INVERSUS Deluxe (Switch eShop) Review
There are some games on the eShop that people tend to gloss over. Simple puzzle games, visual novels, and even more experimental games. These games aren’t neglected because they’re bad, they’re neglected because their audience is small. INVERSUS Deluxe is one of those games. It’s a delightful little game, with a fun and interesting concept, but too much of the game hinges on having an audience far larger than it does.
So let’s get down to the basics (and they are very basic). In INVERSUS, you have two game modes: Versus and Arcade. In Versus (ha ha), you and your opponent play as a black or white square on a black and white grid. You can only move through the opposite colour, and you can shoot in four directions to send a bullet that turns tiles on the grid to a colour you can move on. Your goal in Versus is to shoot down your opponent, first by cornering them with some clever shot placement, then firing a shot that’ll hit them. And that’s it.
Versus mode is pretty clearly supposed to be the core of INVERSUS (seeing how it’s in the name and all), and it’s fun enough. It’s fast-paced, clever, and you can even play with up to four players. Playing with a friend, either online or locally, it can get extremely competitive, but after a few games, things start to get a little… repetitive. Sure, there are a number of different maps you can play on, each with their own quirks and strategies, and you get better at it as time passes, but the gameplay doesn’t evolve beyond the first match. Once you’ve played a few games with the same person, there’s nothing more to grab you. It’s just the same thing, over and over and over again.
You can play against strangers online too… or at least, so I’m told. I’ve tried quite a few times over the past two weeks to find a match online, but I’ve only ever found one person, and all they did was stand still for the length of the match. As I said earlier, too much of INVERSUS relies on having an audience far larger than it does. If you don’t have someone nearby who wants to play, your options are limited to playing against a predictable AI, or hopping online and praying that someone else is playing too. Of course, online play also means that you can play with a friend who lives far away, so that might make help make the lack of online players a little less of a problem.
Arcade mode is a bit of a different story; it’s about as close to a progressing experience as you’re likely to get, but only barely. Like Versus, you can play by yourself or with a friend, either locally or online. Unlike Versus, however, Arcade, when played with a friend, is a co-operative experience. You (and maybe a friend) are thrown into the centre of a very basic map and evil red blocks will spawn on the edges of that map, and start moving towards you. As the evil blocks pass over a space on the grid, they’ll turn it to your colour, meaning you can’t travel over it. If the red blocks touch you, you lose one of your three lives. And as the timer ticks on, red block spawns become more frequent. It’s not a bad game mode, in fact it’s probably the most immediately interesting but it still feels underdeveloped, and it can get repetitive very quickly. It would have been nice to see some sort of puzzle levels, either co-op or solo, based on the colour concept at the core of Inversus, to break up the gameplay when it gets a bit boring.
I will commend Inversus for having a variety of unlockable cosmetics, which can change the entire colour scheme, block trail, and even adorable emotes that you can spam at other players (should you ever find them online). Little things like that can make or break a game, and while they don’t add too much to the experience as a whole, those small touches to make continued play feel justified may just push it far enough into the “enjoyable” side that people stick around.
Inversus DELUXE is at its best when playing with others, but very quickly turns to its worst when there aren’t any others playing it. While conceptually excellent and executed wonderfully, it relies too heavily on a user base that just doesn’t exist. There’s a good game in Inversus, and the potential to expand upon the core concepts is gigantic but, as it stands, it falls just short of delivering a solid enough experience to keep playing.
Rating: 3 / 5
Beautiful, simplistic art style
Unlockable emotes are cute
Relies too heavily on a large player base
Lack of single-player content
Can get repetitive very quickly