Wot I Think: InMomentum

By Alec Meer on November 4th, 2011 at 4:47 pm.

Doooooooooooooooooooooom

Digital Arrow’s free-running racing/jumping game arrived on Steam earlier this week. We sent our least suitable candidate to try and master its high-speed abstract world – and he failed. But he can at least tell you what he made of it.

Haha, I am really bad at this.Really bad. I’m the kind of guy who, when making a model aeroplane as a child, pretty much just mashed everything into one ball of plastic and glue then optimistically stuck a wing on either side, so I am so very poorly suited to a game as exacting of control as Digital Arrow’s first-person racer/platformer InMomentum. I can feel improvement and tell how I would attain more of it, but it would take me years of training to break this game’s back. On the other hand, my cack-handedness means those momentd where I do get it right, where my hands somehow tap out the right actions and the right time and my addled takes note of what’s approaching then forms plans on how to tackle it, are all the more glorious. InMomentum is built to reward getting it right, and not in the torrent of numbers and messages about unlocks that have come to characterise so many contemporary games, but in flinging you sky-high at rapid speed as a world of cuboid colours floods the screen beneath you. You have done well, and you know it.

InMomentum is free-running as a racing game, imbued with a spot of physics-abusing absurdity. Easier levels can be beaten more or less just by running and jumping across gaps, which is in itself harder than it sounds thanks to inertia and momentum. If you want to best the later maps or bag an impressive time (the real point of InMomentum), you’ll need to master the fine art of wall-jumping, the game’s key mechanic. Hit the right mouse button to jump, and if you touch a wall during the process, you can hit the left button to jump from it. Keep chaining wall jumps together and you go can for miles and miles and miles and miles, either scaling the towering heights of InMomentum’s vast, ethereal, Unreal-powered block-worlds or soaring huge distances to access far-off platforms.

There is no prescribed route, although pick-up orbs dotted with a clan around the place highlight an fundamental A-B underneath the horizontal and vertical meandering betwixt the two. So, you’ll cobble together your own path as go along, reacting to your triumphs and disasters, using the many broken, cuboid islands as both safety and launchpad, occasionally firing a pulse at a dim and distant switch to open a looming gate. The well-practiced player will doubtless work to find the most efficient route; for the rest of us, the joy will come from making a path of our own.

Where InMomentum most soars and shines is when you manage to recover from one of the many fatal plummets that characterise a non-expert player haring across one of its maps. You’re plunging to your doom, but somehow you manage to steer your descent towards one of the thin, floating pillars that dot the sidelines and BAM and you’re a few feet up and BAM again and BAM and suddenly you’re right at the top of the world, the level laid out below you and plunging back down to what, if you time it right, is both safety and substantial progress. Or, in my case, often missing again and not managing to fluke a recovery this time.

When it happens, or even just when you chain together a couple of wall jumps deftly and suddenly finding yourself moving at five times the speed from five times the height, it’s exhilarating and incredible, and it’s what you should be chasing all the time. It’s exhilarating enough, in its rollercoaster way, that I was determined to keep on throwing myself into its unforgiving maw time and again, relishing my incremental improvement, living for the moments where I’d just keep going and going, pinballing here and there, somehow staying alive and aloft despite my endless recklessness. My resultant time was embarrassing in the extreme (and for that reason there’s no way I’d play the multiplayer mode for anything other than experimentation’s sake), but the personal achievement that came from making it, pulling it off against the odds, was immense.

Have you ever stood on top of a very high place, like the edge of a tall cliff or the top floor of the Eiffel tower, and felt, just underneath the fear your survival instinct sensibly feeds you, a rush of excitement? InMomentum is that split-second feeling- when you’re tumbling to your doom at high speed but it’s glorious as well as terrifying. And, better yet, you know there’s a chance you could come back from it. That’s why you should play it, even if your brain-hand interface is as broken as mine.

To gripe for the sake of balance, I will moan that the polished, minimalist block-world could stand to be a bit wilder (it’s a great look but it can wear thin), and the bleepy-blippy music lasted about five minutes before I grumpily headed into Settings. Those really are just gripes, though: this is a rich reward indeed.

