There have been quite a few games that were designed primarily for the handheld game market to have transferred over to the Xbox One. These have been designed to give a quick bit of gameplay that the consumer can tackle between train stops or on loo breaks at work. However, making that transition isn’t easy, and whenever any game moves over to the hardcore console market many are sceptical – myself included as I’m always a bit wary that the gameplay won’t quite translate to the Xbox. See, when I switch my Xbox on I’m in it for the long haul, ready to embark on lengthy gaming sessions rather than a quick burst of action. Inops is a game that is found longing for your utter attention yet it still hopes to bring some much needed quickfire platforming fun to your lives. Does it succeed?
Inops’ story is quite simple yet utterly charming. You play as an Inop – a black ball with two big eyes – and it is your task to wake up all the other Inops around the world, before joining together and escaping the world of horror. I’m embellishing things a bit here, but you get the idea. There are several different environments to traverse too, like a mine, jungle and electrical city with a number of levels in each to conquer. And when you have done, there’s the good old boss level at the end of each. Simple stuff, yes?
It is, and the gameplay is just as simple, seeing you control your Inop with your thumbstick as it rolls around the curvy and tricky designs of each level like some kind of self-aware pinball. You can jump, of course, and you can operate switches with the touch of a button. Heck, there are even boxes to move and puzzles to solve. Further to that you can operate giant cogs (by Inop telekinesis I presume) so that doors get opened or in one section a boat is manoeuvred across a river. There are further lovely little touches like bomb making machines that can be activated in order to see the release of a bomb, allowing you to nudge it so that a passageway is opened up and you can travel through.
It’s not all simple though, and when you wake up your little Inop buddies you have a choice to make – you can either control all of them as separate entities (but at the same time), enabling their small size to reach specific areas, or you can merge them together into one giant Inop. It is this which is useful for keeping all of your friends safe; safety in numbers ensures that they are not killed in a stupid way.
The ultimate aim is to get all the Inops safely to the end of the level without losing any along the way. There are hazards though, like spikes, acid and these horrible space invader type creatures that will kill you instantly if you don’t get your timing right. And getting them through each stage will see that you are rewarded, scored by the number of Inops you save and take with you to the promised land, along with the number of stars that you can manage to collect in the level. Stars are exactly what you think they are – dotted around each level in hard to reach areas. You can also pick up gems, and having these to hand will allow you to continue straight from where you’ve died, working a bit like a checkpoint. If you don’t have these then you’re left to restart from the beginning of the specific stage, which is very annoying especially after the 20th attempt at the more tricky levels.
However, for all the good, Inops on Xbox One does something which I hate. Should you wish to proceed through the stages you’ll need to ensure your skills are on point, collecting enough Inops and stars in each level to unlock later stages. This means that there are times when you’ll be left replaying levels multiple times. In my case this translates to pulling my eyeballs out and throwing them at the TV.
It does all look nice though, particularly the Inops themselves who could be instantly packaged as some kind of kids’ Christmas toy. The worlds look good and there are some nice innovations added in, especially those found in the boat sections. It never really pushes the limit of what can be achieved visually though – at least not for the era of gaming we are in – but it does the job required for this type of game. The soundtrack follows that theme; good and calming in its tones, and accompanied by some clever effects that work to create a nice atmosphere throughout.
If you’re a platforming fanatic then Inops is going to be a game for you, and it’s nice to see that there is a decent challenge available. This is no more apparent than if you complete things then there is the option to go back through and complete it again in speedrunning fashion. I’ve enjoyed what the game has done in the terms of short bursts of fun and interesting gameplay, but certainly found the repetitive elements and unlocking of levels a bit tedious and demoralising at times. The visuals are pleasant to the eyes and the soundtrack is nice on the ears, but whether this mobile/handheld game works on the bigger consoles is a hard question to answer. That said, if you are after a pleasant distraction from the many other manic games on offer, a game where you can dive in and out with ease, then Inops is worth a try.