Energy Invasion (PS4) Review
Release Date: January 10, 2018
Developer: Evgeniy Kolpakov t/a Sometimes You
Platform: PS4 (Reviewed), PS Vita, Nintendo Switch
I've had a few run-ins with Sometimes You in the past. The games they release seem hit or miss, like Neverend, which took roguelike to the impossible extreme, to Save the Ninja Clan, which was a fun, lighthearted Meat Boy like adventure with a bit of a twist where you could mess with the programmer by finding the bugs in the game. Overall, Sometimes You likes to put out cheap little games built around a neat concept. Sometimes You Win, Sometimes You Lose. Today, I get a chance to tell you about their newest title, Energy Invasion.
Much like the games before it, Energy Invasion suffers from a lack of information. Sure, I don't need a deep story in a Breakout-style game, but it would be nice to know more than what they give you. You have your paddle at the bottom of the screen to bounce a ball at obstacles, but it can't actually destroy anything. You must use the right stick to shoot missiles at the targets. While an interesting concept, there's nothing you can do to actively change the speed of shooting, and you're constantly adjusting your angle of fire while not knowing when the next bullet will come out, so it gets a little haphazard. There are two modes: Invasion and Linear. Linear feels more like Breakout, in that all of the obstacles are lined up much like they would be in a traditional game, while Invasion mode makes the patterns more interesting and adds enemies who attack. These strange balls of energy shoot out red missles that kill your paddle in one hit. They also seem to have a strong bead on you, with every shot, bouncing or not, being able to aim right where you are at the time of firing. It gets frustrating as you get one shotted while you are busy trying to fire from your energy ball to attack the targets.
My biggest beef with the game comes from the sound. Most of the tracks developed by Nick R 61 are techno/trance style pieces that fit the feel of the art work. Problem is, that's all you get. From the start of time, games of this style have had some sort of audible cue you were doing things right. Heck, it's right in the name of Pong. Coming in contact with the ball gives no audible tone, enemy shots are silent, all you get is the music. While most tracks are good, there is one track I can only describe as "treble-high repetitive glass break" that hurt my ears so much I'd skip the track every time it came on. Energy Invasion also suffers from some very early Breakout issues that have long since been fixed: you can only launch the ball up and to the right, there's no initial aim, and if you hit the ball right it can get stuck in an up and down or back and forth pattern, which makes it very easy or very hard depending on the current status of your play field. There are also power ups, but I can't tell you how I got them, or what they do. Lights show up on certain targets, sometimes good things happen, sometimes bad. I couldn't even tell you which was which if I had taken notes.
Walking into the game it looks pretty, with special effects blipping all over the screen, but when they are put into effect it becomes a nightmare. There are screen warping effects, the graphics intentionally glitch and stutter, and at times the background looks as if it could be part of the obstacles in your way.
Energy Invasion presents itself to the watcher very well. Unfortunately, some of the choices in control and graphic design mar your ability to complete the tasks. One night of play, and I'm 25% through one mode and 40% through another, with all trophies linked to progress in those modes, and infinite continues (with some sort of penalty), so I reckon trophy hunters can get an easy platinum for the cheap entry fee. At $2.99, there isn't a lot of room to complain: it does what it's supposed to do, and provides a night's worth of challenge. The game suffers from focusing on the flash more than the fun.
-Wonderful music (save one track)
-No logical control over your missiles means a lot of random shooting
-One music track literally hurt my ears
-Beautiful graphics mix with gameplay making it difficult to keep track
Thanks to Sometimes You for providing a digital copy of the game for review.