OK, so I joked about my fling with Summer Catchers, but man I think this is one of those games like Bit-Trip Runner that convinces me that Infinite Runners can be something special. In-Retrospect is a story-driven, score chasing arcade-style Infinite Runner. It adds just enough player input to make mastering its multi-layered level designs very rewarding. I think another big aspect I enjoy is how tailor-made the level design is, with several routes, often with challenging portions, either via timing or with the risk of navigating damaging hurdles, and also includes interesting mechanics spiced in at every moment.
The controls are extremely simple and laid out, with level design catering to stretching every sense of how you can you use those techniques. You start off with just a double jump and glide, and the layouts challenge you by leveraging different elevations with your button presses and pressing up to activate buttons with effects that you teach yourself how to use. I often bring this up in my reviews and it’s no different here: I’m happy to see a game that is very open with how its mechanics work, but isn’t in your face about holding your hand and spoon-feeding you solutions. It’s the perfect blend that won’t make you go “WTF, I didn’t know I could do that?!” or “UGH bro I get it STFU and just let me do the thing!”.
A big portion that I feel isn’t fully encompassed within the demo is a story aspect based on the types of collectibles you pick up during each level. First of all, I found it nigh impossible to track how my gameplay or inputs were feeding into my progress towards a given path. I understood that the game showed me concepts like happiness or hard work that gave context to what I was getting, but I’m not sure if I felt the story elements blended 100% with the gameplay. What I DID think worked was the different environments and how the music, colors, and tempo of how the levels scrolled by changed to represent abstract concepts of periods of our lives. Things like the vibrant, hopeful times of youth, or the ennui of the workplace, or how anxiety can paint what we once enjoyed in muddied and dull colors. I think the topics explored are deep and sometimes philosophical, but the actual actions that I performed felt distant from what messages the game was telling me. In this way, I’m excited to see the full experience and evaluate how well everything translates when the full picture is completed. There’s a long way to go, but I think the potential for greatness is there.
Outside of the story mode, of which only a handpicked few levels are included in the demo, there is some leaderboard chasing to be had. Challenge mode intrigued me with brand new levels that were designed separate of the story mode, and often built around the mechanics taught throughout the game. Your score, based on the collectibles you’re able to collect during your run, can go toe-to-toe against other players’ recorded tally. There is no direct live multiplayer, but I already felt compelled to figure out optimal routes and maximizing those sweet sweet points.
All in all, a great showing that quickly breaks down some of the best moments this game has to offer. Well I can’t say that for sure since it’s incomplete, but the variety that was there, and the sheer polish that was put into the demo needless to say impressed me. Definitely a game to look out for – I do hope the story mode feels more cogent and fully realized by the time it reaches full release. But I can’t wait to see the mechanics further pushed, as the controls and the animations are smooth and aesthetically pleasing.
A review copy of the game for free via it’s Itch.io page.
Hellfirebam recommends to keep an eye out for this game once it reaches early access/release.