So for this year’s Steam sale, I’ve got roughly a hundred dollars worth of games for the low cost of roughly $25. One of them stands out particularly well.

A Valley Without Wind is a game with oddball graphics, poorly done music, and some weird sound design. Its presentation, graphically and aurally, is borderline grotesque. But its mechanics, its ambition, and what hides behind its poor appeal to the senses makes it an incredibly compelling little gem.

It’s light on story, and the characters are just people you use to explore a world. It’s a post-apocalyptic world from some undetermined point in the future (or past) that’s rendered all of existence into fragments of land and time. Rampant wildlife attacks you alongside rusted robots, and elemental creatures bounce around its procedurally generated world without taking the time to give a damn why they’re there. All you as the player really care about is expanding your tiny starting settlement into a bustling haven for humanity as you struggle against an ephemeral Overlord who may or may not be responsible for what happened.

It’s essentially a Metroid-style exploration game, coupled with something that looks more than a little like a roguelike, with a city-sim overlay. It’s ugly to look at, but incredibly compelling to play as you unearth the ambitions and mentalities of the people who designed it and figure out exactly what the wanted you to do with this weird little world.