Puzzle elements for Ravenous' platformer formula
I'm always keen to add another game to the retro platforming folder on my iPhone and if it's from Ravenous Games, even better. If you're also a fan of their work let me get this out before I even start: it's better than Random Heroes but not as good as the League of Evil saga — which I adore.
Infestor iterates on the bite-sized frustrating retro platformer with the developer's distinctive signature. The premise is actually very clever, using an infectious disease to take over humans in a matter of seconds. It's not the first time we see an iOS game using the virus-type mechanic but it's refreshing to see it combined with this genre.
Instead of playing as a hero, in Infestor you are a green blob with serious mobility issues. This won't be a problem for you because space colonists populate the levels completely unaware of the danger you represent. Simply jump on a distracted worker to infect him and take over his bodies and special skills.
The early levels of the game introduce you to the different characters of this pixel world. There's a scientist type who can jump really high, a fat worker who moves slowly but can push crates, the jetpack guy with his double jump and the one who opens doors. You can also infest soldiers with guns but I found them too slow and useless. Oh, and don't even think of infecting a droid. Those trigger-happy machines won't succumb to your green goo. Maybe that's the only reason you would need the human soldier with the gun.
A familiar environment
For those who played any League of Evil, the premise is very similar. Find your way through a compact level avoiding all the dangerous hazards. The electrified floor spikes, for instance, make a guest appearance in most levels. The biggest difference is that succeeding isn't solely tied to execution. At its core, Infestor is a puzzler where you happen to be platforming.
I like the twist and the mechanic of adopting new skills every ten seconds. It requires some quick thinking to remember the character you're using now cannot double jump. It reminds me a bit of the suits you would equip in MegaMan.
Unfortunately, the puzzle direction has sacrificed some of the most addictive parts of other Ravenous' titles. Without a time limit or a star system, there isn't much motivation to replay a level — let alone to speed-run it. This makes the levels slow and predictable. The puzzles only have a solution and only one. Even if you want to mess with the puzzle elements presented to you, there's no option. High walls, wide gaps and doors will force you to use the required human.
The launch version of the game also comes with some annoyances that I'm sure will be corrected soon. An achievement banner pops on top of the screen every time to accomplish something, not remembering you don't need to be awarded for infecting a person every time. There's also an odd glitch with on walls and specially crates. You will find your character will get stuck to a crate if you push it all the way against a wall. In one of the final chapters a crate was destroyed in front of me, but the character kept pushing and walking slowly as it was there. I've also managed to wall jump over a stack of crates, not sure whether this is a bug or a feature.
Infestor has all the Ravenous charm but ends up feeling too easy and short. Without any excuse or score to improve, there's no motivation to replay a level. I definitely would have liked more options to complete the levels, even if this just meant adding some colonists around to confuse you.
More retro platforming goodness:
- League of Evil - Platforming tribute to the mid-air jump
- League of Evil 2 - A worthy heir of the double jump throne
- Super Lemonade Factory - New marriage between platforming and pixel art
- Super Crate Box - Probably the most frustrating touch controls on iOS