This week we’ve got two gaming recommendations for you, as Lor has been playing Cat Cafe Manager and Hawk has been enrapt by LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga. Byron is looking forward to Bosch: Legacy and recommends checking out the original Bosch. Paul makes some glowing comparisons between A Place of No Words and some really high quality films. And if you’re looking for something to listen to, Teddy recommends that you check out The Linda Lindas.
Gaming Recommendation — Cat Cafe Manager
Lor Gislason: Firstly big thank you to Freedom Games for sending me a key for this game. Cat Cafe Manager begins with your character as the new kid in town, taking over their grandparent’s Cat Cafe. You’ll need to build it from scratch, with all the amenities your customers—and felines—will need. An interesting mechanic is the different materials you receive, one from each customer “type”. Punks, Artists, Businessfolk, Witches, Fishermen and Vagabonds. Furniture, food, cat supplies and other items take a combination of materials to purchase. Luckily you can advertise to whatever customers you want. So if you don’t need any Punks coming around, it’s just a click of a button.
Each group also features an archetype NPC who you can raise your friendship with, gaining sweet decorations and eventually special cats. All the resident cats are strays: by using food and gaining their trust, you can eventually adopt them. Each has specific traits, or abilities, like attracting more customers and adding points to your Cafe score. Your character, and your cats, can be levelled up to boost their stats and gain new traits. The cafe does have a limit to how many cats you can own but this is easily levelled as well. Or, you can help the cat find its forever home to a lucky family.
As this is a cafe, you’ll need to cook food, with each customer type preferring a different dish, which in turn needs a variety of kitchen equipment. This is where the management part comes in! Running back and forth, attending to both people and cats.
Frankly, I got a bit addicted to the game—there’s a zone you get into: serving customers, buying food and supplies and soon enough the day is over and it starts all over again. I also didn’t want to stop playing because the initial loading screen was quite long, and I had a few crashes which I’m hoping can be fixed with a patch. The game autosaves frequently so I never lost more than a day’s progress. Overall a solid game with an extremely cute art style.
Music Recommendation — The Linda Lindas
Teddy Webb: In our current age of attempts to recapture the magic of the pop-punk era that are becoming increasingly over-saturated, punk rock is in danger of growing stale, and The Linda Lindas are taking it to fierce new places. They might not look like renegades of the rock world; in press photos, the all-girl four-piece don brightly coloured retro outfits fitting their ’50s power-pop-esque band name, but more notably, there’s not an adult in sight. With their members’ ages ranging from 11 to 17, The Linda Lindas immediately turn heads as the youngest artists in the heavy music world this side of Babymetal. They’re not the type to shy away from this, either, proving that the fresh approach of youth can be a strength. With their aptly named debut album Growing Up, they’re out to show the struggles and successes of growing through girlhood with a laser-focused accuracy that your average “how do you do, fellow kids” record exec could only dream of.
From opening track ‘Oh!’, it’s clear that The Linda Lindas aren’t messing around when they talk about being inspired by the punk greats. An insistent guitar line screeches forward in what sounds a little like an up-tempo version of the militaristic beat from ‘Rebel Girl’ by Bikini Kill, a band who saw the early potential of the young quartet enough to take them on tour in 2019. It’s a straightforward punk snarler detailing the exhaustion of being ignored and dismissed as a young girl with the disaffection of classic punks lamenting that they fought the law and the law won.
Even on the album’s poppier tracks, which are more reflective of good ol’ power-pop than anything you’d catch in the clubs, the confessional songwriting they’re going for catches the light effortlessly. Songs like ‘Growing Up’ and ‘Talking To Myself’ feature bright guitar-led choruses that really do sparkle with youthful energy and a sense of hope for the future that’s almost radical given the band’s open discussion of the hardships they’ve faced in a white-male-dominated industry. Not only are they developing on the teen angst some would expect from songwriters of their age, they’re able to show “teen girl angst” as a legitimate expression of frustration, powerful in its own right.
Proud feminist sentiments bookend the record. The final track is ‘Racist, Sexist Boy’, the track that introduced the world to The Linda Lindas after a video of its performance at the Los Angeles Public Library went viral this time last year, with endorsements from political punks like Tom Morello and Sonic Youth’s Thurston Moore. Based on real-life experiences of racist comments faced by eleven-year-old drummer Mila at school, the gravity of the song’s subject is matched by its slower, doomier sound. The powerful shout of vocalist Bela shines on this track, carrying all the defiance of the Riot Grrrl era through a vital modern lens. We’re also treated to this kind of vocal delivery on my personal favourite track ‘Fine’, the catchiest instance of a band bashing back at so-called microaggressions I’ve heard in ages.
Film Recommendation — The Place of No Words
Paul Keelan: With a child-based perspective, melancholic tone, bursts of magical realism, and narrative meanderings, The Place of No Words wears quite a few of its inspirations on its sleeve—echoing Terrence Malick’s entire canon, Zeitlin’s Wendy and Beasts of the Southern Wild, Spike Jonze’s Where the Wild Things Are, Tim Burton’s Big Fish, and Aronofsky’s The Fountain. This is not to say that Mark Webber’s film feels derivative. To the contrary, The Place of No Words might be one of the more personal and poignant surprises in recent memory.
