Prime Mover – Review
Follow Genre: Logic Puzzler
Developer: 4bit Games
Publisher: 4bit Games
Platform: PC, macOS, Linux
Tested on: PC

Prime Mover – Review

Site Score
6.5
Good: High quality puzzles
Bad: Pixelized graphics interfere with clarity
User Score
9.5
(4 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.5/10 (4 votes cast)

Prime Mover is a product from 4bit Games, which is a small indie studio specialized in retro-looking games. As it is only their second title, the first one being a 2D space flight game, this logic puzzler is bound to be a fresh take on the puzzler genre!

Story

There is not much story to be found in Prime Mover, but given that it is a logic puzzler it is rather surprising that there is any story at all! In several flashbacks shown after every next couple of tasks you’ll learn of some catastrophe that happened. A rift went open and an other-worldly monster appeared in some unspecified city. You are the hero that needs to design a circuit board powering a machine capable of stopping this monster… Assuming you interpret the made-up language and still images the same as us that is. The first few missions are tutorials made to introduce and explain every component available. A short video is shown before every component-tailored mission.

Graphics

The game has a retro look, but it doesn’t come out that well. Together with the static interface, it looks like a Gameboy Advance game that you play full screen in an emulator. The colors green and yellow/gold are dominant, much like a real circuit board. The icons representing the different components are similarly low-res. It is not always exactly clear on the purpose of a component. The interface itself is a static field with 4 tabs and a sort of spinners with values mirrored on each side. It serves its purpose, but it is not pretty to look at. Luckily the low-res background art improves the global look a lot. The goal is always shown in the right upper corner, the former being an advantage in a puzzler. The controls for pause, start and stop are conveniently located in the upper center of the screen.

The menu and the level selection screens are better, mostly because they are so simplistic. But then a basic three-item menu (play, options and exit) is not exactly something you can do wrong. The mission screens are similar: basic but well thought out. The animations of shifting windows is pretty however, but also smooth and non-interruptive. The goal of the missions are easy to distinguish and you can replay the flashback on each page with ease. The after-mission performance screen is sadly again quite unclear: You don’t see what the values of your performance shown actually represent.

Sound

As Prime Mover is a logic puzzler, background music and sound effects weren’t probably that high up in the developers’ to-do list. That doesn’t show at all in-game however. The low bitrate background music is a pleasant tune that doesn’t get on your nerves, and all actions and components have their own matching sound effect. The moving values over your circuits emit a lofty periodic sound. All these sound effects are naturally also mixed in a lower bitrate, making it all fit really well together.

Gameplay

This logic-based puzzler is fairly straightforward. The game describes a problem for you and you use your toolbox and the space on the circuit boards to solve it. Problems can have several solutions – there is an achievement for improving a previous solution’s efficiency – and you’ll need to solve only a couple of the puzzles of one batch to unlock the next. The problems described all sound very simple but the actual difficulty is quite high. Complex solutions are possible and you’ll need to pay good attention to the flow of the numbers to identify and fix problem points.

Even though they use the names of all kinds of electronical components, Prime Mover is actually about number rows and algorithms. You’ll have to make additions and subtractions or use the sign of one number source to determine where the consecutive numbers of another source should go. You can create slow and fast wires and use flow control mechanics to preserve or change the order of different numbers and number sources. This, together with the dozen components available, should be used to solve a fair amount of problems. A special tool exists to add a whole new sub circuit board in a single cell of the main circuit board, so solutions can become really complex while still being manageable and uncluttered.

Exiting a solution auto-saves it so you can proceed immediately where you left off. The game is also lightweight and if you only want to solve puzzles you won’t be bothered by ‘extras’ like cinematics and long waiting times much. This of course means that Prime Mover is a very fluent game!

Conclusion

Some mixed feelings with Prime Mover. If you love these kinds of puzzles you’ll be hooked for hours, but only if you can manage the retro art style this game is created in. It interferes a bit with the readability of certain elements, especially the performance screen. There is an option to turn the pixelized text into a more readable variant though. Luckily the quality of the puzzles is high, and that’s the most important thing for a solid puzzler anyway.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.5/10 (4 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Prime Mover - Review, 9.5 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
Sander
Sander


Always having more things to do than time to do them, I like spending several of those precious free hours playing games and rating them.

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