First up is our disclaimer. We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.
At some point we’ve all been advised that “less is more”. The game we are about to review could in fact be the poster title for that motto. It’s called Protoshift; developed by Reflextions and published by Black Shell Media.
Begin a new game and the first thing you’ll see are the difficulty choices: Hard, Very Hard, and Futile! Well, there is also a choice called “Training”, but don’t be fooled…it’s tricky.
The idea is simple. Guide a little black square (which is actually just your mouse cursor) through a series of gaps in oncoming walls. One is instantly reminded of the Atari 2600‘s classic: Adventure (1979), where you guided a similar cursor through similar walls to find a hidden chalice.
Here in Protoshift your cursor is not trying to locate anything, rather it’s bent on avoiding everything. The walls are constantly moving and turning. The technique is to move the mouse only slightly, so that the gaps “fall around” your cursor as the map shifts. It’s an elegant, minimalist, beer-and-pretzels reflex game that will have you laughing at times, and groaning at others. Why? Oh, did I fail to mention that there’s no “save” option. If your cursor touches a wall it’s game over. You start again…from scratch!
Is there anything that can be done to make the game a bit more fair? Well, there are in fact three little power-up icons that periodically appear on the map. Using these will extend your survival, but even then it’s just a matter of time:
The Stopwatch: Slows down time so you can navigate through the gaps easier. Don’t take this as a license to dilly-dally, though. The effect of all power-ups is temporary.
The Snowflake: Makes your cursor smaller so you can squeeze through gaps with less chance of touching a wall.
The Shield: Makes your cursor invincible, allowing you to crash through walls and quickly reach the end of the map. This particular power-up is my favorite!
So is Protoshift worthwhile? Yes it is. Priced on Steam at $2 (USD), or $3 for the sound track edition, the title is a great value. Because of the “sudden death” nature of the game, I’d recommend playing it a party with lots of friends. For an even greater challenge, see how far you can get without activating any power-ups!