Tinertia opens upon the charming but ill-fated robot, Weldon, as he plummets to an abandoned planet and is forced to endure seven twisted and brutal environments in order to escape. However, instead of jumping his way through danger as Mario or Meat Boy would, Weldon goes with the infinitely more dangerous method of exploding himself through the air with his trusty rocket launcher. Yes, this is a platformer without a jump button, where you use the explosions of your weapon to rocket jump and propel yourself through obstacles.
One of the first things to know about Tinertia is that it’s a hardcore platformer. Like other similar genre efforts (such as Super Meat Boy), the colourful visuals and cutesy hero are a crafty disguise for brutal and merciless platforming that will break your soul. Thankfully, the gameplay also remains enjoyable and addictive throughout. It also succeeds at the notoriously difficult task of maintaining the tricky balance between being both challenging and fun. For example, frustrations caused by your endless cock-ups are lessened by instant respawns.
However, what separates Tinertia from other platformers is the game’s defining rocket jumping mechanic. Rest assured, it’s a really clever gimmick which is used in a lot of simple but creative ways. For instance, in order to propel yourself into the air, you need to blast the ground beneath you. This becomes a tense but fun challenge when you reach particular platforms that crumble away when you fire a rocket at them, leaving you with only one shot to get to the next platform. Another example can be seen during times where you can blast the ceiling above you in order to accelerate downward at a quicker pace.
Not only is Tinertia’s rocket jumping mechanic creative and fun, it also allows for a fair amount of freedom in how you approach levels. Slight variations in the aim of your rocket launcher can completely change where you end up. As a result, there are a number of possible paths and methods you can use to overcome obstacles and complete levels. This became most apparent for me when I revisited previous stages within the game’s speed running mode and sped through them faster by using new tricks I had picked up in the later levels.
Speaking of the speed running mode, this game is very much tailored to fans of hardcore platformers. Although your launcher has infinite ammo, each level includes the challenge of getting to its end within a particular amount of rockets. This encourages a more thoughtful and delicate method of progression, which will appeal to those of you who enjoy challenging, fast-paced platforming that requires practice and dedication to master.
If you’re looking for a greater challenge, there’s the aforementioned speed running mode and its online leaderboards. However, if you’re a glutton for punishment, Tinertia also comes with a Boss Challenge, where you battle all eight bosses from Weldon’s journey with only one life. The bosses, by the way, are a definite highlight of the game, and are presented as several hulking monstrosities that dwarf Weldon.
The game’s aesthetics and presentation are also very well done, and each environment of the abandoned planet is broken down into ten separate levels which are all interconnected. When you finish one level, the camera rotates 90 degrees and reveals the next one. Furthermore, each environment has its own unique visual style. For example, the look of the initial levels (such as the core and the mines) are very Portal-esque. There’s red lasers, cubes and a colour palette that centres on the colours of light blue and orange. These then contrast with the aesthetics used in the later environments, such as the bright green landscapes of the sewer stages.
It’s hard to fault Tinertia if you’re a fan of the genre. The game’s rocket jumping mechanic makes it perfect for those who want a platformer that is easy to pick up but difficult to master. It’s not afraid to offer a genuine challenge either, and it completely accommodates fans of hardcore platforming through a speed running mode, instant respawns and other such features. That said, the game may veer too far into frustrating territory for some, especially when it comes to the insanely fast-paced boss battles, which can sometimes require dozens or even hundreds of attempts to overcome.
This review is based on the PC version of the game, which we were provided with.
Tinertia is perfect for those who are looking for an innovative and challenging platforming game which rewards dedication and mastery of its unique rocket jumping gameplay.