Tinertia kicks ass. Developed by Candescent Games and advertised as the platformer without a jump button which I think is a weird point to emphasise because it implies that there isn’t any jumping and the game is all about jumping but instead of normal jumping you’re rocket jumping. Candescent Games decided to take an old Quake technique and base an entire platformer around it, what an interesting idea.
The game starts with a small introduction to your character, Weldon, a little robot guy with tiny legs and a giant rocket launcher for an arm. Weldon is in his space ship scanning some planet for lifeforms when his ship gets hacked by some evil robot guy named ARC (you can tell he’s evil because he shows up as red and frowns) and your ship crash lands on ARCs orbiting satellite. Weldon wakes up and that’s it for the story. Who is Weldon? What does he do? I have a better question: who gives a crap? Play the game.
This is the perfect type of story for a game like this: quick, basic and snappy. No wasting time on plot, character arcs and exposition, just pure, refreshing platforming with a difficulty that will send a weak mind into psychosis. I have nothing bad to say about this game but do I have one critique of the core gameplay that I reckon could have been done better.
You move with the left analogue stick and shoot rockets with the right analogue stick (when using a controller of course). With something as diverse as a rocket jump you have a multitude of different types of jumps because instead of just having a button that propels you upwards you have a rocket that propels in the opposite direction of the impact of it’s blast. This is a very unique system that seems like a simple gimmick to the platformer paradigm but it actually completely changes the way you play. Your main form of platforming is also your weapon and your enemies are also your platforms. The one critique I have is that of the actual rocket controls. To shoot a rocket to tilt the right analogue stick in the direction you want to shoot the rocket. This system is quite hard to get used to and even when you master it it’s still quite unpredictable because it’s hard to know exactly what angle you are tilting the stick at. Too often did I find myself screwing up a relatively simple jump just because I didn’t get the angle absolutely perfect. Of course if you’re a savant at using the analogue stick you won’t have much of an issue but I found it too easy to make the same mistakes over and over which would have been fixed if instead of the analogue stick shooting the rockets you just use it to aim then shoot the rockets with, say, the R2 button. All four of the trigger buttons just control the booster (which is essentially a double jump) so it would have been easy to allocate one of them to a shoot button and it would have made it much easier to shoot lots of rockets in rapid succession which you have to do sometimes. All that aside, the mechanics of Tinertia are incredibly immaculate. There’s enough weight to your character to give depth to the game feel and there isn’t any floaty-ness to break the fun. The way Tinertia feels makes it really prominent just how much Candescent Games love the genre.
Tinertia is one of the funnest platformers I’ve played in a very long time. It introduces a new style of playing without hindering game play or feel and without coming across as gimmicky. The biggest compliment I have to give is towards the level design. There are seven areas each with nine levels and a boss battle to finish them off. Each area has it’s own distinct mechanics, style and music that fit within the tone of the area. Every area introduces you to a new type of challenge but it does it tastefully. Instead of feeling like you’re in a constant tutorial the game shows you the new challenges in a way you can easily understand but still keeps up the increase in difficulty so every new mechanic is only ever an expansion on what you already know instead of a backpedal. Speaking of difficult, I feel like Tinertia redefines the word. Tinertia is the right kind of difficult in that it is extremely hard but doesn’t waste any of your time. You die, you press O, you’re back in the game for your next attempt and you will die many times. Tinertia requires not only a quick mind but a precise and flexible mind. There are sections that require you to be incredibly precise and there are sections are that just require you to be incredibly fast then there are sections mix the two together. The boss battles are awesome in that they use everything you have learnt in that area of the game but with some big monster in the background adding some unique challenge making things ten times more difficult.
Tinertia also looks beautiful. Vibrant colours and emphasis makes everything in the game stick out and the nice, detailed textures and interesting character designs just add to the aesthetics.
This has been the easiest review I’ve written yet. Usually I have a couple of beers and an energy drink just to kick my mind into writing mode but this time it was the game that provided the necessary level of intoxication. I came out of Tinertia feeling refreshed and revitalized in the 2D platformer genre. Tinertia is easy to pick up and hard to put down. I’m definitely keeping an eye out for games with the Candescent Games logo attached to them from now on. I seriously cannot sing the praise of this game loud enough. Tinertia is a shining example of how a 2D platformer should be made.
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