It’s hard to see Inversion and not think Gears of Gravity when you play this game, due to the heavy influence of Gears of War. Both games share the same cover system, the same look of the main weapon (it strongly resembles the Retro Lancer), and even the same engine. Both are set in a post-apocalyptic setting, in which buildings actually crumble into dust around you throughout.
But that’s not to say that the game isn’t fun. Plus, the gravity system turns the third-person shooter genre on its ear, literally. That’s the saving grace of Inversion, and one the title desperately needs to cling to in order to stay fresh in a sea of shooters. We were able to play a good chunk of the game, and there is a short learning curve you’ll need to hurdle quickly in order to use your gravity-based powers optimally.
Although having said that, we were dropped into the game after the “tutorial” prompts appear on the screen, letting us know how best to use the Gravlink. So we had to rely on every gamer’s favorite fallback: trial and error. Which actually translated to “Push every button and see what happens.” Surprisingly, that can work pretty well sometimes. Although, it didn’t keep us from dying multiple times throughout the demo.
We’re chalking that up to a fairly robust AI system that will keep your enemies smart and also arms them with powerful weapons. One shot from a sniper rifle can drop you immediately, as should be the case. Most games will let you absorb one or two shots so you can ostensibly tell where the sniper fire is coming from, but Inversion will take you down quickly.
The enemies are also good at taking cover, which is where the Gravlink will become your best friend. You can use it to toss enemies into the sky, although they will retain their weapons and keep firing at you. But, since they are moving slowly, they’ll be a lot easier to get a bead on and pull off a headshot, accompanied by a satisfying cloud of free-floating blood, as well.
When gravity shifts, you’ll see a blue “well of light” that will instruct you where to go so you will “flip” onto whatever surface is now the ground. But often it’s worth it to stay where you are for a bit, as you’ll likely have a vantage point above your enemies, exposing them to fire. You can drop down whenever you like, but tossing grenades through the gravity difference and using your new perspective on things will often help clear what’s ahead.
There is also a big emphasis on destructible environments in the game, and you can shoot out supports to collapse enemy platforms, explode barrels to destroy buildings, and so on. But on the flip side, you’ll find that the obstacles you hide behind can be easily destroyed as well.
In a boss battle during our demo, I hid behind concrete barriers, only to find that it was slowly being chipped away. Eventually, I had to displace and find a new spot as the destruction whittled its way down to where I was hunkered over.
While Inversion does have a narrative that blasts itself into your face, the gameplay with the gravity factor makes things fun and different. The game will be out the first week of June, right in the middle of E3, and looks worth trying out. Or as Marty McFly would say, “Heavy.” Because of the gravity. Get it?