Inferno 2

words manifested by: AJ Johnson

A game by Radiangames for PC, iOS, and OUYA, originally released in 2014.
In 2010, Radiangames released Inferno as part of a project to produce a game every couple of months, with a focus on arcade-style action and flashy neon aesthetics. These games were originally released on Xbox Live Indie Games, and also included JoyJoy, Crossfire 1 & 2, Fluid, and Fireball, many of which have since been released on other platforms.

The original release of Inferno was modeled heavily after Gauntlet, allowing 4P local co-op in an action-adventure framework where players searched for keys while taking down swarms of enemies pouring forth from spawners. The game was short, offering only 30 levels and two “bullet sponge” boss encounters, but it offered some variety in its upgrade system, where players could spend currency between levels to buy different kinds of weapons and defensive items. Upon completion of the game, players unlocked a more challenging New Game+ mode.

In 2012, Radiangames released an enhanced version of the game called Inferno+, which offered remixes of the first 30 levels, plus 10 new levels, as well as four boss encounters and more ship customization options. However, the 4P cooperative mode was eliminated in favor of a single player experience.

Inferno 2 continues to expand on the original concept, offering the same core mechanics with some added nuances, but this time spread across 80 single player levels. As before, the player commands a circular ship that is able to move and aim independently. Environments consist of dark backgrounds and bright neon enemies, many of which originate from spawners. While there are a few straight lines to be found, there are no sharp angles; everything in the environment, from the surfaces, to the enemies, to the projectiles are all round or curved.

Some kinds of walls block the player’s movement and his projectiles, while others block movement while allowing projectiles to pass through. These semi-solid walls let the player take down enemies from a distance, and vice versa. Later levels feature red barriers that block your shots but let enemy bullets pass through.

Spawners generate a large number of enemies, and much of the action centers around proper crowd control. Players will generally want to blast their way through weaker spawned enemies in order to reach generators and put them out of commission. Many levels are segmented, allowing the player to deal with enemies in a given region without being overwhelmed by incoming foes from every corner of the map.

Levels are be broken up by glowing barriers that require keys to pass and by level geometry that blocks enemies from reaching you directly, as most enemies will hone in on your position in a straight line, even if a wall impedes their progress. Other enemies have movement patterns that allow them to swing out and around obstacles, and many of these enemies can fire projectiles as well.

To assist you in your journey are a wide array of weapons and upgrades which may be purchased by earning experience points gained by exploring the environment and killing enemies. Each time the player levels up, he earns a single upgrade point. The player is allowed to select between one of four weapons at the start of the game, including a wide short-range shot, powerful focused shots, a swarm of accelerating shots, and bullets that bounce off walls. As the player earns upgrade points, he can spend them toward unlocking the remaining weapon types and upgrading them independently to increase their damage output, firing speed, range, etc.

This powerup system allows players to focus on upgrading a single weapon type or spreading points across multiple weapons in order to switch between them during combat. For instance, the player may want to take the powerful Vulcan shot up against heavy enemies and then switch over to the bouncing bullets to take out enemies around corners without placing himself in harm’s way.

In addition to these different projectile types, the player can also unlock up to four different limited ammo missile types, including heat seekers, wide range explosives, mines, and missiles that shoot through walls. Players can quickly alternate between their primary weapons and missiles by holding down a second button while firing, allowing them to lay on heavy damage at a moment’s notice… or just wear down a bullet sponge boss from a safe distance. Missiles can also be upgraded independently.

Lastly, the player can unlock up to four secondary abilities, including a lightning attack, the ability to push enemies back and cancel their projectiles, a slow motion effect, and the ability to move more quickly and dispense more damage. Each of these secondary abilities runs on a timer, allowing the player to activate them with a button press. Once the timer runs out, the player cannot use the ability again until enough enemies are killed to refill the meter. These secondary abilities are best reserved for situations where the player gets into tough situations and needs a quick way out, and these abilities are upgradeable as well.

Supplementing the player’s firepower are drones that fly around near the ship and shoot off projectiles of their own. When enemies are at a distance, these drones just focus their firepower in the direction of the player’s aim, but they will also spin to attack enemies that move in too close. Drones are found around the environment – and may be purchased in shops – and the player is able to stockpile them in large numbers. When a drone is destroyed, another one comes out to take its place after a few seconds (as long as there is another drone in the player’s inventory). By default, the player can only have two active drones at once, but additional upgrades allow the player to eventually have four of them in play.

New enemies and experiences are introduced slowly across the 80 level journey, resulting in very similar gameplay from start to finish, and there is little to distinguish levels from one another, given the curved neon aesthetics. There are some challenge levels where players must destroy a certain number of cores or survive a level for a specified length of time, but these challenges are not fundamentally different than the standard levels.

Changes to regular levels include currents that push the player along a certain path with no way to return, more complex barrier layouts that require players to thoroughly search for keys, false walls that can only be found by firing missiles, and teleportation orbs that challenge the player’s ability to navigate disconnected areas. Many levels have caches of currency, XP, and health that may be found by exploring the area and searching for false walls, and there are also some bonus exits that drop players into levels filled with currency and drone pickups.

There are a handful of bosses as well, each with huge life bars, per series conventions. In each case, players must avoid these slow-moving entities and their projectiles, and load them full of as much heavy weaponry as possible, preferably a steady barrage of missiles. Preceding each boss encounter is the opportunity to enter a shop and stock up on drones and missiles, and restore the meters representing health and secondary abilities.

Where the game really starts to become interesting is in its New Game+ mode, which is unlocked up on completion of the game. In this mode, you keep some but not all of your upgrades, and enemies are faster and considerably more aggressive. After every few levels, the player is given 2 choices about how he wants to tackle the next level.

Some of these changes allow the player to modify the game rules, such as choosing between slower firing with faster enemies, or slower enemies in higher quantities. Or, these may be challenges where the player goes into the level equipped with a specific weapon loadout, with higher XP and currency rewards for completing the level with a harder-to-use configuration. These changes force the player to tackle levels in new ways, adding a level of challenge and variety that is not present in the main game.

Inferno 2 was developed by Radiangames, a studio founded in 2010 by Luke Schneider, and based in Illinois. Luke has more than a decade of industry experience; he has worked in design roles on games in the Descent and Red Faction series, as well as The Punisher and Alter Echo during his time with Outrage Entertainment and Volition.

Numerous games have been developed and released under the Radiangames label, including JoyJoy, the "happy twin-stick shooter"; Crossfire, the cross-directional shooter; Inferno, the twin-stick action-RPG; Fireball, an overhead arena-style game where you control a fireball to lure ice enemies together and destroy them with huge explosions; and Crossfire 2, the improved sequel to Crossfire, adding online leaderboards and an Inferno-style upgrade system.