This is sort of a weird position to be in with a Game of the Week. I’m enjoying the heck out of this week’s pick and want to recommend it, but at the same time it has some issues that definitely stand out. Also weird, and possibly a first for this column, is that this week’s pick is technically still an Early Access release, which is common on PC but out of the ordinary on mobile. So in that context some of the issues I have with it can be forgiven, since this isn’t even the final finished version of this game. But at the same time, the world of mobile moves so fast are mobile players really going to wait around to see what the final finished version is all about, whenever that day comes?
The whole situation is… complicated, but forget all that because Peglin from Red Nexus Games is enough fun that I just don’t care. Peglin, in simplified terms, is what would happen if Peggle had a baby with a roguelike dungeon crawler, and it’s very much as awesome as that sounds on paper. The game has been in Early Access on PC for a year, and not too long ago some no-good rascal released an unauthorized mobile version on iOS. It was taken down eventually, but due to that incident and to the frequent requests from PC players, Red Nexus decided to focus on porting the Early Access PC version to mobile now rather than wait for the 1.0 release, and thus we have Peglin on iOS and Android this week.
So it’s pretty understandable that we’ve ended up with a not quite “finished” version of Peglin on mobile, and really it feels like the 0.9x version that’s here is a huge step in the right direction in moving towards that version 1.0 release. The core elemnents here are excellent. Levels are fun, battles are surprisingly strategic while still being extremely luck-based, the assortment of weapons and items is unique. All we really need is to see all that fleshed out and polished up a bit. More levels, more enemies, more classes, more weapons. Perhaps some more long-term unlocks or progression systems to keep us coming back, as well as some cool stat-tracking so we can compare and contrast runs with our friends. Stuff like that.
Shortly after the mobile release, for both PC and mobile versions of the game, an update with 2 new classes arrived–the Balladin and the Roundrel–as well as a new boss and a whole boatload of bug fixes. This is important because with that new framework implemented it should be much easier to add new classes down the line, and like I said it feels like going forward Peglin will improve and grow at a much quicker pace than before. However, in the meantime the game can definitely feel a bit one-note despite being a lot of fun. If you’re used to playing something like Vampire Survivors and being showered with unlocks and progressions loops this will feel a bit lacking in those departments.
That said, there is something rather pure about Peglin’s no nonsense “run-and-done” format, and as I keep reiterating, the gameplay itself is super fun. There’s a very strong “one more go” element here, and there are few things more satisfying than getting your butt whooped only to turn things around with some sort of miraculous ping-pong Hail Mary shot that somehow racks up enough damage to turn the tide of battle. Like I said, the core here is strong, but some minor tweaks and additions could really make this a full-blown showstopper. Peglin is free to try with a one-time IAP to unlock the rest of the game, and I definitely recommend at least checking out the free portion to see how you jive with this crazy mashup for yourself.