The Earth has been attacked by a highly advanced alien race known as the Tasen. They’re shielded by nano-molecular fields and armed with special nano-weapons using the smallest of particles to perform actions impossible by current technology. You were caught up in their initial attack and should have died. Thankfully it was bring your family to work day at the government superweapon science lab or wherever your father works and his colleagues took your broken body and put you back together — If it weren’t for holidays like this the Portal series and this game never would exist. It was a risky procedure turning you, Iji, into a cyborg nano warrior. But when the subject is dying and death is the worst case scenario then the decision is clear, put a pile of science into this young girl and turn her into a nano-machine fueled human weapon. Iji and her nano-gun are the only weapons that can stand against or even adequately damage the Tasen so it’s up to you. Walk, jump, kick, hack, shoot — or maybe not so much with the shooting because, seriously, Iji is 16 and isn’t mentally trained to deal with the rigors of interstellar war and battle.
Iji was developed singularly by Daniel Remar and made in Game Maker. It’s only available on PC but is playable through Windows emulating software. There was a plan for fans to port it to all operating systems but, unfortunately, things fell through. He was inspired by the the animation of game’s like Another World and made a game similar in visual design.
Remar started working on the project in 2004 and finally released it on September 1st 2008. It’s competition was Stalker Clear Sky (PC), Kirby Super Star Ultra (Nintendo DS), and Megaman 9 (Wiiware and PSN).
This is the first game I’ve ever played that considered the mental state of a character in a way that’s irreversible and potentially incredibly damaging. Blasting away hordes of anything wouldn’t be good for anyone’s mental health much less someone so young and shaken already. The three ways to play the game are as an Innocent, killing no one, as a merciful, killing very few, or as a warmonger without regard for the lives of your enemies. Iji’s emotional state will change through dialogue and gameplay. Her first few kills are punctuated with apology and her last are filled with furious shouts and taunts, mocking the dead. Her sanity is really in your hands and it’s a fragile thing that needs to be handled carefully.
Iji is a Platformer-sidescroller-shooter with Metroid-vania elements and partitioned levels so there’s no going back if you go to the next sector. Iji begins with a simple shotgun weapon but can find more Tasen and Komato weapons. Certain weapons can only be made by combining others at weapon stations like the spread rocket which is made from a rocket launcher and your shotgun. The platforming in this game may seem simple but Iji doesn’t have a lot of horizontal mobility, she can jump up super high but not so much left or right. As such, you’re gonna have to get really creative with how to get her from A to B when it comes to secret hunting — and this game has a shit-ton of easter eggs and hidden things — like getting blasted by enemy rockets or firing your own explosives to propel you just a little further.
Iji can level up and get points by collecting stray nano which is dropped from defeated enemies and scattered around the map — the enemies don’t have to die at your hands so scrounging is encouraged. Iji’s got seven stats you can level up at certain stations by spending these points. The different stats are Health, which obviously increases her maximum health, Attack, which increases the damage of Iji’s weapons, Assimilate, which allows Iji to carry more ammo, Strength, which allows Iji to kick down stronger doors and larger enemies, Crack, which allows Iji to “crack” — i.e. hack — doors, enemies, and herself, and Tasen and Komato, which allow’s Iji to carry better and more powerful weapons for each of the alien races. Each of these stats also give Iji a special power when she reaches max rank in each stat. Powers such as Cybernetic Endurance which gives Iji extra invulnerability time and less weapon recoil which is unlocked by having 10 Strength.
There isn’t as much music in this game as I might like but what it’s got is fantastic and employed perfectly. The musical changes are like a guiding hand for the player’s emotions. They’re also usually super punky or quasi-experimental.
The choices in this game go above and beyond to make them seem as if they offer real choice and not just the illusion of choice. There are lots of things you can do and some of them have legitimate game changing consequences, not just slightly altered dialogue.
Holy secrets, Batman. This game has hidden posters, an alternate costume, special items, lost ribbons, rare weapons, The Scrambler, Sector Z, and a literal game breaking item hidden in nooks everywhere. Keep your eyes open and try thinking outside the box to reach these things.
The Scrambler gets its own section because it’s one of the most brilliant things ever put into a videogame. If you can find the mythical Cracker known as Yukabacera and if you can reach him and defeat him in single combat you will get his scrambler. This thing, when enabled, scrambles all the dialogue into an incomprehensible mess becoming more incomprehensible the long the dialogue goes on. If you don’t see the comedic potential in such a thing then you simply do not have a soul.
The bosses in this game are an absolute pleasure to fight. They take what you know and make you learn new tricks to beat them. There’s also a fair share of emotional tension to get me really involved in the fight.
Iji’s walking speed is abysmal. Backtracking is a massive pain in the ass exacerbated by how slow she moves. I understand that it can’t be too fast or she’ll just speed past enemies but there could have been some sort of sprint move that makes her take extra damage or something.
This game is phenomenal and for the low-low price of totally free there’s no reason not to pick it up. Go here http://www.remar.se/daniel/iji.php download it and enjoy.
Next Week: Civilization V