Sunday, September 23

Review: Debris Infinity [Nintendo Switch eShop]


In the arcade shooting genre you really stick your neck out when you take on a visual style that’s anywhere in the vicinity of Geometry Wars (BTW, where the heck is it anyway?!?). Anyone who is a fan of that series undoubtedly did a double-take when seeing the screenshots of Debris Infinity for the first time. While it is by no means identical the bright and colorful vector-based graphics are eye-catching and share some elements of that same flair. While Debris Infinity isn’t on the same level where it comes to diversity and insanity it does manage to do a respectable job of setting itself apart as something distinct and is perfect for arcade shooting fans looking to kill some time while trying to place on its global leaderboards.


Probably the most interesting thing to note is that Debris Infinity may have a little more in common with a much earlier arcade shooting classic: Asteroids. Indeed, your main nemesis as long as you’re able to stay alive are asteroids that will randomly float around and bounce off the edges of the screen. As you shoot them they’ll then break down into smaller pieces which you’ll continue to reduce until they’re destroyed. This generally means that there will be a ton of debris floating around the screen at all times and from all angles, so you’ll need to stay sharp. Of course there’ll be other objects to deal with periodically that have their own behaviors as well, and part of the learning curve is in understanding how best to react when some of the more formidable enemies make an appearance.


What gives the game its challenge, whether you’re playing in Normal, Time Attack, or Power Wave mode is that merely staying alive isn’t really enough, if you want to compete you’re going to need to be aggressive, smart, and take some risks. That’s because your score, or in the case of Power Wave mode even your survival, relies on your ability to work through enemies as efficiently as possible. While in Power Wave mode that’s for the purpose of keeping your time from running out in all modes your true focus is on your combo and level multipliers, which are boosting your score. Avoiding taking hits will keep your level multiplier increasing steadily while destroying consecutive enemies without much more than a break of a few seconds drives your combo multiplier. This makes for a real conflict of interests as you try to keep your mind on upping your score but not to the point that you sacrifice the game in the process.


Probably my biggest complaint about the game is the HUD gauges encircle the ship. For me it’s too big, too bright, and doesn’t give me enough information to justify how distracting it is. While I’m not always a fan of the HD rumble kicking in for things of little consequence you can at least disable that in the Options menu. An option to control the HUD transparency or even just to turn it off would be appreciated as at times it interferes with my eyes ability to tell when things are close to me as I try to scan quickly for where to route my ship next to avoid traffic.


For its budget price Debris Infinity is an incredible deal of an arcade-style space shooter, mixing some classic elements of Asteroids with modern sensibilities and polished presentation. Much more than the Geometry Wars clone people could suspect at a quick glance, it stands apart with its own rules, flow, and challenging play. See you on the global leaderboards!


Score: 8

Pros:
  • A great mix of classic arcade play ala Asteroids with a degree of challenge and flair you’d expect in modern games
  • Forces you to find a balance of aggressiveness for driving your score up while trying to stay alive
  • The three available modes do a good job of shifting around your priorities to offer up distinct feels and challenges for each

Cons:
  • The HUD surrounding your ship is distracting, can’t be turned off, and ultimately doesn’t offer enough critical information to justify itself
  • The various multipliers and nuances get little explanation and can be hard to get tuned into