GAME REVIEW: Inversus (PS4) – “A Big Surprise in a Small Package”

How do you review a game that is missing some of its features? Well, not quite missing, but features that don’t work as they should because it simply came out at the wrong time.

That’s sadly the case with Inversus, a game which I cannot recommend enough that people don’t seem to have received the memo on. The player-base for online play simply isn’t there, all thanks to a hugely congested release schedule. It’s a shame, though – if given the chance, Inversus will worm its way into your brain and beg you to play it until you see blocks in your dreams.

Trying to connect to an online game for an hour taught me that local play is probably the way forward. I prodded my girlfriend out of her mid-afternoon nap and forced asked her to play with me. She’s not much of a gamer, so she appreciated the simple yet also deep nature of the game – she was hooked.

Inversus is as straightforward as they come. It’s a retro-styled arena game with a splash of modern aesthetics to keep it interesting, along with the restrictions of what your “domino” can do. Trying to make the most of the five bullet limitation is exciting, especially when you consider the fast-paced nature of everything going on. Inversus sometimes feels like a Western.

Charging up your attack for more damage isn’t exactly a new mechanic in gaming, but it’s done well here. Biding your time, evading bullets while you patiently wait to unleash what is essentially a kamehameha is heart-pounding and a risk that doesn’t always pay off.

The way you shoot in Inversus is also interesting. Instead of being a twin-stick shooter, the direction of your bullets are determined by the face buttons on a controller. For the PS4, that means triangle is up, X is down, and you get the rest. When combined with the possibilities posed by power-ups, which can quickly replenish your ammo and charge, Inversus quickly becomes a game all about dexterity.

With the “loss” of online play, Inversus could have been dead in the water if it followed the trend of being multiplayer-only. Luckily for me (and the word count for this review), the Arcade mode means it isn’t particularly missed. It’s a challenge-based mode that asks you to set high scores so that you can continue to progress and unlock new maps. It also isn’t easy.

The mode throws more than its fair share of domino enemies your way in waves, meaning that you can’t rest up for even a second. The blocks that form the shape of levels are destructible, but they can quickly form again, resulting in panicked fleeing – when the enemies are closing in and you have the level working against you too, it feels like the garbage compactor scene from A New Hope multiplied by an army of Stormtroopers closing in at the same time. It’s much better than it sounds.

It would be unfair to include a score for a game that I couldn’t fully experience, but what I can say is that it’s seriously recommended for anyone wanting simple, addictive fun. Call three friends up and make them come to your house so you can play each other and get lost for a few hours in one of 2016’s biggest surprises in a small package.

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