Thursday, November 13, 2014

Indie Impressions - Prophour23


Now Available on Steam

Developed by The Secret Pie 



With a hand drawn art style and setting so out there and different, a soundtrack so maniacally obscure it's hard not to have your curiosity at least a little piqued. Amidst the droves of mundane and same-y indie games exists Prophour23, a chaotic creation from the mind of a single genius madman and the only strategy game capable of effectively making your skin crawl.

Strange, cryptic, surreal, and damn challenging. Aside from the hidden messages and symbolism of the oncoming and unknown forces of nature that lie within this tale of insanity, the concept is simple; protect your still-bleeding heart from the swarming masses of flesh-hungry insects.

A bizarre concoction of deep strategy and biological horror, Prophour23 is an affair of critical thinking that requires more than a little bit of patience. Those looking to hop right in and start crushing bugs will be shocked to find their beating heart swarmed with the creepy little critters and devoured within minutes. Only a complete understanding of your body and the organs which keep you alive will be enough to maintain a healthy heart.

Your goal is simply to survive as many nights as possible throughout the infestation, and employing the use of different organs will be the determining factor. Scream organs and thorns connect to muscles and hands to create thorny barriers, while the boney rib-cages you can sprout create hardened lines of bone to redirect the swarming insects.

Hands act as connectors for the organ to function while muscles give them their power to operate. It all sounds complicated, and it kind of is, but it's exactly the kind of game you have to "feel" out to really understand and that just makes each outcome of your terror filled nights of survival all the more surprising, strange and satisfying.

Placement is as crucial as managing the order you create organs in, not only will you think hard about where to situate your defenses, but whether to spend precious blood on stomachs to pump more blood or lungs to catch the blood and alleviate some of the pressure created by clicking droplets that spill from your pumping heart. The antagonistic insects crowd you from all sides at any given moment and the player is kept on alert at all times, with a warning arrow giving you time to adjust your strategy. As night falls, however, visibility is lost and the arrow is no longer seen.

Bugs begin to sneak in past the darkness and into your heart, the only remedy being the eyeball organs you'll purchase which when powered light up an arc in front of them. These are only a small handful of the organs you'll use at your discretion in this open-ended struggle of tactics and defense, and they offer a near limitless supply of possibilities in your strategy for each attempt. Every body part has a purpose, and thrives off of the existence of another body part. You'll quickly be constructing your meticulously drawn and pulsating ecosystem of bodily defenses with ease once you learn the delicate rules of how your organs react to each other.


Prophour23 explores new territories untouched by the strategy genre that are strange, cold, and maybe even a little uncomfortable. The challenge remains spontaneous and unpredictable with new twists thrown at you each passing night, keeping the suspense and mystery high.

The odd array of body parts fighting in tandem against the grotesque squirming parade of blackened insects that seek only to infest your organs is a sight I never expected to fixate my gaze on while deep in tactical thought, and it's effective in its gruesome distraction.

If you're tired of the usual fantasy and sci-fi tropes of strategy and tower defense titles, and want something that goes above and beyond the current offerings in the genre this is one worth checking out. When it comes to strategy titles with a penchant for detailed hand-drawn art and an intense and brooding soundtrack, nothing really comes to mind before discovering Prophour23 making it, if anything, a totally original idea.

Not only is Prophour23 unique and original in design, but its strange mechanics and frustratingly cryptic difficulty keep you sufficiently puzzled and coming back again and again.

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