High-speed monochrome combat!
Life isn’t always black-and-white. Almost every day, in almost everything we do, there are almost always variables that can cause the outcome of whatever situation in which we may currently be to turn out in a way that isn’t necessarily “completely standard.” After all, life is generally more exciting when you make sure to include every color of the rainbow. Despite that however, there are times when things are, and perhaps should be, one way or another; win or lose, good or evil, and, of course, black or white. Sure there isn’t nearly as much variety with only two choices, but things sure are a heck of a lot easier to discern. And it is this very property, my friends, that Inversus has built itself upon. Now, because I ended up getting more philosophical than originally intended, let’s take a look at the game!
Inversus is a fast-paced, arcade-like shooter that challenges players to use their well-toned video game reflexes and quick thinking skills in order to avoid being blown to bits and be the last one standing. At first glance Inversus seems incredibly simple, due to the fact that all you’re doing is taking control of a square and using it to shoot all of the enemy squares, but there is more to coming out on top than meets the eye As the game title may suggest, the battlefields within Inversus operate by a set of rules that are quite literally black-and-white thanks to the game’s single, but highly-important, puzzle element thrown in.
Movement around each map is limited by tile color and the color of the player’s square, with black squares only being able to move across white tiles and white squares only being able to move across black tiles. While shooting your enemies is the only way to win, your projectiles have yet another purpose within the realm of Inverse; they invert the color of whatever tiles they pass through! This means that not only do players need to worry about gunning down their opponents, but also must worry about making sure that they have enough space to dodge incoming fire from their enemies.
Ammunition is also quite limited, with players only being able to hold up to five shots at once (as indicated by the ring of circles within each player’s square). While players have free range of movements, their shots are limited to the four cardinal directions. Shots can either be fired off in rapid succession, or charged in order to have them more ground. Power-ups are available, and appear as red dots (one of the few non-monochromatic things in Inversus), although their only real difference, color aside, is how quickly they travel once fired. It is a bit easy to run out of shots if you’re not careful, especially with how slowly ammo regenerates, but this isn’t entirely a bad thing. Letting players freely shoot around could end up in the ability to overpower one’s opponents and break the game. It can definitely be a bit frustrating at first to deal with, but after playing for a while it’s easy to appreciate the fact that you need to both conserve and use your shots wisely.
Inversus is divided up into two modes, the first being Arcade Mode. Arcade Mode can be enjoyed either alone or with a friend, and pits you against a ceaseless onslaught of enemies as you see just how long you can survive all while racking up that sweet, sweet high score. Enemies within Arcade Mode come in two basic flavors. First, there are the red squares. Although incapable of actually firing, these red squares will furiously chase you around the field, inverting whatever tiles they may pass over. While they don’t pose much of a threat alone, they spawn in larger groups the longer you survive and, when combined with their ever-increasing speed (and the fact that some eventually can take two hits!), can spell out trouble if not dealt with carefully. Fortunately, these enemies explode when defeated. The explosion, while utterly harmless toward you (and possibly the pal that you’re playing with), harm nearby enemy units. By killing one or two red squares and setting off a chain reaction of explosions, you can rack up your score pretty quickly if you plan things out. The second enemy type is essentially a dumbed-down version of the player character… or player square, I guess? They can fire shots just like you, but are generally slow and can’t hold as much ammunition as you can. These enemies also explode when killed. Arcade Mode can be played on one of six maps, although five of them need to be unlocked (which can be done simply by playing Arcade Mode). Although it can perhaps get a bit stale after a while, Arcade mode is a legitimate challenge that can be enjoyed either alone or with a friend, and has the tendency to become more satisfying as one continues to master the game’s mechanics.
The second mode and Inversus, and where the game really shines in my opinion, is Versus Mode. Versus Mode, plain and simple, is a mode that allows you to fight it out with other human players in either one-on-one or two-on-two matches. In terms of gameplay mechanics, Versus Mode works exactly the same as Arcade Mode except for the fact that you’re fighting against other players instead of swarms of enemies. Per usual, victory is awarded to the the last player or team standing with the match being won once one player or team reaches three victories. While Arcade Mode contained only contained six maps, Versus Mode contains three times as many; a whopping 18.The number of maps, along with the fact that matches within Versus Mode are a little more high-octane than those in Arcade Mode make Versus Mode much more sustainable in terms of fun and longevity and also prevent things from getting as stale as quickly. Unfortunately, there is no part of Versus Mode that allows you to fight against AI-controlled opponents, so either make sure you have some friends with you or get ready to accept the fact that you’ll be playing with strangers. I understand that playing against other human players is more enjoyable, but I fail to see why adding in a feature that lets players play against any sort of computer-controlled opponents was negated.
Inversus is a nice twist on a classic arcade-style shooter, with a nicely-arranged combination intriguing gameplay, responsive controls, and crisp visuals. Although it has the possibility of feeling a bit stale after too many consecutive plays, the good rather outweighs the bad overall for those who consider themselves fans of the genre. With a solid Arcade Mode, and a Versus Mode that allows for both local and online play against others, Inversus promises to be an enjoyable, albeit somewhat brief, action-packed experience for any and all who try it.
Available on: PC (reviewed) , PS4 ; Publisher: Hypersect ; Developer: Hypersect ; Players: 1-4 ; Released: August 16, 2016 ; MSRP: $14.99
Full Disclosure: This review was made possible by a copy provided by the publisher.