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Game Info:

Impsulsion
Developed By: Driving Force Games
Published By: Dear Villagers
Released: July 19, 2018
Available On: Windows 7 and 10
Genre: FPS, Platformer, Action
ESRB Rating: None
Number of Players: Singleplayer
Price: $12.99

Thank you Driving Force Games and Dear Villagers for sending us your game to review!

It’s hard to make your mark as an independent game developer. You’ve got no notoriety. Your labor of love will likely cost way more hours than the money you do get. People inevitably compare you to the bigger companies with the deeper pockets. It’s an uphill battle. However, there are significant advantages. Without a huge staff, there’s no pressure to rely on cash cows to sign paychecks. No expectation means less chance to disappoint. Best of all, you’re free to design as you please. In fact, most innovative ideas in recent years came from the independent market, so when going that route, developers must deal with a unique set of opportunities and limits. The creators of Impulsion likely experienced the ups and downs. Still, as I’ve observed with many games, limits can force one to be clever.

In Impulsion, you play as a robotic unit. You’ve been activated by a sentient artificial intelligence named Archie for aptitude testing. Your mind is soon uploaded into a virtual space and given two forcefield guns. All you gotta do, according to Archie, is complete all twenty-five obstacle courses. Mind your step though. Archie may speak optimistically to you, but it’s obvious he’s seen more than enough incompetence to think you’re not any different. These levels are booby-trapped to the gills. Laser fields, ray guns, water pits, and way more are poised to punish failures like you, so you’ll need to push your agility and marksmanship to the max. Oh, and you’ll be timed too. Sooooo . . . . run, run, run.

Impulsion
Highlights:

Strong Points: Excellent level design; Satisfying controls; Fun gameplay
Weak Points: Difficulty can be frustrating; Repetitive voice-lines
Moral Warnings: Mild Explosions

had a very Portal-esque vibe from Impulsion even before I loaded it. Playing the role of test subject in a facility whilst using two modes of gunfire under the supervision of a computer that loves roasting you sounds more than a little familiar. Thus, Impulsion got dangerously close to becoming a Portal knockoff. Good thing then that the creators strayed far enough from the beaten path to impress me. For one thing, there’s no portal gun. You’re packing two forcefield guns this round. The blue gun on your right generates forcefields that make you jump higher, move faster, and is virtually effective on all surfaces. It’s mate, the red gun, creates fields that while only effective on red tiles will slow you down and let you jump twice. Another major difference between Impulsion and Portal is in the gameplay’s very nature. Instead of pushing buttons and opening doors via physics and wormholes, you’re racing to dodge lasers and hurtle pits at great heights for that ultimate speed record. Impulsion will grade your performance at the finish line. It’ll do you one better too if you’re incomparably fantastic. Each level’s top records are displayed for everyone to see. I doubt speed records will matter much to most people though. Because, in my case, I was just content and happy to win at all. The first few levels aren’t bad, but as soon as you pass the noob courses, prepare to die - a lot. The kind of dexterity required from your fingers here skirt the edges of inhuman. It’s high-octane, so there’s no ‘small feat’ in just finishing all twenty-five levels. However! (big however here), I LOVED IT! Yes, Impulsion is extremely hard. Yes, it takes significant practice, but once you’ve mastered it, the intense challenge becomes exhilarating. I felt like a superhero, soaring and leaping between crushing walls with ease and dismissing lasers and chasms like they’re nothing. It runs purely on the principles of high risk, high reward.

You can adjust the controls to accommodate your play-style. I, however, stuck with the original setup. You move forward, back, left, and right with the ‘W’, ‘S’, ‘D’, and ‘A’ keys. Jump with the space bar, and since this is technically a first-person shooter, you aim with your mouse. Right click to fire the blue gun. Left click to shoot the red gun. Now, with only twenty-five levels, I hoped Impulsion would push its base mechanics to their full potential, and I am pleased to say I was far from disappointed. First, they made the super smart decision to not only let the fields manipulate you but also the objects around you. You’re even capable of neutralizing some traps entirely if you’re smart. For example, laser fire can be significantly slowed with a red field. Or rotating walls can be thrown out of sync with a speed altering blue field, creating a wider opening. Second, each level succeeds at continually challenging your use of the guns. You’re constantly re-thinking your approach. New techniques are revealed to you as you progress without an ounce of handholding, and it’s fantastic! Sure, I’ve already mentioned the levels are hard - hand sweatingly hard. I died at least six hundred and forty six times. (Yes, the game counted.) Still, I’d always reach the end feeling awesome for getting through it with a new trick. A good design is nice. A design that can expand without fundamentally changing itself is excellent!

Impulsion
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 90%
Gameplay - 19/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 100%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Everything looks very slick in the testing space. Most areas may amount to a thin hallway, but with some splashes of techno color, it never looks dull. In keeping with popular cyberpunk styles, the walls are tiled with Tron-esque lines that glow when covered by a forcefield, which I thought was a particularly neat idea. The large laser fields burn bright golds and blues. Platforms glow and are easy to see. It’s a generally pleasing and functional aesthetic. I enjoyed the dubstep techno soundtracks too. It really put my heart in a fast-paced mode. Sound effects did well too. Although, I felt like the pitter-patter of my robot feet didn’t sound quite in sync whenever I sped through a blue field. As for Archie’s voice acting, I thought he sounded good. He sported an interested but not really interested balance and mixed it with a little British styled wit. Is he as memorable a character as Portal’s GlaDos? Eh, I wouldn’t go that far, but he still did a good job. My one major complaint with Impulsion, though, was the kill quotes. Not the quotes themselves but how I was forced to hear one of a handful of dialogue lines every single time I died, and when you die as often as this, it gets irritatingly grating. Seriously, if I have to listen to how I’d be bested by a vacuum cleaner one more stinkin’ time, I’m gonna lose it.

Impulsion was one of the nicest videogame surprises I’ve seen in a while. Okay. it wasn’t ‘nice’ per se. I got roasted, basted, fried and dunked a lot, but I never felt cheated. My failures were my own. Except for the final level (which purposely had no checkpoints) it was seldom unfair. Which meant, that when I won, I really really won. That’s a great feeling! Impulsion also includes a couple of extra modes that, while not really changing the gameplay, do offer a little extra goal variations. The game got better the further I played too. That’s because there was not a single thing morally wrong with it. There were no nasty words. The only violence that ever occurred only happened to me, and that only amounted to a bitty explosion. So, as long as you’re not afraid of fire, Impulsion is 100% family friendly! Add in the well implemented mechanics and superbly laid out levels and you will find Impulsion is an indie gem worth having in your Steam library. Unless you’re easily discouraged or this type of game is not your cup of tea, Impulsion is a clever little game for high spirited puzzle solvers of all ages. Games like these are in too short of supply.

About the Author

Hannah Colvin

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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