IndieCade Game Review: Atuel


Atuel is a documentary game about the Atuel River Valley in Argentina. Throughout the game, you learn about the history of the river and the culture/cultural practices surrounding the river through voiceovers done by local residents in Spanish. For English speakers, they provide English subtitles. I agree with the choice not to dub over the Spanish audio for the English version because if they did the testimonies of the local residents would not feel authentic. One of Atuel’s strengths is its breathtaking imagery. Atuel proves that a game doesn’t have to have photorealistic models and ray tracing to be beautiful. The game uses color and sound really well in order to bring out the beauty of simple models for the vegetation and landscapes. Overall, Atuel is a unique 20-minute experience that I would recommend to pretty much anyone.

Gameplay and Mechanics 

In Atuel, the gameplay and mechanics kind of take a back seat. The focus of the player is directed to the scenery and the stories of the local residents. The player moves around the world by controlling the flow of a river, then as fish in the river, as a cloud, as a fox, as a cloud again, as a bird, and finally as the river again. The movement is rather simple, (usually simple WASD movement with one or two exceptions), which allowed me to comfortably read the English captions while still moving around the world. Something interesting about this game is that the player does not control the camera in this game, which allows the developers to dictate the scenery the player sees. For most of the game, this works really well, but for the fox section, I found the way the camera interacted with the movement very annoying. At some points in this section, it felt like I was actively fighting the camera. I felt the camera wasn’t effectively showing me the path ahead and sometimes a rock in the foreground would block out a large portion of my screen. This temporarily broke my emersion and caused frustration in what was otherwise a really zen game. Another issue worth mentioning is during my first playthrough I got a bug in the section where you play as a cloud and have to put out a wildfire by raining, which caused me to restart the game from the beginning in order to progress. 


The game runs very well. I suspect that you could run it on virtually any machine, which is a big plus for a game meant to educate people.

Final Thoughts

Would I recommend this game? Yes, but I wouldn’t recommend it as a game. I feel like if you recommend a game to someone, they expect some sort of mechanics to improve at. To be able to get better and compete either against themselves or against others. Or they expect some open-world adventure where they spend hours exploring and learning the deep lore behind the world. This is not the case for Atuel. Atuel is more of an experience, and for this reason, I would recommend it as something you should do, instead of a game you should play.


Artist Statement

For my final project, I wanted to do a game about planting trees and solving environmental problems. I grew up in rural New Hampshire, so I always took having a close relationship with nature for granted. Now, living in a city for most of the year, I find myself longing for that connection. With this game, I wanted to bring some of the wonders of nature to people who might not normally enjoy it, hopefully encouraging people to plant trees and help make their city or town more green. Another inspiration for this game is Atuel, a documentary game showcased at IndieCade 2022, which teaches the player about the Atuel River Valley in Argentina. Atuel is filled with stories from locals describing the deep spiritual connection they and their ancestors have with the river. While my game does not include stories such as this, I hope the mechanics and feeling of the world can help the player form a spiritual connection with nature. The name of my game at the moment is “Treedom” but that is subject to change. Treedom is a 2D platformer set in a forested environment. However, in this forest, something is off. The plants and animals are unhappy and some are even angry. The player navigates the world trying to fix these problems. The first enemy (and the only enemy right now, though I plan to continue this project and add more in the future) is an acorn. When they player strikes the acorn with his shovel (clicking mouse 1) the acorn is pushed into the ground and grows into a red tree. This tree is climbable and allows the player to navigate to places they could not have otherwise. Some other enemy/level ideas include a level where you enter a bee hive and have to calm down the hungry bees by collecting honey for them, another type of seed that grows into a tree you can wall jump off of, and a flock of birds you have to lead on their migration.  I am also in the process of outlining a story for the game that helps tie these events, ideas, and levels together to hopefully have my player go out and develop a relationship with nature.

Playtest 1

Notes from the first playtest

  • Finalize models
  • Jumping wasn’t working quite right
  • The level needs more work to feel interesting
  • The background feels really empty

Build of Game At First Playtest

(see class folder)

Current Build of the Game

Below is a quick clip of some gameplay from the current build which you can download below.


(see class folder)

Tilesets/Art Used


Wiki Edit Wars


  • 2 or more players choose a Wikipedia page to edit.
  • Each player edits the page and adds false, but not harmful, information.
  • The longer the word count of the edit the more potential points it is worth.
  • After 3 days the longest remaining edit wins.
  • Do not delete anything on the page wiki page.
  • Do not edit anything that is “important”. For example, do not edit the Wikipedia page about a scientific concept.


The group chose to edit the Wikipedia page on toothpaste (the following gallery displays the additions made by the four players.

