilling experiences lately, and Unpacking came so close to hitting that mark for me. But in a world where there are so many games taking up space on my virtual shelves, I just don’t think I want to try to find a place for this one. I’m glad I played it, don’t get me wrong, but I have no need to carry it around with me.

Nerd Girl Goals – November 2021

Hopefully, November will be the month my will to play comes back, because it’s been conspicuously absent for well over a month now. Sure, I’ve been doing co-op stuff, and occasional raiding stuff (because I do adore a scheduled event), but when it’s just up to me? Other than a few brief obsessions, just loading up a game seems like an awful lot of work.

GAMING

Paid MMO Subscription – World of Warcraft (Retail)

Good news everyone – patch 9.1.5 is dropping tomorrow! Combine that with the fact that I’m going back to keeping up just one character, and I’m hoping I’ll develop more of an interest in playing regularly. I had petered out halfway through the new campaign story, so there’s that I should try to get caught up, and I really ought to consider remaking my legendary. Even in a content drought, I’m not lacking for things for me to do personally, I just haven’t really wanted to do any of them.

However, probably the patch change I’m most excited about is that BfAs Island Expeditions will be available to solo-queue, which means finally having a chance to go back and grind all the fun stuff I missed when they were current content, but I wasn’t playing. This may jumpstart me into more achievement hunting, which is how I historically spend a lot of my WoW time.

Whatever form it takes, I’d really like to find the joy again, because I’ve been feeling vaguely guilty about how little I’m playing while I’m paying actual money for the 6-10 hours a month I do bother to log on.

Community Game-Along – #VNNovember – PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness

I swear, I’m starting early this month – or at least before the 28th! PSYCHO-PASS: Mandatory Happiness has been in my Steam library since March of 2020, and I’m fairly certain I just installed it for the first time. I know nothing about the anime except that it exists, so that shouldn’t have any effect on whether or not I enjoy the game. Historically, the visual novel (and visual novel adjacent) games I tend to prefer are darker, usually with some sort of mystery component to keep me engaged, so this one should be as much up my alley as a visual novel can be.

I also have Methods: The Detective Compendium and 428: Shibuya Scramble on deck in case it turns out I can’t get into it. I like always having a back-up game or two picked out, but it’s highly unlikely I’ll play more than one visual novel this month.

Subscription Gaming – XBox Game Pass for PC

Every time I think I’m getting close to cancelling this, one of two things happens. Either I start playing something on there on a whim and find I’m really digging it, or they announce something coming soon that I want to play, but may or may not get around to.

At the top of my current list of stuff I want to try out is The Forgotten City, a game I’ve been hesitant to pick up because my track record with time loop games is … not good, despite the fact I continue to be fascinated by them. I’d also like to try out Dandy Ace, and The Good Life. However, the game I’m fairly sure I’ll be renewing mid-month for is Evil Genius 2. The reviews aren’t great, and although I played a lot of the first game, I never played too long into any one playthrough, so satiating my curiosity via Game Pass is probably a good move.

Other Gaming

I am going to put another attempt or two into pushing through the rough spot in Call of Cthulhu before I toss it into the “probably never going to finish” box and forget about it. I expect my co-op game dates this month will be playing through the campaigns in Wildermyth – we played the first campaign this past week and we both liked it well enough to keep going. Otherwise, I think I’m probably just going to go wherever my whims may take me this month; I don’t have an urgent need to fire up any specific game, and I’m willing to go to any port in a storm when I’m trying to de-slump myself.


OTHER NERDSTUFF

Stitchcraft

Thankfully, the urge to stitch hasn’t even begun to subside, because the project I’m currently working on I’d like to have finished as a present for a December birthday. I couldn’t resist doing the math – I’m going to need to average about 600 stitches nearly every day to meet that goal. To go along with that, I’m going to start watching the eight seasons of Castle that recently showed up on Hulu, which I have managed to resist watching while I devoured all things #Spooktober. I saw the first few seasons several years ago, when having a Netflix account still meant getting DVDs in the mail, but as someone who hasn’t had access to cable in well over a decade, I think there are at least three seasons I’ve never seen. At any rate, it seems like an excellent choice of a stitching show.

