It gets deeper and darker as you fall into the pit. More monsters you’ve never seen before begin to swarm you, but since you’ve trained your fists, you manage to punch through solid rocks and make an escape. Or so you thought, because you were out of projectiles and landed directly on a flying creature who was sitting patiently below your platform. Probability 0 doesn’t cut you any slack.
In Probability 0, the screen is constantly scrolling downwards, pushing you further into the cave. The controls are simple, press X to jump, C to attack, and arrows to move. If you’re in the air, or have upgrades, C will throw one of your projectiles. Killing enemies grants you bits of experience and sometimes a little health. After a few enemies are down, a colored line will manifest lower down in the pit. If you manage to reach it, you’re granted the option to pick from a group of skills that will upgrade what you are capable of. Without the upgrade tree, Probability 0 would be a fun, but probably too simplistic platformer with light combat elements.
With its upgrades, however, the game changes every time you play, and the upgrades make you fight tooth and nail to kill just one more enemy for the next power-up. They start off simple, stronger punches, the ability to throw projectiles without moving, but they it only takes a few minutes to see how expansive the abilities can get. Each level unlocks a new row of powers, each becoming more useful than the last, eventually giving you momentarily invulnerability and the ability to destroy pieces of the environment with a single attack.
The upgrades are a strong part of what make the game so special, but they’re far from the only thing it has going for it. The title of the game references the constant onscreen text that rapidly estimate your chance of survival. They start off quite positive, “Futures where all is not lost: 328398” but begin to decrease the likelihood of your survival as you take damage. If you’ve taken a substantial amount of damage, the text will eventually read “Chances you will ever see your family again: 2” which means you can take one more hit before you’re dead. Dying will result in a “Probability 0” of your chance to escape the pit.
The music fits the frantic nature of the game, thumping and whining as you scramble around trying to not get yourself caught by enemies or tough to navigate spots in the environment. I caught myself humming along to the music after I’d turned I’d quite playing once or twice.
A dark sense of humor is obvious throughout the probabilities thrown at you. The game’s personality is charming, and when you see that you have a 0 percent chance of “options where a glimmer of hope still shines.” it’s hard not to grin at the developer and say “Yeah, you got me again.” and start it right back up for another go.
Probability 0 is a game that only asks for as much time as you’re willing to put in to improve at it. You’ll start off by playing a few games, and you probably won’t get too far. After that, you’ll plan your moves a little more carefully, and actually make it through a few levels.
You’ll probably keep on going even after you’ve been crushed another dozen times. The probability of having a good time with this game? If you’re anything like me, I promise it won’t be zero. Try the demo out over at probability0.com, and if you like it, you can buy the full version for $7.