Platforms: PC (reviewed), PS4
If you want to find out how good of a multitasker you are, I’d recommend playing a few rounds of Hypersect’s new strategy shooter game Inversus. The game uses a unique mechanic through which the shooter gameplay serves as both a means to dispatch opponents and a way to strategically control the playing field, forcing you to keep track of several elements at once, including your position, the status of the playing field, the enemy’s position, where your projectiles are going, and where your opponent’s projectiles are going. While Inversus is technically a game which offers both single-player and multiplayer modes, ultimately I’d recommend that you recruit a friend or two if you plan on playing the game with any degree of consistency.
Projectiles With Purpose
In the default Versus mode which serves as the core of Inversus play, you can engage in either 1v1 or 2v2 games wherein one side plays as small moving black boxes and the other side plays as small moving white boxes. Each player can shoot projectiles in the four cardinal directions, either tapping the fire button to fire off a quick single shot or holding down the button to fire a three-projectile spread. Each player’s box also has an internal wheel of available projectiles (similar to the cylindrical firing mechanism of a revolver) which prevents the player from firing if completely emptied and which also slowly regenerates new “rounds” over time, ensuring that a player can’t simply spam projectiles indefinitely.
Hitting an enemy with a projectile is naturally the main goal, but firing projectiles also serves a second purpose. Each map in Inversus is divided into gridded squares which can also be either white or black, and any squares which your projectiles pass through change to match the color which your square can move through (white map squares for black square players and black map squares for white square players). This means that, even if your projectile misses your opponent, it can also block them from moving past the squares your projectile passed through (unless they shoot their own projectile at them) and can potentially “trap” players in corners or narrow passageways, leaving them wide open to a follow-up shot if they don’t react quickly enough.
This dynamic creates a gameplay format which rewards players who can carefully balance keeping the pressure on their opponent while also making sure they have enough room to avoid any counter-attack attempts. While the overall concept may seem simple on paper, it allows for a number of different strategies which can be employed to keep your opponent guessing. Do you hang back and control the battlefield with charged up shots that can cover more ground, or do you try and bum-rush your opponent with a quick salvo of single shots? Do you try and guide your opponent to a specific part of the map so you can trap them, or do you try and engage them head-on and hope for the best? Such head games can be put to a lot of use in local multiplayer games or online games with friends, which is good since those two forms of play are really the only one which garner any long-term appeal in Inversus.
One Is The Loneliest Number
Inversus does technically include an Arcade mode which can be played as either a single player or cooperatively with a friend, but the mode consists of nothing more than fighting off waves of red squares which can’t shoot projectiles and instead seek to overwhelm the player through speed and sheer numbers. Making it far enough in an Arcade mode map eventually spawns AI versions of Versus mode opponents, but even the mode’s first few maps are incredibly difficult when attempted solo, and aside from unlocking new maps, there’s really no other point to invest in Arcade mode other than gunning for a new high score or unlocking Achievements/Trophies.
As for online competitive multiplayer against strangers, again, the option is there, but it may as well not be. I can’t attest as to the experience on PlayStation 4, but on PC I tried several times to find a random online opponent and every time my search proved to be in vain. The game does allow you to play Arcade maps while you wait for your online lobby to fill up, but even when I was searching for a single other player for a 1v1 match, I was never able to find one despite waiting for upwards of ten minutes. I’m fairly certain I’m not the only one who has a PC copy of Inversus, which leads me to believe there’s some sort of issue with the PC version’s online matchmaking.
If you can round up some friends either in person or online, I can see Inversus being a great deal of fun, especially given how accessible it is thanks to its easy-to-learn-yet-hard-to-master concept and simplified controls. However, if you’re thinking of picking up Inversus strictly for its single-player offerings, you might be better off holding back, at least until Hypersect can get the PC matchmaking issues sorted out.