IntPiPoMo 2021

I also haven’t actually signed up as of yet, but I’m seriously considering throwing my hat into the ring for IntPiPoMo 2021, with the intention of doing a picture-focused post each Sunday throughout November. As a person who has promised never to put myself or my loved ones through another NaNoWriMo, posting fifty pictures feels like a far far more attainable goal. Maybe I’ll even art a little, or go out and do some photo hunting like I used to do when I was somewhat more mobile than I am now. I used to be pretty involved with photography, and it’s something that’s fallen by the wayside throughout the years.

GoodReads Reading Challenge 2021 – 18/48

Another thing that has just recently occurred to me is that, well, I basically haven’t been reading for about the past four months. There was a book I had started for The Pike Cast near the end of July that I just couldn’t get into, and it soured me for a little bit. Then, I started filling up the time I had been spending reading with other things, and it just … slipped my mind, I guess? Any way you look at it, I’m super far behind my yearly reading goal, so I really need to pick up a book (or twenty) before the end of the month. On the upside, I tend to be a fast reader, so it’s not an unmanageable goal, but it’s a bit overwhelming if I spend too much time thinking about it.


In general, I’m a big fan of plan and goal-setting, even though I rarely hit all the milestones I set myself. I’ve always had a lot of different hobbies – at least it’s always seemed that way to me. Most folks I know have one or two things they’re really invested in, and that’s about the size of it. My interests are varied enough I could fill up almost every day with fun things, if I could just manage my energy a little better.

Maybe I need to set some sort of goal related to energy management? Hmmmm.

In Review – October 2021

My finished motifs from the Stichonomy A Storybook Halloween stitch-a-long.

I’m not sure it’s fair to say that this was another very weird month, because they all feel weird lately, and isn’t that the first indicator that weird has become normal? If that’s the case, this was a perfectly normal month, although one in which my game time was considerably down because TV and cross-stitch were so much more appealing. Part of that was my #Spooktober watch habits, and part of it was that my desk chair is starting to deteriorate, which means marathon gaming sessions are off the table because of the lingering back pain that follows. Since I’m hoping to move my entire set-up into another whole part of the house before the end of the year, I’ve been hesitating on replacing my chair, but this month really drove home that I can’t keep putting it off forever.

Data pulled from ManicTime.

I finished up Cook, Serve, Delicious 3! very early in the month – and when I say “finished” I actually mean, I saw credits! I have put well over a hundred hours into this series now, and I wasn’t even aware that there was a “game over” state to any of them. It may not seem like a very big thing, but man, it felt good to actually finish it, even if I didn’t go back and chase the achievements and get gold medals in absolutely everything.

We also wrapped up our co-op playthrough of Factorio during October. I have mixed feelings about the game overall – it’s super satisfying to play, and I loved the feeling of completing a particularly complex crafting chain, but man, I couldn’t shake the feeling the whole time that (a) we are most definitely the bad guys here and (b) our tech chain is a giant mess – it made no sense to me that we couldn’t send a distress signal, but we could build robots and huge power grids, and everything else you have to build to be able to – finally – send a rocket to request a pick-up. Maybe it’s a better game when you don’t think too much about the why and focus only on the how to get it done.

But overall, it was a gaming-light month. I dabbled in Call of Cthulhu, and played through Endless Fables 2: Frozen Path for #HorrorGameOct. I spent a few days obsessed with Barricadez, and a few more obsessed with Moonglow Bay on XBox Game Pass for PC. I attended both alt-raid nights in World of Warcraft, but passed on both main raids this month because … well, I hate progression nights, to be honest, and I was having some feelings about my main swap. Still managed to end up 8/10 normal, so I’ve decided to switch back to the character I’m more comfortable with, and grind my face into the last two bosses this upcoming week with everyone else.

Mostly, I embraced the fall weather, curled up on my couch with a blanket and a stitching project, and watched a lot of television. I was downright obsessed with Slasher, but watched a few other new-to-me things, and just about every old favorite I could find streaming somewhere. It was nice to nerd out in a completely different manner than I usually do, and also kind of great to mostly avoid the choice paralysis that comes up so often when it comes to games these days.

Mini Reviews: #Spooktober Watch List

This month has been so light on gaming because I have been pretty much obsessed with working on cross-stitch projects. On the upside, that means a lot of #Spooktober TV time. Normally, I am almost exclusively a re-watcher, but this year, all that extra time meant I could dive into some new things without missing out on any of my favorites.

