When I came home on Friday evening I was expecting to get engulfed in Batman: Arkham Origins. Those plans were quickly derailed by a status update from Dain Saint saying that Cipher Prime has released a new game – Intake. I picked up the game from the Humble Weekly Bundle, and to be perfectly honest, I only expect to play it for a little bit before I dove into Batman. LoL, right. Didn’t happen. Intake ended up pulling me in hard, and the Dark Knight saw no play time on Friday night.
Intake is very different from all of the previous Cipher Prime games, and not at all what I was expecting for their next release. Previous games from the studio were all move at your own pace, deep-thinking puzzle games. All had great visuals and a nice relaxing OST to go along with them. While Intake still keeps the great visuals, the pace is much faster and the music is built to pump you up instead of keep you calm.
Intake seems simple at first glance. You’re objective is to destroy the pills falling from the top of the screen before they reach the bottom, and in order to reach the next level you need to pop a certain amount of these pills. The pills come in an assortment of colors, but there are only two colors per level. You need match your crosshair with the color of each pill before you pop it, otherwise it won’t count. Also, breaking a pill with the wrong color crosshair will break your combo, something you don’t want to happen if you want to reach the top of the scoreboards. Missing shots will also cause to break your combo, and allowing a pill to hit the bottom not only breaks your combo, but if the pill is the opposite color of your crosshair, it will take one of your lives. Occasionally, extra lives will fall down, and if you are maxed out on lives (which at the moment is three for me) you will get a score bonus.
With each round the pills get faster and the number of pills needed to pass to the next level increase. On top of that, new challenges pop up. You’ll eventually start to see “dummy” pills that are black and white, and if you break them the screen will flash white; leaving you unable to see what you’re doing and more than likely leaving you with a life loss. You’ll also start to see warnings for floods, accelerations, and minefields, which mean you will see anything from pills whizzing past at twice the speed to so many pills falling down that they fill up the screen. The highest I’ve made it is level 42, so I’m not sure if any additional challenges are thrown your way.
When times get tough, however, just remember to use upgrades. As you play you will unlock upgrades that can help you in several ways. The first is one that makes the pills larger, but you’ll also get upgrades that slow down time, zap all of the pills on the screen, and even give you additional color combinations. As you break pills there is a meter that fills, and every time it fills up it will drop one of the upgrades you have equipped. If you don’t like a particular upgrade you can always unequip it. I did, and to be honest, the only way I got up as high as I did was because I limited my upgrades to zapping all pills and slow down.
While the gameplay itself is interesting and highly replayable, the atmosphere pushes the game from good to great. The music is a pulse-pounding dubstep track mixed with the screen being field with florescent colors that are reminiscent of being in a night club. As you increase your combo, a crowd increasingly starts to cheer for you; if you read my Foul Play review you’ll know how I love crowds cheering me on in games. The heightened feeling with the lights, music, and the screen shaking as you blow up a multiple pills kept me pumped up through each play through, and the crushing feeing you get when you let a combo slip and the crowd is silenced is equally as impactful.
Intake was really an unexpected treat for me, and I think anyone that is into score chasers, or you know, GOOD GAMES IN GENERAL should check it out. Just remember though, when “Be Aggressive” gets stuck in your head, it’s only for your own good.