Racial Justice Bundle – Didn’t Make the Cut #1

All the games I played, but didn’t grab me enough to get their own full article.

A massive amount of the stuff I’ve been playing has been from the racial justice bundle, and there’s a lot of stuff that for whatever reason, either never grabbed me, or I didn’t feel like writing a full article about. So here are three of the things that were just sorta “Meh” to me, but might be your cup of tea. Or not. Maybe they’re just kinda lousy.


You have a team of robots. Control them with a robust visual programming languages. Solve challenges with them. I did the tutorial, got through a few levels, and just sorta dropped it. Nothing about it really grabbed me, or made me super interested. I found myself just spamming the same sets of AI over and over, and then tweaking them if they lost, then just spamming them again. For games like this, I feel like the moment that really sells the game is where you try to get some sort of tricky or clever plan to work, and you pull it off. I never had one of these with Gladiabots.


For some reason, when I downloaded it, this game was like four gigs. I’m torn between calling it Instagram Filter Simulator and Acid Trip Simulator, but since I’ve never actually done acid, I’m just gonna call it Instagram Filter Simulator.

I do not know why you would play this. It’s trippy without purpose or rules, and by the end felt like I was having a headache. If you have to run a Call of Cthulhu game, and have no idea how to describe things that are unseeable, this might be a decent placeholder. Otherwise, I’d say skip it.


Bestiary is far more “experimental writing prompt” than game. Look at semi-randomly generated pictures of monsters. Write something down. Rinse, repeat. That’s it. It’s amusing for like 5 minutes, but after that, feels pointless.

Sky Rogue

Blast through the air in a minimalistic flight game/dog fight game.

I like to beat games before I write about them. I have not beaten Sky Rogue, but I’m gonna write about it anyway. This is because I don’t think I’m going to beat it anytime soon.

Sky Rogue is a minimalist flight sim and dog fighter, where you select from a set of colorful planes, load them out with enough weaponry to wipe out a small country, and then proceed to blow up repeatedly when you fail to accurately estimate the distance between you and the ground. Or you and the hanger you’re trying to bomb. Or you and the two enemy drones with chainguns. Or a surface to air missile turret.

Your experience may vary.

What I’ve learned primarily from Sky Rogue is that I am very bad at flight sims, even those of the most simplified kind, and even if I can usually finish a run of a roguelike, Sky Rogue demands a level of execution that I currently don’t have. If I beat it at some point in the next week, I’ll update this article.

So, what’s the loop then? As the name would suggest, Sky Rogue is a roguelike. The roguelike element is primarily present in the set of unlockable planes and weapons. While unlocking equipment is permanent between runs, the upgrades you purchase with cash for your planes and gear are not. There are two main resources:

  • Tech, which persists between runs and functions as a sort of exp for unlocking more equipment/planes.
  • Cash, which is lost and death and is used to upgrade gear during a run.

As far as roguelike elements go, it’s pretty minimal. Missions and environments are randomly generated, and upgrades are lost on death, but you don’t really have to scavenge for parts or weapons. Destroying enemy structures and planes during a mission grants cash, which can be spent on upgrading the planes or equipment of your choice. Most of the upgrades I’ve seen so far have been primarily numerical, i.e., extra capacity, damage, or targeting range. This meant I usually just upgraded whatever gear I was using, instead of being forced to adapt my run based on pickups.

In addition, you can fully heal and re-arm at any point during a level by returning to base (as long as you haven’t completed the mission), so there’s not as much resource conservation as there might be in something like Dead Cells or Slay the Spire.

So we have a roguelike with permanent unlocks and weapon configuration, free health refills, and a wide selection of gear. In theory this would be easy, which brings us to actual gameplay: flying your plane around, and in my case, into things.

One of the things I was hoping to find in the racial justice bundle was exposure to a bunch of games and mechanics that I wouldn’t otherwise engage with. I’ll be honest, I mostly expected to find narrative games, dating sims, that sorta stuff. Instead, I’ve gotten my ass repeatedly handed to me on each of my runs of Sky Rogue. I’ve gotten about half way through what I think consists of a full run, and I’ve gotten to the first big “Boss” once. It wrecked me.

If I had to give any advice to anyone else tempted to play the game as the result of this review, it would be the following:

  1. Turn off arcade mode. While it might feel better at first, it ultimately prevents you from flipping yourself over, and doing other tricky flight things.
  2. This game is probably better with a flight stick. I wouldn’t know. I don’t own one.
  3. Spam the flares.

Sky Rogue is $20 on, and Steam. The team does have a little blurb noting that if you buy it on, they get more of the money, and you can still get a Steam key if you buy it there.

As 2020 continues to be some sort of Twilight Zone or Tales From The Crypt anthology of garbage, stay safe, wear a mask, and take care of each other. I’ll update this article if I ever beat Sky Rogue.

