Project 9: the Underground Aryan City is a strange game. It seems hopeful at first, with its colorful 3D graphics and bizarre storyline about Nazis in the Arctic, AI robots, and aliens’¦ or something. The game seems intent on throwing in every possible clichÃ© to that end, and for those who revel in the weirdness of Asian cinema and video games, Project 9 looks just strange enough.
Then, the game actually starts. Project 9 likes falling. Indeed, for most of the time with the game, you’ll be falling down interminably long tunnels avoiding obstacles by tilting the iPad right or left. There’s no explanation for this facet of the gameplay, it just is. These falls feel like they go on forever, and nothing much happens, but eventually if you’re patient, the spherical robot will land in a pretty and small flat area where he gets to roll around for a bit.
See you next fall.
In these segments, the robot meets his other robot friends that you’ll be collecting. Robots can do different things– such as expand in size or crush obstacles– but gravity always has its way with them. The flat areas have pits that lead to more falling, and so it goes. The visuals are rough and, despite most Unity 3D games performing well on iOS, Project 9 has noticeable issues with choppy framerates.
That said, there are some creative visual elements in the game. The arctic locale contains underground caverns of ice and fire, and (of course) an underground city. It’s a shame the goofy cliffhanger story wasn’t better realized in the actual gameplay, but as it is, Project 9 feels distinctly unfinished and unrefined. The rolling sequences offer more interesting gameplay, but the falling pits confound any entertainment value just by the sheer and oppressive boredom they instill.
Project 9 is definitely weird and if there was a Mystery Science Fiction Theater equivalent for video games, it would be a prime candidate. Unfortunately, as something that is actually enjoyable to play, the game falls well short.