The arena shooter has had lots of entries over the year, with the Geometry Wars series being a pretty popular example. Of course, when it comes to freeware, there are shooters of every kind of sub-genre. To stand out in a sea of similar games, a cagey developer will have to make a unique hook to draw in new players. Luckily, Invaders: Corruption provides one hell of a hook.
Invaders: Corruption has a pretty damn unique feature for a shooter: each time you start the game (or go to options and choose the ‘edit’ feature), you will be asked to enter a word or phrase (up to 20 characters long). The game then takes that alpha numeric entry and creates your arena, your ship, the first song you’ll hear, the color of your bullets, the power-ups you’ll find, and the AI for the more complex enemies. For example, enter “Phil” and you will have a ship that looks like a Poe’s voice, a tiled arena, red bullets, lots of offensive power-ups, and enemies in the later stages that bounced around diagonally or even copied my ship’s appearance and drove straight at me. Entering my name gave me a black arena, a blue ship, and defensive power-ups like shields. If you enter a different word each time you play, you will still see new combinations millions of games later. Admittedly, certain arenas show up more than others but ship types are always new and surprising.
What’s also really surprising is that this freeware game actually has some online features that add to the replay of this game. These online features consist of high scores (monthly and all-time). Now, this isn’t too surprising, though for a small freeware development team that isn’t releasing through Kongregate, Armor, or Adult Swim Games, it is commendable, but what makes this so special, is that you can see what word people on the high scores entered, click on it, and load their arenas. This lets you see even more levels and find what kind of set up lets you make the highest score or have the most fun playing.
Speaking of playing, the gameplay in Invaders is fantastic. While the controls are typical for a PC twin-stick shooter, ship movement is easy and smooth once you get it down. The enemies you run into are also surprising little pixels that do things like bounce off walls, break apart like Asteroids, shoot straight at you, are impervious to damage, sneak up on you, and even lay mines in the really late stages. While you do have to hold on for quite a while to see all these different enemies, there are tons of unique experiences to have as you get better. There are also a ton of power-ups to find (double, triple and even quad shot, bouncy shot, bomb refills, immolation, time slow, shields, to just mention a few) and, best of all, shot power-ups stack (if only temporarily), meaning that you could have a penetrating triple shot that bounces around the arena really fast, letting you sweep away enemies and get the “Wipeout” bonus.
The bonuses and scoring are another well done aspect of the game. Once you destroy enough enemies, the multiplier will rise, making even weak little enemies–dubbed “spinners”–worth quite a lot. However, that’s not the only way to make points. If any enemy is on a collision course and you dodge, you get a bonus. Dodge two enemies? Get a bigger bonus! Wipe out all enemies? Get a cool 6,000. The scoring even affects gameplay. You could use a smart bomb, destroy all enemies on the screen, and even get the multiplier increased, but you won’t make any points directly or make bonuses and you’ll be facing new, tougher enemies that will spawn in. Overall, the gameplay is surprisingly addictive and frantic.
On the aesthetic side, Invaders also delivers. The enemies are all colorful pixels and the bullets and colorful jet streams that shoot out from your ship are little acid trips to themselves. Combine that with some catchy techno tracks (which you can also download for free) and you have a little game that is perfect for tripping out to (while staying completely sober of course).
If you like your shooters frantic, colorful, and with a good hook, then Invaders: Corruption is the game for you. Period. If shooters aren’t your thing, it probably won’t change your mind, but it’s still worth a play for its interesting gimmick. Really, just play this game, download the soundtrack and have a good time… or just have some fun typing in your favorite internet celebrity, beloved family member, friend, or boss’ name and see what the result is… (‘Austin Yorski’ sure has a lot of immolation power-ups in his arena).
Download the game (PC and Mac), soundtracks, and wallpapers: HERE
Game is also available on Desura and the Mac App Store.
Freeware Friday is a series by Gabriel B. that focuses on exemplary (or sometimes just plain weird) entries into the freeware genre of indie games.