As mobile games creep up on console and PC titles in terms of fidelity and gameplay, the line between platforms like iOS and Android and Xbox and Steam are more blurred all the time.

One recent attempt to further blur that line is Subdivision Infinity DX, a space shooter that at its best moments feels like Galaga for the 21st century. It’s not all shooting stars, though, as some targeting issues and a story better off removed get in the way of this otherwise fun space shooter.

Subdivision Infinity got its start on mobile platforms, and comes to Steam and all major consoles in the form of the Deluxe Edition, or DX. It’s not immediately clear what is different between that original version and this one, but it likely starts with the visuals because the game is surprisingly pretty. The neverending vastness of each level’s backdrop gives way to some gorgeously lit spacescapes that smartly mix in different color palettes all via the Unreal Engine 4 to make SIDX a game that really outperforms expectations visually.

The same can’t be said for the audio, which lacks much emphasis on the actual ship battles at all and mostly drowns out the action with generic electronic music. It’s in these moments where the game’s mobile roots feel unignorable, but that’s not something that persists consistently.

The game is definitely a fun, if familiar, arcade shooter. Inspired by early 3D space shooters of the now distant past, Subdivision Infinity DX will appeal mostly to players who want a genuine arcade experience at home without any prompts to “INSERT COIN.” From objectives to level design to enemy patterns, nothing about Subdivision feels like it’s excitingly new or curiously unfamiliar, but in that familiarity comes its own kind of rush — that of fluid flying mechanics, some tough boss battles, and a very deep customization suite.

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Players can buy new ships and upgrade their existing ships using in-game currency. There are a ton of options in this area and it’s often enjoyably difficult to weigh the benefits of upgrading current ships against buying new models. With so many weapon types, you’ll always want to fit your spaceship for the mission ahead.

On mobile, this may be where they’d hit you with ads to triple your bounty or tease you with a load of coins for just a few dollars, but such payment models have thankfully stayed out of console games for the most part, and Subdivision Infinity DX is better for it. While the gameplay suite feels right at home on mobile — it’s comfortably a play-on-the-train kind of game — there’s still enjoyment to be had on home consoles, or perhaps your best bet, on the Nintendo Switch so you can do both.

Missions are often fast and frantic in the way anyone would want, and while some lackluster cutscenes give shape to the story between blasts, it’s the sort of material that would’ve felt like an addition by subtraction. Voiceless, motionless talking head dialogue boxes are the most retro element of the whole game, and whereas other bits are happily nostalgic for games like it from long ago, this narrative delivery just slows down the best bits for no benefit.

The other major gripe I found with SIDX is its targeting reticule. As a 3D shooter, the game is constantly giving you information as to where enemies and objectives are, but when you then go to chase those arrows until they’re centered, they have a habit of disappearing without much clarification as to where the targets actually are. To be clear, this wasn’t a bug. The reticule that hones in on targets when centered in your weapons targeting HUD are just often much too small for seemingly no reason. This slowed down my own attacks and defenses sometimes, which led to some frustrating fail states.

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In between those though, and certainly more often, Subdivision Infinity DX is a fun space shooter and it’s one any fan of the genre should at least check out. It’s flawed, but it’s got all the markings of an arcade experience players who know what they like can’t really go wrong with. There are better, deeper experiences for players looking for the best sci-fi spaceship shooters have to offer, but they likely come with a lot more baggage too — steeper learning curves and a tidal wave of menus and mechanics. For the right audience, like many of those that read Game Together, Subdivision is your best bet as an easy to learn, hard to master sci-fi adventure.

Final Score: 7

Subdivision Infinity DX is best enjoyed by arcade-hungry players who want a pick-up-and-play experience with an air of early simplicity that gives way to an impressive upgrade and customization suite as you level up. With challenging boss battles and some technical gripes, the game can be an inconsistent affair, but it’s more often than not a fun introduction to the genre for less experienced players or a nostalgic return to form for the more seasoned pilots.

 

This review was conducted using an Xbox One review copy provided by the publisher.

 

 

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