Night In The Woods

Brutal, honest, true and rending.

Per Gametrodon editorial policy of not burying the lede, I think Night In The Woods is really good, and that you should play it. It’s closer to, say, a point and click adventure game than anything else. While the game might describe itself as a platformer with a few puzzle elements, I suspect these mechanics won’t really challenge anyone. Actually reading the dialog in game was more challenging, not because it’s bad, but because it was so real and accurate that I wanted to close the game and do something else. That might just be a me problem though.

The character interactions and character writing is hands down the strongest part of Night In The Woods. While I don’t want to go too far into the plot, the player primarily controls Mae Borowski, a college student who returns home after dropping out. Her hometown of Possum Springs felt to me like a sort of old town that’s falling apart. A majority of the game is spent traveling around and interacting with her old friends, citizens of the town, and her family.

I think that Night In The Woods is the best written game I’ve ever played. I think it’s better written then Gone Home, and far more human, despite the fact that the characters are all semi-anthropomorphic animals. While I wouldn’t say it achieves the same mesh of narrative and gameplay that defines Celeste, or maybe even Undertale at points, I think the characters, interactions, and world utterly nails the feeling of being there.

It’s hard to discuss Night In The Woods without spoilers, so I think I’ll save that discussion for a second article that I’ll talk about below. I find the game is strongest when it’s handling interactions and friendships, and while the meta-narrative story of the town that sits over it feels weaker, I wouldn’t say it ruins the game. The end also starts to drag a little bit, but I have to wonder if that was a deliberate choice.

If you enjoy games with a highly narrative edge, you should play Night In The Woods. If you want to see what the best writing in gaming looks like, you should play Night In The Woods. That’s not to say it’s a game for everyone. If you play games purely to experience new gameplay mechanics, or to relax, then it may not be for you.

Night In The Woods is $20 on Steam, $20 on, and it looks like every other console as well. But like, if you want to buy it on Switch or something you’ll have to go find it digitally in the store yourself anyway, so I don’t see any reason to bother linking to those places.

Take care of yourself during this very strange time.

Ed. Notes:

I had an extended bit about not burying the lede, only to realize that by writing that intro itself I was burying the lede, and as such, defeating the point of talking about how we don’t bury the lede. It was about pirates and it was great.

Quadrilateral Cowboy

I started Quadrilateral Cowboy on Sunday, and finished it Tuesday. “Well then,” you might be wondering, “If you finished the game so long ago, why don’t you have a post about it up?” To which I would replay “Great question, theoretical fictional person who most likely does not exist outside of my head, but also somehow reads these posts and has an internal sense of how many articles should be posted on this blog per week. I’ve been wondering that also.”

I really like Quadrilateral Cowboy. I think you should play it. However, I’ve had a very hard time trying to figure out how to tell you that, because Quadrilateral Cowboy is supremely weird.

Quadrilateral Cowboy is made by Blendo games, a smaller indie dev that has an aesthetic of strangeness, and a catalog of other games I haven’t played. I’d say this aesthetic might honestly be the biggest thing that would prevent you from picking up the game, because it gives off a very “indie” vibe which I honestly sometimes confuse with entries in the “Move Around and Look At Things That Tell a Narrative” genre.

Some people call these walking simulators, but honestly, I don’t think that’s realistic. Death Stranding simulated walking, as did QWOP and both those games were hard.

So, if you get past the aesthetic and into the game, congrats! The game only has one other small ask of you: to learn a semi-fictional command line programming interface along with a variety of other programs/mild programing, and to be able to execute these with speed, precision, and accuracy.

As such, the game’s primary audience appears to be the coveted overlap of “People who are comfortable engaging with narratives and designs featuring non-traditional protagonists and stories” and “People who are willing to learn fictitious scripting languages and solve fairly tricky and convoluted puzzles.” I’ve provided a visual aid below in the form of a Venn Diagram I’ve titled “QuadCowboyMarketShare.png”

It’s the bit where the circles are touching. I should also note that I’m most definitely in that overlap.

Okay, so you’ve survived this extended intro bit. What is Quadrilateral Cowboy, and why should you play it? Well, primarily it’s a puzzle/heist game. But it has some of the most fun tools I’ve ever seen in a game like this, and they are some of the most satisfying things to use I’ve ever gotten in a video game.

You’ll unlock additional bits and pieces as you go through the game, but the primary way of interacting with the world short of just walking around and grabbing things is your Deck, a portable laptop-esqe chunk of hardware that allows you hack open doors, turn off guard lasers, and other functionality. And when I say hack, I don’t mean some lame minigame. I mean “telnet” style stuff. Hope you like the command line!

