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Video Game / Quadrilateral Cowboy

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When you have a top-of-the-line hacking deck armed with a 56.6k modem and a staggering 256k RAM, it means just one thing: you answer only to the highest bidder.
— The Steam description

Quadrilateral Cowboy is a 2016 first-person platforming/spy/hacking game developed by Blendo Games for PC, known for their previous works Gravity Bone and Thirty Flights of Loving. The main gameplay consists of utilizing the Deck, a high speed (for the setting) wireless interface, to set up and use a variety of interesting Schizo Tech gadgets, like controllable turrets and walking drones to solve puzzles.

The story, much like Gravity and Loving, is told without dialogue, but the plot is much easier to piece together this time around. You play as a young woman in a poncho as part of a 3-woman team of hackers/spies, who are hired to do a variety of jobs like stealing bank vaults or gathering sensitive intel for your client.

Compare and contrast Uplink and Hacknet.


tropelist: list all tropes for this piece of media in alphabetical order.

  • All Your Powers Combined: Poncho gains Lou and Maisy's abilities for the final two missions.
  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: While the Vinylman seems like an absurd piece of Schizo Tech impracticality, a smaller-than-CD "pocket Discman" reminiscent of a handheld circular saw was actually manufactured by Sony.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Judging by photos in her teammate's apartments, Poncho's skin is very slightly darker than that of either of her friends, which may suggest one explanation for why she never uncovers her hair. The other explanation, of course, is that she's trying to hide cybernetic implants.
  • And Now for Someone Completely Different: Three missions in the game have you controlling Lou and Maisy instead of Poncho. Lou is more athletic and flexible than Poncho, and Maisy has a few special gadgets, but neither of them can use hacking abilities.
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  • Anti-Hero: The protagonists are a team of mercenary-like hackers who steal things because they're paid to. With "things" sometimes being downloaded comatose human minds.
  • Art Shift: All photographs in the game are two-dimensional, hand-drawn and fairly realistic, in contrast with the blocky 3D models. Additionally Poncho's arm is much more detailed when you see it before it folds out into a minigun.
  • Auto Doc: Poncho uses one to upgrade her cybernetics for the last two missions.
  • Bedmate Reveal: Both Maisy and Poncho leave a guy sleeping in their apartments when they leave to go to work.
  • Black Market: Chu-Chu's Contractor's Warehouse, where the team gets most of their tech upgrades.
  • Bookcase Passage: Two in the Valencia Villa. The downstairs library has a small safe inside a cubby accessed by pulling out the right book; the upstairs bedroom has a larger safe in a full room accessed by pulling the right potted plant.
  • Bookends: The prologue and the epilogue both have Poncho chasing a train on a hoverbike.
  • Brains and Brawn: Maisy and Lou. The former seems to be much more into tech, and the latter is clearly much more into push-ups.
  • Brain Uploading: One of the jobs entails downloading brains from comatose patients.
  • The Caper: Every level is some kind of elaborate heist.
  • Caper Crew: Impala Solutions, specifically during the missions where all three characters are playable; Poncho cases the area and photographs the objectives, Maisey forces open doors and vents, and Lou scales walls and squeezes through cracks.
    • Maisey and Lou in particular need to time their actions to each other's runs; if Maisey holds open a door on her run, it'll be open in the same timeframe on Lou's run and she'll need to make sure she gets through before it closes.
  • Cassette Futurism: For starters, Poncho hacks using a briefcase-sized (as well as concealed within a case) portable computer and DOS-esque command code.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Chu-Chu's Contractor's Warehouse has a number of weapons on display, including a bazooka and a sword. Later, Lou and Maisy use those weapons to fight off the killer robots.
  • Continuity Nod: The epilogue includes every photograph previously seen in the carpool scenes, Poncho's degree, Impala Solutions' business registration certificate, and the stack of rejection letters from before they built the VR system.
    • The game seems to take place in Nuevos Aires much like certain other games by Brendon Chung. Though whether they share a specific universe or just certain names and consistencies isn't clear.
  • Contortionist: Lou, and eventually Poncho, as a result of their bionic 'jellybones' enhancements. This allows them to get through gaps that are three sizes too small for their heads alone.
  • Cool Airship: The crew upgrades to this after their old hideout is destroyed.
  • Cyborg: Greaser and Poncho become this in the final stretch of the game- Greaser gets clawboots, strong jumping legs and the ability to dislocate her bones to allow her to slide through any hole, while Poncho outfits herself with a minigun arm and a combat program. Poncho later upgrades to Greaser's tech.
  • Distant Finale: The epilogue takes place long after Poncho's two other comrades have died, with Poncho returning to her old home to retrieve a photo of them together.
  • Distinctive Appearances: Poncho's poncho and head covering, Maisey's glasses, and Lou's scar. All of these (except the poncho) can be seen in a monochrome childhood photo allowing the characters to still be recognizable.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The game ends with the crew completing their biggest heist ever, and laughing it all off. Judging by the photos in Poncho's house, she seems to have continued to be friends with them for years.
  • Everything Is Online: The Telenet program in the Deck allows you to hack, among other things, locked doors, lasers, and bridges.
  • Explosive Decompression: If you go outside in any of the space levels without the air tank, your head explodes after a few seconds with a cartoonish pop.
  • Fiery Coverup: After the attack on the first hideout, the team recovers all the essential equipment and burns the rest.