InMomentum is out now.

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44 Comments »

  1. sueyed says:

    Doesn’t fulfill this dream I had of a standalone Quake 3 Defrag game, but it’ll do pig.

    • Ogun says:

      Can you describe the player physics in comparison to Q3?

      Does it have the floaty-light insubstantial nature of U3 or is there the possibility of Defrag-like movement?

    • fleshgolem says:

      You have bunny hopping with free air control in a way. Pretty much anything but standing still or hitting walls frontally speeds you up. Easy difficulties give you ridiculous heights when walljumping, so it sometimes comes closer to flying around then actually hopping on ground

  2. RegisteredUser says:

    So the site was broken for a few minutes.
    I managed to conjure up Kieron in the adventure and find subtle hints about horace stuck in the wall, but is there actually an “end” or solution to the Castle Shotgun?

  3. Phelioz says:

    This looks so awesome! buying it straight away :)

  4. cosmicolor says:

    I bought this and am quite enjoying it, despite lamenting the lack of in-game graphics options without console/ini tweaking, and the fact that it doesn’t seem to have a 64-bit exe or something? Could be drastically wrong on that though.

    Still a good game, though, perhaps a little unpolished. I find that the some of the later levels aren’t signposted all that well without sphere, although it could just be me being awful.

  5. Obc says:

    is it nauseating? it very much looks so.

    (btw i started playing DX:HR lately and i get headaches just a few minutes in. whats up with that? can i change some setting or is it just me?)

    • Ross Angus says:

      Like motion sickness? I’m fortunate to escape this, but I understand Thief did Rab Florrance in something rotten.

    • StranaMente says:

      I heard that disabling Vsync helped really much with the sluggishness of mouse movements (that on most cases caused motion sickness), I suggest you try that.

    • sirmoosh says:

      That has to do with the FOV. It was made with a console FOV in mind, meaning it figures you will be sitting farther back from the TV. I’m guessing you are on a monitor, and therefore you should probably change it to somewhere between 75 and 90, rather than the 60 it is at.

      I believe the FOV settings are in the menu somewhere, it’s been a while since I played it though

  6. johnpeat says:

    I played the BETA and sadly it had a raft of graphical issues on my (AMD) GPU and so I gave-up on it (we’re talking flashing lighting and other stuff which makes it impossible to stare at for long).

    What I found in the limited time I had with it was a game which was basically a memory test – the camera angle was such that you couldn’t see your footing a lot of the time so you have to remember where to jump/land etc.

    The collecting aspect also seemed to jar with the flowing movement – has that been addressed or does it still play like 2 different games fighting for your attention??

    Perhaps if I’d had longer and it hadn’t been glitchy and horrible to stare-at I’d have found something good in there – but what I got to see was a mess, frankly…

    • cosmicolor says:

      There’s a time trial mode which nixes the spheres and just leaves you to run through the levels, Multiplayer wise you can choose to race with or without the spheres.

    • TomxJ says:

      I too played the BETA and also found the collecting aspect of the game jarring against the racing platformer mechanics. Personally wasn’t my cuppa tea, if you expect mirrors edge stay well away. Also wayfinding was appauling!

      Hope they’ve fixed all that, because its a great concept.

    • johnpeat says:

      Yeah there was definately something to it – it had a great appearance and the bones of a great ‘run and jump’ but between the glitches and the camera angle and the collecting I just got lost, basically…

    • fleshgolem says:

      I somewhat agree with having 2 games in one.
      While Time Trial seems to be more about finding optimum routes that abuse the infinite amount of walljumps, Sphere Hunt is more about conventional running and just minimizing mistakes.
      Time Trial is definitely more my cup of tea and it seems to be the more contested mode as well

  7. chesh says:

    So it sounds like this is Mirror’s Edge, without the shitty parts, but with Quake 3′s physics. SOLD!

    • Inglourious Badger says:

      You make a good point.

      + 1 SOLD

    • vivlo says:

      by ‘th shitty parts’, you mean sequences where you had to fight cops ? btw does anyone know if there is a bonus to be expected if you complete the game without a kill ?

