Time and time again we see video games use art as a means to create its world. We’ve seen it in games like Child of Light and Hohokum. Proun+ is another game that fuses art with on-rail racing. It’s a surprising mix, but it’s actually very cool and a nice breath of fresh air from all the usual high definition racing games in the market.
In a nutshell, you’re a little fluffy white ball that rolls on a pipe and needs to be steered all the way to the end. It sounds easy enough, but there are some odd obstacles along the way. Attached to the wire are various artsy objects. They’re hard to explain, but they all look like geometric shaped stuff that got thrown everywhere. Each map centers around a specific style of art, for example, in one you’ll have to avoid color triangles, squares, etc. Each map is created splendidly and the music that accompanies it is just as great. The levels themselves are rather short though, which is both good and bad. It’s bad in that you’ll feel like you’re seeing the same stuff over and over, but it’s also good because you’ll memorise them a lot quicker, and you will need to.
Controlling the ball is quite easy, all you have to do is move left or right. Acceleration happens automatically, but you can give it short bursts of speed once you gain some momentum. Since you’re already on a track, and you can move from it, the only thing you can do is make sure your ball doesn’t hit anything, by making it move out of the way. This is where the memorise bit comes in handy. Knowing when to move left and right is very important if you don’t want to hit something and stop moving. On the easier speed mode, this isn’t such a big deal, but attempt anything faster than the fast mode, and you’ll be in big trouble.
There are five speeds for you to sink your teeth into ranging from a decent speed (relaxed) to bladdy mental (Speed of Light). My particular skill set can go as far as Fast and that’s it. If you’re no good at speedy games, then this one is definitely not for you. Each speed mode has a number of stages, but only includes three different types of stages: Races, Endless and Points.
In Race, you’ll face off against other fluffy balls. You’ll earn stars (a rating system in the game) depending on your finishing position. Endless mode will challenge your ability to avoid obstacles – one hit and you’re out. And in Point mode, you’ll need to ride through hollow point checks to earn the maximum amount of points within a few laps. While you’re on the move, a multiplier will increase if you avoid obstacles, and reset if you hit something. There’s not a lot of variety, but it was enough to keep me happy in short bursts.
Playing the game for longer than an hour can make it a little boring and repetitive, but it’s great if you need to kill some time when you’re on the bus, at SARS, or worse, Home Affairs.
The music for the levels is quite catchy, sometimes I’d just leave the game on just to listen to the music. It’s hard to describe, some of the levels are closer to jazz, while others have a very eclectic and rockish vibe. The music always suits the design of the level and that’s what I like about it. It makes the level pop in and make it’s feel like you’re in a weird dream.
The use of 3D is very good. It makes the level jump out and feel slightly more realistic. While playing in 3D mode, I was definitely more freaked out when I narrowly escaped hitting an obstacle. I didn’t have that same feeling when it was off. Unfortunately, the 3D doesn’t always work in its favour. Unless you’re playing the game while sitting on your bed or standing still, I don’t suggest you play it in 3D. If the screen moves too much, it makes moving a lot tougher. Switch to 2D and you’ll be fine.
Proun+ isn’t without its patchy bits. There is not enough variety to make me feel like I’m not replaying the same thing over and over and over again. On the graphics side, there are some heavily pixelated sections and a lot of jagged lines. Considering that geometric design is all over the place, those lines really should be smooth.
It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but if you enjoy testing your reflexes, then this game is for you. It’s very unique and colourful. It’s not something that you can play endlessly, but there is some value in it if you play it sparingly.