Layout heavily inspired by Mala! ♡
All of these are media that I have positive associations with, objectively some of these might not be "good". If I put in spoilers, they will look like so! Make sure to look up appropriate content warnings before consuming anything. Be safe and have fun!
Faith: The Unholy Trinity Faith: The Unholy Trinity is a survival horror video game developed by Airdorf Games for Windows. The game is composed of three chapters, with more expected to come from the creator. The story revolves around a priest confronting his past. I discovered this game through a video essay by Wendigoon, but I've been obsessed since. I initially thought that I wouldn't be interested because of it's heavy references to Christianity, but both the story and the passion from it's creator won me over. Even if you are not Christian, I find that's it's messages and themes can be enjoyed by everyone. In addition, the atari-style visuals and use of the rotoscoping technique really add to it's horror atmosphere.
The Coffin of Andy and Leyley The Coffin of Andy and Leyley follows the story of a pair of siblings with an extrodinarily toxic relationship as they attempt to survive starvation. It's first chapter was made for a game jam, and the full game is currently predicted to release sometime in 2024. Ashley and her brother, Andrew, are stuck in an abandoned apartment during a pandemic that leaves them without food. This drives them down a road of cannibalism and satanic cult rituals. Although only chapter one is released right now, I am choosing to write about it right now because I think that it stands up well on it's own. What intrigues me most about this game is the obviously toxic relationship between the siblings, and how much this relationship drives the events of the story. It's like a car crash that I cannot stop wtaching.
Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical
Being completely honest, I thought that Stray Gods: The Roleplaying Musical was extremely cheesy when I first saw it. I was never much of a musicals or greek mythology nerd so I didn't think I'd be interested, but the overall mystery is what hooked me in. You play as Grace, a suspected murderer, and she has to find the true culprit in seven days — about seven hours of real-world play time — before the gods execute her. The other Greek deities, called Idols in the modern world either help or hinder her journey based off of the decisions players make. The biggest thing that stands out to me is the songs!!! Each number includes several key moments where you decide what lyrics Grace sings next, which usually has some effect on her relationship with the people involved. I can't even begin to imagine how many lines, lyrics, and versions of songs that I haven't even heard. Also, Anjali Bhimani absolutely killed her role as Medusa.
Tell Me Why Tell Me Why is an episodic adventure game developed by Dontnod Entertainment and published by Xbox Game Studios. The game consists of three chapters released within the span of a month. The story follows the reunitement of a pair of twins after their mother's death. Who killed their mother is answered by the end of the first episode, but why she was killed is a much more complex question. It is a gripping narrative that delves into the complexity of family dynamics. I particularly appreciate how the trans character was written. Above everything else, I found the final decision to be my favorite part of the game. The final decision really plays into using external circumstances to drive the internal mindsets of the characters, and I was genuinely on the edge of my seat by the end of the third episode. I'd honestly argue that neither of the final outcomes are "bad" or "depressing", but I know that a lot of people strongly dislike one of them...I do wonder what that says about me as a person.
Lacey’s Games by Ghosttundra Lacey’s Games a series of Surreal and Psychological Horror videos by Ghosttundra using the vehicle of obscure Flash game showcases/let's plays. I discovered them by randomly clicking on a video essay about them. In my opinion, what makes the story this series tells so compelling is it's use of "girly" flash games. As someone who grew up playing many up them on sites such as Y8 and Girlsgogames.com, seeing a horror twist on them is really intriguing to me. I would like to trigger warn for extreme implications of abuse for the whole trilogy as well as extreme warning of stalking in the Lacey's Wardrobe video.
Admittedly, I wasn't going to add Barbie to my reccomendations because I walked out of the theatre feeling rather lukewarm about it. But the more and more I thought about it, the more and more I realized how much this movie actually means to me. Without spoilers, this movie doesn't do or say anything revolutionary about feminism or the femme experience. I feel that this movie is best experienced as exploring Barbie using themes of feminism rather than exploring Feminism using Barbie. The most important lesson I came out of this movie with was that we are not defined by our roles, other people, or gender, but that we are good enough as we are.
Butterfly Soup 1 & 2
The Butterfly Soup franchise revolves around the lives of four queer Asian-American girls who join a baseball team. The games for the most part are linear, with small dialogue choices that the player can make here and there. These games mean a lot to me. Butterfly Soup 1 was the first time that I saw an explicitly Tamil character in any sort of media, nevermind a queer Tamil character. These games make me feel extremely seen and have an important place in my heart.
Needy Streamer Overload Needy Streamer Overload is a psychological horror game masquerading as a management simulation game. I'm not usually a fan of simulation games, so it was not a game that I reached out for myself until a couple of friends reccomended to me. Needy Streamer Overload tells the story of a girl with mental illness, and how a person with mental illness cannot truly get better unless they truly desire it from within, and that was incredibly impactful to me.
Vanitas by Sweetfish
Less of a game and more of an experience, Vanitas is a short yet sweet narrative about the experience of being online. I found it a really nice reminder that as easy as it is to become disheartened about the state of the internet, human connection has always prevailed. Some cultural context that I think is important to include, is that I played this game just two days after Elon Musk decided to add a limit to the number of tweets a user can view on Twitter in a day. Short, sweet, simple, yet empowering.
Before Your Eyes Before Your Eyes is an adventure game about the fleeting nature of life. It was a game that I impulsively decided to watch a streamer play. What makes this game unique, is that the game is controlled through the player's blinking. Blinking when prompted progresses the story, and by extension, blink too fast and you'll miss the entire story. I wasn't expecting this game to touch me the way that it did. As someone who has struggled with feeling like I haven't lived the life that I was "supposed to" live, this game's bittersweet ending about accepting the life you have lived is one I will carry with me for a long time.
Never Have I Ever
A coming-of-age show that I watched with my younger brother. Never Have I Ever is not something that I would necessarily reccomend because it's good. In fact, I have a lot of criticisms of Kaling's writing. However, any media featuring a Tamil character will almost certainly end up being important to me. Although I'm not the biggest fan of Devi's character, I can't help but to see parts of myself in her. Now that I'm older, I'm able to appreciate my heritage and culture a lot more, but I'd be lying if I said that I did not hate it and didn't behave like Devi growing up. My favorite arc is Devi and her mother mending their relationship after her father's death.
I first came across this graphic novel on Twitter when it's author showed up promoting it's April 2023 release. The title instantly drew me in. I feel like my life has always been stuck in limbo because of my immigration struggles. Although this memoir doesn't have themes of immigration like I thought it potentially would, I still found it extremely relatable regarding it's themes of mental health. In In Limbo, Deb JJ Lee details their experience growing up in a New Jersey suburb as a Korean American child of immigrants. They write about feeling like the Other and facing racism from their white peers as well as mistreatment their mom, all themes I was still able to connect deeply with. I'm happy I found this graphic novel, even if it was by chance.
Ginny & Georgia
I picked up watching Ginny & Georgia because I kept seeing edits of this show while I was mindlessly scrolling Youtube shorts. Based off of it's plot summmary alone, I wasn't expecting much other than a show that I could shut my brain off while watching. I ended up pleasantly surprised when this show ended up being much more. Georgia is easily one of my favorite characters in media ever. Every single outfit she wears absolutely solos, and the strength and care she has for her family is imense. It's not exactly exempt from cringy Netflix dialogue, but if you're able to get over that, it's a worthwhile watch.