Gamescom '12: Hands-on with Big Sky Infinity

Small screen, big game

Gamescom '12: Hands-on with Big Sky Infinity
| Big Sky Infinity

Ten seconds. That's all I lasted for the first time I played Big Sky Infinity, the PS Vita- and PS3-exclusive entry in the successful PC indie series.

In fairness, I was playing without having read the tutorial and without any previous knowledge of the series, bar that it was "really good". But, still: this game is no pushover.

A procedurally generated, side-scrolling twin-stick shooter, Big Sky Infinity may look like a traditional R-Type-style retro affair at first glance, but it's clear from my hands-on that it has some clever tricks hidden up its sleeve.

To infinity...

The first of these tricks was hinted at in that last paragraph - this isn't a level-based game.

Instead, every 'stage' (as it were) is generated on the fly, which means that different waves and types of enemies are thrown at you depending on how well you're doing. Fly badly, like I did, and the difficulty gets dialled back. Play well, and expect to be taking on huge bosses and screens filled with ordnance.

It's not just about blasting everything in sight, however. The game will occasionally switch colour scheme and start penalising you for killing enemies by turning them into indestructible bouncing bullets when killed. You've got to stay on your toes at all times.

Another interesting way in which Big Sky Infinity will trip you up is with its "Drill" mechanic. Activated by hitting X on your Vita, Drill mode allows your ship to tunnel its way through planets (which suddenly appear as you're flying). The only slight drawback is that you’re also prevented from firing.

Thankfully, death isn't the end for your plucky craft. Between goes, you can spend the currency gained through destroying enemies on around 12 different categories of upgrade, giving you a better chance on your next go. Until the game decides to punish you, that is.

It's full of stars

The Vita version of Big Sky Infinity is being developed by VooFoo (Hustle Kings, Pure Chess), and while it's still early days in the development process, the explosive graphics belie its humble roots on the PC.

There are plenty of modes to choose from, too: from the standard Classic mode (where you have one shot at glory), right through to Pacifism (you can't fire) and the Tetris-esque Marathon mode (in which you unlock upgrades as you fly).

While the Vita version of Big Sky Infinity won't have the simultaneous multiplayer option found in its PS3 brother, there will be an asynchronous challenge mode included.

In this mode, you will try not to be the first to spell H.O.R.S.E. by beating your opponent's score. Ripstone was unable to say whether you'll get the Vita version for free with the PS3 version, however.

Fans of both twin-stick and retro shooters should be keeping an eye out for this one when it lands later this year.

Will Wilson
Will Wilson
Will's obsession with gaming started off with sketching Laser Squad levels on pads of paper, but recently grew into violently shouting "Tango Down!" at random strangers on the street. He now directs that positive energy into his writing (due in no small part to a binding court order).