I play a lot of games, and I’ve enjoyed some really nice Spaceflight Shooters. Rogue Leader was a masterpiece to me. I have enjoyed Subdivision Infinity as well, though it holds more in common with Galaga or Galaxion than Star Wars. There is a plot, but the game is pretty well aware of what it is and its primary sources of appeal.
You’re a fighter pilot newly arrived at an interstellar mining complex that sent up a distress beacon. Beacon was launched by the onboard AV-12 Artificial Intelligence. “Go shoot things in this list of missions followed by a boss fight in each Chapter.” It seems to be what the Robot said in essence. There isn’t any voice acting.
That all said, the gameplay has more going on under the hood and was the clear focus of Subdivision Infinity DX.
Each Chapter seems divided into five levels, with the fifth being a boss fight with some unpleasant and heavily armed folks. Controls are a common complaint, though I got used to them in my third session playing it. The left stick will move you up and down and left and right while the right stick controls your Orientation in space, the Path you’re going along if you press the trigger to go forward or shoulder to move backward. This is actually handy for bobbing and weaving through Cover. Which raises an oddity, this game doesn’t penalize collisions with non-enemies. I can see why this was done, to encourage wild movements through tight spaces. But if it’s good or bad is up to interpretation. Though I will say I think it is more fun to be destroyed by an enemy than by bumbling my way into an asteroid while trying to pull off a loop.
I am writing to the Devs about the controls, as it seems like remapping controls would be good for those that aren’t the same kind of strange as me. More common to most, I think a Sensitivity slider would be a godsend. This is just my impression, but so far I suspect the game could successfully be patched to remove mid-level textboxes and chatter completely, and I kinda feel like the gameplay might flow better that way too.
Each mission has you destroying a target or retrieving data or something else, usually with the objective evolving as the situation unfolds. It’s a pretty tried and true formula for gameplay, though the controls give you more freedom of movement than most games once you get accustomed to them. You can, for instance, fly around in reverse in a relative downward trajectory while wobbling to your right and left in order to throw off anybody trying to aim at you. Or get right wedged in with a space station’s various nooks and crannies for cover.
I get the impression this game is most enjoyable during the harder segments, though I am generally inclined that way myself. You start each level with Infinite ammo for your main weapon and limited Missiles/Ammo for Secondary Weapon Systems. It bears mention that the Missiles are very powerful and versatile in this game and will quickly seek targets even after launch. Allowing you to fire around obstacles and still hit a target. That nugget comes in handy when facing turrets that would surely blast you to bits if you make any sort of visual contact.
Your main gun is a rapid-firing little Ballistic toy that you can upgrade a good bit, but even at the highest rank of LVL4, it won’t do as much damage as other sorts of weapons. That said, it’s always convenient to have a high rate of fire.
Once you have the right sort of ship, you can equip Two Primary Weapon Systems. The Fire button will trigger both barrels each time you pull the trigger. This can feel really strange, but it definitely enables a higher volume of fire. I plan to try out using two identical guns as soon as I have the resources saved. You can sell equipment, but I’d never do that unless I had made an error. All the gear you pick up will be useful after all at some point. Especially since you can upgrade weapons four times each. It’d be pretty wasteful to part with a weapon after you invested so much into it, and even if later levels never call for it you’ll still be able to revisit the levels it is well suited for.
Apart from these, there also seems to be a few Exploration missions allowing you to move around on your own time, only occasionally shooting down enemies as you mine asteroids for resources to use in making a new ship or for selling to make extra Coin. This mining requires a Mining Tool in your Secondary Weapon slot… So no Missiles if you plan to do any mining.
I’m oddly fond of these, though I expected segments like these to be counterproductive for such an action-oriented game. I just like the gentler tension of them. Fire up Spotify or another musical source while mining asteroids for maximum chill. Simply filling up my cargo space while remaining wary of enemies, it’s both simple and rewarding.
Between missions, new spacecraft will become available for purchase or upgrading. You’ll also be able to equip new and exciting weaponry for all your “Self Defense” needs. Enemies may drop resources you need too or extra missiles for you to pick up. Helpfully the User Interface will highlight important stuff and direct you to look towards objects of interest. This is handy for dumdums like me.
Everspace was designed as an Arcade inspired experience, but it has always struck me as more of a Simulation in terms of the intricacies in execution. Which is why I still wish the developers would patch in a Map function for the HUD in that game. If only for late adopters of the game like myself. I make this topical detour to confirm a suspicion the reader might have formed by now. Yes, this game could be aptly described as a streamlined answer to Everspace. And whether or not that is good or bad depends upon your tastes in both gameplay and genre.
The process of customizing your vessel, collecting the resources for doing so, and of course directly reaping the benefits in combat might be the best aspect of Subdivision Infinity DX. And unlike Everspace, these upgrades will remain on your next attempts at progression. So in that light, this is notably less frustrating.
Subdivision Infinity DX is an attractive little Spaceflight Shooter alternative to Everspace built with a Simpler and more Narrative Lite approach. In truth, its strongest sense of game progression is disconnected and perhaps even in lieu of the plot. Tied instead to the player’s ever-evolving arsenal of ships and weapons, and the ever-escalating threats presented within each new level.
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Robert Kelly Ball
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