Impulsion

Game review by
David Chapman, Common Sense Media
Impulsion Game Poster Image
Hard, repetitive puzzler requires sharp reflexes.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

No positive or negative messages explicitly made. You're basically just trying to survive a series of lethal tests. Make it through one, and you get to the next to do it all over again.

Positive Role Models & Representations

There's some banter between you (the test subject designated Unit MP-52) and Archie, the artificial intelligence directing you through the tests. Not much else is known about either character to determine if positive or negative.

Ease of Play

Gameplay is intuitive, particularly if you're familiar with first-person shooter games. Despite the natural feel of the controls, the difficulty can become very hard. Timing, shooting, jumping through each test can be a Herculean task.

Violence

While technically a first-person shooter, there's very little violence ... except the kind being inflicted on the player by the tests. It's a survival game, without blood or gore. Just lots of lasers and explosions.

Sex
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Impulsion is a first-person shooter/puzzle hybrid available for download on Windows-based PCs. Players are challenged to navigate a series of virtual obstacle courses with the help of two time-distorting guns. One creates a force bubble to speed up time and the other slows time to a crawl. The basic controls should feel natural to first-person shooter fans, though the game's difficulty ramps up quickly and pushes players to replay each stage for a faster time. Although the game is a shooter, the only violence players experience comes from the hazards they need to avoid in each stage.

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What's it about?

In IMPULSION, you wake up aboard a seemingly abandoned spaceship where an artificial intelligence named ARCHIE directs you to take part in a series of tests. These tests involve maneuvering through virtual obstacle courses as quickly as possible. To help, you've been given two guns that project time-distorting force fields. One speeds up the passage of time within the field while the other slows time to a crawl. You'll need to get creative with these abilities to jump, dodge, and sprint your way through laser grids, over bottomless pits, and across the finish line. Fail, and you'll restart the current course. Succeed, and it's on to the next one. With a little luck and a lot of skill, you might survive long enough to figure out the reasons for the testing and the truth behind your existence.

Is it any good?

This time-bending puzzler might require fast reflexes and pinpoint accuracy, but its repetitive play and difficulty becomes draining after a while. At first glance, Impulsion might sound somewhat familiar: a game about running through a series of tests, armed with color-coded weapons that affect the environment, all while being led around by the disembodied voice of an omniscient AI? No, this isn't a new Portal game, though you'd be forgiven for making that mistake. After all, both games seem to share a lot of the same DNA. But Impulsion feels less like a sibling and more like a third cousin, twice removed. It might have that déjà vu sensation, but it tends to come up just a bit short ... both literally and figuratively.

For starters, Impulsion is a relatively short game. There are just over 20 tests, but most generally take only a couple of minutes to complete -- that is, when you can complete them. The difficulty level ramps up quickly, resulting in multiple restarts and rising frustration. Later stages require pinpoint accuracy and split-second timing that can feel almost superhuman, especially if you have any aspirations of beating the stage with a decent grade. Also, the game's time-bending hook feels gimmicky. Speeding up time gives you a little extra distance in jumps, and slowing time down lets you slip past a few obstacles or get in an extra jump or two. It's not that Impulsion doesn't have its fun moments, but its formulaic gameplay and familiar style makes the whole thing get fairly stale after a short time.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about positive character strengths like critical thinking. How can games like Impulsion help to develop quick, critical thinking skills?

  • What are some ways that games try to apply real-world physics to fantasy settings?

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For kids who love puzzles

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