June 2020

I cannot believe we are halfway through this year. The whole Covid thing has meant that I (and, let’s be honest, millions of other people) have spent months inside. It is absolutely baffling to me how this year feels both extremely long and terrifyingly short.

Anyway! June! I turned 30, so that is the biggest thing really. I had a wonderful time actually, all things considered. I ate lots of good food and drank lots of alcohol.

Things I Watched

Bob’s Burgers
I’ve been watching Bob’s Burgers for months, and I’ve just finished Season 9. (Season 10 is on Prime but it’s not free, so I’m going to pay at some point to watch the rest.) It is up there with my favourite animated shows ever. It is so funny and sweet and well-written.

Look Who’s Back
A truly bizarre German film about what might happen if Hitler suddenly woke up in modern Berlin. I enjoyed this immensely, and it was surprisingly emotive.

Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga
I love Eurovision. This comedy was okay! It was a bit long and silly, but worth a watch.

Things I Read

The Zombie War: Battle for Britain by Tom Holroyd
I listened to this on Audible and it was so good. If you enjoyed World War Z, you’ll love this. A really great read.

Happy Fat by Sofie Hagen
I’m still reading this at the minute but it is brilliant. Absolutely wonderful.

Things I Played

Grand Theft Auto V
In a classic Cole move, rather than playing one of my enormous backlog of games, I have decided to restart GTA V. I love the characters and think the story is surprisingly touching. The writing is hilarious and I just love it.

Other Stuff

For my birthday, I treated myself to a Razer keyboard, and it is honestly amazing. Possibly a fairly tragic thing to be excited about, but I love the way the keys clack.

I have been gardening! I’m fairly sure that my flowers are dying, but I’m crossing my fingers.

Looking Forward

July is CampNaNoWriMo, and I’m hoping to finish the novel I started (and failed to complete) in April. I’m also going to be starting my challenge of walking one million steps for Diabetes UK, so I’m looking forward to getting outside a bit more.

Games I Am Most Excited About From The PS5 Reveal Event

I love E3. I really am missing it this year; obviously, it makes total sense that it isn’t running what with, well, everything, but I love staying up until weird times making lists of all the games I am going to be excited about in the next year or two. Luckily, most of the big names are still showing some stuff, and the PS5 event the other day was very exciting. Here are the games I am most excited about.

Marvel’s Spider-Man: Miles Morales

The first Spider-Man game is one of the best games ever. (Don’t @ me.) It is so satisfying to swing around as Spider-Man, the writing is great and the voice acting is wonderful. I think the Peter Parker in the game is one of my favourite incarnations of the character ever, so I am beyond excited to see more of Miles in this game. I can’t wait to get my hands on this.

Hitman 3

The purpose of Hitman is to stealthily and cleverly murder your targets, not to run around blindly shooting at everyone and causing carnage, although the latter is the strategy I favour. I love watching people play the game properly and it’s such a clever game. I am excited for more of this. (Apparently this is the conclusion of a 3-game story arc, but if people are playing it for the story, they’re playing it very differently to how I do.)

Resident Evil: Village

I’m too much of a chicken to play Resi myself. (Yeah, I should be ashamed, but I’m not.) However, I do love watching other people play them. The story in Resident Evil is absolutely crackers and I like the creepy vibe of the new game, so I look forward to watching people stream it on Twitch.

Goodbye Volcano High

No idea what this one is- there’s like a hipster furry teen vibe in the trailer. I love the art style, though, and it looks very interesting. The music in the trailer was gorgeous, too. I have no idea what to expect, but I’m intrigued.

Review: The Mandalorian

This review could basically read it’s amazing and you need to watch it and honestly that would be sufficient.

If you’ve been living under a rock (because let’s face it, I am late to this party) The Mandalorian is a series on Disney+. Set in between trilogies, it follows the adventures of, well, the Mandalorian- a masked bounty hunter with the voice of Pedro Pascal and not much of his face.

Of course, nobody really cares about that (although it must be said that he does an incredible acting job given that his face is covered for the vast, vast majority of this show). People are obsessed with the Child- aka, Baby Yoda.

Look at this lad though

Although he’s not Yoda, he’s a tiny green Force-sensitive cutie and is by far the best thing about this show. I have never felt such intense anxiety about the fate of something so physically similar to a snot before.

This show is heavy on the Western vibes, even down to the music choices, and it works really well. It’s aesthetically gorgeous and well-paced.

Other reasons why it kicks ass: Taika Waititi is a robot, Werner Herzog is a bad guy, and Gina Carano is amazing.