  • Fight Unscene: When Impala's hideout is stormed by robots Poncho raises her arm, turns it into a gatling gun, and loads up combat_trance_mk5.exe. Static fills your vision and when Poncho comes out of it all the robots are destroyed.
  • Food End: After the last heist and before the epilogue; Poncho, Maisey and Lou have noodle bowls together in celebration of their success.
  • Foreshadowing: Lou's room has a manual of ultra-climbing techniques and a textbook on cyber limb maintenance. By the time the crew moves to the airship she's revealed to have a couple cybernetic implants, one of which allows her to climb significantly higher ledges than other characters.
  • Fun with Acronyms: Maisy, Poncho, and Lou name their group Impala Solutions after an acronym of their first initials (MPL). A blackboard in the intro shows a number of other, crossed out ideas made from other arrangements of letters. They eventually narrowed it down to 'Ampoule' and 'Impala'.
  • Never Bare Headed: Poncho's worn her head covering since childhood and only has it off twice; immediately after waking up and in a photograph where she's deploying her minigun arm while in pajamas.
  • Plug 'n' Play Prosthetics: Getting new limbs is as easy as sticking the right limb into a vending machine, waiting for the whirring noises to stop, and pulling it out good as new. There's even one for just the torso. Anyone's guess how that works. This may be easier for Poncho since she already has some cybernetics.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Maisy, who develops the door jam and the buzz saw after the team moves to the airship. A prototype version of the weevil magnet can also be found on her desk during her carpool scene.
  • Game Within a Game: Inside Lou's apartment, you can find and play Airplane, an Interactive Fiction game created in-game by Lou and Maisy.
  • Hacker Cave: The hideout where the team plans their missions.
  • Hollywood Hacking: Generally averted. While it does have a few unrealistic things, like various objects being connected to Telnet for no clear reason, the actual programming aspect is portrayed fairly realistically.
  • Hover Bike: The gang has a few, which they use to board the train in the prologue.
  • I Call It "Vera": All tools in the game get a codename in the Epilogue.
  • Intellectual Animal: Chu-Chu, a cat who runs the black market shop. Notably, Chu-Chu doesn't disguise the fact that they're a cat even when the shop is in its 'bike repair' disguise.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Along with sniper rifles and rocket launchers, katanas can be seen on the walls in Chu-Chu's black market shop. They also appear to be electrified.
    • When robots attack Impala's hideout Poncho's arm turns into a minigun, Maisey uses a rocket launcher, and Lou wields an electric katana.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Poncho's clothes are on the floor during her carpool scene. She has a fresh outfit hanging on the door. Both are the same outfit, down to an identical poncho.
  • Mini-Game: You can play a game of badminton with Lou in-between story missions.
  • Minimalist Cast: Played with. The only recurring characters are Impala Solutions and Chu-Chu. Only one heist has other humans in it, and they're comatose. Besides this, the only other characters are Maisey and Poncho's respective partners (both of whom are sleeping and show up once) and a small crowd in the scene just before the epilogue.
  • Mission Control: The implication of each level is that Poncho is planning the heist in virtual reality. Presumably the commands entered in the planning phase are used by Maisey and Lou to actually carry it out.
    • During the levels where all three characters are playable, Poncho is explicitly in this role, as well as shades of The Chessmaster. Aside from locating and marking objectives, Poncho also runs through the heist using simulations of Maisey and Lou to directly coordinate their actions and abilities.
  • Nerd Glasses: Enginami/Maisey has them.
  • No Name Given: The three women (along with almost everyone else) aren't named in the course of the story, though your teammates do get codenames in the latter half of the story. Their actual names can be found during the carpool missions and in the epilogue. The main character's Poncho, the redhead's Lou/Greaser, and the brunette in glasses is Maisey/Enginami.
  • Public Domain Soundtrack: You're best advised to mute it and put on your own music unless you enjoy the same few low-fidelity renditions of "Auld Lang Syne" and "Clair de Lune" genuinely too old for any copyright term extension to grasp.
  • Programming Game: Hacking and many gadget controls are carried out through terminal commands.
  • Robotic Reveal: The attack on the hideout shows that Poncho is partially machine, as her arm transforms into a minigun, Syndicate style to fight off the attacking robots.
  • Romance Novel: Several scenes have Maisey reading a pulpy romance novel called Young Violent Love.
  • Scars are Forever: Lou has a scar running down one side of her mouth. Judging by photographs she's had the scar since childhood and it never goes away, even in old age.
  • Schizo Tech: It's essentially a cyberpunk universe with 80's-style software.
  • Space Elevator: The Abby Yoyo Space Elevator, seen in Repulse Bay Clinic and the setting of the last level.
  • Speaking Simlish: Character dialogue is reminiscent of the 'muted trumpets' effect from Charlie Brown.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Lou and Maisy. If either of them isn't working on something in the hideout, Lou will do exercises while Maisy will read a romance novel.
  • True Companions: The crew grew up in the same orphanage, have been working together since college, at the very least, and the epilogue shows that they remain close friends even long after they quit the business.
  • Wham Shot: Two right in a row. The first is a group of armed robots bursting into your hideout after you complete a group of missions. The second is Poncho's arm transforming into a minigun, showing that she's a cyborg.
  • Wrench Wench: All three of the main characters. Poncho seems to have more software experience but both Maisey and Lou can be seen tinkering and performing maintenance on their computer systems and robot limbs.
    • The carpool scenes reveal that both Maisey and Lou have degrees in engineering while Poncho has a degree in electrical science.
    • A couple of signs and an old photograph seem to imply that the crew ran a repair service before going into corporate espionage.