Title: Infinite: Beyond The Mind
Developer: Emilie COYO
Release Date: May 7, 2020
Reviewed On: PC
Publisher: Blowfish Studios
Genre: 2D Action Platformer
There’s a certain sense of joy that 2D action games like classic Contra titles provide. As challenging as it is, I always feel like returning to the game after completion, or after running out of continues. When it comes to the Emilie COYO-developed Infinite Beyond the Mind, we get a unique entry that doesn’t initially break any ground in the genre. However, in the later levels, it evolves into something worth playing whether you get to that point or not is where the issue lies.
Infinite Beyond the Mind begins by allowing you to choose between two female characters, Tanya or Olga, who play pretty much the same. The two have been sent out on a mission to defeat Queen Evangelyn Bramann, who is trying to take over the world. Similar to most entries in this genre, you don’t need a substantial plot to want to rush in and defeat some bad guys. Still, I wish that there was more of a difference between the two characters because it gives you the option to choose which to play, but it doesn’t really matter.
The pixel animations for the characters are shown in a chibi-like presentation. However, their avatar makes them look quite goofy. Regardless, I actually enjoyed the cute direction the developers went in. It made the stunning environments that they’ve crafted stand out more prominently. The biggest issue with this is that the early levels are dull to play and make the entire experience out to be something that it isn’t. Taking a page from DOOM development pointers, start your games with the last levels that you create.
This is because the later levels of the 16 playable stages are awesome to navigate and feature branching paths and secrets areas. Sure these can be found in early stages, but it just comes off incredibly straightforward. It’s not a good thing that I was saying to myself, “I’ve played this before.” in the first 30 minutes of gameplay. Still, the ball really starts moving after these moments, and I ended up having a decent time.
One of the most glaring issues with Infinite Beyond the Mind, and to some extent, this is found throughout the entire game, is that there is no real sense of danger. In Contra, you continually want to clear the screen of enemies as they rain bullets at you from all directions. However, here, you can pretty much just run right past enemies the entire time and jump over any that are in your way. The only time you need to fight anyone is when the game requires you to clear a screen to progress.
There are a variety of enemy types encountered throughout the entire game. Some of them are just different variations of others, but it does get clever with enemies who are wearing camouflage or call in airstrikes against you. Given that you only have a sword, most of the combat will be up close and personal. Players can double jump and dash to add a variety to the movement, but the combat only gets compelling when the game adds upgrades to the characters that change their appearance and abilities.
These actions use stamina, but that recharges rather quickly. It definitely makes gameplay feel rewarding, but I would have liked them to take this feature in a direction where maybe you chose from two different abilities. This would make each playthrough more unique and add more variety to the character’s playstyle.
Each of the 16 stages is comprised of mini-sections that lead to a boss battle. None of the levels overstayed their welcome, and the entire game can be cleared in under 4 hours if you don’t die too much. The bosses are fun to fight against, but I felt that their HP was a bit padded in relation to their attack patterns. There were times where I saw the same attack pattern over and over, only to have a short window to land a few hits.
Movement is a massive factor in this genre, and, thankfully, Infinite Beyond the Mind has some responsive controls. However, using the analog of an Xbox One controller on PC made movement feel like I could only move horizontally or vertically. This is more apparent in levels where you’re on a speeder bike. Using the D-pad on the controller fixed this, but I couldn’t understand why it was happening.
The music of Infinite Beyond the Mind is excellent and adds a layer of nostalgia to the entire NES platformer experience. There’s also a coop mode available, which is probably the most fun way to experience this game. During this mode, the framerate stays consistent, even when a lot of action is going on on-screen. The mode definitely becomes more fun in the later levels when the enemies are more competent.
Infinite Beyond the Mind is a decent 2D side scroller, but it does very little to make it a must-play game in the genre. Everything is just so straightforward here that after playing for a few minutes, you’ll feel like you’ve seen enough. Sure, the late-game levels and co-op mode might hold your attention for a bit, but there’s nothing to keep the momentum going, which makes it easy to want to play something else. Still, for the price, this isn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon.
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