Days Gone

This is the first video game review I’ve done, but I will go back and cover the games I’ve played in the recent past. 

Days Gone is by no means the best game I’ve played but having said that the critical review it received when it came out was, in my opinion, very harsh. It is a good game and an ambitious one. On the face of it, an open world zombie game set in North America is not very unique. Look deeper though and you will find game mechanics and levels of playability that belie the outward cliché.  

It’s a long game, probably too long. The first half is slow and it doesn’t feel as if much progress is being made. If you persevere however, you will be rewarded. I liked the voice acting and the difficulty and the strategy element involved in taking out large hordes of zombies (Freakers). I loved the environment  – I’m a sucker for the pacific northwest. Marks off for a story diluted with fetch quests and a missed opportunity for more depth and structure. The finale didn’t quite hit the mark for me. 

All of that said, I’d love there to be a sequel. I think the premise has potential. While I was sort of waiting for it to end initially, once I was past that midway point things no longer felt like a slog, and I settled into it. Fun. Tense in places, reasonably challenging and a game I would recommend.  

The Future of Geography

A really interesting exploration of what we can expect in the next couple of decades in terms of space exploration and what that means for geopolitics. Exciting and disturbing in equal measure. Makes you realise how many paths we could find ourselves going down in the near future. 

The Secret Network of Nature

An interesting account of nature’s symbiotic tendencies that is obviously well informed. There are some excellent titbits in there; things that I didn’t know and that were genuinely interesting. However, it’s a bit tree heavy and at times it slightly loses its way in terms of direction and purpose. In fairness to him, it is translated from German and this definitely comes across. I hadn’t realised this at first and was taken aback by how much it reads like a primary school project. Once you get past that, it’s alright but there’s better books out there. 

Jews Don’t Count

A short book, almost essay form. It’s an interesting angle on how we look at racism and how perhaps people do treat different versions of racism hierarchically. It is very well argued, although I’m not sure Baddiel helps himself on occasions with his tone. He is very accusatory and uses some examples here which, in some quarters, might be viewed as too sensitive, thereby undermining his argument which I wholeheartedly get and agree with.

I’ve heard him talk on this book too and he comes across to me as a strongly opinionated individual who meets even a hint of disagreement, with a type of stubborn condescension. Which again, I don’t think helps his cause. Still. A very good and a very important book.   

The Way of Kings

I don’t usually read fantasy books but, having read another title a while back, I’ve had a bit of a hankering. However, most of them, this one being no exception, are a bit of investment in terms of time. In other words, they’re all pretty epic. So I did my research on this one. Having said that I was still hesitant about diving into something like this. 

I had nothing to worry about. I was enthralled by this book. It is fantastical, sprawling, otherwordley, inventive, and wise. But more than that, it was just written brilliantly well. I am unlucky enough to have read Game of Thrones – a tedious, slow, at times shocking and ultimately a bit bleak as a set of books.

This first of several books is opposite to that in almost every way. It is very long but at no point was I counting the pages to the end. It flowed superbly and I was quite taken aback by how much I liked it. The only problem is, I’m not sure anything else will be able to follow this within the fantasy genre, aside from its sequels of course.