Implosion: Never Lose Hope is the best current example of an “indie” title that looks and plays like a AAA game
I’ll admit that when I first saw the screenshots and information on Implosion I had mixed feelings. While it all looked pretty impressive, given its age and mobile-based lineage I convinced myself that there would likely be some problem with it when it hit the Switch, whether in terms of performance or control. I’ve been burned too many times by Android mobile titles falling short in both departments on my Shield tablet, and I expected the same would happen here. I’m delighted to tell you that I couldn’t be more wrong. Implosion needs few qualifiers when describing its overall quality, it is both great to look at and exciting to play.
The story actually isn’t half-bad, though the general flow of narrative beats should be well-known to sci-fi fans. Set in the future, an alien menace arrives, many people flee the Earth and the main character is haunted by a figure from his past he left behind. The citizens return to Earth to check up after a few decades, things aren’t what they seemed, conspiracies and treachery… it all plays out fine but it’s also familiar. Thankfully, the voice acting and various ways that cutscenes and dialogue are meshed together in the game all work nicely together, giving everything a degree of polish.
Moving on to the main event, the cornerstone quality that will impress the most are the visuals. While you’ll hardly mistake Implosion for a current-gen title, the fact is that it looks good, its action is fluid and it sports some intimidating bosses in terms of their appearance and size. Your mech is often a blur of movement as you work your combos on enemies but that isn’t to say it’s sloppy. Considering Implosion’s roots are on mobile devices the somewhat outdated overall look is no surprise but in handheld mode you really won’t notice at all.
The great news, and most critical success, is that the control is spot-on. This is an area where mobile conversions often stumble, but having played with both the pro controller and the joycon in handheld mode you’d think it was developed with them in mind. You’ll absolutely need the control to be tight and precise because once things get rolling into the further chapters you won’t be able to simply spam your way through increasingly challenging enemies. You’ll need to learn enemy attack styles and how best to use a combination of your melee attacks, your guns, and elements in the environment to take them down. More critically you’ll have to remain very aware of the status of your health and shield, learning the best tactics for getting in some hits and then evading enemy counters in order to avoid taking massive damage in return. This need is the most pronounced in the boss battles that conclude each chapter. The boss at the end of Chapter 3 is particularly brutal to match up against. Even working your best to avoid its brutal attacks the first time through I’m pretty certain most people will need to use a Revive to finish it off.
The one major area where things fall apart is tied to your abilities and how you make the best use of the enhancements available to you. There are 3 major skill areas where you can slot in 2 boosts that have a variety of effects. Some have to do with specialties like a hacker skill that will allow you to get into several secret areas located in a variety of locations. Others will give you improved attack strength, or agility or shield recharge rate. There’s another distinct modifier you can change out that will add up to three special attacks to your arsenal. Some options may include a dash, some may break enemy shields and some will do damage to multiple enemies in your vicinity. Unfortunately, in general there’s nothing explaining any of this very well and you’ll simply have to muddle through and experiment until you get the results that seem to work for you. There’s an attempt to help you choose between different enhancements, with indicators showing what you’ll gain or lose by changing them with one another, but overall it all could and should have been handled much more clearly. As you play you’ll acquire new abilities by killing enemies or finding them in boxes, but you’ll also have an option to buy and sell them as you go. Again, you can generally intuitively figure out what you’re supposed to do, and which items are better to equip than others, but I still question whether I’m doing the best I can to equip my warrior for success.
As a cherry on top of the engaging core campaign there are also additional skill levels. Then there is the gun-crazy Additional Story campaign I assume was originally an expansion, and finally there's a badge system. As you play or replay levels you’ll be given objectives that will award you a badge by completing them. Accruing a sufficient number of these will unlock special skills as well as different sets of armor to play through the game with again. The fact is that for your initial cost of admission, if you enjoy the core mechanics, there’s a lot of content that comes with the package for you to play through.
Looking at the big picture this is probably the most mainstream-friendly indie title I’ve played on the Switch that I would anticipate will appeal to a wide audience. While not as deep as something you’d see from the likes of Platinum Games, the general gameplay hook is there, combining fast-paced melee combo attacks with some gunplay and strategic combat. The fact that it is being delivered in a budget-friendly package with so much content out of the gate more than compensates for the relative age and somewhat dated visuals it brings along for the ride. If you’re looking for something to get your adrenaline pumping, whether you’re at home or on the go, Implosion delivers a challenge and excitement in a wallet-friendly package.