There are other tools you’ll get as time goes on, but I’m gonna focus on the two other big ones. The Weevil, a very small remote control robot that can be used to sneak into areas that you can’t fit through, and the Autocase, the most satisfying gun to use that I’ve ever seen in a video game. More on the Autocase later. Let’s talk about the Weevil first.

Just like above, you don’t get a remote control for this thing. You’ll need to plop it down, pull out your Deck and micro-cctv monitor, and then use a series of commands to find and connect to it. Then, you’ll be able to instruct it to walk around, again via the command line, turn left and right, and jump. You might be thinking “That sounds difficult and mildly frustrating,” and you’d be right! Which is why getting it to do what you want is so satisfying.

On a side note, of the two minor gripes I have with the game, one is related to the Weevil, and more specifically, the fact that many situations where you use the Weevil feel a bit too “designed” to be solved in that manner.

Of course, then there is the Auto-case. What is the Autocase you might ask? Why is it great?

The Autocase is my favorite item in the game, and I feel like could sell the entire cyberpunk theme to the game on it’s own. It’s a command line controlled, remote deploy-able, briefcase packaged gun. And it is awesome.

The Autocase doesn’t feel like it suffers from the same problem as Weevil of being designed to solve specific problems. To give an example, sure, you can use the Autocase to just shoot things open, but you can also use it set off triggers and various other things that you would be able to do by hand, but remotely. And this sets up some exceedingly satisfying moments where you remotely can remotely blast buttons to open doors, shatter glass to jump down and escape from an airship, and remotely trigger an emergency release to launch something skyward.

If I have any gripes with the game, it’s that it feels short. I want to play more in this world, and more with these tools. But it also means that the game only feels like it drags a little toward the end, where it introduces a few new mechanics, only to more or less throw them away afterward. These levels were some of the least interesting, at least for me.

Quadrilateral Cowboy is a short game, and I still couldn’t quite tell you the plot, but it’s a fun game, and more importantly, it is a game. You can buy it on, here, or on Steam here. It looks like the normal price is about $20? The price does feel a little high, but its fun, weird, and worth playing. And if you don’t want to pay that much, wait for a sale. It’s definitely worth $10.

Overland – A Game by Finji

I’m going to start by saying that I generally like Overland. Several paragraphs from now, I’m gonna tear the game a new one, but overall, I like it. I hope it makes back its development cost, and I hope Finji as a company makes more games. Overland is good, interesting, and even if it’s not great, it was a solid use of a Sunday afternoon.

This article will contain spoilers. Some for Overland, and some for Hayao Miyazaki’s NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind. You have been warned.

So, Overland is a turn based tactics game that at first glance feels similar to XCOM, but after a few hours, I’m inclined to call it almost more of a puzzle game. Fighting enemies is almost never the best option. This might sound a bit unusual for a tactics game, so lets get into the mechanics to explain why that is.

Each level has a very simple goal: get your car to the end of the level. To do this, you simply need to turn on your car, and drive it off the board. This is pretty simple, except it usually won’t be what you actually want to be doing. Instead, its more likely that your merry crew will leap out like a bunch of clowns, and proceed to run around the level, searching for gas, rocks, first aid kits, broken bottles, and weapons and other gear.

Rocks are apparently very scarce in this apocalypse.

The biggest thing you’ll be searching for is gas because you need it to fuel your car, and by proxy, your apocalypse road trip. Between levels, you’ll drive across the country, choosing to stop at various places, and any amount of travel requires gas. Should you run out of gas, you’ll find yourself playing a bonus level, where you will have to find some more gas. And when I say bonus, the primary bonus you’ll get on these side levels is the chance to be stabbed in the face by some incredibly angry rocks while you attempt to refuel.

Even if you for some reason strike it rich, and have gas to spare, each zone has a ending level with a blockade, and for these you are forced to get out of your car to clear the path ahead. This means breaking down barricades, rocks, and other things while you try to have enough space to run your car through. Unlike many games, your car is not an indestructible slam machine, and ramming anything in an attempt to clear it out of your way is far more likely to damage or destroy your car. So instead, you’ll have to get out, and move things around by hand/axe/improvised molotov cocktail.

So now that we’ve talked about the general gameplay loop and structure, let’s talk about one more detail that plays into why I’d consider the game to be more puzzle than tactics game: enemy AI and the action meter.

Your survivors have an action meter, and this drains from doing almost anything on a turn. Moving? That drains meter. Making an attack? That drains meter. Searching an object in front of you? Drains meter. Turning on your car? Drains meter. Driving said car? Drains meter. The only thing that doesn’t drain meter is swapping items you have on the ground, and between your characters when they stand next to each other. What this means is that unlike something like Fire Emblem, you can’t necessarily move up to an enemy unit and attack it the same turn, because if you moved far enough, you don’t have meter to spend for the attack. So where you have your survivors and what they’re doing is critical. You don’t have actions to waste. Oh, you can only take two hits without gear, and taking one hit makes your character almost useless, halving the amount of actions they can take on a turn.

