Intravenous was a title that I was eyeing for a bit ever since its initial announcement. Developer Roman Glebenkov has been working on the title for a while and released it back in July to significant reception. And with the gaming industry giving more love and attention to the indie crowd, catching a decent title can be a hit out of the ballpark. I believe that might be the case with Intravenous, a stealth-action top-down shooter that’s taken my interest as of late. Here is my review for Roman Glebenkov’s Intravenous.
My Name is Steve Robbins. You Killed My Brother. Prepare to Die.
In Intravenous, you play as Steve Robbins, a man out for blood for the death of his brother Charles. Lost to low-life junkies, Steve has nothing to lose when it comes to killing the druggie thugs who took away his brother. It’s a pretty standard storyline that works wonderfully with the gameplay mechanics. With stealth acting as the primary route to engage with, it allows you to sympathize with Steve as you plan out your attack. This makes him more than a shallow hero in pixels; it paints him as a hero with a purpose who must find closure for the death of his familial blood.
You won’t get an absolute grandeur of a narrative, but Steve’s story works extremely well for this genre that almost feels like a breath of fresh air. You don’t see many stealth titles that indulge in shadow mechanics to make logical sense of the hero’s actions. Steve has a purpose, and the game’s retro design help sells the concept to an enjoyable experience where it’s tempting to go back to a previous level to reign havoc on the low-life druggies.
You won’t get a huge catharsis from the narrative, but the simple premise works for a bite-sized indie experience. Most likely you’ll finish Intravenous in 10 hours or less, but the intense gameplay is enough to make any player come back for some stealth-action goodness. I was always a fan of Hotline Miami, but I always wondered what it would’ve been like to have combative options. Intravenous succeeds in filling that desirable void for optional stealth.
The Glory of Intravenous‘ Gameplay
The gameplay essentially boils down to something of a love connection between Splinter Cell and Hotline Miami. Intravenous is presented with a top-down view that works almost as a twin-stick shooter with stealth mechanics. If you’re familiar with Hotline Miami, it works the same with fast-paced, top-down gameplay that’s heavily focused on movement precision and execution.
And that’s what you get to do in Intravenous. The game works on environmental impacts and AI awareness, with enemies reacting to the stuff happening around them. A sudden light switch or floor creak could startle a foe; a fallen ally may trigger extreme alertness. It’s smart to work in the shadows but be wary of what you do. I oftentimes found myself slipping with the environmental cues that led to the enemies raining hellfire on me. And Steve’s health isn’t massive, by the way. You need to be cautious with the rebellious dude unless you want continuous waves of bullets coming your way.
I recommend familiarizing yourself with the key bindings in the case that heart-pounding encounters transpire. The standard layout works well, but the game embraces stealth to the point where you can finish a level without instigating chaos. The mouse handling is something you should also adjust. With the movement and focusing connected to mouse control, the sensitivity levels are something you’ll want to look into.
Coming Back for More in Intravenous
Frankly, the gameplay can be quite addictive. I find myself wanting to go back to a previous section to master my stealthiness. The more I played, the more tricks I would learn, and there’s nothing more tempting than wanting to go back to something with a fully loaded intellect. Intravenous works amazingly well with its familiar gameplay mechanics that gracefully mixes Hotline Miami gameplay with the atmosphere from a Splinter Cell game. It’s the best way I can describe the game, and that alone should be worth nothing for the stealth genre in the gaming industry – which continues to be somewhat neglected.
Of course, when I would get gunned down, I didn’t see it as problematic. Given that your advantages rely on timing and shadow manipulation, there are ways to lean the odds toward your favor. Even though a couple of shots might take you out, you can potentially get yourself out of the situation by going through a vent or blending in with the shadows. I love that you have options on how to tackle combat in Intravenous, which makes the whole experience more worthwhile to endure; a death can lead to opportunity rather than supreme disappointment.
With many pixel art games I’ve seen recently, they’ve all had an incredible sound design, and Intravenous is no exception. The sound design is extremely crisp and clear that you can imagine the work of the sounds being recorded with a close-up mic with precise sound mixing. Footsteps, gunshots, dialogue cues – they all sound great with a beautiful pixelated design that harks back to the retro days of top-down gaming. It all makes for a great experience embroiled in stealth-action galore, and it also makes for a fantastic indie experience.
Roman Glebenkov’s Intravenous is a worthwhile indie gem that I enjoyed playing and going back to. It has a nice replay value that makes the player thirsty for more action with the more they discover about the environments and enemies. The rewarding options of either embracing chaos or going in quiet can make the player who they truly are as they follow Steve Robbins’ story. Roman Glebenkov’s Intravenous is a prime example of a vital indie experience: a game where the player can take away an insane amount of fun from a small project that’s solely dedicated to the art and appreciation of the gaming world.
- Instant indie gem
- Addictive stealth-action gameplay
- Simple premise with rewarding gunplay
- Environments and lighting blend well with action
- Solid SFX
- Appealing pixelated graphics
- High replay value due to optional routes in gameplay
- Sandbox armory truly makes the player unique
- Zero bugs encountered
- Unsatisfactory accessibility options
- Narrative comes off a bit short