Hey Blerdy Tribe!! It’s Monday once again and I want to kick off the week with some melanin friendly games! If this is your first time here at Blerdy Otome, welcome!
Every Monday I spotlight video games that focus on stories surrounding more diverse casts of characters—for folks like me looking for a bit more representation in their games. Video games are for everyone, so shouldn’t their stories and characters be just as diverse as the people that play them? So I created this series to celebrate games that strive to tell much more diverse stories centering on Black and Brown individuals. But, I welcome all diversity and the series has expanded to include games featuring LGBTQIA rep and characters from other underrepresented groups.
So, if you’re interested in seeing previous melanin friendly games posts, click HERE. This week, I’m spotlighting the sci-fi visual novel, The Sky Left Us, from Ratworm Games.
Planet Zé is characterized by a tiered atmosphere and similarly hierarchal caste system. High up on the mountain there is the Clear — breathable air, but no rich soil. At the base lies the poisonous Miasma, a smog filled with monstrous insects and natural resources. Between the Miasma and Clear is the Haze, a semi-livable fog, and tenable soil for agriculture.
The Sunken mine the Miasma in fog suits and grow the food for the mountain. Above, the Peakborn lead, protect, and develop. Between, the Unmoored trade resources and migrate on floating raft-cities.
Usually isolated from the other inhabited planets of the galaxy, the Zénese have nevertheless welcomed off-worlder scientists with project Clear Skies, a technology to change the weather and rewrite the atmosphere. But improving the air conditions for the Sunken is more complicated than it first seems, and grad student Spire Risan finds themselves deep in the mire of culture and power, and the climate that shapes it.
In the game you play as Spire Risan, an off-worlder scientist who becomes entangled in the drama of a mountain they came here to save. The character is a graduate student working to develop climate technology and find themselves way over their head as they attempt to make large scale environmental change. Spire identifies as non binary, which sets The Sky Left Us apart from other visual novels that tend to lean towards either male or female protagonists. In the game, Spire falls in with the denizens of the three castes, and finds that things are more complicated than they seem: be it love, family, or the systems that shape us.
There are four character routes to pursue, culminating in a true route that wraps up the events of the game. After the Kickstarter, two additional routes were unlocked: the Diver and the Pirate route (a polyamorus romance option).
The Sky Left Us is a queer positive visual novel about climate change, classism, and how relationships shape our politics; and if that isn’t the most late 2000’s game premise I don’t know what is! It have that sweet LGBTQIA representation, BIPOC characters, and it even tackles highly politicized issues—this is the game of our age! Its an interesting premise and an ambitious debut for an indie game studio, but from what I’ve seen in the demo, Ratworm Games is more than capable of pulling this off. The game has a fully realized world with its own unique social and political structure that is built into the narrative of the story giving the overall game much more depth.
Then you have this wonderfully diverse cast of characters—there is just so much MELANIN in this game and it makes my blerdy heart go doki doki~ And let us not forget all the delicious LGBTQIA representation! I love that The Sky Left Us is helmed by a Black non binary character and that just opens the story up to an often underrepresented perspective. The rest of the cast is made up of queer and BIPOC characters, each of whom bring their own unique perspectives and worldviews to the story. Each embodies a different aspect of this world and it will be very interesting to see how the games tackles the complex political and social issues through the eyes of such a nuanced cast of characters.