Based on the title of the game, what a pleasant surprise this was. Quadrilateral Cowboy is a sci-fi thriller puzzle action game that makes you feel like a truly elite hacker as you pull off heist after heist. Whether the sci-fi thriller part was what the developer intended is up to them, but what a feeling this game gives you! When you boot up the first simulation and start pecking away at your keyboard, I can’t explain the rush I felt while I tapped into a nearby security system to open up a locked door to grab the goods.
You control a computer hacker from the 1980s, armed with the latest and greatest technology at the time. We are talking like 256k RAM you guys! You’ll run your heists through a VR unit that allows you to take control of an agent on the ground performing one of many heists, moving quickly through the secure buildings while programming strings of command to get you from point A to point B, then back to point A.
A lot of the security systems you will run into have timers (many being 3 second alarms) so you usually only have a couple of seconds to perform the next step while the security system is disabled. What’s truly awesome about this game is that you can put together a string of commands that will allow you to unlock a door, disable a camera while the door relocks, grab the goods, unlock the door again, and get out of there before the camera that would have otherwise tripped the alarms comes back online. Hopefully that all made sense.
The aesthetic of the game feels familiar. I read some blurbs from the developer Brendon Chung saying that there are some influences from books like Neuromancer and Snow Crash. I personally haven’t read Neuromancer, but I definitely need to now! Snow Crash though, I get. There is nothing fancy here about the graphics, which is cool with me. Crazy good graphics would definitely have detracted from the overall vibe of the game, and honestly, I find the look of Quadrilateral Cowboy quite charming.
Quadrilateral Cowboy simplifies the computer language down to basics, so you won’t need a degree in Computer Science in order to figure out what to do and type next. Which is good, because the pacing moves nicely as you are only typing in a few commands at a time to advance to the next part of the level. There are also some action element to it, so you’ll be running around, climbing, and sneaking through levels while performing your computer skills.
You’ll also get some nifty gadgets like the weevil that will allow for remote control and access to object that would be limited to the character based on size or proximity. Each level will build in complexity as you gain more gadgets, and sometimes the answers aren’t always so clear. The best feature may be the no-clip feature which will allow you to move around the level to size up what the next challenges are ahead.
There is some integration with your friends if you play through Steam, like allowing character to leave notes in particular areas that their friends will find as they navigate that level. Whether you leave some helpful tips or trash talk is up to you, because each level has a timer that can rank you vs. your buddies on who can get through the level the quickest. Other great little nuggets pop up here and there outside the missions as you learn more about your group of accomplices and their personalities and motivations.
Overall, Quadrilateral Cowboy is a game that swept me off my feet. I’m truly impressed with the game and I am looking forward to what the modding community has planned for it going forward as well. This may be no triple-A multi-million dollar game, but it feels like a gem that should be getting just as much hype and love in the PC community.
This review is based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
Gameplay - 9/10
Design - 9/10
Plot - 9/10
Quadrilateral Cowboy is a solid puzzle game that should definitely find its way into your Steam favorites section. I know it’s found its way into mine.