Radiangames hits a new high note with its Gauntlet inspired shooter.
There's very little in life that makes me happier than stumbling across a new twin-stick shooter. I'm still putting at least an evening's play into Geometry Wars on the Xbox every week, and I've gathered up every mobile shooter of note to get me through the morning's commute to work. The great news is that Inferno+ is every bit the quality shooter you'd expect from developer Radiangames.
Rather than wandering around the screen in a perpetual circle taking pot-shots at the enemies (the preferred tactic for almost every twin-stick shooter), in Inferno+ you need to navigate your ship around a large number of Gauntlet-esque mazes, taking out the various enemies as you head towards the exit. You also have access to four very different ships, from the Defender which plays more cautiously, to the Annihilator who lets off a laser show that would make Jean Michel Jarre blush.
In true arcade loot-farming fashion, you're not just attempting to stay alive amidst the increasingly frantic chaos of the swarming enemies, you'll also need to explore every inch of each map in order to track down the keys which are used to unlock the force-fields barring progress towards the exit. You'll also need to hoover up every drop of currency for upgrading your ships in the store.
Radian fans will already be familiar with some of these upgrades which are unlocked by applying the points you acquire during the course of play in the shop. Extra Health is self-explanatory, while Extra Drones of course allows you to have more of the artillery-support drones orbiting your ship. If you're finding yourself short on shield power for the more hellish swarms of enemies, you can throw a point into Shield Energy so that it lasts a little longer.
Visually the game is absolutely beautiful, and when the fireworks show of your lasers rippling around the screen combines with the bullet-hell invasion, the result is nothing less than breathtaking. The frame-rate is rocksteady too, regardless of the action on screen. While this is a game of clean lines, each set of ten stages is visually marked by its own hue of neon, from a throbbing green to a just-less-than-garish purple. The best moments come from defeating the bosses who explode in a shower of coins and color.
The twin-stick controls themselves don't feel quite as slick as they were in Ballistic SE, and you'll find the default positioning of the bomb and shield buttons at the bottom of the screen impractical at the higher difficulty levels. That said, we have to applaud the developer's inclusion of the ability to place any of the controls buttons anywhere you like on the screen. Play around with them to get things just right.
Put very simply, Inferno+ is everything we want from a twin-stick shooter: gorgeous visuals, a thumping soundtrack, varied gameplay and an intriguing twist on the genre. Even by Radiangames' high standards, this is a fantastic game.
What's Hot: Fantastic enemy design, beautiful graphics, and a very satisfying upgrade system.
What's Not: The default control scheme is a little impractical. Yes, we're clutching at straws.