I’m on a bit of a nostalgia trip lately. On the one hand, we have the excellent modern day sequel Streets of Rage 4 rekindling my youth in it’s faithful interpretation of the brawler genre. On the other, we have Infinite – Beyond the Mind, which styles itself in a more traditional retro fashion. That’s not to say it’s not good, mind – quite the opposite in fact.
Set in an undisclosed future, we need to destroy the armies of Queen Evangelyn Bramann as she sends them out to aid her plan for world domination. These mostly take the form of general grunts with shotguns, sniper rifles and grenades, though the futuristic setting does allow for some imaginative takes on military hardware.
If you’ve ever played an old school 2D action platformer, you’ll know what to expect; keep moving to right, and smash everything and everyone in your way. It’s simple, but still somehow quite satisfying. Our heroes Tanya and Olga are able to slash away at enemies in rapid fashion while dodging their attacks.
As we traverse each area, we can slash away at enemies, generally dispatching them in a just a few hits. We don’t need to fight each and everyone though, as it’s often wiser to sprint past the small fry and just deal with the bigger threats. Each new area introduces new types to fend off, and at points we’ll be trapped in a single screen, requiring us to kill everyone that comes at us to proceed.
Combat is simple, but fast; our heroes move about the screen at a rapid pace, and also have access to a dodge roll (also usable in the air) to harmlessly slide past enemy bullets or attacks. It’s governed by a stamina meter, but it refills fast once we stop rolling. It’s a rare moment where we’re fighting and standing still, and it’s even rarer to find a moment where there aren’t any enemies to deal with at all. A screen clearing attack is available by holding the dodge button when standing still, but it is limited in use so it’s best saved for the end of level bosses.
There are hidden collectables dotted around to increase health, or grant an extra life, so taking time to explore is key. Each area is fairly brief, so even fully exploring will tend to see us at the end within 5 minutes or so. I appreciated this approach, harking back to older titles and not padding itself out with tons of ultimately pointless things to find or the like.
Played solo, Infinite – Beyond the Mind is fun, but it’s definitely best played co-op. Not only is it just more fun, but it also makes certain sections easier. Some areas have pits where we can fall to our death; solo, this means starting the area again, whereas with a co-op buddy we either pop back up where they are with no penalty, or lose a life and can respawn on them after a few seconds. This was one of the more confusing elements – it was never clear to me why some pits would outright kill me, whereas others wouldn’t. Either way, as long as you partner is up, it saves a fresh restart.
Having the extra attack power helps with the bosses too. The first boss – one in a chopper and another on the ground – fell in seconds with a partner compared to a much longer affair solo.
Some great chip-tune music and bright, colourful chibi-style art round out the retro styling well. Each area has it’s own theme and thanks to them being quite short the music manages to get stuck in the head without becoming too repetitive.
Infinite: Beyond the Mind brings back the simplicity of proper retro action platformers in a great way. There’s no fluff or unnecessary padding, just honest, simple action that keeps the pace flowing nicely. It’s definitely better as a co-op experience thanks to a slight leg up in tricky sections, though solo still manages to be damn good fun too.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.