Let me prepare you for ‘Intake’ with two quick words: WUB WUB! That’s right my friends, you’re about to go Dubsteppy. Nope, it’s not the Dubpocalypse, it is just ‘Intake’, an at first unassuming arcade effort from he dudes and ladies at Cipher Prime. They’re the people who made ‘Splice‘ and ‘Fractal‘, two fantastic games. Needless to say, I was excited to give ‘Intake’ a go, just based on Cipher Prime’s solid track record.
I played ‘Intake’ for the first time on my Indie Taste Test to give a sample of what it features. You can check that video out for the fine gameplay details:
In my time with ‘Intake’, I found myself pleasantly surprised by a few things. First of all, I originally went into ‘Intake’ thinking it was all surface: an arcade game that got harder the longer you played, but such assumptions make a me out of me. Secondly, ‘Intake’ goes deeper with its mechanics than normal arcade games, which almost makes the coin slot-styled arcade presentation easy to misinterpret. ‘Intake’ is much more of a rogue-light arcade hybrid.
There is an entire upgrade system inside and pivotal to the core of ‘Intake’. The more you play ‘Intake’, the easier ‘Intake’ becomes to scale. One upgrade will enlarge all the pills for a short period of time, while another strikes lightning to destroy all of the falling pills. These upgrades help you to beat more levels, which helps you gain more money, which helps you get more upgrades, which helps you beat more levels. It’s cyclical, see?! Then, at every 25 level interval, you reach a checkpoint to play from. Very rogue-lightish, right?
Those rogue-light elements work really well with the game mechanics of ‘Intake’, but the rogue-light elements are the bright spot of ‘Intake’. Sadly, the game mechanics are somewhat shallow. Sure, the simplicity of a two button interface is nice, but the mechanics just don’t beg for a constant return of the player. But when I really sat down and thought about ‘Intake’, I was just pointing and clicking and the challenge of ‘Intake’ came simply from my twitch reflexes.
Now I have no intention of ranting about arcade game design, because I’m a fool and could never design a game, but from my personal experience, with my favorites all the way from ‘Galaga’ to ‘Super Hexagon’, the best arcade games are nuanced or learned experiences. While they do require twitch reflexes and precision they can be conquered through persistence to learn the system. ‘Intake’ doesn’t have that quality. This is probably just personal taste, so if twitch reflex games are your thing, then ‘Intake’ is that thing.
Final Opinion: ‘Intake’ is an exciting hybrid experience. The rogue-light elements fit surprisingly well, and well I’m not sure it’s the first game to implement these, it still feels new and original. Sadly, it wasn’t able to grasp my personal attentions, but I could absolutely see the appeal to a different crowd. Maybe it’s my aging eyes and my “no love lost” for dubstep, but ‘Intake’ wasn’t my bag or cup of tea, but its appeal is readily apparent to me. I’m rarely in this type of position, but this may not have grabbed me, but it very well could be exactly what you’re looking for. It’s by no means a bad game and does what it wants to very well. It just isn’t what I’m looking for in an arcade experience.