As a portable hybrid platform, the Switch has interestingly been home to a host of ports of mobile device games, with more to come in the future. Games such as VOEZ, Oceanhorn, and now Implosion show that more and more developers are interested in the platform, but there’s another side to it. The question remains: do mobile games make the transition to console well? In the case of Implosion, the answer is a firm yes, though the game’s roots in mobile platforms are extremely evident.
Implosion sees you taking control of Jake, a cocky mech suit pilot who controls a machine codenamed ‘Avalon’. As part of a small group of survivors that left Earth after a global crisis caused the destruction of society, Jake and his band of allies return to Earth to investigate the aftermath of the destruction and to fight a zombie like invasive species of alien called XADA. Though the writing is pretty weak and cliché-ridden, it still moves at a decent pace and more than does its job of providing adequate context and narrative tension to the gameplay. You definitely won’t walk away from this one wowed by the riveting tale that is told, but that arguably isn’t the primary focus of the game.
Gameplay is like a rather watered-down version of Bayonetta or Devil May Cry. You’ll primarily combat the hordes of enemies with a collection of light and heavy attacks that can be chained together in a myriad of ways, and you can support your efforts with gunfire and special attacks that consume portions of a gauge. In between fights, you’ll spend your time running around the isometric stages in search of breakable containers and crates that contain a variety of goodies that can be used to upgrade your mech and give you an edge in combat.
Combat itself is fun enough, but there’s a creeping sense of repetitiveness that gradually sets in as you fight through stage after stage. Your actions don’t feel quite as smooth they should, coming off in many places as stiff and rigid where you expect them to be fluid. Moreover, there’s a few combos that objectively deal more damage than most others, and once you’ve mastered them there's little reason to branch out other than for the sake of experimentation. Enemies have a decent amount of variety to them, but new ones are introduced at a rather slow pace and rarely necessitate that you switch up your tactics. For a game that’s so focused on its combat elements, they feel a bit more slipshod than expected.
Fortunately, the RPG and upgrade elements make up for this somewhat and provide a nice hook that’ll keep you engaged. In between stages you can spend credits obtained in the shop for a variety of modifications to your mech. There are six available slots — three different types with two each — with a seventh slot that determines what kind of special moves you can use. The mod economy is deep and varied, offering plenty of depth and allowing you to customize your mech to your specific playstyle needs, and it provides you with a nice sense of progression as you can gradually afford more mods and reach ever higher levels that allow you to equip better ones.
On top of this, the badge system offers a satisfying extra layer of replayability that’ll also encourage you to test your skills. Every stage has one to three ‘badges’ available, which are essentially just extra stage-based achievements that challenge you to play with unique restraints. For example, you might have to clear a stage without using any special attacks, or to run through it in a certain amount of time. As you amass badges, these can be turned in to receive special rewards, like rare suit modifications or a second playable character.
On the subject of replayability, Implosion is quite packed with things to do. The main campaign itself is long enough as is, but there’s a secondary campaign called ‘Last Man Standing’ that offers up additional story content and puts you in control of a different character with unique gameplay. And alongside the badge system, the game further encourages you to go back through stages with its ranking system, which grades your performance based upon factors such as how fast you completed it and how much damage was taken. Suffice to say, it’ll take you a decent chunk of time to see all that this game has to offer and to master its intricacies.
When it comes to presentation the game performs admirably, but its mobile origins are most evident here. Implosion looks more or less like an upscaled game from the PlayStation 2 era, with plenty of low res textures and jagged geometry. It’s not that it looks bad per se, but it definitely doesn’t have very much in the way of visual spectacle, docked or undocked. The audio side of things is similar; the soundtrack is immediately forgettable sci-fi guff, but it is made up for by the inclusion the full voice acting. Though this doesn’t strictly add a whole lot to the experience given the weak writing of the story, it’s impressive that such effort has been put in, and the performance of the acting itself is much better than what one would expect for a game like this.
All told, Implosion is a satisfying mobile game that ultimately feels worthy of its console release, but it is a little inconsistent in its execution. Weak writing and ho-hum presentation are balanced by the depth of replayability and mindless but fun hack ‘n’ slash gameplay. We give Implosion a moderate recommendation; though it certainly doesn’t hold a candle to big-name alternatives, Implosion does a good job of creating an engaging and entertaining gameplay experience that’ll give you many hours of fun.