January 2022 media

  • Genshin Impact: I’d poked at MiHoYo’s free-to-play RPG juggernaut when it first came out, but only for long enough to understand what sort of game it was. (I thought of it as a maximalist take on Breath of the Wild.) Earlier this month I returned to it on a whim and dug deeper, and this time it stuck. If you can suffer the modestly intrusive gacha and live service mechanics, there is a lot to enjoy here. In particular, the expansive China-themed region Liyue is one of my favorite open-world areas of any game I’ve ever played.

  • Orwell’s Roses: I’ve had a good enough hit rate with Rebecca Solnit’s books that I’ll just grab them sight unseen now, and I’m glad I landed on this one. I only knew Orwell through Nineteen Eighty-Four and Animal Farm, so a straight-ahead biography would have been fine by me, but this book is more ambitious: it’s a collection of essays circling around his love of gardening (and nature more generally), and how that informed his politics. I love the unexpected connections and pleasant sidetracks into history or botany or philosophy.

  • Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End: The best new manga I’ve picked up in months, if not years. Taking place after a stock fantasy plot to save the world has already ended, the near-immortal elf Frieren faces her regrets and tries to find meaning in life as her shorter-lived companions grow old and die. It does lay the poignancy on pretty thick, but it works. The first two volumes are out in English at the moment; all future ones will be day-one purchases for me.