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prog.1 Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Despite having a compelling story and cool cinemas, Prog.1 is a fairly standard 2D platformer that is over too soon. Some of the twists and turns are interesting, but I wish there was more to the gameplay. It's not bad, but a step or two down from N++ and Super Meat Boy. Rating: 57%
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  • Review Score:

  • C+
I like the movies of Lars Von Trier. At least, I think I do. Every time I see one of his films, I'm never completely sure what I thought of it. And yet, I'll then spend the next few weeks replaying the movie in my head until I am convinced it's one of the greatest things I've ever seen. This is how I felt after completing Prog.1, the brand new game from a first time developer. I came away from this twitchy platformer with conflicting thoughts, but wonder if I'll have a change of heart a few weeks from now after I've had time to really mull it over.

Unfortunately, I don't have that kind of time, and neither do the stars of Prog.1. While working on the highly secretive and revolutionary G.A.I.A. project, Doctors Cushing and Keiko accidentally unleash a sentient computer virus. At first they are excited, but it doesn't take long for the two to understand the gravity of their discovery. They are concerned, but foolishly press on to see how it all plays out.

When we're not watching these two scientists come to grips with their discovery, we spend most of our time running through a few dozen simple side-scrolling levels. This is a devilishly frustrating platformer, not unlike games like Super Meat Boy or N++. We play a tiny virus who must pick up a series of power fragments in order to open the gate and move on to the next stage. It's a simple concept that is enhanced by an incredibly tense science fiction story.

The little virus doesn't have a lot of moves. Unlike the two platformers I just mentioned, he can't wall jump or pull off any other super virus abilities. He pretty much just runs and jumps, with the only other button reserved for resetting everything back to the beginning of the stage. To mix things up, new obstacles and wrinkles are added each time the scientists make a change and run their tests again.

prog.1 (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

For as intriguing as the science fiction narrative is, I found myself utterly bored by the pedestrian gameplay. Even with some fun twists towards the end, Prog.1 never culminated into something fresh or original. I've seen all of the elements before in countless other 2D paltformers, so it never had a chance to stand out in any meaningful ways. I found that I was transfixed by the story, but wished the gameplay was there to back up the great concept.

Part of the problem is that it's short. With only 48 stages, it didn't take me much more than an hour to see it through. Even with levels that are intended to be tried over and over until you perfect pinpoint accurate jumps, I still managed to speed through the game at an alarming rate. Given how many levels you normally see in this type of platformer, I came away from Prog.1 a little disappointed.

prog.1 (Steam)Click For the Full Picture Archive

While the gameplay let me down, I was fully invested in the story and voice performances. I like the unorthodox way the game ends, leaving me both confused and intrigued. I was really into the late-game twists and wished the developer would have fleshed out the concept even more. That's why I came away from the game conflicted. Sure, I've played this type of platformer countless times already, but I have a hunch the story is going to stick with me.

Regardless of whether the pieces come together in a satisfying way or not, I like that the developers have gone the extra step and added a compelling story. It may not be enough for me to recommend this basic platformer, but I would definitely like to see more developers take a page from Prog.1's book.
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