July 2023 media
The Legend of Heroes: Trails into Reverie: This is the tenth Trails game, the ostensible conclusion of the first “half” of the series, and it comes not a moment too soon. Reverie desperately tries to wrangle hundreds of characters and multiple nations’ worth of plot threads, and it nearly collapses under its own weight in the process. I loved it despite its messiness—many of its successes admittedly come from cashing checks that earlier games wrote—but I’m ready for Calvard.
Viewfinder: A puzzle game where you can place photographs in the world to turn their contents into actual 3D geometry and walk into them. It’s a mind-bending mechanic, on par with Portal’s. The story didn’t do much for me and the game sometimes feels a little rough around the edges—maybe Narbacular Drop is a more accurate comparison?—but none of that bothered me. This is my second must-play recommendation of the year after Tears of the Kingdom.
Elizabeth Strout’s Lucy Barton novels: I enjoyed all four of these quite a bit! Strout’s real mastery is in sketching characters quickly, so I especially liked the bundle of interrelated short stories in Anything Is Possible that let her do that over and over. I’ll have to go back for Olive Kitteridge, the similarly-structured book that won her a Pulitzer. (Lucy by the Sea was an interesting experience for another reason: it’s the first novel I’ve read—the first piece of art of any kind I’ve engaged with—about the pandemic.)