Project Peon Is Clever, Creative … And Hard As Hell [Review]


Project Peon

Your school experience might have differed from mine, but I remember one day in Industrial Arts (read: Shop class) when the teacher announced we would all be designing and building bridges. And at the end of the week, we would see whose construct could hold the most weight.

Project Peon by Digital Fury
Category: iOS Games
Works With: iPad
Price: Free

Now, I’m not a trained bridge-maker — in fact, none of us were because we were ninth-graders — so I knew that the next week would be among the longest of my young life because all I knew about structural engineering was something vague about triangles. Triangles are good, I think. Anyway, my bridge sucked. If I remember correctly, it snapped in half and then somehow caught fire.

And I’ve never felt that same sense of personal failure again … until I played Project Peon, an iPad game hitting the App Store today.

When I say that this title makes me feel like a failure, I don’t mean that it’s the game’s fault. Let me back up.

In Project Peon, you design carts to transport Peons: tiny, round, blue creatures that generate electricity and are therefore useful. So you build your craft by assembling the body and wheels and then tying it all together with springs using a very simple interface. When you’re done, the Peons drop in (hopefully), and then you either tilt your iPad or tap the screen to drive across the level to deliver your load of living batteries to a rocketship waiting there.

My first four carts were completely awful. They tipped over, spilling their cargo everywhere. Some of them didn’t even have all of their wheels on the ground at once. My first successful one, which you can see in the top image, was the first one that felt solid. Its wheels spun at the same time. It had that little lip in front to keep the little guys from falling out and big, fat tires for getting over hills. It was properly balanced. I felt great.

It’s harsh, it’s exacting, and it’s unforgiving … but when you get it right, it’s extremely satisfying.

And then I went to the next level and learned that the same design was not suited to that terrain. I hit a bump, and the cart I’d just been so proud of turned into a Peon catapult. They were everywhere.

If that kind of design-try-fail-redesign cycle appeals to you, if you like fiddling about with your creation until it’s perfect, and you don’t mind completely scrapping an hour of work to try something else, this is absolutely your game. It’s harsh, it’s exacting, and it’s unforgiving … but when you get it right, it’s extremely satisfying.

And that almost makes up for all the flashbacks I had along the way about my inexplicably burning bridge.

Project PeonGame Name: : Project Peon
The Good: It’s easy to build carts once you know how, and it feels great when you get it right.
The Bad: Could probably use a quick tutorial, and the bump at the bottom of that one hill is complete bullcrap.
The Verdict It’s one of the most frustrating games out there, but it’s also one of the most creative and satisfying once you stop failing.
Buy from: App Store