Review: Prog.1

In a week where gamers have been disappointed by their retro-styled platformer selection, Prog.1 looks to remedy this problem with its unique story or gameplay. Does it crack the code, or just blue screen?

Title: Prog.1
Developer: Vector Arcade
Publisher: Groupees Interactive
Platform: PC/Mac
Release Date: June 23rd, 2016
Players: 1
MSRP: USD$7.99 (On Sale at USD$5.99 for First Two Weeks)
Disclosure: Review copy provided by publisher

Unlike most platformers of its kind, prog.1 has a very prominent story. The game’s forty-eight levels follow a sentient computer virus infiltrating the recently started G.Ai.A supercomputer, and the reactions of the creators of the computer scrambling to save the project. While some may find the addition unnecessary, it adds reasoning behind the games continuing rise in difficulty, along with the fractured landscapes of the game.

Images Courtesy of Vector Arcade and Groupees Interactive

Prog.1 is hard as nails. Literally. If you don’t have lightning quick reflexes (and even if you do), you can and will find yourself turning on the game’s double jump mode to make it past the later levels. However, that doesn’t mean the game still isn’t a lot of fun. While Prog.1 hides itself as a retro platformer in the vein of Super Meat Boy, it’s a different beast entirely, focusing more on the puzzles. And unlike most games where the puzzle is a section of the level, the puzzle is the level. Figuring out how to complete the level by navigating the environment is just as much of a challenge as landing the perfect jump.

Images Courtesy of Vector Arcade and Groupees Interactive

Prog.1’s levels are usually made up of different platforms strewn across space (or the OS, in this case). Depending on how the square is designed, you can see how long you can stand on them before they disappear (ie: the smaller, more transparent square platforms can only be stood on once, while platforms with a smaller shape within them can be stood on longer and can regenerate). You use these disappearing platforms to collect red squares. After collecting these squares, you open the door to leave the level. Like I previously mentioned, these levels require a lot of strategy on the player’s part to figure out how they will complete it.

Images Courtesy of Vector Arcade and Groupees Interactive

Prog.1’s music fits the tone of the game extremely well. If I had to describe the sound, I would say it felt very electronic (of course) with some hints of ambient and industrial music. In fact, the music is one of my favorite parts of this game, and listing to it made me wish it was available on Steam or iTunes.

The game also features voice acting for the main characters, and it sounds great. The actors and actresses cast for the roles are surprisingly good at showing the character’s desperation when the story’s use of still images can not.

Images Courtesy of Vector Arcade and Groupees Interactive

Prog. 1 is also a good looking game. The art design is very minimalist, reminding you of the game’s retro roots. The stills used for story sequences are also beautifully made, using higher detail to better show the character’s actions and emotions while staying within the game’s art style.

Images Courtesy of Vector Arcade and Groupees Interactive

Overall, Prog.1 was an absolute treat to play, while it was hard, it was some of the most fun I’ve had playing an indie game this year. In fact, I’m finding it hard to not recommend the game at its price point. If you’re a fan of retro platformers at all, you owe it to yourself to check out this awesome, awesome game.

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