Saturday, January 6, 2018

Review: Energy Invasion [Nintendo Switch eShop]

While I’ve played some pretty flawed games on the Switch thus far one redeeming quality many of them have had is that they’re at least targeted on a clear audience. For whatever failings a game may have in its execution for people who are fans of the genre there can be hope that people can overlook its flaws and find enjoyment. Energy Invasion, unfortunately, is a game that I can’t quite identify a target audience for. Too complex and aggravating for casual players and too basic and wonky for the more hardcore, it is a strange combination of Breakout and a twin-stick shooter that plain doesn’t work.

While I tend to like more complex games I’ve also always had a weak spot for the arcade classic Arkanoid and some of the clones that were made of it over time. When I first saw Energy Invasion I’d thought that perhaps it would be in that vein. Instead it takes a strange turn and has made the ball you are trying to keep from getting by you into a vehicle for shooting at the blocks. As odd as it is in a game with this style the ball itself actually won’t damage the blocks in place at all, only the “bullets” that it fires. Different, weird, but giving it a shot I stuck with it.

Unfortunately, there’s just so much going on that is actively wrong with the game I would end up calling my time with it excruciating. Probably worst of all is that you need to use the analog stick (no touch controls, because you then couldn’t shoot) but it only works as digital control, making the task of keeping your ball aloft far more difficult than it should ever need to be. There seem to be power-ups in the game, but they simply trigger randomly and without me seemingly doing anything… just suddenly my “paddle” is wider or there’s a barrier in place. Your shots fluctuate in their speed and will just sort of stop for some reason. The ball will inexplicably change directions while not having hit anything. The game just seems to have weird and unexplained decisions and behaviors around every turn.

Ultimately I’m struggling to think of anyone at all I could even try to recommend Energy Invasion for as, on top of its myriad problems, it doesn’t even belong to any clear genre. Part casual Breakout variant, part twin-stick shooter, and all bugginess and aggravation, it is probably my least favorite game on the platform to date. Even with its extremely budget price I can’t find any redeeming qualities to recommend.

Score: 1.5

  • “Box Art” that appropriately reminds me of the Atari 2600 days...

  • Forced use of analog stick but stiff digital controls
  • Multiple game systems and behaviors that are unclear and seemingly random
  • No clear audience