The Ugly Monster
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The Ugly Monster

Playing Every Game in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality

PEGBRJE: Subterrarium and monad

Simple, Short, Infinite.

I’m not very good at this…

Subterrarium is a puzzle game created by Taylor Anderson, an indie game dev based out of Canada. Players find themselves stuck underground with only a single ladder out. This ladder, for some reason, has a cost attached to it. Players have to PAY to use it. Blame capitalism, I guess. The protagonist has little choice. They must climb their way out utilizing anything they can find along the way.

The major gameplay of Subterrarium revolves around the players ability to maneuver through the underground cave network to reach the top, while also having enough currency left over to afford it. Each dirt block miraculously contains a single coin, so digging through dirt will allow for the player to afford the escape. Unfortunately, the more one digs through the dirt the less stable floor and usable climbing materials exist, so planning a route is imperative.

Players can move up one square above a dirt block in order to ‘climb’ to the next, rather than digging through, which allows for simple maneuverability. This also means that players can dig straight up one square if necessary. Upon moving horizontal, however, if there is no block immediately underneath the player will drop down until they find one. If the player is not careful, this rule could also apply to the entire cave system itself. If there are no dirt blocks in a row the entire cave shifts down — after all, gravity still exists.

Where Subterrarium becomes a little more funky is in the usage of soda, which I swore were batteries on first glance. These are found within the cave system within curious vending machines, and cost a variable amount of coins to buy (which gets rid of the vending machine). While owning at least a single soda, players can use their jetpack and go a second square above the nearest dirtblock, traversing areas that may have gotten the player stuck originally.

Sodas can also be used to ‘water’ some of the objects stuck in the dirt, to give different effects. Examples include mushrooms that spawn throughout the empty spaces of the row, daffodil-like flowers that creates a large 3x3 climbable surface, and bombs that just blow up the area. Using these abilities will consume that soda, but their ability to completely alter how to approach the escape can make it worth the while. I especially found the mushrooms to be a personal crutch as unlike every other special power in the blocks, they were able to withstand falling blocks and provide safe haven in times of panic.

Including both a challenge mode of set levels and an adventure mode of constantly randomized rooms, Subterrarium takes an interesting idea of focusing on route creation and adds some fun flair to it. It can take a bit to get the hang of, and is definitely harder than I expected, but if you love traversal puzzles that can be easily restarted and go forever, this is one to try out.


monad is a visual experience created by Glenn Essex, an indie developer who focuses on the surreal and the abstract. Players will be able to create black and white circles in an empty space to express the fulfillment of movement and creation.

Players of monad will find themselves in a blank screen, with only the simple instructions to touch or click. Upon doing so, circles will begin to expand of either black or white, depending on which was formed previously, until they expand too far and simply vanish in to the void. This process can be sped up somewhat by a scrolling bar on the side, or slowed down to a crawl with the same bar. Once this has been figured out, players will realize that this is the game in its entirety; witnessing shapes sprawl across the screen in a terrifying harmony as small tones play throughout the backdrop.

It’s hard to delve in to monad and what it means/does, so I won’t. It’s a game focused on spaces. How you as the player interpret what these mean is entirely the point; for you to simply escape in to this bizarre black and white world and witness circles. There is no ‘why’ that I’m aware of, so the reasons are completely up to you and your own imagination. If you need this style of game, one that decides to break out of reality and exist on a plane of utter abstract surrealism, then go forth and create circles.

Best played in the dark. Trust me. Even more abstract circles.

Links I guess? What do they mean though?




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Jacob Vorstenbosch

Jacob Vorstenbosch

Just a Game Dev who decided to take on the monumental task of giving an overview of all 59 pages in the bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. We keep going.

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