Alien invasion, tough-guy hero, lots of guns, save the day – you know the drill by now. Where Inversion attempts to break away from the third-person shooter herd is in playing with gravity, gifting you the Gravlink device early on and allowing you to reduce or increase gravity’s effect in localised bubbles.
While early sections of the game do a grand job easing you into thinking about the distorted reality you find yourself in, with the odd floating enemy or shifted perspective, the training goes to waste when any greater promise fails to materialise. Although Inversion tries to give you an innovative toolkit to progress though the game, the mechanics of shifting gravity or utilising your altered surroundings to your advantage are so fiddly, you’ll just rely on tried-and-tested shooter behaviour – find cover, kill enemies, move on. Even later levels, where comparative gravity has you firing at enemies on surfaces above you, repeat this pattern.
On purely technical and design fronts, Inversion shows many small but frustrating flaws. Environmental detailing – bullet holes in walls, water, rubble from the destructible locations – frequently pops in after the rest of an area has loaded, and character movement feels like it has two speeds – sluggish and glacial. The inexplicable decision to include occasional tightrope sections only serves to delay the action further, and onscreen prompts to adjust balance with the right control stick bear no relevance to what happens on screen.
While its story surprisingly rises above the generic, with the mysterious true nature of the invaders – clad in post-apocalypse chic, with technology seemingly beyond their means and a language that blends common English with Jabba the Hutt-style squawks – proving a particularly strong narrative device, gameplay itself never rises above the formulaic. The most disappointing aspect of Inversion is that its genuine potential is never quite realised.