Cyber Protocol is a puzzle game set in some futuristic cyberpunk. You control a hacking avatar on a walled map not unlike a Pac-Man map. Your goal is to reach the end of the level avoiding the traps, and collecting as many coins and bonuses as possible trying to get a high score.
While Cyber Protocol seems a bit basic, the game play is fun. You only need to use the left thumb-stick or d-pad to move about the level. When you push a direction you move until you hit a wall…or die. So you must learn which wall to end at so you can exit the room you’re in. If you die, you start over at either the beginning, or any checkpoints you hit along the way.
You must plan carefully your route through the level avoiding the death walls and bombs that will cause you to start over. But since you can’t pan the camera, you must also react quickly to what comes next.
This lends itself to replayability. The first time through you just want to make it to the end of the level. However, you’ll miss a lot of the bonuses and coins that are needed to both unlock different avatars and get the high score.
There are 10 different avatars you can get by collecting the 300 bonuses hidden throughout the 100 different levels. The levels all get progressively longer with the last level having an achievement for completing it under 20 minutes.
Those 100 levels are part of the story mode, though the story is almost non-existent. The fun comes from the levels themselves, not the story told entirely through text boxes. On top of story mode, there’s arcade mode, which allows you to compete against your friends, local only, for a high score. The goal is to get through all the levels in the zone as fast as possible while also collecting as much as possible. The easy mode gives unlimited lives and you can select the zone. The hard mode allows you to upload your score to the global leaderboard, but you only have limited lives and the mission is random.
There’s also different themes to unlock that changes the looks or sounds of the game. You unlock these by playing through the levels and there are achievements for using the new themes. Finally, there’s a music player which changes the menu music being played.
The music is really well done. It definitely gives off cyberpunk vibes and all the tracks are enjoyable to listen to. The music for each level fits really well and helps to bring up the tension in navigating the levels.
The game sounds are also good. The explosion sound when you die is great. The lasers charge up before firing off which allows you to plan your way through them. There’s also a nice sound for picking up the coins in the level and a special sound for picking up the bonuses.
As you progress through the levels, the difficulty ramps up at a steady pace. The game starts by throwing some gates at you that explode after a certain time after entering them. Then they give some walls that’ll kill you, followed by bogeys that move on a set path. Later they introduce you to lasers that fire in time increments. Overall, it does a good job of introducing you to the enemies and obstacles and then combines them in ways that make traversal difficult.
It’s easy to collect everything in the first few levels without having to learn pathing. However, by the mid to late levels of even the first zone, collecting everything is a challenge. Checkpoints can only be used once, so you can’t carefully collect things and then constantly activate them. Thus there are some frustrating areas where you have to replay a long stretch because the checkpoints are far apart. This isn’t enjoyable when you’re first learning an area as you might not see an obstacle and die before reaching the next checkpoint.
Of course the flip side to challenges is that you feel really good when you finally make it through a section. This feeling makes you keep playing. You’ll usually see the path through the section easily enough, but executing it is always going to be a challenge.
While the modes and features are a little bare bones, the levels are well designed and the soundtrack is quite good. Don’t expect the world from a game that’s only $5.99 on the Xbox store. But what you will get is a fun little puzzle game that’s a great time killer, especially if you want to get the star that comes with perfectly completing a level.
Note: We received a review code from RedDeerGames
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