NCsoft turns its hand to iOS platformers with Project 83113

NCSoft, a Korean publisher traditionally known for its popular PC and Mac-based massively multiplayer online role-playing games such as Guild Wars, City of Heroes and Lineage, has released a new game for iOS. Developed by Swedish company Fabrication Games, Project 83113 (pronounced “Project Belle”) is a platform game that makes inventive use of the touchscreen to provide a control scheme that doesn’t rely on the usual “virtual buttons” setup. It’s available now as a $0.99 Universal download from the App Store.

Project 83113 casts players in the role of the titular four-armed cat-like creature Belle, who is supposedly mankind’s last hope against the threat of “the machine.” Players must guide her through a series of increasingly-complex levels, avoiding traps, defeating enemies and attempting to achieve three different awards — one for surviving without taking damage, one for defeating all enemies on the level and one for finding a hidden object that includes background story material on Belle and the world she inhabits.

The control scheme for the game eschews the usual virtual buttons setup favored by most App Store platform games and instead makes use of a system of swipes and taps to control Belle. Swiping to the left or right causes her to start running. Swiping up causes her to jump. Pressing and holding on the ground causes her to stop, while pressing in the air causes her to float. Belle will automatically fire at nearby enemies with her weapons, and can also unleash a “blast” attack by tapping directly on an enemy — this summons a devastating special attack at the cost of some of Belle’s energy. Finally, when in a tight spot, players can make use of a limited stock of “bomb” items to clear the screen.

The level designs start simple but ramp up in difficulty very quickly, requiring the player to make use of all of these techniques — often in rapid succession — to successfully negotiate the various obstacles and enemies that litter Belle’s path. Although the levels are quite challenging, there is relatively little penalty for running out of energy and dying — checkpoints are frequently spread through the level, and respawning is instant with no loading break, leading to minimal frustration.

As the game progresses, Belle gains the ability to unlock new weapons using found blueprints and in-game currency, and to upgrade her current arsenal using special tokens acquired through play. It’s also possible to acquire additional currency, upgrade tokens and bombs via in-app purchase, but this option is presented via a small, unobtrusive shop icon in the corner of the upgrade screen, and at no point is the player pressured into doing this. App Store reviewers have specifically praised the game for this fact.

Project 83113 is a good quality game that is likely to enjoy some success among iOS players. It marks a successful foray out of NCsoft’s usual MMORPG comfort zone into casual mobile games. It also strikes a good balance between providing content for players to enjoy without having to pay extra, and having the potential to monetize beyond its initial app cost. It’s also quite simply a fun game which makes good use of the touchscreen to provide a simple but effective control scheme that works well, particularly on the large screen of the iPad.

Project 83113 is currently ranked No. 66 in Top Paid Apps, No. 34 in Top Paid iPad Apps, No. 39 in Top Paid Games and No. 16 in Top Paid iPad Games. Follow its progress with AppData, our tracking service for iOS and social games and developers.