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If you’re in an area currently blitzed by heavy snowfall, you’ll likely appreciate the distraction offered up by the frantically challenging Dawn of the Plow. Taking the wheel of a pixelated plow in a lo-fi world of cars, snow, and asphalt, you’ll battle to keep the roads clear for the never-ending influx of traffic. It’s at once silly, hectic fun and frustrating brutality, punctuated by chirpy chiptune music.
Snow falls constantly in Dawn of the Plow, and is scattered randomly around the map. It deposits first in a thin layer, but then builds up an ever-higher clump that blocks traffic. The more snow accumulates in a position, the longer it takes your plow to clear it — juddering and straining from the effort. All the while, cars pop in from the edges. If their route is blocked, your approval rating steadily drops. If they make it to whichever exit they’re headed for, your rating and score both rise. You’ll naturally gravitate toward reckless abandon, but care is required, as even the gentlest collision with a car costs you your job and ends the run.
Your plow moves considerably faster than the cars, which always seem to get in the way. They’ll try to back up if you toot your horn, and they’ll stop if you’re blocking their way, but the drivers impatiently accelerate when snow gets cleared. And they have a remarkable propensity for wedging their fellow drivers in. The result is that your runs end as often due to issues with virtual drivers behaving erratically (which you may argue is realistic) as due to your own error.
The plow takes a moment to respond to your input, and turns are especially slow when driving on snow. Mastering the use of the four power-ups goes a long way to extending your survival, but your frayed nerves will break if your reflexes hold out. It boils down to a simple game of skill, wherein failure is guaranteed and the best you can hope for is a few minutes of frantic bliss.
The bottom line. Dawn of the Plow’s no-frills retro style gels perfectly with its simple snow-plowing mechanic, which provides a light-hearted distraction that can easily become a chaotic battle to stave off the inevitable.
iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch running iOS 5.0 or later
Easy to learn but difficult to master. Cool retro aesthetic. Frantic fun.
Plowing snow sometimes messes up a turn, sending you into a car. Taps and swipes don’t always register.