Freeware Garden: Impulse

This picture could be a metaphor for all sorts of things.

Deck 16’s Impulse is a deceptively simple game on paper. All it asks of you is to guide a little neon circle (a.k.a. “your craft”) from point A to point B and notice how gloriously fun those ancient, physics-based propulsion mechanics still are. Intriguingly it does consider itself a mash-up of Super Meat Boy and Lunar Lander too.

The fact that it starts off with fourteen levels worth of tutorials should of course be indication enough that Impulse is not as straightforward as one would expect. Simple to grasp, yes, that it definitely is and its controls are as intuitive as these things get, but even coming close to mastering the little devil requires efforts of herculean proportions.

Your simple thruster will indeed move your craft towards your (clicked) mouse cursor. It won’t obviously be able to calculate the effects of gravity or atmospheric drag though, nor estimate the trajectories of baddies or manage to avoid all sorts of deadly collisions.

Deceptively, just to ease you in I suspect, the first twenty levels (including tutorials) will be a relatively smooth sail with, probably, less than a hundred  deaths. Another seven to eight hours and you’ll already be tackling level 49 and basking in the admiration of your fellow gamers. Throw in a month or so and you’ll beat the whole bloody game and earn my undying respect or, at the very least, have a devilishly good time trying to.

This one, not so much. It most obviously is an aquarium.

Impulse may be a tough nut to crack, but it’s brilliantly designed and never gets frustrating. Besides, you’ll never tire of dying. This is a game of a thousand deaths that keeps transforming itself.

Drag, gravity, time limits and all of its other variables are liable to change with each and every level. Gravity could be strong, weak or non-existent; it may even pull in odd directions, whereas your craft’s thrusters could be anything between powerful and puny, while environments range from the vacuum of space to super-dense seas.

Impulse, as you scholarly types must have already deduced, constantly (and fairly) plays around with its rules, missions styles and keeps mixing things up, effortlessly mutating itself from a physics-based puzzler to a frantic avoid-’em-up or anything in between. The variation in its (god and expert players only know how many) levels is simply staggering.

Obviously, equivalent amounts of versatility are also required of you. Switching from a puzzle to an arcade mindset and from precision to reflex focused gameplay is both required and deeply rewarding. As rewarding as the thing’s excellent soundtrack some would argue.

9 Comments

  1. padger says:

    This is great. I rate it: four stars out of free.

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    serioussgtstu says:

    “Physics can vary” is a terrifying piece of information to give the player at the start of a level. I’m loving this, the light effects that come off objects which are supposed to be avoided make me feel like a moth kamikaze-ing into a light bulb. Some of the levels do feel a bit like you have to make a really difficult trick shot in order to proceed.

    Chrome insisted that the file was full of viruses, other software disagreed, just want to confirm there were no problems.

    • Konstantinos Dimopoulos says:

      Well, I for one had no problem with viruses.

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        serioussgtstu says:

        I’d say whatever half baked algorithm Chrome uses would think any .exe from dropbox is full of viruses.

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    Lexx87 says:

    Oh dear – as someone who spent hours, days, weeks, months and years mastering Geometry Wars, this looks right up my street.

    I’ll see you all next year with a comment saying I’ve finally mastered it!

  4. caff says:

    I actually exerted the requisite amount of mousewheel finger action to scroll down to this post this evening :)

    I’m glad I did, what an addictive little game.. got to about level 28 or something before taking a break (I know I’ll be back).

    Love the mixed up soundtrack – very cheerful old skool synths, strings and hip hop beats, and the sound effect when you approach the mines is just lovely :)

  5. froz says:

    Finally finished :). It has 100 levels. Some of them are pretty clever.