Webber exhibits a deft directorial hand and command of tone throughout—weaving a masterful synthesis of superimposed narratives. Beyond the film’s concurrent psychic trajectories and emotional planes, there is very little plot. Most of the events are imaginative manifestations of a dying cancer patient. The central quest is entirely metaphysical—the attempt of a terminally-diagnosed father to help his young son, Bodhi, cope with death.
This backdrop adds more than pathos and solemnity to the onscreen proceedings. It also lends the visual language a rich symbolism. As the dying father leads his innocent son through Fantastical/Enchanted territories, the viewer gradually realizes that the entire journey is an incarnation of confronting and overcoming fear, loss, and grief. If there is any palliative destination, tit would be the cathartic solace that comes with acceptance.
Vacillating between the imaginative and the sentient—between fantastical moodscapes & drab hospital beds—The Place of No Words reinforces the power of cinema as a medium that can freely traverse multiple sensory and extrasensory domains. The visual splendors and mythological elements are more than empty cosplay—these scenes invoke the sacred and enchanted power of cognitive teleportation. In doing so, the film explicitly explores the transportive power of movies: as a magical space where artists can tap into indeterminate feelings and make them transubstantiate into visceral, virtual realities.
The Place of No Words is currently on Hulu—watching with box of tissues nearby is highly recommended.
TV Recommendation — Bosch
Byron Lafayette: Bosch is a neo-noir crime drama from Amazon Studios based on the bestselling Harry Bosch novels by Michael Connelly. The television show ran for seven seasons and followed LAPD Detective Hieronymus Bosch (Titus Welliver) as he solved murders, investigated conspiracies, and rooted out corruption within the police force. The theme of the program was the phase by which Bosch lived his life: “Everybody counts or nobody does.”
The show had a revolving set of colorful supporting characters, both heroes and villains, who all had their own seasonal stories. The series was noted for its tight writing and gripping narratives. Bosch came to an end in 2021 with Season 7, which saw Harry Bosch solve one last crime and then turn in his badge in a fit of anger over the LAPD’s conduct.
A new continuation is coming to Amazon subsidiary
IMDb TV Freevee this May. Bosch: Legacy will now follow Bosch as he adjusts to his new life as a PI serving LA’s underbelly. It also promises to showcase a new cast of characters as well as his daughter’s journey as an Officer in the LAPD.
If you are a fan of hard-boiled gritty detective noirs then I would highly recommend you try out Bosch on Amazon Prime.
Gaming Recommendation — LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga
Hawk Ripjaw: LEGO games, who hasn’t played at least one of them in their childhood? Whether it be LEGO Island or one of the more modern Traveller’s Tales licensed games, many gamers today can count LEGO games among their library in their burgeoning gaming career. Traveller’s Tales has been handling the franchise since 2005 with the original LEGO Star Wars game, and until now has generally stuck to the same gameplay blueprint across a multitude of different properties. LEGO Star Wars: The Skywalker Saga shakes things up in the best way across all nine Star Wars movies.
The Skywalker Saga adopts a more third-person action formula, moving the camera behind the character and integrating a surprisingly deep melee combo system that is rewarding in combo discovery, but works just as well as a button masher if you or your co-op teammate is more inclined. Controlling characters with a blaster feels just as good, with cover mechanics and over-the-shoulder shooting feeling tight and responsive. The triple-digit roster of playable characters has some overlap in abilities, but Traveller’s Tales has taken the care to make several characters, especially the saber-wielding ones, have specific styles congruent with their lore.
This game is shockingly huge. Every planet featured in the mainline Star Wars film series is featured here, with a large amount of them having explorable open world environments. These open world segments have side quests, secrets, and countless opportunities to collect “studs,” the little LEGO pieces that have been the currency to unlock new stuff since the very beginning. These studs are used to unlock an overwhelmingly large roster of new characters, buy goofy cheats (such as replacing blaster and saber sounds with verbal “pew pew” noises), and feed into upgrade trees specific to a new class-based system in which every character falls into a certain category that informs their in-game abilities.
This is also one one of the funniest games I’ve played in a long time. There are plenty of Star Wars-themed inside jokes (including some serious deep cuts referencing meme-heavy material), and nearly non-stop slapstick humor, but the game reaches further with pop culture gags and some really bizarre jokes that appeal to the grown-up audience that started with the original games. There is even some broader material like an extended joke referencing the film Spartacus (retrofitted with its own flavor in line with the game’s humor) and you really get the feeling that the writers and developers were going for material that appeals to the masses, but has bits that some will immediately get–but they’re still funny without context. I was laughing out loud consistently with how effortlessly silly the game was.
I’ve spent, at the time of this writing, about 40 hours in The Skywalker Saga, and I’m still having a blast. The writing is hilarious with a clear passion for the franchise, the gameplay is a blast, and there’s so much else to discover with interesting puzzles that find a perfect balance for the age of the player. It was more than worth the wait.