So what about Enemy AI? Well, it’s very simple. Most enemies have one action. On their turn, they will use this action to move toward the closest source of noise. If they are within range, they will attack instead. Some enemies have two actions, and they can move twice, attack twice, or move an attack. There are a few other enemies that behave differently, but generally speaking, the different ones aren’t inherently aggressive, instead being able to res downed enemies or call in reinforcements.

This is the extent of enemy AI, and this brings me to the last key point about gameplay: killing an enemy will almost always alert additional enemies, who will burrow up from other areas of the map after one or two turns and join the fight. So where does that leave us?

Putting this all together, you get a game where the enemy is easy to predict, but impossible to permanently remove from the board and the player’s characters are incredibly fragile, with very limited actions. These mechanics pull together to create a tactics game where you’re far more likely to want to kite enemies around and distract them, than to actually try to kill them. Movement is a puzzle to solve, not a fight to win. It’s not about killing enemies, or clearing a board; it’s about getting enemies to go where you want, when you want, so you can desperately siphon gas out of an SUV. It’s about looking at the board, and trying to think a few moves ahead, and improvising when/if something goes wrong.

Okay, so, I generally like the gameplay. I really like the art. I think the music is pretty good. Why don’t I think it’s great then?

So lets drive into the spoiler seas to get into this: the narrative meshes miserably with the gameplay and the rest of the game. It fucking sucks. The ending feels like a massive cop-out, and to top it off, it’s not even super original as a concept. When I talked Elevation in a previous post, I noted that because of the story, we don’t have to know why the main character is losing weight. The supernatural aspect of it wasn’t important to that story, but it is important to this one, and the game utterly fails to give any sort of conclusion or ending. After traveling across the entire country, you reach the ocean… and that’s it. There is no reason given for the alien creatures you’ve seen to exist, or explanation. You’ve just reached the end of the world. Credits roll.

So here’s the thing: the idea of some sort of semi-alien ecosystem that is slowly covering the world and making uninhabitable for humans has been done before, and its been done better. NausicaƤ of the Valley of the Wind has this, and it has a much better payoff: the discovery that at the heart of the spreading corruption, the world is slowly being remade and purified from the destruction caused by humanity and during an event called the Seven Days of Fire, which more or less destroyed the entire planet, and all of industrialized society. This is a bittersweet realization as well, because the implication is that humans might either destroy the planet again once it regrows, or that humans might not be part of this regrown world. The planet will survive without us. I wouldn’t call it happy, but it is…. satisfactory. It lets us know that regardless of how the story of our characters ends, there is still hope afterward. That something will continue.

The ending of Overland doesn’t give that whatsoever. I know it could be argued that the journey is more important than the destination, but still. It’s even implied that the entire reason your party of strangers is doing this is to try to get an answer. To see if there is anything left. And not only do they not get it, the player doesn’t get it either. Some games make you want to continue playing so that you can keep diving into the secrets and hidden lore of a world. Overland is the first game I’ve played where I actively want to keep playing the game for the gameplay, but find it actively hard to do so, because no matter what I do, the story ends the same. The world ends. There are no answers. We reach the end of the line.

This is the big thing that frustrates me about Overland, but there are a variety of minor things I find annoying as well. For starters, you can’t do anything out of combat. Someone’s injured, and you have a medkit? Better wait until you’re surrounded by murder crabs again before you pull that out. Run out of fuel, but have a full container on the roof? Better find a scary alleyway to refuel. Why fix your car in the middle of a wide open road when you can do it next to exploding rocks? It feels punishing for no good reason, and it pulls me out of the story the game is trying to tell. The game even has a moment where everyone sets up around a small fire, and talks about what they want to do next, and you can move items around on that screen, but you can’t use them.

In addition, while the game looks amazing, the UI is obtuse and frustrating. There is an option to undo your previous move, but if your move triggers an event, you won’t be able to do this. Misclicking and having someone end up in the wrong place happens a lot. You also can’t rotate the camera fully, which makes seeing a map tricky, and can make it frustrating to place a character exactly where you want them. You can’t tell if something can be interacted with or not until you go right up to it.

Overland is available on iOS and PC. For iOS, it’s on Apple Arcade, and if I was to recommend where to play the game, I feel like it would fit well on mobile. On PC, it’s usually $25, but there’s a sale as I write this on Steam for $15.

I would not pay $25 for it. I would definitely not pay $15. Overland feels like a $10 game to me for what I got out of it. And while it’s beautiful and very enjoyable at parts, my end feelings on it were dissatisfaction, and a lack of closure.

If you like puzzle games, and have an afternoon to spare, Overland might be worth it. But if you pass, you’re not missing anything amazing.