All Your Soul Are Belong To Us

Normally a recommendation that one should “Go to Hell!” would be a put-down, but for the especially bloodthirsty, it’s advice well taken when earthly competition just isn’t cutting it anymore. Three demonically inclined thrill seekers have decided it’s high time for a safari in the netherworld, and when Satan decides to throw their very souls into the victory pot, why, these guys are perfectly cool with that too. It’s up to the player to direct one of these hardboiled, gun-toting gladiators and prove to the underworld that he’s an Invincible Demon (Out Now, $2.99).

Dual-stick shooter fans should already know the drill pretty well, but those who have a particular fondness for the genre classic Smash T.V. will especially get a kick out of Invincible Demon‘s boxed-in environments and verbal feedback on player performance. Whatever the case, it definitely takes a genre vet to keep cool while dodging and gunning down the swarms of weird cretins that flow in from every direction. It’s a top-down shooter through and through, but many of Invincible Demon‘s levels throw in an interesting bit of “soul defense” that requires the player to protect a reliquary containing the chosen demon’s spirit, which gets its own dedicated life meter.

Invincible Demon unquestionably rises to its best during these “soul defense” levels. Certain enemies and projectiles can hurt the demon but not his soul, and vice versa; the resulting judgment calls about which moving things to target for annihilation first make for a fun twist on shoot-em-ups. While the demonic anti-heroes vary noticeably in terms of agility, weapon style, and punishment-taking capacity, it’s too bad they don’t feel even more diverse in the player’s hands. Say what you will about the seemingly mindless process of obliterating everything that moves, but the genre’s very best offerings have shown considerable depth in terms of character play styles and/or weapons specialties; I’ve just been too spoiled by the classics to be satisfied with the limited linear upgrades earned over time in Invincible Demon, and that will likely apply to most in the game’s target audience. The game could have benefited from regular boss battles, but sadly, encounters with stronger monsters pop up rather sparingly over the game’s eighteen arenas.

On the plus side, Invincible Demon manages to offer a very worthy challenge to longtime shoot-em-up veterans while remaining generally accessible through difficulty level selection. Players who warm up on “Easy” aren’t locked out of its Game Center-powered leaderboard, but serious high score competitors had better plan on surviving a solid rush through “Hard.” Like the player’s chosen avatar, difficulty level may be changed whenever the player desires.

Invincible Demon‘s user interface does something really interesting in ditching visible virtual joysticks in favor of assigning a function to each side of the touchscreen: the left half of the screen senses movement commands while the right controls direction of fire. The developer’s design choice here is a clear winner for keeping the screen uncluttered! I found that the right-hand side’s function worked flawlessly, with my demon pivoting rather gracefully in response to the slightest pressure adjustments. This process is liable to feel a tad awkward at first but its ultimate reliability won me over. A little less impressive is the left-hand sensor, which leaves the player’s movement thumb vulnerable to sliding into the touchscreen’s doggedly unfeeling lower left corner. Cranking up the left-hand control’s sensitivity, or better yet, leaving sensitivity directly up to the player, seems warranted.

Invincible Demon‘s rocky character sprites won’t win too many admirers, being just serviceable enough that the player’s demon can be identified amongst all the others zipping around onscreen. The release version’s tutorial screen is such a jam-packed mess that it took me a while to realize there’s a jump function (hint: simply tap the right side of the touchscreen). Hopefully this can be replaced with something cleaner or even ditched in favor of a tutorial level in updates. On the upside, Infinibee lavished an impressive amount of audio love on the game, seeing fit to outfit it with a full soundtrack and plenty of lovely demonic voice clips.

iFanzine Verdict: A solidly built top-down shooter with just a dash of Castle Defense thrown in for good measure, Invincible Demon is well worth investigating if you’re a shoot-em-up fan — whether of the challenge seeking or more casually interested variety. If you’re looking for a meaty title and willing to settle for a little less depth than genre classics like Smash T.V. or your favorite Contra title had, it’s good for three bucks’ worth of onscreen ballistic mayhem.

[xrr rating=3.5/5]