First Impressions: Later Daters

Later Daters has been on my radar for a while. In fact, I’ve had it on my Switch wishlist for a bit. The game isn’t finished yet, which was partly the reason why I hadn’t gone for it, but also I’ve got a million games half-finished.

I had £3.50 worth of points on Nintendo after buying Animal Crossing (also, can we talk about how this system slaps? Nintendo games tend to be expensive but I love having money off other games) which was about half the price of Later Daters. So, I finally bought it.

The first thing that struck me about Later Daters is the ridiculously catchy theme song. It has been stuck in my head for two days, and it is a banger.

The game is a dating sim in which you play as an older person moving to sheltered accommodation. There are three looks you can choose from, and you can name your old person. You can also choose their backstory.

What is amazing about Later Daters is how inclusive it is; the characters have a range of races, gender identities and sexualities; there is representation of an HIV positive character and polyamory. So far, all of the characters I have encountered have been positive about this (although bigoted views of other people have been referenced). There is something very pleasant and nice about bumbling about with these open-minded old people.

The writing is zesty and fun, and the characters are rich and entertaining. So far, I’ve managed to get several people to go on a date with Cynthia, my character, and I’m absolutely looking forward to whatever happens next. I’d definitely recommend this game to anyone who likes dating sims.

Writing Round Up

Writing Round Up is a semi-regular post about other places I have written things recently.

Articles

My Migraines Are Ruining My Life– a very personal exploration into what it’s like for me to live with my migraines

Book Reviews

High Hopes by Sue Lilley– I reviewed this for Online Book Club and mostly enjoyed it!

I haven’t actually written very much in what feels like ages. I am hoping that by posting these round ups, I can motivate myself to actually write more!

First Impressions: Animal Crossing: New Horizons

My sister has been obsessed with Animal Crossing for years. She played New Leaf to death on the 3DS. I never really saw the appeal. I can’t explain why; I think maybe the slightly creepy animal pals weren’t doing it for me. It was something I was aware of- people are obsessed with Animal Crossing, but it had largely stayed out of my radar.

I’ve had a Switch since launch, pretty much. I have my other consoles and my PC for the more shooty games, and my Switch is largely used for Mario Kart and Stardew Valley. The latter was something I also really struggled to get into, but I am now sinking serious time into my little pixel farm.

When my sister got her Switch a couple of weeks ago, it was with the express intention of playing the new Animal Crossing. Needless to say, she nagged me into buying it, which I reluctantly did (can we talk about how new video games are £50?! I need to build up mentally to that sort of purchase).

Anyway, I am now obsessed.

I still don’t quite know what I’m doing- I’m bumbling around my little island, Luna, hitting trees until logs fall out and occasionally getting stung in the eye by wasps. Tom Nook seems to be running some sort of dodgy tax haven and I’m joined in my tropical paradise by a gorilla wearing a pink tracksuit and a bird that is obsessed with exercise (at least I think it’s a bird).

What is the point of Animal Crossing? I don’t really know. It might be to make beautiful houses; I keep seeing people’s gorgeous abodes on Twitter, but mine is currently a shed filled with pairs of shoes and cardboard boxes. It might be to fish, but honestly, that mini game is fun in exactly zero percent of video games. I think it might have something to do with a dog who is a musician.

What matters, I suppose, is that the game is soothing and fun. I like having a tiny quest (collect 30 bits of wood! Craft a fishing rod! Pick a place to build this shop!) and feeling able to accomplish it. The game is satisfying in a small, solid way.

Right now, my island is chaos, but I’m having an excellent time.

Writing: Accepting That You Won’t Manage To Do Something- And That’s Okay

At the start of April, I was filled with excitement and enthusiasm to complete my Camp NaNoWriMo novel. My motivation was ready, my planning was in place (vaguely- I mostly just make brief notes and go) and I was determined to hit fifty thousand words.

At the time of writing this post, I am currently twenty thousand words behind.

Am I capable of catching up? By the end of the month? Plausibly; I have by known to do five thousand words in a day, and with nine days left to go, that would get me there.

I’m not going to push myself, though. Let’s be honest: life is weird and horrific at the moment. I have it easier than a lot of other people, but I’m still finding simply existing to be a total nightmare.

If it gets done, excellent. I think I’m more likely to finish this novel by the end of May at my current pace. A few years ago, I would have been devastated to miss the target I’d set myself, and I might have even been tempted to give up on the project entirely.

Now, I’m more kind to myself, and if you’re reading this, I urge you to be kind to yourself, too.

Video Game Review: Until Dawn

If you play a lot of games and own a PS4, PS Now is a great investment. There are loads of interesting games on there that I probably wouldn’t otherwise pay for, but get to try as part of my subscription to the service.

