Project 83113 [Free] (or 'BELLE,' if you're calculator literate) is a fast-paced gem of a platformer. For a moment or two you might take in its pink protagonist and think it's a little too cute, maybe a little too light. Then she uses her four arms to pull out four guns and lay waste to her machine oppressors. Light? Nah, Belle is hardcore.

The recipe for Project 83113 is something like two parts platformer and one part bullet hell. You control Belle with swipes and taps, swiping her up into the air and then off to the right to dash in mid-air, down to hit the dirt and down again to slide under an oncoming barricade. She's a versatile fighter, shooting all the while while you focus on getting her safely from point A to point B.

In fact, Belle almost never stops shooting. There are machines everywhere—in a story that should be familiar to anyone this side of Terminator, the machines rose, the machines enslaved, and now the organics have to fight for their future. So you're firing automatically near-constantly while focusing on dodging waves of enemy shots.

Belle also has a secondary shot, a BFG you can activate by tapping an enemy. It knocks out any group of machines but also cuts down a chunk of your health over the next few seconds. Every enemy Belle kills sends health flying back at her, so it's a calculated risk: are you more likely to survive the explosion or fighting your way straight through?

The environment isn't going to take it easy on you either. The route from A to B in each level is pretty straightforward, so you're not going to get lost, but it's probably also filled with lasers, sawblades and other not-so-friendly things. And there's a second route out there, one that's probably hidden away and deadly but contains something special—a tape with a fragment of the story or a token that can be used to upgrade your guns when combined with earned or purchased currency.

You start with only basic guns, but each world has an impenetrable level with a blueprint for something better. Belle can't traverse these levels, but—in something of a Ratchet and Clank touch—her robotic ally Rob can. Rob has a very different play style. He doesn't shoot and can't move much, so his levels are slow, plodding and thoughtful. They're okay for cleansing the palette, but they lack much flavor on their own.

Before we wrap this up, make sure to take a look at that trailer below. Project 83113 is incredibly stylish, right? The cell-shaded models, the gorgeous storyboards, that sort of thing? That's what drew me in, but it didn't take long before the joy of playing made me forget all about the game's great looks.

There are moments when the game gets frustrating, when the swipes are just too hard to control and you keep ending up back at the same bloody checkpoint. But the rest of the time, when you're flying and dodging and destroying the machines—that's good stuff. Exploration, upgrading, badge hunting, all fun things, but Project 83113 would feel limp without those surges of adrenaline.

There's still a lot to do once you finish the game. You can return to replay levels for stars and badges that mark making it through unscathed or taking out all the machines in your path. You can hit the leaderboards and achievements. Playing for badges is sometimes more fun than it was the first time around. But I'd love a few more levels. Sequel, anyone?

In the meantime, you've got to give this game a closer look. Fabrication Games and NCSoft have created something impressive here, something that would feel at home on any platform but plays beautifully on iOS. It's sexy, fast-paced fun. And you don't just have to take my word for it; take a peek at our discussion thread for a lot more Project 83113 love. What can I say? Belle's a charmer.

TouchArcade Rating

  • Nuno Lourenço

    Ballistic SE      become freeeeee

  • Andy C83

    Great review Nissa, I'm so loving this game at the moment.

  • Konakuer

    Totally agree with the review. If they added more controls though, like on Bee Leader, it would deserve 5 stars.

  • Justin Somers

    This would make an amazing metroidvania-style game! Speaking of which, does anyone know of any on iOS that are fun to play?

    • GiHubb

      Robot Wants Kitty and Elemental Rage are quite nice although the latter is a bit expensive by iOS standards for some. Swordigo is also very solid.

  • Gatada

    Love this game. Great pace and design, iOS native controllers, attractive environment and very focused gameplay.

    And it runs smooth as butter, even on my 3GS.

  • Gatada

    * However for a truly calculator literate, I'd argue it should have been 31138 😉

  • asolja

    Great game but you should NOT be able to go Left,just straight ahead and the game would be MUCH harder and therefor the reviewers here would give it 6 stars and everyone would love it????.

  • jcifrit

    Didn't check this out on release, but after reading the review my interest was piqued...watched the video once and I'm off to buy this!

  • masa

    I live Belle, her sprites and move, but it's pity that this game you spent time to run.

  • nandreetta

    Free (limited time)!

  • taylorbarclay

    Had it added to my Watch List, was notified of its current free status. Unique and interesting game so far!

  • MrReeee

    Cool game. Grabbed it when it went free!

  • ahmed

    Paid for it two days ago.... I hate such decisions from developers....

    • Ian Vischansky

      Same here.  A whole whopping 99 cents. 

  • handhoney

    This appears to be off the US App Store. 🙁

    I saw the video and wanted to give it a spin. Any ideas why it's removed?

Project 83113 Reviewed by Nissa Campbell on . Rating: 4.5