Music is an incredibly personal thing, but given the recent passing of Tim Berling – known around the world as AVICII – this particular rhythm action game takes on an altogether more intimate tone. Working as greatest hits, retrospective and soliloquy to one of the biggest musical stars of our time, it’s a fitting tribute to his legacy. Invector isn’t just a great way to experience his music, it’s the perfect way to say farewell.
As Harmonix taught us back in the days of Frequency and Amplitude, the best way to do rhythm-action is to have a spaceship fly along a series of tracks and press the corresponding buttons to collect or shoot things in time to the beat. AVICII Invector is to all intents and purposes a spiritual successor to those games, and while you could argue about originality and the like, if you’re going to copy someone else’s homework you might as well crib from the smartest kid in the class.
You travel in your spaceship along a central track, and it’s your task to hit the right button at the right time. Glowing lines across the track are a ‘strum’ which you can play with the shoulder buttons, and on the easiest difficulty you’ll mainly be hitting just two of the face buttons alongside them. Consistently time things right, and your multiplier can climb up to 4x. You’ll need it to stay there if you’re going to be troubling the leaderboards at the end of the song.
There are more than a few tricks up Hello There Games’ sleeve that ensure that Invector feels fresh and challenging, rather than simply re-treading the same ground. While the central track flows along the screen, some sections see the track turn into a triangle, with three planes to move between. Hitting left or right on the D-pad sees the entire track spin to one of the other planes, and you’ll find yourself shifting backwards and forwards more and more often as you progress.
Breaking up all the track travelling, your ship takes flight at points, tasking you with flying through a series of glowing targets in order to keep your combo going. They’re a decent palette cleanser, and oddly nerve-wracking thanks to the relatively small windows that you have to fly your ship through. It all ties together really well, with each of the systems expanding and growing as you advance through the difficulty levels. By the time you hit Hard, you’re using all of the face buttons, spinning the track every few moments and trying to cling on for dear life. It’s brutal but rewarding.
There’s a funny sort of narrative tied into Invector that follows the path of the headphone-toting, chocolate bar-seeking spaceship’s pilot Stella, and it’s quietly diverting stuff that builds into the world that Invector creates. It actually works, despite having very little to do with AVICII, and it’s definitely more than a throwaway bit of fluff to chew on between each song.
The 25-strong track list pulls together some of the best of AVICII’s work, with the odd vocal cameo from Chris Martin here and a remix from M22 there, and I suppose for some people that might rule Invector out. It’d be an immense shame, as it’s a brilliant and enjoyable collection that includes huge hits like Wake Me Up and Without You. There’s also a number of tracks from his posthumous ‘Tim’ album that emphasise AVICII’s penchant for folk and country inflected EDM, shifting between more introspective tracks and euphoric dance floor bangers.
Given the bittersweet back story, it’s difficult at times not to be genuinely moved, whether it’s tracks Without You, or The Nights where a father gives his son the advice, “one day you’ll leave this world behind, so live a life you will remember”. AVICII didn’t work alone, he had plenty of collaborators that feature in this collection, but Invector feels particularly personal to him, with many of the lyrics taking on a deeper meaning in the wake of his death. Euphoric dance with heart that you can play along with? It’s a brilliant combination.
As someone who had only really listened to AVICII’s biggest hits, Invector also serves as primer for an artist who’s only grown in my estimation. If you’re even remotely into dance music, EDM, or even folk rock, there is something here for you, and as part of his lasting legacy I hope that Invector finds Tim a few more fans. He was an utterly unique voice in music that deserves to continue reaching people despite his untimely death.