By Jeff Neuenschwander / February 22nd, 2016
|Developer||Candescent Games, Inc., Section Games|
|Publisher||Reverb Triple XP|
|Release Date||September 3rd, 2015|
|Platform||PC (Steam); Coming Soon to PS4 and Xbox One|
|Age Rating||Not Rated/No Recommendation|
If there’s one thing I can take away from playing Tinertia, it’s that I am now a firm believer that video games are a form of art. Art, of course, is something that is extremely subjective with people either liking or hating it. And occasionally, it can move someone in a way that takes their love or hatred for it to another level.
Why do I bring this up? Because it seems like a number of people that have played and reviewed this game have enjoyed it. But for me, I have become enraged with this game.
But it wasn’t like everything was bad about it. The music was wonderful to listen to, with it’s electronic tones mixing well with the atmosphere Candescent Games was going for. One of my favorite soundtracks of last year. The design is great as well. I enjoyed the look of Weldon a lot. And the different environments were incredible to see.
And the story is fairly simple. Weldon is trapped by an entity known as ARK. To escape the planet, he needs to get past ARK as well as a number of other bosses. It’s a simple enough plot for a game that will already have a learning curve with its gameplay ideas.
Here’s the deal: Tinertia is a platformer without a jump button. Instead, Weldon is given a rocket launcher which propels him in different directions, mimicking the jumping you would typically do in a platformer. You can also use the launcher to scale walls by firing down and towards the wall, creating an explosion that will propel you up to mimic wall jumping. And if you seem to be coming up a bit short, you’re allotted a boost for every time you leave the ground, which can make some jumps more reachable… most of the time.
Now, we had an impressions piece on the site that talked about how the gameplay was unrealized for the premise of the game. I never found that when I played. The only time I had a real issue with gameplay was when I attempted to play on a keyboard — which leads me to this question: why do people create games without optimizing the ability to play on a keyboard? These are standard controls for everyone. Not everyone has a controller to plug in. And it’s not that Candescent is the only one doing this; this happens a lot from a number of developers. You might as well have all those games include the words “Plus a $20 game controller” next to the price.
Anyway, the idea of playing with a rocket launcher instead of a jump button is intriguing. And early on, the result was inspiring. The ability to aim the launcher in most any direction mixed with good level design created for a great experience.
And then the two hour mark hit, and I met the aptly named Crapacitor.
The Crapacitor is a boss level where you try to escape from the area as sewage rises from below. To escape it, you have to climb up along walls that will occasionally have crap that will stop you from continuing your climb along that wall. But you can switch to a different wall with help from the tail of a monster that climbs up with you and slings crap at you.
Now all of this doesn’t sound too bad until you notice that the sewage rises rather quickly, hitting the initial platform in just about 2 seconds. And to make matters worse, the tail of the monster spins. However, it doesn’t spin in one direction or a certain way due to a rocket or landing at a certain point. The tail spins randomly. Which means that it’s a crap shoot if you’ll be given momentum to be flung high into the air or sent straight into the shit.
So, when you combine unrocketable walls, random movement of a key point, quick rising death liquid, and questionable design choices on top of that, you go from creating a hardcore platform with an excellent mechanic to creating Syoban Action. It becomes a troll, whether on purpose for a laugh or by accident due to the developer’s hubris.
And remember that two hour quip? That’s a key thing to remember since that’s the point of no return on Steam. Is it coincidence that the game starts becoming near unplayable at a point where you would probably have played two hours? Perhaps, but you still have to question the ethics of it.
And by the way, I initially played this game on a laptop with graphics set on low and had some lag that made the game difficult to play. It wasn’t really until I purchased a new computer (not for this game; I just wanted a new computer) that I was able to play effectively. In a way, this could turn a $15 game into a $1500 game.
The thing with modern games that tout themselves as hardcore platformers is that they miss the point of the hardcore platformers from before. Think Castlevania, Ninja Gaiden, Ghost ‘n’ Goblins, and Mega Man. These weren’t just hard games. These were games that had a lot of thought and care put into the details of placement of platforms and enemies as well as the patterns of the enemies you need to face. Obstacles weren’t just set up and waves of enemies set to go at the player; they were set in a way where the player could track several enemies and find ways around said obstacles. These games weren’t set up this way because of hardware limits; they were set up this way because it made sense from a gameplay perspective. And it seems like the creators of modern “hardcore” platformers forget that detail about the older games.
And the thing is that this entire scenario– the Crapacitor and the feeling of being duped — could all be fixed by studying these older games and emulating what made them great experiences. Just some minor changes could take this from an unfair mess of a difficult game to an enjoyable, difficult game. For instance, in the Crapacitor, have the spinning tail start sparking or glowing certain colors to indicate a certain direction it will spin. That way, you can anticipate the movement to fling yourself into the air and any misstep will feel like your own mistake.
Overall, Tinertia is a game that has wonderful ideas, and even executes a few of them well. But when it comes down to it, too many critical errors make me question not just the skill of the developer but the ethics of them as well. I shouldn’t have to feel like I’ve been duped playing a game. And when you end up feeling cheated on numerous fronts, you can’t help but feel that the experience was entirely a waste of time.
Review copy provided by the publisher.