As one of the few members of the Popzara staff with a current-generation iPad, I tend to end up writing up all the iOS stuff that comes our way. It’s a tough job, but it cements my worth in the eyes of the big boss so he sends me everything Idea Factory makes. It’s a fair trade in my mind. Sometimes, though, a game like Implosion: Never Lose Hope comes along and I feel like I’ve got one over on the boss. It’s got no right to be this good.
Implosion is a game about running around in a badass mech suit destroying baddies. Even better, it’s not on rails, it’s not a slimmed-down version of a console game and there aren’t any stamina or energy systems. You don’t have to wait real time for anything, either. There’s a plot about fighting off mutants to save the last remains of the human race or something but whatever, the important part is that this is a mobile game that would feel right at home on Xbox Live Arcade or PSN.
The gameplay is pretty standard for hack-and-slash games: your mech’s got a katana for chopping up baddies along with a variety of projectile weapons for long-range murder. Melee combat is usually the go-to option here since the guns, while powerful, have limited ammo. Fortunately, swordplay is actually fairly responsive and interesting; much like the Devil May Cry series, you can mix up your combos by pausing before your attacks, allowing you to deal more damage or dart away from enemy fire while slashing away. Other techniques include a dodge and several cooldown-based special attacks for dealing hefty damage or quickly escaping from a precarious spot.
During missions, you can load up on credits and gear to customize your mech. This tends to be customization of the “add tiny percentage points of something” sort that show up in most games these days, and that’s as uninspiring as ever. What’s more interesting are the badges that you get for completing different bonus objectives during a mission. These earn you powerful pieces of gear and, eventually, another mech to control; they’re a great reason to go back and replay earlier levels once you’ve gotten better at the game.
Implosion is interesting because I can’t tell if I’m impressed with the game because it’s good or because it’s good for a mobile game. The iPad (and similarly powered Android slabs) certainly isn’t made for games like this, despite the App Store’s preponderance of shovelware that tries to force the device to be a core gaming machine, but Implosion works stunningly well for what it is.
Don’t get me wrong, the fact that Implosion is a mobile game means it’s got some of the annoyances common to all mobile games. For instance, the game still uses a purely touch-based interface, so you can expect some cheap hits here and there from the controls not responding as you’d like. Further, the levels are extremely short, averaging maybe three to five minutes each, which feels a little awkward but allows for putting the game down at a moment’s notice.
So while none of that comes as a surprise, the quality on offer here certainly does. The graphics are stylish and impressive, everything moves at a nice, steady framerate and the gameplay is solid hack-and-slash fare. It’s everything your average iPad game wishes it was, in other words. It doesn’t even try to annoy you with IAP. Basically, playing Implosion is like entering some alternate universe where playing games on a tablet is a worthwhile use of one’s time. The mind boggles.
At $10, Implosion: Never Lose Hope is easy to recommend. When it’s inevitably ported to Steam in a couple months for twice that much…well, it’ll still be easy to recommend, but you can look back and know that I called it early. This is the sort of game we all hoped we’d be playing when the mobile craze began, instead of Candy Crush Clone Saga, Farmville Wait-‘Em-Up 2015 or Please Give Us Money IAP Sim Tycoon. Implosion is both a great game and a monument to what might have been – and still might be.