Developed By: SVC Games
Published By: SVC Games
Category: Arcade, Action, Multiplayer
Release Date: 9.21.18
It’s never a bad time for a super-slick indie twin stick shooter, especially when it brings back so many great memories of my time spent with Geometry Wars. Debris Infinity for the Nintendo Switch is that shooter today. It features a superhot EDM soundtrack and addictive gameplay that falls somewhere between the aforementioned Geometry Wars and Atari classic Asteroids.
Arcade Without Quarters
Debris Infinity is your typical twin stick shooter in terms of control scheme; left stick controls the movement of your ship, and the right stick fires your weapon in whatever direction you push it. Simple stuff, sure. There are a few extra bells and whistles in the form of the left and right triggers. Left trigger detonates a bomb, eliminating every enemy on the screen. The right trigger slows down time, allowing for easier evasion in a tight spot. Both abilities have a set amount of power indicated by a bar around your ship. Empty a bar, lose that ability for a while. After hitting certain combo numbers or achieving a new point multiplier, you can regain energy on those bars, regenerate some health, or gain a special weapon for a limited time. The special weapons generally do more damage or have a larger spread, making it easier to get hits and build your combo.
The enemies you have to shoot down are either large rocks that break into smaller rocks when you hit them (a la Asteroids) or small, multi-colored ships (a la Geometry Wars). The asteroids sort of crash around wherever, while the ships will attack you with a predetermined attack pattern, whether that’s just chasing you wherever you go on the screen or firing a spiral of projectiles and moving away from you. It’s a pretty interesting mix of the two games, and makes for a pretty decent test of your fast-twitch gaming skills. Moreover, it’s just fun.
The single-player experience of Debris Infinity consists of three different game modes. The Normal mode sees you attempting to build as high a score as possible with no time limit. The game ends when you run out of health, but as long as you can keep dodging, you can keep playing. Time Attack has a three-minute time limit; you must gather as many points as you can within those three minutes. There is no health bar, but every time you get hit you lose points. A lot of points. It took me four or five runs before I ended up with a positive score. Finally, there’s Power Wave mode, which is kind of a mix of the other two. You face different waves of enemies with both a health bar and a timer for each wave. If you run out of health or time, it’s game over. The farther you go, the harder the waves get. Each mode presents its own challenges, but the basic gameplay is pretty similar between all three. Normal and Time Attack both work with similar strategies, but Power Wave is only really viable if you’re very aggressive about going after the enemies on-screen.
The multiplayer options for Debris Infinity are pretty intriguing as well. You can choose to either play any of the single-player modes cooperatively, or face your friends in a versus match. Co-op is interesting in that you both control the same ship; one player controls movement and the time slow ability, while the other controls the weapons and the bomb ability. It makes for some fun times, and even longer runs as it allows each person to focus solely on one task.
The versus mode sees two players on the same field in basically the same gameplay as Normal mode, and whoever racks up the most points wins. Both players have a health bar; if the player with the least points is still alive after the player with the most points dies, that player can keep going until either they die or they accumulate more points than their opponent. You can’t damage your opponent with your weapons, which detracts a little from the intensity of the competition. Having more to dodge would have made the mode a little more challenging, but like the rest of the game, it’s pretty fun as it is.
The gameplay is its best when the enemies and asteroids are flying at you fast and furious; so the deeper you get into a run, the more challenging and fun the game gets. The more into the game I got, the more I wanted to start a new run as fast as possible after I game overed my last one. If there’s one area where the game stumbles in its execution, it’s getting you back into the action quickly. After a game over, the game displays your score, then the online leaderboards (if you have that option on), and then back to the main menu. You have to select the number of players and game type all over again. The whole process takes like fifteen seconds, but it does break up the action and intensity of the game. I would have really liked to see the option to just start a new game right away after a game over rather than having to go through the menus again. I admit it is a very minor problem, but for a game built on intense, fast action, any inessential activities makes the game feel slower.
Debris Infinity makes the most of a very minimalist graphical style. It is quite heavily influenced visually by both Geometry Wars and Asteroids in addition to the obvious gameplay similarities with those two games. The player’s ship is a simple shape, with the enemies and asteroids in the game closely resembling their counterparts in their inspirational predecessors. Enemy ships and rocks explode in a cascade of fireworks, adding a great splash of color throughout the game, making for a bright, positive gameplay atmosphere. The only issue here is that occasionally the sprays of color can cloak an approaching baddie; more than once I got hit by a stray asteroid hidden under the veil of one of its exploding brethren. Still, very pretty.
The game features a very fast, intense selection of electronic music. Artists Flash Eksesiv, m4rt3z, Sonance Project, Digital Rift, and Tejaswi contribute blistering techno (or is it EDM? Are they the same thing? Music people help me out here) tracks to keep the game’s energy level pumped up even through the menu system. Elemental Energy by m4rt3z might have been my favorite track; it’s a song that starts slow but always seems to have built to full blast by the time the action gets bonkers.
Debris Infinity has no touch or motion controls, so you can play it docked or undocked as you prefer. I found the game infinitely more comfortable to play with a Pro controller than I did with the Joycon, either attached or detached. The controls just felt infinitely smoother on a more classically styled controller. I also preferred the game on my TV to the Switch’s screen. The visuals felt much less crowded on a bigger screen, which made navigating the action and explosions feel more manageable.
TL;DR: Fun, fast twin stick shooter with a hot soundtrack that plays better docked.