Developer: fludot
Price: FREE
Version: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

When will people learn that artificial intelligences are always prone to going crazy? Seriously people, it never works in our favor. Of course as with most blatantly bad ideas it also makes a good backdrop for a video game.

Something went wrong (surprise!) on an orbiting research lab and the AI that runs the place has gone all wonky (also surprise!). Since the environment isn’t exactly hospitable for humans at this point players take control of a remote drone, a.k.a a probe, as they attempt to retrieve some crystals and shut the AI down. It might sound all action-y but P.R.O.B.E. is actually a puzzle game that tasks players with retrieving all three of a level’s crystals while traversing increasingly complex mazes, all while reaching the goal without burning through the probe’s limited fuel supplies. Tapping is all that’s required to move, which is itself all that’s required to play; it’s the stages themselves and their myriad of obstacles that make things interesting.

I find it a little odd to think that the circuitry-inspired visuals are supposed to represent a physical research station rather than the computer systems on said research station as the themes don’t exactly match, but it looks good either way so I’m not really complaining. The overt digital sounds and GLaDOS-inspired AI voice also round out the package well, even if the voice is a little too close for comfort. The levels themselves are also pretty impressive and make use of a fairly devious and ever increasing number of movement restrictions and rule changing elements.

The first grouping of levels is perhaps a bit too simple, however. A few too many levels are used to acclimate players to basic movement before the more interesting bits are thrown into the mix, and as a result the group of 30 free-to-play levels feels a little underwhelming. Things just start to get good when the paywall shows up, which is an understandable business tactic but I still think P.R.O.B.E. could benefit from one more obstacle introduction before the cutoff. Mostly because, as I’ve stated, almost one third of the freemium content is simple movement tutorials. It kind of detracts from the overall package a bit.

P.R.O.B.E. is a pretty cool puzzle game with some seriously frustrating (in a good way) puzzles for anyone looking to nail 100% across the board. The initial offerings are a little misleading as a significant portion of these levels act as extremely basic tutorials but things do pick up towards the haldway point. It’s just unfortunate that it all has to come to such an abrupt end so soon.


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