It’s not a perfect shot, but Inertia: Escape Velocity does manage to still ricochet into a pretty fun experience
It’s tough work being an interstellar salvager. There’s the long hours, the loneliness, and the fact that you’re light years from home. On the other hand, there are some seriously cool sights to see and amazing things to find. The biggest threat, though, is getting marooned out in the middle of nowhere, which is what happens in Inertia: Escape Velocity. Thankfully, getting yourself out of trouble is a rewarding experience.
The story is centered around Hermes, a deep space salvager who winds up crashing on a junkyard planet, which thrashes his ship pretty thoroughly. In order to make his way home, he needs to collect enough debris to keep his ship in working order as it hops between galaxies. The closer he gets to his goal, the more labyrinthine and hazardous the junkyards become.
Inertia: Escape Velocity is an interesting puzzle platformer. The controls are pretty basic: you have buttons to move left and right, as well as jump and turn off gravity. Turning off gravity quickly becomes a crucial part of the gameplay, because it will keep Hermes moving in whatever direction he was headed at a constant speed. Hitting a surface while the gravity is turned off will cause you to rebound accordingly.
Each level is peppered with debris to collect. Initially, the debris is laid out in a pretty linear pattern that will guide you towards the end point. But the debris quickly becomes scattered all over the place, and you’ll have to be willing to explore all the corners in order to collect every piece and earn the associated collection medal. Each level also has a time goal to beat, but these are often pretty difficult to meet and don’t really affect things otherwise.
As things progress, some of the in-game elements will affect your movement. There are magnets to attract and repulse you, as well as walls that will speed you up, slow you down, or stop you cold when you make contact. It’s really neat to watch Hermes ricochet around, but there’s no real way to control his movement when you turn off gravity; that said, there’s an option to momentarily turn gravity back on, switch directions, and turn it back off again, but that’s not terribly reliable when you’ve got a narrow target to hit.
Also, there’s an issue with the game’s camera when Hermes starts moving quickly. Basically, it can’t keep up with him and will take a second to catch up when he moves off the screen. It’s irritating, especially if the camera does catch up when, say, you’ve just hit a lethal part of the environment and then respawn at the nearest safe spot.
Visually, the game looks great— this is especially true during the introductory cut scene, which appears hand-painted. At the start of each level, you’re provided with a close-up of Hermes, who features a nifty character design. The environments, too, are lovely to gaze upon. Generally, the levels themselves look fairly identical, but the backgrounds do a lot to give them personality. The one problem, though, is that it’s hard to make out much detail on the iPhone’s display because everything is so zoomed out and there’s no way to move the camera closer. This feels like it’d be a lot more fun on the iPad than the iPhone, simply because you’d be able to see things a lot easier on the larger display.
Inertia: Escape Velocity isn’t quite like anything else you’ll find in the App Store. It manages to take a fairly simple and familiar concept and craft an entirely new experience that’s —generally— pretty fun and challenging, in spite of a couple of issues that keep it from being truly exceptional. It’s not a perfect shot, but it does manage to still ricochet into a pretty decent experience.