I am sort of grateful that I don’t actually have a good way to track the sheer amount of hours that I spent on my couch this month – I think I would find that somewhat depressing. On the upside, I did manage to re-watch most of my favorite horror and Halloween themed movies and shows this season, and still managed to carve out some extra time to check out some new (to me) stuff.

Movies

The Mortuary Collection – Streaming on AMC+

I have a soft spot for anthology horror – the first two Creepshow movies (we don’t talk about Creepshow 3 around here), Tales from the Darkside, Cat’s Eye, Tales from the Hood, and Trick’r Treat. Normally, the stories range from decent to pretty good, while the frame story is normally weak to downright awful. The Mortuary Collection flips that convention around – the frame story is probably the best part of the entire film, while the four tales are just alright. I’d recommend it primarily for the frame story, which really pays off at the very end.

The Final Girls – Streaming on Hulu+

I went into The Final Girls expecting an actual horror movie, but what I got was barely horror-adjacent. Somehow, a handful of teenagers get sucked into a horror movie, which stars our main character’s mother (who of course, is deceased). It’s an interesting side-eye of a genre that’s often as silly as it is scary, and I’m glad I saw it, but I don’t know that I’d watch it again.

Muppets Haunted Mansion – Streaming on Disney+

The Muppets Haunted Mansion also fits into the category of something I’m glad I watched, but probably won’t seek out for an annual rewatch. It’s more of a holiday special than a full length movie, and while there’s a lot of neat references if you’re familiar with the Disney Haunted Mansion ride, there’s … not a whole lot going on here. It’s amusing, with some good running gags, and there’s enough here for a Muppets fan to make it worth the hour run-time.


Series

Hemlock Grove – Seasons 1-3 on Netflix

I’ve seen the first season of Hemlock Grove a few times now – it’s a fairly well contained story that didn’t need any additional seasons to feel finished. However, Netflix can’t leave a good thing well enough alone most of the time, and on my previous attempts to dive into season 2, I never got very far before losing interest. This year, I persevered through the slow open, and while it wasn’t as satisfying as the first season, the story does get pretty damn interesting, especially if you’re already a fan of some of the characters from the first season. It’s certainly not unmissable, and oh lord that ending, but it’s a good watch if you really liked the first season. I’m not sure I ever plan to watch the final season though – the shark, it has been leapt over.

Creepshow – Seasons 1-3 on AMC+

I actually subscribed to AMC+ near the beginning of the month, solely to check out the new Creepshow series, and while it’s not bad, it wasn’t everything I wanted it to be. It’s most definitely a love letter to anthology horror, with (almost) every episode telling two complete stories. Unfortunately, most of the stories were utterly forgettable. The standout stories from the first two seasons, for me, were “The Finger” (S1E2) and “Public Television of the Dead” (S2E1). I didn’t even bother with the third season, however, so there might be some gems in there.

Glitch – Season 1-3 on Netflix

You would expect a show that begins with half a dozen people crawling out of their graves to be a full-on horror story, but Glitch manages to avoid horror almost entirely. While that was slightly disappointing for what I was looking for at the time, I still watched the six-episode first season, and I have to say, it’s a pretty solid drama with some light horror elements. The final episode takes a pretty big swing to the side trying to actually start to pull together an explanation for all this, but season one is really all about the characters and the weirdness that ensues when people who aren’t supposed to be around just suddenly show up.

Slasher – Seasons 1-3 on Netflix, Season 4 on AMC+

Slasher was the big surprise hit of #Spooktober for me this year. I love a good slasher movie, but this show takes the concept of a human serial killer and stretches the story out into an eight episode season, giving you more time to get invested in the characters and story and figuring out who is doing all the gory stuff. The seasons are all complete tales, although there is some actor overlap like in American Horror Story, but they can very easily be watched in any order. However, other than the first season, which is comparatively tame, this is not a show if you’re even a little bit squeamish, as the gore is plentiful and very very graphic. A lot of the characters are completely unlikable, but that just makes it more fun to root for the killer. Plan to binge watch each season, because you probably won’t be able to stop thinking about it until it’s over.

Trigger warning: The second season contains a pretty disturbing rape scene, which was not something I was expected and it was probably the hardest thing to watch in all four seasons. Which is unfortunate, because for me, it was also the strongest season overall. It feels a little silly to TW a show called Slasher but I really wish I had known about it in advance.


Is there a scary movie, spooky show, or adorable holiday special you revisit year after year? Was there something new you watched this year for the first time that you’d recommend?