Day 168: Inertia!

Posted: 2011/04/26 in Indie Games

I’m purchasing an Xbox Live Indie Game (XBLIG) every day, seeking out the quality titles that got lost in the shuffle and are not well represented in the top 50 lists on the Xbox Dashboard. Today is day #168, and today’s game is “Inertia!”.

Many of you will remember Xbox Live Arcade (XBLA) game Limbo winning big at DICE’s 2011 Indie Game Challenge, but how many of you remember the other game that won big that night? That game was an XBLIG, and it was “Inertia!”.

Inertia! was created by an eight member team at “The Guildhall” at Southern Methodist University, which bills itself as “the premier graduate video game education program in the US.” There might be something to that, five members of the team are now working for big established teams creating games for major publishers. The other three have chosen to go the indie route, creating “Team Inertia” and pursuing independent projects. And why not when you have an award winning game as a launching pad? And that game is definitely very good.

First, from the developer (Team Hermes):

“Anti gravity platformer. Suspend gravity to overcome obstacles and beat levels.”

Short and sweet, but that does aptly describe the game’s core gameplay. You run, jump, and suspend gravity. Whatever momentum and trajectory you have when you suspend gravity is carried forward until you reactivate gravity. In the game you’ll strategically turn off gravity when you think you’re heading in the right direction to reach an area you’re trying to reach, often planning chain reactions several bounces in advance. Think of pool, from the perspective of the cue ball, and with the cue ball calling the shots.

Inertia! takes place on a ship getting slowly torn apart by an asteroid field. The scientific reality is that it’s all but impossible for asteroid fields to be that dense, as the constant violent collisions both start breaking the asteroids down into space dust while simultaneously spreading the asteroid field outward. Actual asteroid fields typically end up with each individual space rock separated by dozens, even hundreds or thousands, of kilometres. But if Hollywood can’t get that right so why should this game?

Inertia! does a good job of getting you up to speed, literally painting the wall early on with suggestions of when to jump, turn off gravity, etc., to collect objects and get to otherwise hard to reach areas. Before you know it you’ll be firing yourself at corners with the intention of reflecting yourself off of them at the desired angle, collecting data blocks as you go. Lots of checkpoints smartly allow you to experiment without the frustration of having to retrace too many of your steps.

The game’s graphics aren’t incredibly detailed, but they get the job done for a game where the gameplay is supreme. Sound is kept to an absolute minimum, but it works for the game giving it a spooky feel as you try to escape a ship in its death throws. The game is a little on the short side, but offers some replay value by letting you play the game in reverse, and finally by offering a speedrun mode where time limits are put on each level to force you to streamline your play. For only 80 Microsoft Points it’s really hard to pass on this inventive game.

Click here to download “Inertia!”, and then please come back after playing to rate the game.

Know someone else who would want to read the review, or rate the game? “Share This” and invite them to.


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