I’ve felt a lot of goodwill toward Brendan Chung ever since Citizen Abel: Gravity Bone blew my young mind with its expert melding of interactivity and narrative. Quadrilateral Cowboy sounded like a game he was
However, the game was frequently delayed, and as development dragged on, my interest waned. By the time the game was finally released, my excitement had burned out, and I could hardly muster a shrug. I bought the game at launch and made a token effort to play through it before moving on. I was a victim of my own enthusiasm.
In any case, while struggling to figure out what games I could actually play to completion, I had the idea to give this game another try.
Quadrilateral Cowboy seems to exist in the same bizarre, loosely defined universe as the Citizen Abel games. It’s a world of intrigue where contract wetwork is a simple day job. You play as a member of a contractor group that accepts jobs to carry out heists. Acquisitions, if you will.
The game consists of several such heists, each one in a different location and requiring
Between each heist is a vignette that silently establishes the three main characters and the world they live in.
THE SMALL DETAILS
That bears repeating; it’s really the small details that bring the game alive. The gameplay itself suffers from the problem of eternally feeling like a tutorial. Each heist brings about its own twist that you must once again learn. You’re then asked to immediately put it into practice, usually in a very simple obstacle. The game never gets very creative with its implements. The last level does a decent job bringing everything together, but even then it doesn’t feel very creative. When you’ve got a belt full of gadgets, a team of people with different skill sets, and a deck full of
The game world does its best attempt to tie everything together. It exists in the nebulous world that Brendan Chung has put together; an odd cyberpunk dreamworld where vinyl records never lost their dominance and strange ramen combinations make the foundation of people’s diets. Cyber-limbs co-exist with clunky analog computer equipment. It’s this weirdly intriguing world that just feels like a nice place to hang around. It’s inviting to probe the margins for the little things that give hints of what life is like here.
It feels more lik Brendan Chung enjoys building these worlds than putting a game together, something that is evidenced by the fact that his Citizen Abel games rarely actually involve a true gameplay loop. I’d probably prefer it if things were slowed down a bit more. I’d rather explore the world more. I’d rather ride the space elevator than rob it. I think Brendan might be better suited to making a game like Bernband rather than these spy thrillers, but I’m not someone who should be giving career advice.
I’ve probably made it sound like I don’t really like the game, but that’s not entirely true, I just don’t feel it lives up to its potential. My initial read of the game was that it was a hacking game like Uplink but with a first
I really just wish it would have slowed down a bit. You’re constantly on a timer — there
On the other hand, if you were a fan of Gravity Bone and Thirty Flights of Loving, the same great world building and style is present here. It’s really what Blendo Games excels at. It’s what was doodled in the margins that makes the game worth playing.
This review was conducted using a digital Steam version of the game. It was paid for by the author.