Until Dawn was one such game. I love horror films- I collect B movies and consider myself a huge fan of the genre- but I cannot cope with horror games. They freak me out too much. I managed to painstakingly limp my way through the Resident Evil REMake and Resident Evil Zero a few years back, but beyond that, anything even vaguely scary is beyond my ability to deal with.

I had been aware of Until Dawn for some time; I love a choice-based, heavy narrative game. Until Dawn is a wonderful homage to a genre I adore. However, my intense fear of horror games put me off paying for it.

The game itself has multiple protagonists: various teenage stereotypes who have that occasionally clunky feel of having been written by adults who don’t really get teenagers. They are also all terrible and I despised them all at the beginning. I couldn’t wait for them to start dying. After a couple of hours of trying to steer the dafties away from danger, however, I was rooting for their survival.

Keeping them alive is easier said than done- they can all die, and seemingly arbitrary choices can mean the difference between life and death for these pixelated cliches. (I kept all of them alive, miraculously, and there was a real satisfaction in that.)

The story itself is sort of predictable, but pleasantly twisty and interesting. It moves along at a steady pace and changes things up often enough to stave off boredom. It’s a relatively short game, too.

Is it terrifying? Yes, it is. There are millions of jump scares in it. (Slight hyperbole.) If you have been avoiding it because it seems frightening, then probably keep avoiding it. For me, it was charming and funny enough to get me through the absolute horror of some (frankly very cheap) jump scares.

The game feels very “Telltale”- it’s that narrative based adventure style where you “do” relatively little. There are a whole bunch of quick time events here. I don’t hate them, but I know a lot of people do. The choices feel meaningful and there are a bunch of interesting clues to collect about the lore and history of the spooky mountain setting.

I’d recommend this one, especially if you play it with company.

Cole Rewatches The MCU

We suddenly have a whole lot of time in the house, don’t we? I don’t mind being indoors, but the sudden lack of choice about the whole thing is a bit jarring. What better time to start a frankly ill-advised project? (Or seven, if you’re me.)

Disney+ is here, and with it, the ability to watch all of the MCU. I have seen almost all of the Marvel films already. I am going to rewatch them in chronological order, because that is the sort of thing that is absolutely not productive at all but still allows me to tick things off a list that I crave so badly.

MCU Chronological Watch List

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Captain Marvel (2019)
Iron Man (2008)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Thor (2011)
The Avengers (2012)
Iron Man 3 (2013)
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2014)
Ant-Man (2015)
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Doctor Strange (2016)
Black Panther (2018)
Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)
Black Widow (2020)
Avengers: Infinity War (2018)
Avengers: Endgame (2019)
Spiderman: Far From Home (2 July 2019)
(Source)

Some things I expect will happen: I will get bored and not finish (ha!), I will hate Tony Stark so much, Thor: Ragnarok will be my favourite film and Steve Rogers will be my favourite character as always.

Hope you are keeping well in the strange times we live in.

Games to play when everything is dreadful

As we all know, everything is dreadful at the moment. Here is a list of my favourite games to play for escapism- most of them are chill and restful, but there are some absurd, escapist titles too.

Stardew Valley

This is probably the most recommended game for times when people need to forget their troubles and escape into a soothing, low-stress game- for good reason. There is nothing more satisfying then seeing your little pixelated farm grow. I have named my chickens after Shakespearean heroines and I feel immense joy every time my farmer self goes to hang out with them.

The Sims

I personally have The Sims 3 and The Sims 4, but any of the Sims games provide a fantastic escape from reality. I like to create my own little world and lose myself in the narrative I’ve made, but there are many ways to play The Sims, including burning them all to death or building a pool then deleting the ladder. Whatever gets you through- this is a judgment-free zone!

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp

Obviously, everyone is abuzz about the new Animal Crossing game, but I wanted to include something that is free. Pocket Camp can be played on your phone and is adorable and highly soothing.

The Witcher 3

Hear me out on this one, okay? Yes, The Witcher 3 is about slaughtering scary and gruesome monsters who frequently want to bite your face off. However, there is something very freeing about becoming Geralt, an all-powerful grump who is capable of slashing his way through any foe. The world is immersive and beautiful, and the narrative is complex and engaging.

Planet Coaster

As the world enters lockdown, and going to enjoy things like theme parks becomes impossible, why not create your own digital version? I think simulation games are perfect in times like these; you can be in charge of your own slice of pixelated existence and enjoy the satisfaction of seeing your vision come to life before your very eyes.

Keep safe, everyone!