Prophour23 – What We Think:
From the initial moments of your first game, Prophour23 slaps you upside the head with a cacophony of raging piano notes, and a barrage of creepily antiquated visuals that look like they’ve been stolen from a Renaissance-era medical journal. When it’s working well, it seethes, and crawls, and pulses. Just when you get a rhythm going, one of your organs fails, and the whole organism shrivels, causing your heart to die, and making the piano scream at you again. You say that this description doesn’t seem to fit your typical RTS or tower defense game? Welcome to my nightmare…
Home Is Where The Heart Is
Each game starts with a stationary heart icon, and a few randomized organs. The heart must be protected at all costs, and this is done by creating new organs or changing existing ones connected by nodes. Some body parts act in support roles, while others will help you to put up a fight.
At first, you’ll want to arrange your organism so as to produce and capture blood as efficiently as possible, as the red stuff is essentially the game’s currency. The heart slowly produces blood, but a stomach can increase the amount produced. You’re going to have your hands full tending to the organs, so rather than click on every drop of blood, produce a pair of lungs to inhale the blood for you, automatically storing it in the syringe. Is your gorge rising yet?
Once the blood is in steady supply, you need to set up your defenses. Packs of ravenous insects are coming to feast on your heart, and anything else that gets in their way.
Items like the Scream Organ can be grown to shred enemies with a wall of rotating spikes. Alternately, a Spike Organ can be connected to a Hand icon to create a wall of spikes that will stretch between the two organs, cutting down most foes that attempt to cross the line. Other organs can change aspects like the flow of time, allowing you a few precious seconds to plot your next moves.
With the exception of the heart, any organ can be moved, and each has a set number of connections that can be made. Just be mindful when moving attack icons that their new destination or path doesn’t put your other organs in harm’s way.
Creating a bee (!) will give the heart a specific task to complete, like filling the syringe with blood, or creating a specific type of organ. Once you’ve met the criteria, you’ll receive a random blessing. You can stockpile a few of these, and some of the effects can come in handy in a pinch.
The Head Bone Is Connected to One of The Following:
The game is visually disturbing. If you were to skip sleep for multiple days while studying for your human anatomy exam in the mid 1800’s, while on dilaudid, these are the hallucinations that would greet you.
The brash musical stings bleat out sharply when your heart succumbs to the onslaught of assailants. It feels as though Charlie Brown’s teacher is admonishing you for each failure, and she’s loaded to the gills on PCP.
The pace is also maddening. Tending to a few insects in the game’s beginning is easy enough, but the longer your organism lives, the more bugs it attracts. Keeping organs in good health becomes more difficult, and when a weak spot presents itself, it’s often not long before the heart falls as well.
The logic of the game is not immediate. It’s going to take a few tries to determine which types of organs play nicely together, and the waves of insects aren’t going to wait for you to figure it all out.
Even after playing through the tutorial stage, I found myself unable to retain the full catalog of organ interactions. I had to play through a second time, as the insect-infested playfield was not the place to refresh my memory. Though I had the connections straightened out in my mind, the frustration remained as I tried to make it all come together quick enough to ward off the bugs. The developers claim that a well-played game is going to take you all of 15 minutes, though I haven’t yet managed a round that lasts more than 5.
If a commitment to the barking mad is your cup of tea, give Prophour23 a thorough physical examination.
Watch the launch trailer for Prophour23: