Intravenous – Demo Impressions

The following applies to the demo version of Intravenous released for the Steam games festival back in February. You are no longer able to access this demo at the behest of the developer.

If you like what I’ve written about in this post, considering purchasing Intravenous when it releases this summer and check out the developer’s other game, Game Dev Studio, if that also catches your eye.

Developer Roman Glebenkov is, if nothing else, consistent.

After more than two hundred hours of playtime, I can safely say that Game Dev Studio (which will be referred to as ‘Studio’ from here on out) is easily the most challenging game in its niche subgenre. Unlike titles like Game Dev Tycoon and Game Dev Story–I honestly don’t blame you if you confuse all of these games with each other–Studio forces you to make on-the-spot decisions that will either cripple you in the long run or prove beneficial until you run out of good luck. Tycoon and Story often end up feeling confusing with their lack of feedback. You’ll make a game the same way you made your last one and it’ll be a flop. If you fuck up in Studio, it’s your fault nine times out of ten. Having a successful run in Studio practically means cheating–and I would know, seeing as playing it with the Cheat Mod installed has provided some great escapism for me in the past.

His new game, Intravenous, follows in a similar vein. A top-down shoother focused mainly on stealth, it hones in on the best parts of Studio and then some. For background, Intravenous started life as a mod for Studio meant to be used as an example by the community. Although the premise is too tasteless for me to describe here, its foundation was solid enough for the developer to iterate on it. The end result is an experience that will have you have you playing it like a more tactical version of Hotline Miami if you decide to go in guns blazing and playing it like Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory if you’d rather go quiet. While the latter is preferable, Glebenkov has put in the effort to make more action-oriented playstyles feel just as gratifying. What ties the dichotomy of stealth and action together so perfectly is the AI and loadout system. Regardless of whether or not they’re lying down or running around, the player is always encouraged to keep moving. Enemies hunt in packs, they’re ferocious and have keen hearing. Stalking the same corner will only get you so far before they escalate to eviscerating you. In the full game, they’ll be able to radio in suspicious behavior and other stats will determine how effective they are at taking you out. This serves to make the game much harder than your modern stealth offering, but also gives the game a sense of personality that shines through the brutally difficult combat scenarios. The guns you take them out with are as varied as the ways in which they seek you out. No two pistols have the exact same stats and the same goes for the rest of your arsenal. If there’s a gun that packs a lot of power, it usually comes with a downside. Intravenous is the first stealth game I’ve ever played where silenced pistols aren’t killing machines. While they might not be as loud as a typical handgun, they’re still loud enough to alert your enemies if you aren’t careful. The culmination of both the AI and the guns you take with you to battle is an experience that begs to be played meticulously.

The one area of concern that I have for Intravenous is its story. The small blurb given on the Steam page sounds somewhat generic and the tidbits of story in the demo don’t exactly have me excited to see what the end result will be. Seeing as Intravenous seems to be taking the gameplay before story route, I don’t believe this will be a massive issue. From what I’ve played of Glebenkov’s work, he doesn’t appear to be a storyteller by trade, but I could always be proven wrong.

All in all, Intravenous is looking to be a great time for genre enthusiasts. I don’t know what the future will hold for it, but I sincerely hope that it’s successful in some capacity. If it turns out that Glebenkov isn’t good at writing a story, then it’s damn-near apparent that he’s talented at creating great games that offer up a variety of challenge. At the moment, his upcoming title is not getting the recognition it deserves. Here’s hoping that changes.


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