REVIEW: Invector (PS4)

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With the end of October, the Holiday season has officially commenced. With that, comes a look back on the year that was, including the people that passed away and have left behind their legacies and the actions that defined their lives. Among them was DJ Tim Berling, more commonly known as AVICII.  A DJ, musician, and record producer that took the world by storm. His music was an international language. Regrettably, AVICII passed away this past April at the young age of 26.

But before he passed away, AVICII helped release a video game, featuring his music. the game is Invector from Hello There Games. Featuring a story, sharp visuals, and an amazing space setting, it is a different kind of rhythm game. Invector launched in December of 2017.

The game took the music genre of gaming and turned it into an out-of-this-world space adventure, with a single player story and a very unique gameplay mechanic. The music genre of video games has become exhausted with many different iterations of Rockband and Guitar Hero. In an age without plastic instruments and with an audience exhausted from the tired mechanics, Hello There Games took the genre into an entirely new perspective.

Invector had to create an entirely new mechanics system, as indicated in their post on the PlayStation Blog. The developers overhauled the gameplay and engine to give it a much more visually distinguishable style. The original prototype wasn’t appealing, so a futuristic space aesthetic was adapted into the game. There is a broad range of enhancements and fine-tuning, including the inclusion of a small story, with the main character voiced by voice actress Maya Tuttle. Influenced heavily by AVICII’s creative input.

Her journey through space is in sync with the music from AVICII and other EDM tunes. As for mechanics, the game still follows the use of hitting musical notes at the right time, but the level design involved the player piloting a shuttle, hitting the right notes in sync with the music. There would be no weapons or shooting of any kind, which is unusual for a space-themed game. Instead, players would see notes on a path, which at some points, becomes triangular. Players would maneuver the ship and hit the corresponding notes along the path.

Playing Invector is absolutely thrilling, entertaining, and even therapeutic. The bright lights and thumping color illustrations create a visual form of music energy. Where other music games simply have music notes lifelessly drifting towards the player, Invector introduces lively stages, where the notes and music effects are given life. Each note generates dazzling visual and particle effects as the ship courses through the level.

The levels vary, from asteroid fields to futuristic city, with small effects in the levels reacting to the music. Each moment feels in balance with the music, as it should. AVICII’s famous hits, such as “Levels, Wake Me Up,” “One Day,” and “Hey Brother” speak of wisdom and humanity, especially for young audiences as they venture into the most exciting and terrifying parts of their lives.

Invector reflects what the character is feeling, as well as the structure of the track. You play as, Stella, a character who has her own goals and ambitions and does come across a moment when she is questioning her life and what she is doing out in the universe. The tracks reflect her emotions at different parts of the campaign.  It’s an interesting way to connect to the player, as the connection isn’t just through story cut-scenes but also through the music, and its lyrics.

Invector is not easy, however. Various difficulty modes will challenge the player, especially for EDM tracks that are far more high energy than others. The game will play at varying speeds and provide sudden surprises with the arrangement of the notes. It is best to start with the easiest setting before moving onto hard.  However, with the easy-to-learn mechanics and control options, the game encourages the player to keep trying to attain that high score.

AVICII left behind a legacy of music that won’t soon be forgotten and Invector reflects that energy and encouragement that music can bring.  Perhaps the biggest innovation is a blending of the emotions of a musician and the emotions of a video game creator. The overall experience synergies into an escape and a reflection into the power of music and its interaction with human emotions. In that interaction, it brings a kind of chemistry that most games differ from. It feels like a story being told from AVICII, and the game is a form of translation, bringing forth a dream of a better world through music.

Invector is a game that is many things. It’s an innovative take on the music genre and an incredible gaming experience. It features a nice story and incredible gameplay, but it serves as a bittersweet send-off to a man who left such a massive impact on the world in his short life. AVICIIs music is forever, and it will continue to enlighten and inspire. For gamers, they simply won’t hear the music, but experience it as well.