Joanna Nelius

Journalist, fiction writer, and teacher based out of Southern California.

About Me

I have over three years’ editorial experience with literary and gaming publications, which includes: content management; manuscript and art solicitation; development editing and copyediting; and overall coordination of publication process. I'm currently a Senior Assistant Fiction Editor for Abyss & Apex, and a writer for Marooners' Rock and Goomba Stomp. I also have a contributor profile on Open Critic. When I have some free time, I usually spend it photographing abandoned buildings or watching Unsolved Mysteries.

Past Editorial and Writing:


Only Single Player

Ultimate Game Database


Calliope Art & Literary Magazine


Goomba Stomp

Games that Changed Our Lives: Exploring the Grieving Process in 'What Remains of Edith Finch'

When I first played What Remains of Edith Finch, the most striking thing to me about the game was how connected Edith was with her family history; I had, for a few years up until my grandmother died, been getting more and more into genealogical research. My grandmother was my main source of information, and as she got older it became more important to me to hear about her life. My grandma was to me in the same way that Grandma Edie was to Edith. And, like Grandma Edie, my own grandmother outlived every single member of her family.
Goomba Stomp

The Use of Catholic Themes in ‘Outlast 2’

Outlast 2 uses the main theme in Catholic-based horror—the internal struggle between good and evil—to drive the story, but it does so without making use of demonic possession or exorcism. Guilt and the corruption of the soul are two very Catholic tropes that Outlast 2 uses to create its unsettling tone. It presents itself in juxtaposition—the switching back and forth between the Arizona desert and Blake’s Catholic elementary school, Saint Sybil—which establishes the traditional theme of the internal struggle between good and evil, against sin.
Goomba Stomp

The Real-Life Biotech in Bloober Team’s ‘Observer’

The idea of cybernetic enhancements and genetic engineering both amaze and terrify me, and that has lead me to speculate on the future outcomes of real life research in my own work. Observer, for me, is the most recently created fictional world that captures that sense of foreboding. I’ve never been a fantasy person, not because I don’t like escapism, but because it’s a genre that I feel teaches us the least about where our own society is headed. If you look to science fiction, and all the sub-genres that branch from it, you’ll find the most potent commentary about humanity. And the technology presented in Observer is more of a reality than many of us realize.

Let's Talk About That Article From The Atlantic...

Bogost asks why What Remains of Edith Finch needs to be told as a video game. The answer is simple – art. When you take a medium such as video games and you do something new with it, it’s art. When you break the traditional confines of any artistic medium, it’s still art. This has been done in plays, in film, and novels. Plays are not confined to a proscenium-style stage; they are performed on trains during a mystery dinner. Film is not confined to what is recorded directly into the camera; computer generated special effects have been around for decades. Novels aren’t told from one point of view; some switch between characters like Haruki Murakami’s “Kafka on the Shore.” Saying that games should stop trying to tell stories is saying that games are not art. Games are art. They have surpassed mere entertainment and now tell complex stories. The fact that some may or may not have done this successfully is irrelevant. Art produced today isn’t always successful at what it sets out to do for various reasons, and games are no different, but it doesn’t mean we stop using them as a storytelling medium.
Only Single Player

P.O.L.L.E.N – A Narrative Analysis

Search the internet for “what if JFK was never assassinated” and you’ll find a plethora of theories – elaborate imaginings of alternate history. Many of them have to do with The Warren Commission, the civil rights movement, and Vietnam, but the two most popular theories involve The Cold War and the space program. One of those theories goes like this: after working with Nikita Khrushchev to reduce the world’s nuclear weapons arsenal, a long-lasting friendship forms between Kennedy and Khrushchev, leading to a joint space program and colonizing Mars by 1986. Enter P.O.L.L.E.N.


Marooners' Rock

The Red Strings Club Review

The Red Strings Club perfectly taps into the classic, underdog tales that permeated 80s cyberpunk literature. While the imagery in this game is less gritty than stories like “Johnny Mnemonic” or “El Pepenador,” it takes the same deep philosophical approach about the future of humanity that has always been cyberpunk’s trademark—and what a glorious tale the strings weave in this game. Its heart lies in a tech-nior storyline, but its soul makes us question how far we’re willing to expand technology to create a psychotropic utopia.

Friday The 13th: The Game Review

One of the main issues that many people have had a hard time with is that Jason may be too over-powered. I have been able to kill all the counselors in the game (a full seven, plus one resurrected as Tommy Jarvis) in a matter of minutes. Some of this was because the counselors were not properly armed, but if many of them are out in the open, it’s easy to use Jason’s sense ability and shift ability in tandem to track them down with little to no effort. This, of course, is in line with Jason’s representation in the Friday the 13th films, as he is completely OP, but staying true to the canon in this regard doesn’t translate well in-game, mechanically.

Maize Review

It’s a peaceful morning. Sharp, extraterrestrial organ tones cut through the serene bird chirps in a sinister, yet cheesy manner. You wake up in the middle of a corn field, watching the backsides of three corn stalks turn behind a bend in the cornfield. There is no sense of who you are or why you are there, but it’s obvious what you must do – follow the yellow sentient corn. In a brisk, two-hour game, Maize brings players on a tour de force of a nondescript farmland, complete with underground laboratories, classified government experiments, and talking corn who love to dance and take naps.
Only Single Player

Seasons After Fall Review – Better than Pumpkin Spice

Seasons After Fall emphasizes the most wonderful parts of our seasons, creating picturesque scenery with a wide pallet colors and creation mythos elements to make this fairy-tale of a world an enchanting experience. At the beginning, you emerge as a ball of light, fighting your way up from underground to be born on the surface. From there, a friendly female seed greets you, the Little Seed, and guides you to acquire the power to control the seasons from the Guardians. You do this while inhabiting the body of a fox, because how else could you frolic all fancy-like through the grass and hollowed out tree logs?

Other Work

PR, poetry, game previews, and film reviews.