*Full disclosure: I have met the developers in real life.*

Hello!  This week for the Indie Game Review I checked out Intake, by Cipher Prime. This is a dub step driven falling matchey shooter thing. Yes….I think. The mechanics of this game are wonderfully simple and it is really easy to completely mess it up. Aim and shoot the falling pills with the mouse cursor. There are two colors of pills, tapping the space bar or the right mouse button will change the color of your cursor to one of the two current colors of falling pill. Shooting pills with the corresponding cursor color builds a combo score. Seems simple, but if you miss pills, they hit the bottom of the screen and cause you to OD/loose.  So you….have to watch your Intake.

Here’s their quick description from the game page:

Intake is the new retro-futuristic drugstep arcade shooter from Cipher Prime. In this polychromatic love child of Dr. Mario and Ikaruga, you battle a never-ending barrage of pills, pushing your skill and reflexes to the limit to avoid a lethal dosage. Blast and combo your way through an epic cascade of audiovisual mayhem so intoxicating it comes with its own warning label.

intake-1

Impression:

It’s like Keith Richard and DeadMou5 had a one night stand at a cool version of Dave and Busters.  So, this is a pretty fun game. Like I mentioned above; the controls are easy enough to understand. While you’re playing there are lots of visual and audio cues to keep you focused and entertained. I fail and restart a lot. I’m not sure how many levels there are but I have not made it into the double digits yet (on final edit I did make it to 11, so there). Each progressive level gets tougher, requires a higher score to pass, and introduces mechanics to trip you up. There are power ups you can purchase with in-game credit that can help you/alter the experience.

It hit me several times as I played Intake; this game has an unmotivated set of serious elements. It’s not uncommon to see drugs and dance music together. Nor is it uncommon to see video games with drug references. I am not unfamiliar with all three of these things happening at the same time and yet when I was playing a game called “Intake” with pills flying across the screen and my score measured in milligrams, I started to feel apprehensive. I didn’t have a story line or friends telling me it’s drug o’clock. Cipher Prime’s web page mentions how this game is part “Dr. Mario” which was Tetris with pills, so that’s not totally new. I’m sure the reaction has more to do with me, but I liked that the game was able to bring about a visceral reaction with such a simple setup.

Gameplay Style:

It’s like Fruit Ninja with a Reticle. Shoot the falling pills before they hit the bottom of the screen. Don’t shoot the bad pills and try to hit power ups. To solidify the “arcade” feel of the game instead of a start button it says “insert coin”. It was a cute touch.

Story:

There is no story here, but I like to think that this is what Charlie Sheen dreams like.

Visual style:

This has a very modern look with 3D assets in a fixed 2D perspective. Lots of glowing neon colors passing over a dark grey background draws the player’s eye to the falling pills and they feel like lighting effects at a show or club.

Audio:

The game’s audio is wonderful. The sound track is a lot of fun. It’s a little bit of a bummer that new songs are unlocked through the in-game store, but the whole sound track is well put together (as long as you don’t mind dubstep).  There is a full range of sound effects for the UI, in-game power ups and achievements.  They all sound great and fit together. The only sound effect that seemed a little off was a tambourine that played with shooting at bonus pills between levels and in the bonus round after losing.

Good:

Fairly addictive and fast game play; it keeps drawing you back in.

Stimulating sound and visuals.

Bad.

Dying a lot. That’s the style of game and it might be discouraging at first.

It is sometimes hard to visually differentiate between “mine pills” and regular pills.

 

Cipher Prime is based in Philadelphia Pennsylvania click the link to check them out and listen to the Intake sound track.

intake2

Sean Weiland

Sean Weiland

Sean is game designer with a sorted past. Ask him where he's lived and he will give you more than 12 answers. Ask him what he does for a living and he might say "game designer" or he might say "I dance".Ask him about indie games and he will give you a dam honest opinion informed by over a decade of audio, design, and development experience.
Sean Weiland