Tinertia is an up and coming platformer from Candescent Games and has been on early access for some time. The game is nearing completion and I had a chance to check it out. This is a very challenging game built around one specific gimmick that I feel may be trouble for some gamers.
(At the moment, Tinertia is still in early access with no definitive release date at this time. Comments and screenshots may not represent the current version of the game)
Tinertia follows a robot named Weldon who is trapped on a planet run by evil robots and has to escape while armed with an infinite rocket launcher. However, while having an infinite rocket launcher may sound like you’re going to be blasting all sorts of robots, it’s actually used for platforming.
Weldon cannot jump and instead uses the rockets to propel himself around. Shoot a rocket at his feet and he’ll go up in the air, blast a wall with enough rockets while he is near it to launch yourself up and so on. You also have an air dash that can be used in any direction one time per jump that has to be recharged by hitting the ground.
The challenge of Tinertia is less about fighting enemies and figuring out how to move safely through the level, given your rocket based momentum. Weldon cannot survive any damage from environmental obstacles and one hit will send you back to the start of the level. At the end of each world, you’ll fight a boss which consists of moving through a level while the boss is doing something to get in your way.
For advanced players looking for more challenge, every level has a par time and rocket usage; with the test being how quickly the player can move through the level and without going overboard with rockets.
There are also speed run challenges and what appears to be a hardcore mode that is unlocked later on.
Despite the cutesy robot hero, Tinertia is definitely a hardcore game of the likes of Super Meat Boy. However, I found this game to be difficult for the wrong reasons.
Tinertia is a game that is built around a control gimmick and this is a double edged sword. On one hand, having a unique control scheme makes your game stand out from the other titles. But on the other hand, if the game is too difficult to play or the gimmick gets in the way, then people are going to get annoyed with it which is where I’m currently at.
Using a gamepad and right analog stick for shooting and aiming, I had a lot of trouble shooting the rockets where I wanted them to go. Partly because I’m left handed and secondly is because the developers used a lot of degrees of motion to determine rocket pathing. Pressing down or down and a little left, will get you two different rocket paths which mean two different velocities for Weldon.
Later levels and bosses will force you to make rapid shots with precision in order to get speed and motion to clear the obstacles. I found that I could not get this to work accurately and after 30 minutes of play, my right thumb started to hurt due to the strain I was putting on my weaker hand. There is the option to play the game with a keyboard and mouse which changes how the controls work.
Using the mouse, you’ll use a targeting reticule and the game feels more like a 2d shooter. This is easier to control compared to the gamepad, but this presents another problem. With the analog stick, aiming and shooting are done with one action, but the mouse requires two; move the reticule to aim and then left click to shoot.
While this doesn’t sound horrible, it does present an issue when you’re moving Welden around a level quickly.
Because the reticule’s aim is based on where it is in relation to Welden, it can be hard to properly aim at things while Welden is moving around.
I spoke with the developers and they may add a southpaw mode for lefties like me, so this may not be an issue for the final release. Also, if you are right handed, you can safely disregard this complaint.
Challenging platformers have had a resurgence these days thanks to Super Meat Boy, and Tinertia is hoping to be the next big one. The developers have a unique premise and control method which may not work for me, but certainty makes Tinertia stand out.