    • Red Pen says:

      Woah. Does it really have Q3 physics!? It didn’t looks like it to me, but if so I need to get this.

    • TechRogue says:

      It doesn’t have strafing/strafe jumping, but weapon boosting is in place and you gain speed with timed jumps.

    • rocketman71 says:

      @vivlo: in the consoles, there’s an achievement for that. In the PC, all you get from EA is a big FUCK YOU. They didn’t even make the Steam version compatible with their DLC. Don’t even know if they’ll ever release it in Origin and fix it.

      Not that I’m ever going to touch Origin with a hundred feet pole.

      And again, worst travesty of a beloved name ever. FUCKING EA.

  8. Muzman says:

    Oh fine, I’ll get it then *sigh* . Screw you workflow (it’s cheap too).

    The dev(s) suggested, I think, there’s a lot of potential for updates and tweaks (as well as user levels). Which bodes well in case they didn’t nail the ‘feel’ right off the bat.
    O’course I don’t really know. Perhaps if they’re watching they’ll tell us more.

  9. UnravThreads says:

    Looks similar to the Mirror’s Edge DLC. Scarily similar.

  10. ch4os1337 says:

    Im experienced in CS kz_ maps and Quake and this looks like it’s trying to get the fun of that.

  11. Talon says:

    So it’s like Mirrors Edge done right meets Trackmania?

  12. Lobotomist says:

    Sounds…
    But its not.
    Just watch youtube gameplay videos

  13. Seyon says:

    I am absolutely loving this game. The sense of speed and movement is awesome. People mention Mirror’s Edge to describe it but they mainly share only aesthetics and the fact they are both movement based games.
    Quake movement on a larger scale would be closer. I’m also reminded of the fast bunny hopping of Fortress Forever or skilled rocket hopping in Team Fortress 2.

  14. LGM says:

    This game looks like Mirror’s Edge crossed with 3d Sonic games. I think I’ll pass, for now.

    Also, where is your RenegOps review RPS? And why haven’t you guys reported on the fact that the PC version came out and was/is completely broken?

  15. PoLLeNSKi says:

    Am I missing something? I thought it was supposed to be high speed? Think i’ll stick with defrag since this looks incredibly simplistic by comparison…

    • Grayman says:

      There is a rocket jump / plasma jump ability that gives a very large speed boost instead of a vertical jump. Flat movement seems more similar to Painkiller, hold W and jump. I saw some good use of wall jump and air jump to get some speed going online. Based on a very short amount of time it is simplistic but the climbing ability may have a lot to it with experience.

    • PoLLeNSKi says:

      That mighta come over more negative than I mean – it looks lovely and has novel mechanics…but I was trying to find an actual ‘fast’ speedrun video to see what it was like and none of the ones I could find were upto the speed or difficulty of some defrag runs I’ve seen… but then it’s new so I guess the speedruns have a lot of refinement still to come…

      Even the slo-mo bits of this vid seem faster:

    • kyrieee says:

      w3sp is a cheater, watch this instead =)

  16. fleshgolem says:

    While the game seems to be really simple at first, It took me 2 days to actually get how it is supposed to be played (the tutorial is horrible), so you shouldnt necessarily let your first impressions count

    It’s really great and addiciting if you’re up to challenge records, but there really is no way to enjoy it casually, so if you’re not up for speedrunning it’s propably not for you

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  19. Muzman says:

    The front end and leaderboards and so on need some more polish and the difficulty is a bit weird, with the levels being divided into Reasonable and Give Up if You Aren’t Any Good Yet and not a lot in between. But the core of this game is great. The movement is slick and fun and the possibilities for invention are pretty awesome. If you ever loved double jumping around like a madman (or trying to anyway) avoiding obstacles and trying to build up speed in Quake 2 or 3 then you’ll recognise this feeling immediately.
    It doesn’t seem slow at all and the speeds you can attain are really quick, requiring the use of the slo-mo to really get things right.
    http://youtu.be/RVvmC2HVXxo

    It’s pretty white knuckle stuff. And your ability to really foul things up and then pull off a spectacular recovery is remarkably rewarding. There’s plenty of fun to be had without pixel perfect precision, is what I mean. I hope it builds a great scene.

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