Screen filled with fire raining across the enemy horde of evil galactic blobs.
Squish, poof, bang they go down without breaking a sweat. Pushing forwards black orbs of pain materialize, and hunt you like flies on a poop. A bomb used in the very last moment clears the room, and when the neon dust settles you are alone. Or not absolutely alone, as there is a shop up ahead. Faster guns, more power or speed and the mayhem continue.
Developer Radiangames has specialized in shooters with a solid line-up including Fireball SE, Ballistic SE and Super Crossfire. All of those have been great, and combined tight controls, cool effects and intense action. Inferno+ follows along those lines, but includes more freedom to explore levels, and some RPG-like upgrades. The intensity comes in waves, and you can choose to tackle most levels at your own pace. As there are numerous spawn hives for the enemies to emerge from speed is often preferred to avoid getting too many enemies to kill.
The most important aspect of any dual stick shooter is how the controls handle. Going up against a horde of enemies, or a huge boss you have to be confident in your handling. In Inferno+ the controls have been honed to perfection, and are really responsive. Beside the movement, and fire stick you get a special shield button, and a bomb button. There are also multiple control settings to personalise them to your liking. For those with a Bluetooth controller you can play with one of those by selecting it in the options.
Geometry Wars is still the game to beat in the genre, and Inferno+ goes a long way to challenge it. The ability to upgrade your craft in a special shop, and having drones helping out are some things that Inferno+ does right. I would have liked to see more special weapons, as you only get to choose your craft when you start a new game. The four you choose from at the start are varied, but as you are stuck with one for the duration of the game it gets a bit boring. Overall the weapon system could have been deeper, and I miss the changing of weapon types to suit the enemy at hand that you get it Super Stardust for example. Now there isn’t much that I haven’t already seen on iOS a dozen times. Isotope for example plays quite similar to Inferno+, and that is three years old.
What sets Inferno+ apart from most recent twin stick shooters is the exploration aspect. The levels get bigger, and bigger with more doors requiring keys. Finding your way around without moving into ambushes is important. I would have liked a map, as there is no variation to the graphics telling where on a level I am at the moment. At times it feels like I am going in circles. That is the downside to the exploration in Inferno+. It makes it heard to know if you scavenge new ground, or if you are close to the start of the level.
The upgrade system is quite easy to grasp, and you can customize your ship to your personal play style. Slow, powerful with massive firepower, or fast with lots of shields and homing bullets. I prefer to be somewhere in between with a nice payload, but still quick enough to escape an ambush. The points used to upgrade abilities can be moved around as well giving you a chance to freely find your personal favourite.
The presentation follows the same style as previous games from Radiangames with minimalism combined with some cool explosions. If I were to complain about something it is that the game can be a bit dark, especially the first world that is blue. It is impossible to play outside in the sun on my iPad due to this. Later levels with brighter colours combined with the black work much better. Overall the presentation is polished, but I have seen it all before quite a number of times. The following is taken from my Isotope review from 2009: “The game features retro graphics, and I am not totally convinced that it was the right choice for the game. It has been done so many times now.” What I perhaps thought was a trend hasn’t given in, and seems to be a standard backdrop for shooters in 2012.
With only 40 maps this is quite a short game, but with three levels of difficulty it is worth to replay with more challenge. The price of $2.99 is perhaps on the high side considering you can get three twin stick shooters for that price.
Inferno+ improves upon the original from Xbox Live, but on iOS it has much more competition than on console. The formula has been tried, tested, patented, and Inferno+ is certainly one of the better when it comes to execution. The question you have to ask yourself is simply if you want another twin stick shooter in neon? I certainly still do.
Inferno+ $2.99 Universal for iPad/iPhone/iPod
Seller: Luke Schneider / Radiangames