Sunday, July 30, 2017

Implosion: Never Lose Hope (NS) Review

Rounding out the weekend (but not this month of reviews) is an indie game previously released on mobile devices in 2015, now available on the Nintendo Switch as of this past month. It's Implosion: Never Lose Hope.

Through mobile beginnings comes one stellar Switch game

I've grown to admire mobile gaming a lot by understanding that the majority of games put on Apple and Google's marketplaces are not those riddled with ads, ways to manipulate the player into spending massive amounts of money, or loaded with gacha elements. There are some truly fine games on the mobile market, and more impressive is the fact that traditional gaming experiences can play and do well on smartphones and tablets. 

One such game comes from Taiwanese studio Rayark, who delivered a skill-based, action-intensive hack and slash game with Implosion: Never Lose Hope. Now the game has been ported to a home console for the first time with this Nintendo Switch version. My fear going into the game was that it wouldn't be properly appropriated for the Switch hardware. Thankfully, this fear was for naught, as Implosion: Never Lose Hope on Nintendo Switch is a fantastic indie game.

The first thing that I noticed playing the game was that for the small budget that Rayark had to work with, Implosion's production values are seriously impressive, featuring fully voiced dialogue, smooth visuals, and lots of action happening on screen at once. The latter, however, causes for some frame-rate issues and on some occasions even second-long moments of freezing. While the action is fast and fluid for the most part, with Rayark's budget, the visuals themselves are definitely a bit of a generation behind in quality. This is hardly noticeable in handheld Nintendo Switch form, but it's quite pronounced on the big screen. Still, I couldn't help but be delighted by the development team's work with Implosion's presentation.

Environments have adequate detail, but things can slow down when the action heats up.
Mobile games that are converted to consoles don't always fare well in the control department. This is a non-issue with Implosion, where I can happily say that the controls in the Switch version are extremely tight and responsive. I needed those controls to be extremely tight and responsive because not being able to properly slash away at enemies from all angles and narrowly avoid enemy attacks with a well-timed evasive boost would make the exciting prospects of Implosion, well, implode. 

When you're too lazy to just run up and melee a foe, blast 'em to smithereens instead. 
At first, you're effortlessly mowing down mutants and zombie-like creatures with ease, but as you progress through Implosion's four chapters, the enemy variety, types, and combinations increase and become all the more challenging. Simple button mashing will lead you nowhere but a swift death in later levels. Instead, you need to carefully concentrate and watch enemy behaviors and their tells when they're about to attack, as well as master switching between your blade and your ballistic arsenal. This is all the while keeping an eye on your suit's shield. Once it's gone, any damage you sustain will hurt your suit, and once that health bar is depleted, your suit falls to the ground, requiring you to revive it on the spot. Fortunately, if you can avoid damage for a little while, your suit's shield will auto-replenish. This is paramount for when you want to beat levels without taking any damage.

Be careful not to get any mutant blood on your suit's shiny coat of paint!
Why would you want to do that task, you ask? Implosion features a badge system that has side goals to complete in each level. These range from breaking all of the containers in a level to not allowing your suit to get knocked to the floor, among many other things. For completing a given side goal, you earn a badge. These add to your overall total, unlocking equipment like enhancements, new suits, new armor types, and special weapons. Between getting all of the badges in the normal, hard, and expert difficulties in addition to the bonus levels in the game, Implosion has a lot of meat to it to keep players engaged for a lengthy amount of time. That certainly happened with me, as long after I finished the main story and saw the credits I immediately jumped into the hard difficulty where a new set of badges to earn and accrue awaited me.

Speaking of enhancements, sprinkled around levels, dropped by enemies, found in chests, and so forth, are digital cubes that unlock new gear that can be equipped to your suit. These can increase your suit's stats by varying amounts. Different stats include power, armor, shield, shield recovery, speed, experience and currency bonuses, and more. One thing that I didn't like about this system is that the game doesn't provide any kind of tutorial to teach the basics of how it works. It's somewhat intuitive enough to get the basics of, but some advice and guidance overall would have been greatly appreciated.

Implosion offers enough challenge to keep veterans gamers engaged while also being accessible enough for mainstream audiences. It certainly has the right amount of spectacle to appeal to both groups, whether it's with the missions themselves or the end-of-chapter boss battles that are indeed really crazy and intense. It's a type of game that has a lot to offer for most types of players.

You know what they say--"the bigger they are", and all that.
If I could compare Implosion: Never Lose Hope to other games, and do so favorably, I would center in on games like Devil May Cry, Onimusha, and various titles released by Platinum Games. Sure, Implosion is nowhere in the same league as the aforementioned genre titans, but for its budget, for its price, and for its size, Implosion: Never Lose Hope is an arcade action-style hack and slash game that is one of the best indie offerings on the Nintendo Switch yet, and just a sweet damn gaming package all to itself.

[SPC Says: B+]

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