Matthew Gillingham’s Petri is one of the more striking budget games we’ve encountered recently; not many App Store offerings dwell this completely in abstraction. At the moment, however, it’s nothing more than a good start.
Petri is sort of a turbocharged Conway’s Game of Life, the rudimentary cellular simulation that every beginning computer science student programs sooner or later. Colors ebb and flow across the screen, fighting for territory in the virtual petri dish. As the scientist-God lording over the little battlefield, you can swipe your finger around to kill off the simulated fauna, or double-tap to plant a new random culture under your touch. The objective on each level is to help a particular color along to final victory.
We can’t say much for Petri as a game. Every level plays more or less the same–the resolution just zooms in or out–and there’s no way to lose that we could discover. It’s boring. Still, we like where this weird little App seems to be headed. There’s something hypnotic about the way the colors methodically swirl together. The game also gets high marks for its procedurally-generated minimalist soundtrack, which plays along according to your actions.
We’ve played far worse games than Petrie for 99 cents… but we’ve played far better ones, too. Our advice is to wait a bit on this and see what the developer comes up with in his first update. If Petrie grows some additional game structure around its colorful core, it could be very worthwhile.