If you like taking on AI in a battle of “who’s the smartest?” or battling a friend for quickest reaction or best tactics, then INVERSUS Deluxe might be the perfect game to put some time into. A negative space shooter, it plays very much into the yin and yang of typical versus games in that you move in one type of space and your opponent moves in the other space. Your bullets also leave your own space in their wake, meaning every shot creates a path you can travel and a wall your opponent can not. It’s a game about using negative space to your opponent’s detriment, and it’s a lot of fun to play.
The basic mechanics of the player in INVERSUS Deluxe are such that they move with the left analog stick and shoot with the A,B,X, and Y buttons. Unlike other shooters, the direction of the button you press is the direction you’ll shoot (so shooting up would be X), which also means that all four buttons are needed to cover your surroundings. Additionally, you’ll be able to hold any of those buttons for a moment to trigger a triple shot – which shoots three bullets out in the same direction like a moving wall.
Ammo in gameplay is structurally infinite, but you also need time to reload. Your chamber holds five shots, and even the triple shots only cost a single bullet (physics defying or not). That said, it takes time to get another bullet in the chamber – so if you fire all five shots you’re going to be both waiting and defenseless.
There’s another mechanic for shooting that comes into play once you uncover coloured dots on the game map. Solid dots grant you quick shot bullets, while notched dots give you a ricochet type shot that change direction as soon as they hit your opponent’s bit of the map (ie; a horizontal shot will split into an upward and a downward vertical shot once it hits a blocking colour). Mastering the use of bullets and these special pick-ups will help ensure your victory against skilled enemies, especially if you’re better at dodging than shooting.
INVERSUS Deluxe plays out one of two ways in local (non-online) play; versus or arcade mode. Versus is a mode where you take on a foe with identical abilities to your own, while arcade mode is designed to give you a slight advantage in skills at the price of a more numerous amount of enemies. Both offer a series of unlockable maps to play on though, so there’s no shortage on ways to play if you actually dig in. Plus, your enemy doesn’t always move the same – the AI seeming to start off each level at random, before falling into a reactionary mode with a side of aggression.
Versus includes the option for one versus one or two versus two play. Aside from needing a single actual player to play, the game can be further filled with up to three more players – pulling from actual and CPU based players as available.
As for arcade mode, it can be played with up to two actual players – no CPU assistance available here. The only catch is that you’ll share lives with two player, meaning you have to be fairly equal or the less experienced friend will be eating up all those lives.
Aside from local play, there’s also online gameplay. There are options to “play online with anybody” or “play online with friends” in the play menu, though I couldn’t get a game to save my life. I tried many times over the last few days to find an online match, with many different times of the day as test-beds, but I couldn’t get into a single match. Thankfully I got some local multiplayer in to figure out what it’s all about, but with no local friends having their own Switch and nobody playing online this one might get a bit stale alone.
Leaderboards and high scores tend to alleviate this staleness somewhat, and thankfully Inversus Deluxe has four separate ones – spanning your versus level, rank points, arcade points, and high score. Each of those gives out a ranking on the global scale or in relation to your friends, meaning you’ll be able to chase whatever form of #1 you prefer.
Customization also keeps things a little fresher than none would, allowing you to choose from unlockable colour palettes, trails, and emotes. That’s all just cosmetic in nature however, as there are no upgrades or advantages to be gained in INVERSUS Deluxe. The game is pure, and it’s in purity that it shines. I wouldn’t want to play it as much if it got easier, and it’s perfect for getting a friend up to speed quick.
While we’re on the subject of getting a friend (or yourself) up to speed on how to play, the game has a menu option for just that. It offers both basic and advanced tutorials to play through, which will guide you in using the obvious and not-so-obvious features of the game. Basic is good enough to get going, but to beat any of the later levels you’re going to need to be familiar with the advanced maneuvers. It’s pretty logical in that sense.
Looking past the mechanics of the game, the graphics of INVERSUS Deluxe are fairly simple – but perfectly fit the gameplay style. There are usually only two colours in play on the map at any one time, your character is a solid colour with up to five dots (denoting loaded bullets) inside its borders, and enemies are either the same or simple representations via a third colour depending on the mode. There’s not a lot of extra or flash, and it works here. The game looks clean and is very precise with its look and feel, which means a lot when talking about any versus shooter.
The sound portion of the game is equally simple and fitting. There’s a repetitive but energetic soundtrack, and some classic-sounding sound effects to accompany any shots, hits, or other events that may come to pass. Once again it’s nothing over the top, but it fits.
Speaking of things that fit, INVERSUS Deluxe is going to fit right into my “go to” list of time wasters and local multiplayer games on Switch. It’s a solid, well structured game with quality – but not over the top – audio/visual direction, and it’s fun and challenging to boot. It’s a shame you can’t get an online match very easily, though that may or may not change with time – and there’s always local play, thanks to the Switch’s versatility and Hypersect’s quality utilization of it. This is certainly no middle of the road game, and I think if you give it a go you’ll be able to see that for yourself. 😉