Inversus Deluxe Review: Black and White and Outta Sight
Inversus Deluxe is a grid-based twin-stick shooter developed by Hypersect and recently released on the Nintendo Switch eShop. Though it may look simple and basic at first glance, but closer inspection will prove that this shooter has a surprising amount of depth and intensity built into it's gameplay.
But the real question is this. Is a game that's only 67 megabytes on the eShop worth it's $15 price tag, especially considering everything else that's come out on the Switch lately? Let's find out!
Like Playing Between Two Mirrors
This 2D shooter is equal parts capturing territory, mind-games, and intense shooting in four directions. What's most special about Inversus Deluxe is its mechanic of capturing territory with every shot. Using the default color palette, every tile on the map is either black or white (as are you), and you can only move freely through the tiles that are the opposite color to you. But you can also shoot through the same-colored tiles to make more room for yourself.
This effectively turns every competitive match into a hybrid turf-war-firefight. While you're focusing on mowing down your enemy, your enemy is trying to do the same. And while firing back at each other you're trying your best to box them in to shoot them easier -- while at the same time not becoming a fish-in-a-barrel yourself. As you both create and destroy each other's freedom of movement and create walls with every bullet, the tension only continues to grow.
The game's map design caters to these mechanics wonderfully, often having looping exits on opposite sides of the map that follow Pac-Man rules and allow the player to traverse from one side of the screen to the other. This can also lead to situations where the two exits/entrances overlap, resulting in a scenario where there are two of your avatar in play at the same time -- both of which can shoot in the same direction, but are twice as vulnerable out in the open when covering more ground. There are also dozens of maps to unlock and play in in versus mode, and the design of many of these is fantastic.
While this game has a clear focus on multiplayer both local and online, there is a single player experience to be had here. In single player you have access to both Arcade mode as well as 1-on-1 versus mode with bots. The arcade mode has you facing off against both slowly moving docile enemies who overwhelm you with numbers and their explosive personalities, as well a much smaller number of actively aggressive bots trying to shoot and destroy you.
In order to unlock a new map in arcade mode, you need to get a certain high score thatwill earn you one of five stars -- a certain number of which you need to unlock the next map. Then the cycle repeats. Usually the first two or three stars are lower scores that still take some effort, while the higher scores and associated stars are much, much more difficult to obtain and will take a number of tries to get to.
Unlocking new maps in versus mode is much simpler, as you only have to beat an opponent (either man or machine) once per map in order to unlock the next one, and the odds are stacked against you fairly in either scenario.
Playing against AI opponents in single player mode can never match playing against other humans, but in Inversus Deluxe it's honestly a pretty close second. You can adjust the skill level of the bots before you go up against them, but even on the lower difficulty settings they can be highly strategic and outright malicious.
Rest assured you can still play with your friends locally, and you can do so in two player arcade mode, as well team versus matches, all playable using all Switch configurations and controller types.
Online Options and Unlockables
Something that surprised me quite a bit about Inversus Deluxe was how many options it had for online play. The fact that it had online at all was something I didn't expect to be fair right off the bat -- but not only does it have online, it has three online game modes as well as lobbies you can join with either friends or strangers.
But what's unfortunate about the online experience -- at least in my case -- is that it almost always took anywhere between 5-10 minutes to actually get enough players into a lobby for a match of any kind to start.
While this connection process is pretty slow, there is a sliver lining to it, which essentially just merges the single player and multiplayer modes together. While waiting for a match to begin, you have the option to begin a local offline match while you wait. What's especially nice is that if you choose to play an arcade level while waiting and eventually do get connected to a match, then after that online match is done you have the option of either searching for another opponent or continuing your arcade match right where it left off. This helps keep the flow going even when you have to wait for fives of minutes at a time.
In terms of unlockables, there are the already mentioned arcade stages you gradually unlock with higher scores on previous stages, but then there are also cosmetics and light customization options to be unlocked. As you play through the games various modes, you will gradually gain experience and level up. And as you level up in different modes, you will be gradually gifted with new color palettes for your projectiles, the backgrounds of the games stages, and even your square avatars. You can also unlock various emojis and emotes to assign to different buttons and quote at the end of a versus round.
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A Laser Maze You Can Play For Days
At the end of the day, it's fun to shoot your friends with lasers until they explode -- and Inversus Deluxe offers that with a unique spin on gameplay, plus a stark aesthetic and a respectable amount of content at a reasonable price. For a game made by one guy (head of Hypersect, Ryan Juckett) it's an impressively balanced and polished multiplayer experience that's easy to learn but hard to master.
I recommend this game to anybody looking for an intense multiplayer experience on the Switch at a cheaper price, as well as to anybody looking for a good pick-up-and-play arcade experience that offers a decent challenge.
Inversus Deluxe is available now for Nintendo Switch and Steam for $14.99.
[Note: Review copy of Inversus Deluxe provided by Hypersect.]