Note: For reasons that will become clear below, the embargo for this preview stated that no screenshots or videos of the Switch version can currently be captured. The screens and video you see in this article are taken from the Xbox One version: adjust your expectations accordingly until the game’s ready for review.
Although I’d never really heard any of the late Avicii’s music when I was asked to review his game for VGC, I ended up enjoying it so much I had his whole discography on my Spotify account by the end of the week.
More importantly, I was so thoroughly entertained by Avicii Invector that the Xbox One version managed to jive its way into my list of my 10 favourite games of 2019, an award so rare that literally only nine other games were given it. Obviously.
Switch owners will finally be able to get their hands on the game on 8 September in a snazzy new ‘Encore Edition’, which comes with 10 bonus tracks (bringing the total count to 35). Yer man Scullion’s been getting stuck into a preview build of this Switch version, and the signs are good so far.
If you aren’t familiar with Invector, it’s a rhythm action game where you pilot a small spaceship through a variety of tunnel-shaped stages, tapping buttons to the beat. The more accurate your taps, the higher your score: it’s your usual rhythm action fare.
There are four main types of input to watch out for in Invector. You’ve got your face button symbols, little coloured A, B, X and Y icons that are also shaped like arrows to help less experienced players figure out where those buttons are located on the controller without looking down.
Then you’ve got little chevron arrows that appear on the ground every now and then. Hit left or right as you pass over these and the tunnel will rotate 90 degrees, allowing you to hit symbols on the walls and ceilings.
Accompanying these are ‘strum’ bars, yellow lines that can be triggered with the L or R shoulder buttons. Some of these require simple presses, others need you to hold the button down.
Finally, every now and then – usually during a song’s bridge or what have you – the tunnel will end and you’ll be flung into space, at which point you have full control of your ship as you fly through a series of gates, before landing on the next tunnel.
I appreciate this is all a bit hard to picture written down, so here’s some footage I captured from the Xbox One version, showing a full song being played on Hard difficulty:
There you go. Looks lovely, eh? Exactly.
The Switch port obviously aims to replicate the other versions, and at the time of writing there’s still a little work to be done. For this preview coverage I’m only able to talk about the first five tracks, which is fine by me because one of them is What Would I Change It To (the one in the video above), which is one of my favourites on here.
Each of these preview tracks – Can’t Catch Me, Pure Grinding (which is what yer da calls young people dancing), What Would I Change It To, The Nights and Waiting For Love – have been recreated perfectly faithfully for the Switch with no noticeably enormous loss in graphical detail.
Put it side by side with the Xbox One version and you’ll obviously notice some differences, but the angular, stylised nature of the art design means if you didn’t own the other versions and didn’t know any better you wouldn’t be at a disadvantage.
Given the Switch’s relative lack of power compared to the Xbox One and PS4, though, something’s got to give and at the moment it’s the frame rate: it’s still aiming for 60 frames per second, but at times it struggles noticeably to come close to this.
To be completely fair, however, it’s worth pointing out that this is still preview code and performance aspects like frame rate optimisation are often among the last things that are handled in a game’s development. What’s more, it was made clear to me that a patch coming just before launch will greatly improve performance, so we’ll need to wait until review time before it can be fairly scrutinised.
What else is new about the Switch version, then? Well, as previously explained, this is the Encore Edition, which comes with two new DLC song packs (which will also be available to buy if you already have other versions of the game). The first of these contains five songs from Avicii’s posthumous album Tim, whereas the second has five other songs accompanied by a new magma level environment.
That’s about all I can discuss so far given the game’s current work-in-progress state. The crucial thing going forwards is that frame rate: it needs to be fixed. When it comes to rhythm games, stability is arguably the single most important element. There’s no point mastering the game if a rogue stutter messes up your perfect run, after all.
There’s no doubt that Avicii Invector’s developers know this, so I’d hope that by the time the game’s ready for launch on Switch it’ll run noticeably smoother, even if it maybe looks a little less pretty as a result. If that’s the trade-off, I’ll take it.
Avicii Invector: Encore Edition comes to the Switch on 8 September 2020. If you fancy getting it on other systems you can currently buy physical versions on PS4 or Xbox One for less than £15 on Amazon UK, as well as obviously buying it digitally on the PS4, Xbox One or Steam storefronts.
In order that I could write this preview, I received code from a PR. The content of my preview and the opinions therein were in no way positively influenced by this.
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