The winning edit was:

Artist Statement

For this intervention, I wanted to intervene in people’s search for information and show people how easy it is to spread false information. The main inspirations for Wiki Edit War are Crowd-Sourced Intelligence Agency (CSIA) and Going Viral by Derek Curry and Jennifer Gradecki. Unlike Going Viral, which uses deepfakes to correct misinformation spread about COVID by celebrities, I aimed to highlight how easy it is to spread false information. I chose Wikipedia as the medium for this game because of how easy it is to edit and because for most of my life my teachers have told us not to use Wikipedia because “anyone can edit it,” so I wanted to test this. I quickly learned that most of the “important” pages are no longer available to be edited by the public (i.e. pages about public figures, companies, organizations, scientific principles, and major historical events). However, there are still plenty of pages that are still editable, including my experimental design teacher’s wiki page (Celia Pearce). So while I was exploring this project I added a sentence or two to the page (it was actually constructive, don’t worry). It’s still there at the moment though. Getting back to the game, the rules are pretty simple. The players find a Wikipedia page to edit and each of them adds a random funny edit to it, with the goal of trying to have the longest remaining edit at the end of the 3-day period (or the last edit remaining if none of them make it the full three days). There were also some rules put in place to minimize the risk of doing any real harm. These rules were: do not delete anything on the page wiki page and do not edit anything that is “important” (though this is much harder to do because wiki won’t let you edit most pages that could cause harm). My playtesters chose to edit the page on toothpaste, and while the game was a little quicker than I expected it to be (it only lasted 30 minutes which is probably due to the heavy traffic on this page) I can happily say that it was quite enjoyable, and at least a couple of Wikipedia uses got to learn about “Democratic Toothpaste.”

Building Bridges


Click on the gallery to view the rulebook in full size


Artist Statement:

The main thing that inspired me to appropriate chess is Yoko Ono’s White Chess. I loved how just changing the color of the pieces she could turn a war game into a protest of the Vietnam War. I wanted to do something similar with my work, I wanted to turn the competitive atmosphere around chess on its head to make a game about cooperation and building relationships. While thinking about chess I was reminded of Backgammon. I remember a lot of the boards I played chess on as a kid had a backgammon board on the back. I never learned how to play, but I always thought they looked like bridges. This reminded me of the idiom “build bridges, not walls,” which would inspire me to use the backgammon board as a bridge between the two sides of the chess board. The players would have to work together to make the pieces on each side of all the bridges match in as few turns as they could (chess pieces move the same way they do in a normal chess game). I playtested this iteration and found what the players did to be really repetitive and boring. Because all pawns moved forward the simplest way to win was just to move the pawns forward until all the bridges were filled with just pawns. I realized this pretty early on in the playtest, so I introduced a die the player had to roll (in this case I used a four-sided die). They would roll at the beginning of each turn to decide how many pieces they could move that turn. While this did cut down on the repetitiveness of the game, it caused another problem. Since the die numbered 1-4, if a player rolled a bunch of ones, the other player would finish first and then just have to wait around while their teammate figured it out. Furthermore, at this point, it did not feel like chess and backgammon combined. It was just a weird take on chess with a backgammon board slammed in the middle. To fix these issues before the final presentation I implemented new rules and mechanics. I added the pucks from backgammon, which could be moved by rolling a die (a six-sided die this time). These pucks would act as rafts, and they could carry pieces from the bridge the raft was on to a bridge to the right. This allowed for new strategies and made it harder to make a mistake that would lose the players the game outright. Furthermore, the die roll also displayed how many pieces the player could move, but in this case, if the number was even they got to move two pieces and if the number was odd they got to move one piece. This change made the die serve more than one purpose and decreased the time players spent waiting for their teammates to move. Finally, I made a rulebook with lots of pictures to clearly communicate the rules of the game to the players. In this rulebook, I added a scoreboard so players see how they did compare to other teams.

Initial Playtest Photos:

Final Playtest Photos:


Art of Layers

Art of Layers

Find 4 People

One person fills a whole piece of paper with drawings using colored pencils

The second fills a piece of paper using paint or makers

The third blindfolds himself and cuts up one of these pieces of art

The final person glues pieces of their choice to the uncut art, making a new piece of art.


Artist Statement

While I think scores can be fun and beautiful, they do have downsides. The main downside of scores is that they are hard to document. The art of scores is often felt in the doing, making it hard to document the feelings and explain scores to other people. My main goal for this project was to have a score that was not only fun to do but resulted in a piece of art you could bring home. A piece of art that would last far past the duration of the score. My biggest inspiration for this score was exquisite corpse. When we played exquisite corpse in class that first day the results it just wowed me. It fascinated me how the vastly different drawings could blend together so seamlessly to make a cohesive and visually impressive product. Like the exquisite corpse, I looked to add some sort of hidden element to my score, hence, the blindfold. I was further inspired by indeterminate music from the likes of John Cage and David Tudor such as Music of Changes. I found this random element that caused the score to sound different every time very alluring, which inspired the choice to have two drawings/paintings. Having the blindfolded person cut one of these drawings/paintings adds that random chance element, so even if they were given the same drawings from a previous run through the score, the resulting piece would almost certainly be different. However, what I dislike about indeterminate music is I find it doesn’t really sound good. There is almost too much random in many of these pieces. I had originally considered also having the blindfolded person glue and place the pieces they cut out onto the first drawing. Not only did I think this would kind of be a nightmare to perform because glue and blindfold don’t exactly seem like the best combo, but I also wanted to reign in the randomness of the score. Listening to Music of Changes is rough because it lacks purpose. It doesn’t feel like it is going anywhere. By allowing another person to place these cut-outs on the uncut paper the random chance element contributes to the piece because there is the intention behind where the 4th person places the cut-out. It allows for the random chance to create new meaning rather than drowning out the purpose behind the piece.


Person 1:

Person 2:

Person 4:

Final Product: