Proto Raider is for the most part a puzzle game, where your only input is the ability to jump. Your character that I’ll name Bob for this review, will never stop running and will recklessly run into any of the numerous hazards you will encounter without a second thought. You can’t tell him to slow down or change directions either, so what looks like a simple task for any platformer will be a massive undertaking here. Your goals for each level will be to collect the key and exit through the locked door. It is never as simple as that though as they will quickly start introducing elements like quick sand, fire and poison to name a few of the deadly things you will be encountering. As you might imagine things quickly get complex, but Proto Raider is forgiving in a way since there is no timer to speak of and there is no life system, allowing you to try as many times as you desire without consequence.
Before starting the game you should head into the options menu where you can change how fast the gameplay is, invert colors or change it into monochrome. You can chose to have the ASCII art to be either pixelated, bold or normal. There are a surprising amount of options for a game of this type and all that is really missing is the option to rebind the keys. Yes, you only press one button to play this game but the restart level button will also be used plenty. Getting back into the game itself, there are three treasure chests scattered across the level that may appear optional but are pretty important as you will soon run across a dead end until you collect a certain amount. Getting these makes the game a lot more challenging since getting the key and heading toward the exit is usually a simple task, but you are likely going to have to replay the mission again to collect those chests anyways.
The amount of variety between levels is pretty huge. Seems like every other level has a new feature introduced like a pickaxe to mine, scuba gear to swim or a pick-up that reverses gravity. There is a lot of thinking here and it does get frustrating at times as you see Bob run the wrong direction, straight to his doom, but I never felt it was the anythings fault other than my own. It does have a few annoying bits like having to mine 100% of an area to progress, miss even one pixel and you will have to restart. There are two levels like this in the overall 64 levels this game has to offer, so it is not a major issue. These levels are separated into three themed areas, them being water, dessert and jungle. At the end of each area you will face a boss that you must defeat with a weapon like a sword or a crossbow. Bosses usually die in about 5 hits but careful as their bodies may be hazardous after death. The blood effects are also quite cool to look at as it splatters all over the objects and drips down. It doesn’t look violent since it’s just the letter “p” in red floating down but it may be something that interests you if you are purchasing for a child.
Bosses go in a set pattern and don’t react at all since they have no AI. They seem to attack randomly though so some reflexes are required. Other than bosses there are no other creatures you will be able to kill, the game is mostly based on avoiding obstacles and figuring out the optimal route for escape. In case you were wondering if there is a story, well kind of. You start off looking for treasure and then find the love of your life in some deep, unexplored jungle and must impress her by collecting tons of wedding rings around the stage, leading me to believe that she may in fact be Sonic the Hedgehog in disguise. Anyways, this is a gameplay above all else type of game and it’s story offers very little. Graphics are purely ASCII art and there will never be a background. The artstyle works very well, is easy to run and stays at a smooth frame rate of 100fps. Music has a pretty soothing tone to it and fits the game rather well. There are not many tracks but the soundtrack never became a nuisance. What is dangerous and what is not is very obvious thankfully, as that may have been gamebreaking.
It is quite amazing how much they managed to do with the game considering all you do is jump. From sailing across a breeze of wind, to throwing axes at monsters and even mining with one button press works pretty well. The amount of ideas they have from start to end ensure that the game doesn’t get stale with it’s very simple concept and control scheme. And to top it off the devs plan to add even more levels later on. Proto Raider most likely won’t appeal to anyone but puzzle fans. This game does require some precise platforming at times but it most likely won’t appeal to platformer fans due to lack of any control besides jumping. Having said that, Proto Raider is a really good puzzle game that requires both brains and reflexes. Looking at the screenshots of the game you may think it is a simple fan project with little content, but you’d be mistaken. This is a fully fledged game with plenty of bang for the buck. Highly recommended to those looking for a forgiving yet difficult puzzle game.