Developer: Section Studios, Candescent Games Inc.
Publisher: Reverb Triple XP
Platform: PC [Reviewed], Mac, Linux, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: September 3rd, 2015
Early Access has claimed the souls of many games over the last few years. But Tinertia, which was in Early Access for a little over a year, is among the few that saw a full release. Coming from two fairly new developers, Tinertia was a take on platformers that I had never seen before.
The main gameplay mechanic of any platformer is the ability to jump platforms or obstacles. However, Tinertia ditches that notion altogether. The game only allows players to use rockets to push them up into the air, forcing them to think outside of the box in order to finish platforming sections. The fresh take on a genre that has existed for so long really allows Tinertia to stand on it’s own.
The game opens with a little robot named Weldon who is stranded on an unfamiliar planet. His goal, and ultimately the your goal, is to escape the evil ARC which is trying to kill Weldon around every corner. There isn’t much of a story, but I don’t think there needs to be. While a little more in the way of story wouldn’t be a discouraged addition, it doesn’t hold the overall experience back in the slightest. I would’ve enjoyed blasting my way through each level just the same with or without a framed story.
Tinertia really shines in it’s gameplay mechanics. Ditching the normal jump button in favor of only a rocket-jumps forces players to think about each platforming section differently. Where a normal jump may work, a rocket-jump may fail. The mechanic is a welcomed with any standard controller, but not those who are playing with a keyboard and mouse. While the game is loading, it suggests playing with a gamepad of some sort. A simple thing that can be overlooked by players, but having some sort of controller around really makes the game go much smoother.
A gamepad is so critical because Tinertia is very difficult. Rocket jumping brings the addition of fun, but also the addition of a large difficulty spike. Players will die over, and over, and over again. Games like Super Meat Boy no undoubtedly test patience with its harsh difficulty. Tinertia on the other hand–bulldozes it. The game will have even the quietest gamer (such as myself) red in the face and screaming at the screen.
Besides the rocket jumping, the amount of speed a player can gain leads ties into its toughness. There is no speed limit in the game, so depending on where a rocket is shot, a player can fly a step forward, or across the map. This game requires precision and complete accuracy in order to make it to the next level.
If the difficulty doesn’t give you enough challenge, there is more to look forward to. There is a ton of content in Tinertia. Depending how good a player is, just beating each of the 66-levels will yield around 5-8 hours of gameplay. In addition, each level has a time goal and a par for number of rockets shot off during the level. These perks allow players to unlock new skins to use in the game. For those who are more competitively minded, Tinertia has leaderboards for every level, allowing players to show off their times to the world. While the base content doesn’t change, there is still countless hours of fun to be had in Tinertia outside of just playing through each level. The inclusion of so many modes really allows players to fine tune their skills in the game, and eventually take it to the leaderboards.
Staying quasi-true to the genre, at the end of each set of levels there’s a boss battle. These are rooted in the tradition of testing skills learned up to that point in the game. These are undoubtedly the hardest points in Tinertia, largely due to the fact that each of the bosses is unique. Weldon is thrown into a very fast-paced level without explanation, forcing players to focus and use their skills to defeat each boss.
Tinertia includes a challenge called the “#YOLO Challenge,” that forces you to play through the entirety of Weldon’s journey with only one life. I never tried the mode because I am a mere mortal, but for those with a heart braver than mine, here’s your chance to show off just how good your skills really are.
While you may be admiring skill or difficulty, you might ask where the art style lays. The game is beautifully sculpted particularly well for an indie developed title. There is a lot of work simply put into the graphics and polish that stemmed from the Early Access run. Colors look vibrant on the screen, and the palette in general adds variety and depth to every level visited. While the demand on the game is pretty hefty, it is worth it to see the environments pop with flare.
While the game looks good, it also sounds good. The soundtrack fits perfectly with the game, calming players down during normal stages, and pumping up their anxiety during boss battles. The game plays fine without music or with a separate playlist, but there is definitely a contribution to the atmosphere of the game attributed to the music.
I had a ton of fun with Tinertia. While most of the time I was tempted to throw my controller across the room, I constantly pressed on, because even though I was angry, I was having tons of fun. There is so much content to play through and each level feels smart and challenging, making players feel like they achieved something, not that it was just handed to them. The game in constantly introducing and changing mechanics, keeping the gameplay in constant motion, allowing it to always be a fresh experience for players.
The largest issue that I found with Tinertia had to be the difficulty. There’s a lot of fun to be had, and I don’t think the difficulty should be turned down, but I think players should be allowed to jump to different levels within each chunk of levels, much like Super Meat Boy. One of the hardest things to veer away from in the gameis muscle memory, having been taught to jump like all of the other platformers on the market.
Players who get in the habit of dying during a level may find themselves shutting off the game in frustration. Unfortunately this wasn’t something that came up in the year long Early Access process, and feel the game would be so much more fun with just that small addition.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Tinertia is one of the best indie platformers I have played in a long time. The wealth of content and finger numbing platforming really does lead to a lot of fun. However, some of that fun may be overrun in anger when players can only play one level to progress. Despite this, Tinertia is fun for those who want a challenge and are willing to play by the game’s rules. For the price, Tinertia is hard to beat.