Title: Infinite: Beyond the Mind
Developer: Emilie COYO
Publisher: Blowfish Studios
Genre: Action Platformer, Beat ‘Em Up
Official Site: Infinite: Beyond the Mind Official Site
Release Date: May 7th, 2020
Version Tested: Nintendo Switch
While many AAA developers bring us massive single-player campaigns or multiple unique online modes, they tend to leave out the option of couch co-op. However, this is a feature that indie developers have not given up on. And the latest from publisher Blowfish Studios exemplifies that with a game that pays homage to classics like Capcom’s Strider and Konami’s Contra.
Stopping The Wicked Queen
Much like the games that inspired it, the 16-bit Infinite: Beyond the Mind is light on plot. The evil Queen Evengelyn Bramann, the ruler of the Beljantaur Kingdom, is expanding towards world domination. It’s up to the super-powered Tanya and Olga to stop her plans and her massive army. All that boils down to is that there’s a whole bunch of evil military guys you need to beat the snot out of. Go get ’em.
The controls for Tanya and Olga are simple but very responsive. They have no weapons but, instead, send out a slice of energy with their mighty fists. This attack is what reminded me so much of Strider, while the barrage of enemy fire brought back childhood memories of Contra and Metal Slug. They can also double jump with the B button and dodge enemy fire by rolling on the ground or dashing in mid-air with the A button. The dodge is the game’s most useful mechanic, as you’ll have to get close to enemies to defeat them. But it must also be used sparingly as Tanya and Olga have a stamina bar. It refills automatically, but you don’t want to find yourself empty in the middle of a fight.
Left To Your Own Devices
Unfortunately, there are no power-ups to be found in Infinite: Beyond the Mind. You can’t find any weapons or armor to help you with the onslaught. This means the game can get a bit repetitive. The enemies change slightly from level to level, with some using more powerful artillery and others sneaking around in camouflage. But the way you fight them never really changes. Tanya and Olga have a screen-wipe attack in the form of two allies who bomb all enemies around you. They come out after holding down the A button. But I found that this attack didn’t work when I most needed it. It takes a second of holding the button before they come out. And since enemies are always shooting at you, trying to use this attack usually caused me to take more damage than it was worth. It could have easily been assigned to a different button rather than the same one used to dodge. So I found myself hardly using the ability.
You do unlock a new move after the first few levels that let you make a spinning attack after the double jump. And it’s powerful enough to defeat any soldier and deal massive damage to tanks and helicopters. But it also uses stamina and isn’t enough to truly make an impact on the gameplay. After a few more levels, you unlock a big laser gun. But I was disappointed to find it was only used in the following shoot ’em up style stage.
Level and Enemy Design in Infinite: Beyond the Mind
Most levels in Infinite: Beyond the Mind are straightforward side-scrolling stages. You’ll fight your way through two areas before being confronted by a boss. There isn’t much to explore, though it does sometimes wield health or an extra life. Every now and then, the game throws in a shoot ’em up the stage to mix things up.
Levels can range from big cities to dangerous jungles. As you progress, enemies become more troublesome, and platforms become a bit harder to reach. Moving platforms are the most problematic, though not merely because they’re moving. Tanya and Olga can wall jump, though not on moving platforms. Even though you can stand on top of them, you’ll pass right through them if your jump falls a bit short. In fact, throughout most of the levels, I found it confusing as to which walls I actually could cling to.
All in all, there are 16 levels each broken into sections, which is pretty good for the $10 price tag. But the enemies are what make them unique. Sometimes it was a simple weapon change that surprised me. Other times I found myself dashing frantically around helicopters and tanks while an enemy on the side fired mortars at me. The boss design in Infinite was also varied. While some bosses are in high-powered machines, others are superpowered beings that use magical attacks to keep players on their toes.
The Problem With Saving in Infinite
Infinite: Beyond the Mind saves every time you defeat a boss. That means if you get to a boss and decide to save it for later, you’ll be restarting the entire level from the beginning. However, this is less of a problem with the Switch, where you can quickly put it in rest mode without closing the game. But there are also no checkpoints. So if you get near the end of a level and die, you have to start from the beginning.
Of course, the games Infinite take inspiration from are notoriously tricky. And at least Infinite gives you lives and a health bar. But just because a game pays homage to old school titles doesn’t mean it has to keep features that make them less fun to play in the modern age.
Verdict: Infinite: Beyond the Mind features smooth, action gameplay that is a ton of fun to play through with a friend thanks to its couch co-op. Though it can get repetitive at times, thanks to the player’s lack of attacks, enemy and boss variety keeps things fresh. It has some frustrating level design, especially with no checkpoints. But fans of old school action sidescrollers will surely find it enjoyable.