Inversion is a game with some resonance for me. I listed it in a blog I wrote over 5 years ago about games that I had purchased but would never actually play. This, of course, meant that it stuck in my mind enough that I would eventually get around to it. I actually started playing in November of 2020, at a time when I was trying to clear some of my backlog of physical 360 games. I got through Need For Speed: The Run (blech), Binary Domain (I liked it), and Homefront (meh) and then I decided to take my chance with Inversion. Like Binary Domain it is a Gears of War style stop ‘n pop shooter but unlike the much better regarded Sega shooter Inversion lacks an interesting story or cool environments. It’s more interested in exploring cliched broken cities and dirty labor camps and the story is so generic and forgettable that dropping back into it 14 months later I had forgotten almost everything of relevance including the relationships of the characters and the big twist at the heart of the game’s plot. I took a 4 year break after playing the first half of The Darkness and I still remembered enough to enjoy the back half of the game, so the fact that Inversion slipped my mind so thoroughly shows how little impression the game’s story makes.
I have a better recollection of the gameplay, which is basically generic third person shooting from 2012 with the ‘twist’ of gravity powers, which are fine for what they are but not interesting enough to make the game worthwhile. You can do things like pop enemies out from behind cover to float in the air as sitting ducks or pin them down to the ground so they stay in one place while you shoot them. You can also create a shield and grab and throw certain objects or enemy corpses. It’s kind of like Psi-Ops or Second Sight in its implementation of powers, though it’s not as interesting as either of those two games. There are also zero G segments where your character floats in the air and can sort of grapple and swim from cover point to cover point and those are at least novel, if not really fun. I found Inversion surprisingly playable, but bland. Maybe it was playing it back to back with the far superior Binary Domain or maybe it’s just that Inversion is bland. It’s one of those games that’s engaging enough not to be boring but that really doesn’t offer more than that.
Then I got to the last boss. He was tough and seemed pretty cheap. He can use the same gravity powers you can, which in theory is cool but in practice is extremely frustrating because he can pin you to the ground and throw plasma bombs at you until you explode into giblets (both the enemies and your own character can get violently dismembered, as was the style at the time.) I looked up walkthroughs of the game and they basically said “it’s a cheap, difficult, fight but it’s easier in co-op!” I don’t know about you, but I didn’t have any friends I could call on to co-op the final boss of Inversion in the year 2020 so I put the controller down and didn’t get back to it. And then kept not getting back to it. For 14 months.
It’s not that I never thought about it during that time. In fact every time I thought about playing a game on my 360 I told myself I couldn’t because I hadn’t finished Inversion yet and I would have to finish Inversion first. And I didn’t really want to finish Inversion. Part of that is something that I plan to explore in a later blog and that requires more self-exposure than I feel comfortable making during a blog about Inversion, but part of it was just the idea of fighting a difficult, cheap, boss in an already mediocre game was not appealing. I just didn’t want to put myself through it, but I also didn’t want to just give up on the game, so I put it off. And off. And off. I played a bunch of 360 games in the meantime, but all on my Xbox Series X, and I didn’t NEED to play my 360 so I just didn’t.
What finally got me to go back. I don’t know. I think my desire to delve into my 360 physical library overcame my aversion to finishing Inversion and I had some time and a little extra patience so I did the work to find a 360 controller, get the batteries in it, sync it to the console, re-input my password (all of which took longer than anticipated, especially because it wouldn’t take my password the first few times for some unknown reason) and at that point I was committed to finishing. As it turned out the final boss is kind of cheap, but his patterns are learnable and it probably took me about a dozen tries to learn the patterns and take him out. I watched the ending cut scene and credits, feeling a certain catharsis not because I’d finished the game’s story but because I could finally free up my 360 for other games. The ending itself was unremarkable and didn’t wrap up the game’s dangling threads, instead opting to leave open room for a sequel while also delivering what was probably supposed to be a gut punch but felt more like a ham-fisted attempt at manipulation. Maybe I would have cared more if I’d finished the game closer to when I started it and not had to say “oh yeah, that was a thing” in response to the ending cut scene’s references to its earlier plot, but I doubt it. Inversion’s story is perfunctory and manipulative and I never gave a damn about anything. Once I remembered what the big reveal actually was I remember sort of chuckling at the stupidity of it and how shallowly it is integrated into the game and its worldbuilding.
The real question I have is why I felt the need to finish Inversion before moving on. Did it feel good to check off the achievements for completing the campaign? It felt satisfying. But I wrote last year that I needed to get past the idea that I have to finish games, and this was a prime example. Especially because it prevented me from playing stuff that I actually did want to get to.
I don’t really know why I wrote all this. I don’t have much of value to say about Inversion. I had to reference the controls multiple times during the boss battle to remind myself what I could do, and I actually needed a tool tip in between deaths to remember that you can switch modes on your grav-link harness (which I ended up not actually needing.) I guess I just wanted to commemorate the fact that I finally got to the end of it and can move on to other things that I’ll hopefully like better.