By Simon Graves |
There's something unmistakable about early video game graphics; an angular quality that gamers who grew up in that era love, despite their — by today's standards —aesthetic limitations. Fledgling developer Digital Arrow embraces those limitations with InMomentum, a nostalgia-inducing, modestly entertaining platform racer that hearkens back to a time ruled by low polys, garish color palettes and simple game concepts.
InMomentum is a straightforward first-person platformer that challenges you to do one thing: get through the level quickly. After a brief tutorial that explains the keyboard controls (and hints that you're inside some sort of rehab facility designed to help you with your "condition"), you're first given a choice between two game modes: sphere collection and time trial, then a choice among four difficulties: Casual, Gamer, Freak and Impossible. Having tried all the difficulty levels, it's hard to say what exactly makes one more difficult than another and it's just as challenging to differentiate between the two game modes which play more or less exactly the same.
At each level's start, a timer counts down and then you race through blocky, pseudo-futuristic environments which look like residential high-rises from the first Tron movie as fast as you possibly can. The floating blocks are placed at intervals and the trick is learning how to move quickly across them while controlling your jumps so you don't fly off into space. If you do fail to put the brakes on in time, you're sent back to the beginning, or to one of the glowing gate checkpoints. Along the way, you pick up "data spheres" and once the level's done you're scored on your time.
The worst thing about InMomentum's gameplay is its handling of some admittedly tricky first person platformer mechanics. Where a game like Mirror's Edge handles them expertly, InMomentum makes it difficult to judge where you are in space, especially when you're moving at 90 km/hour. This means lots of trial and error as you attempt the same jumps far more times than you'd like. On a more positive note, there's a certain kind of thrill that comes from zooming through the levels, bouncing expertly from surface to surface and sailing high in the air like some kind of data-sphere-collecting superhero. Unfortunately, that thrill is short-lived.
The game offers 14 different maps which by altering verticals and changing visibility, present some unique challenges. Aside from using different colored blocks and moving the furniture around though, each new level plays much like the last. These repetitive levels designed as "puzzles", require more patience than ingenuity to complete and their simple approach is echoed in both the game's '90s-screen-saver visuals and predictable, peppy-electronic musical score.
In addition to InMomentum's lack of complexity and retro, limited-appeal art direction, its replayability is also an issue. The game's 14 levels are over fairly quickly and there's just not much incentive to replay them. Worse yet, the game's multiplayer mode might as well not exist because no one's playing it. No one. Having tried to find a game on multiple occasions over the course of a week, I never once saw anyone in the multiplayer lobby. It's a shame too because the competitive aspect—racing other players and using powerups to help yourself and hinder them—would likely have been the most interesting part of the game.