Monday, 4 July 2011

Proun - A Review

About a week ago I was watching a YouTube video by TotalBiscuit. The video itself wasn't that amazing, but it did have some gameplay in the background that looked pretty funky, of a game called Proun. So I checked it out.

Proun is a fairly simple racing game, released under a pay-what-you-want system, where that figure can be $0.00, meaning I picked it up for free just to give it a try. The gameplay is fairly innovative and unique, racing a ball down a wire which you rotate around to avoid various obstacles. The trailer gets the point across fairly well:

The gameplay itself I really enjoy. The tracks are fairly fun, it comes with four different speeds - Fast, Sonic, Supersonic and Speed of Light. The lower speeds should make the game accessible to even the most newbie of gamers, but the game is pretty damn challenging at the higher speeds, and I've still not beaten the Supersonic championship. The game features online records for each track, both all-time and for the day.

While the gameplay is good, however, the game definitely suffers a bit in my opinion from being a properly indie game. For example, it doesn't have a leaderboard for friends which other games, such as Super Meat Boy do. Given I'm nowhere near the top 10 times to actually appear on the rankings, the leaderboards are somewhat useless and knowing my time was the 1023rd best time ever set isn't really the greatest incentive for improvement (I did set the 5th best daily time for a track today though). If it had some sort of friend leaderboard for competition with people I actually know, then I'd probably give it a bit more gameplay. It does local records, but having friends play on the same machine is a little bit too 90's and not a huge amount of use any more.

The time trial mode is good, with the ability to play against the ghosts of every single run you've ever done (or to not, if you find them distracting). It also offers four-player split screen, which is pretty good, though again, it'd be better if it had some sort of online versus play.

Another thing the game suffers for is map selection. Currently there are three maps, with another one unlocked if you pay actual money for the game, and another one to unlock if you beat the Supersonic championship. The really low number of maps is somewhat offset by free user-created ones being offered, though currently that amounts to only two more maps. That said, it'll probably pick up a bit over the next few weeks and I imagine it won't be so much of an issue later on.

I really love the visual style of the game, and I think that as well as being a nice gameplay concept it's also very well presented. The maps are simplistic, but also quite artsy and generally pretty pleasing on the eye. I've also heard praise for the jazzy soundtrack too, though personally I'm actually not a fan, and I found the songs to be a bit annoying after a few plays through, so I've currently got them muted.

For a game I paid no money for, I really quite like it. It's not something I'm going to devote serious time honing my skills on, but for something that's legally offered for free (or for a couple of quid if you don't want to be a tightass - though I wouldn't rate it being worth any more than a fiver personally). It's fairly obviously been produced by some guy in his spare time, but that doesn't stop it being good fun, and given the pricing structure I'd recommend people check it out and give it a try. Maybe I'll set up some sort of friendly leaderboard on a forum somewhere or something.

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