Big Sky Infinity is a fast paced, twin-stick shooter with a twist – rather than relying on repetition-based gameplay like other bullet hell shooters, the game features randomly generated gameplay meaning no two levels should be the same. Can this make it stand out from the crowd?
I’ll be honest, for the first half an hour I really wasn’t keen on Big Sky Infinity. The game makes a terrible first impression with one of the worst narrators I’ve ever heard, both in terms of sound quality and the stuff spewing out of his mouth. It’s utterly dreadful, but luckily the developers added an option to turn this off.
Your ship also feels completely underpowered, and due to the random nature of the levels you’re never really given the chance to learn anything. However, bit by bit things start to click into place. First up; while the ship is underpowered that seems to have been a design choice. Destroying enemies will see ‘Starbits’ appear which can be collected and traded in at the end of every level to upgrade parts of your ship.
There’s a nice selection of upgrades on offer and it’ll take a long time to max everything out, and slowly but surely your weedy little flying refrigerator turns into a serious piece of kit, thus allowing you to progress further into the game. It’s a nice idea, even if it does make your first foray into the game a little bit of an uphill struggle.[videoyoutube]Your ship is also equipped with a drill which, when activated, allows you to drill through screen-filling planets which occasionally appear. It can also be used as a last resort attack, wiping out most things on-screen, although this function is limited to four uses per play.
In terms of control, the game is extremely easy to get to grips with. The left analogue stick is used to move, whilst the right is used to fire. The right shoulder button is used to activate the drill. No complaints here.
The same can’t be said of the gameplay. When it’s all working well the game is an absolute riot, seeing you swoop between laser fire before responding in kind with a barrage of brightly lit death. However, the game has some odd design choices. Throughout levels certain ‘events’ will occur, and these comprise of slowing down the gameplay whilst changing the colour palette of the level. My issue with this is that when the colours change it normally becomes almost impossible to see your ship. One, for example, seemed to almost black out the entire level.
There’s also some pretty bad lag at times, which is unforgivable when dealing with a game in this genre. It’s all about having super-smooth gameplay – no one wants to lose out on a high score because suddenly your ship feels like it’s flying through treacle.
One thing the game does very well is track your stats. At the end of every game over screen it presents you with a number of percentages, letting you know how well you did in comparison to your previous run. You can also check out your average score, hit percentages etc…
The game will also show your score in comparison to the top of the online leaderboard, although you can filter this to just show your friends. My only negative comment on this is that, for me anyway, comparing high scores feels a bit odd as no two levels are the same. Yes you might have a higher score than your friend, but is that because you had a better roll of the dice in that particular level?
In terms of content, Big Sky Infinity has you covered. Classic mode will be the one that will take up most of your time, but there’s also Nightmare and Hell modes which ramp up the difficulty; Pacifism which disables your weapons; Exhibition which allows you to play all modes one after the other; Boss Rush which is you against boss after boss; Countdown which gives you two minutes to get as high a score as possible; and Marathon where the speed and power ups increase over a period of time.
There’s also Naked and Remix modes, but the requirements for unlocking these are pretty darn harsh and need a good while longer to accomplish.
As well as leaderboards, there is also another online mode called Horse. This allows you to set up a losing word, and then pick a game mode. You then set a high score for this mode. Another player will then try and beat this score, but if they fail they are assigned a letter from the losing word. Then it’s their turn to set a challenge. The first person to collect all letters, thus forming the losing word, is (funnily enough) the loser. This would be great, but the random nature of the levels often frustrates.
Visually the game really stands out on the Vita’s screen, but occasionally the background colours clash with all the bullets on the screen, rendering them almost invisible until you’re suddenly hit with the game over screen. The music is ace, though, and suits the gameplay well.
- Good controls.
- Lots of content, with a good upgrade system.
- Looks great in places, and always sounds brilliant.
- When it’s going well the gameplay is very enjoyable.
- Some odd design choices spoil things.
- Randomly generated content sounds good, but ends up being an annoyance when score-chasing.
Big Sky Infinity has bags of potential, with a really solid gameplay core. There are occasions where this shines through and you have an absolute blast. However, there are a number of issues that, when combined, really do drag down the score. Here’s hoping for a sequel where all this potential is fully realised.
This review is based on the PlayStation Vita version.