PAX Prime 2015: Tinertia Hands-On Preview – Rocket Jump

Remember how fun rocket-jumping was in games like Quake III: Arena or Team Fortress? Well, the folks over at Candescent Games remember, which is partially where they got their inspiration from for their upcoming platformer Tinertia.

Blasting Off

See, unlike other platformers, players aren’t able to jump in Tinertia. Instead, they have to rely on “rocket-jumping,” otherwise known as the art of shooting a rocket into the ground so that its explosion propels you through the air. They can also rely on a little boost, which I guess is kind of like a normal jump, only it serves as more of a, well, boost, rather than an actual way to get from more platform to the next. 

I played the PC version of Tinertia, which is actually set to arrive on Steam on Thursday, and used an Xbox controller. The controls are extremely easy — the left stick is for movement, the right stick is for aiming the rockets, and then there are the buttons to shoot the rockets and use the jump.  However, despite the easy to learn, easy to use controls, the game itself is pretty difficult.

There are seven stages in Tinertia, and 66 total levels. Each stage plays with a different object or mechanic that serves as a challenge to the player. For example, one stage uses laser beams that will destroy you if you touch them, another stage messes with gravity, and still another stage has yellow bricks that are deadly to the touch. Each stage also ends with a boss, which ends up forcing the player to move at high speeds in order to avoid being killed.

Tinertia Screen

Being forced to rocket-jump, instead of jumping normally, makes things even more difficult. Since rockets can be fired in any direction, the player has a lot of different strategic options to consider. Do I want to fire a rock straight down, I gain maximum height? Or, do I want to fire slightly to the left, so I move to the right a little bit? Or, better still, do I want to fire into the wall behind me, so I quickly move a large distance to the right? It takes a bit of time getting used to how to aim properly in order to achieve your goal, but luckily there is a nice tutorial system in place to help you out.

Keeping Going Back for More

What’s also nice is that each level is very short. A good player could probably get through a level in under a minute, give or take several seconds. This is a good thing, as you will probably die many, many times during tricky levels, resulting in you having to start back from the beginning of the stage. But, since the respawn is instant, and the level is so short, its not incredibly frustrating or annoying to have to restart. Instead, it makes the game addicting, in a Flappy Bird kind of way.

Actually, I think that is the best word to describe Tinertia — addicting. It’s fast-paced, it’s fun, and it’s a fresh take on platformers. Oh, and it also has a great replay feature, which allows you to zoom in on your replay, as well as change the speeds of it. Replays get uploaded with players’ scores on the leaderboards, allowing you to see exactly how the top scorer got through a level so quickly. 

Tinertia will be out on the PlayStation 4, this fall.