Intravenous is a quasi-pseudo advertisement for urban vigilantes, guise up with slick action and immersive gameplay. While others may be turned off by the vigilante message, most will be glued to the stealth-like bloodshed.
Intravenous gives us a close look at the lead character, Steve Robbins, in a role that starts out by being somewhat out of character. He plays your simple everyday guy until his brother is murdered. His immediate reaction is one of simple grief, then something in him snaps which suggests a different kind of response, one that is deadly and done without remorse.
The taste of vengeance, I’ve been told, has a strange but addictive fascination of its own, and indie developer, Explosive Squat Games, toys with the concept in which the character becomes judge, jury, and executioner all at the same time. It’s a brutal concept actually, but one we all might be inclined to understand given the situation.
The Only Way in is Through Their Teeth
Intravenous is billed as an over-the-top Splinter Cell mixed with Hotline Miami and taking the sum of its parts as strategy, tactical, and stealth. The game is played from a top-down perspective and shows Steve Robbins as a one-man killing machine, a master of every skill, a laser-eyed sharpshooter who can cleverly shoot out a light bulb with one pull of the trigger while taking down a squad of bad guys with another.
If you’ve played titles similar to this, then you’ll pretty much have a good feel of Intravenous. Packed with action-packed levels, you’ll approach each one with one mission goal in mind: stay alive while taking out the hordes of bad guys responsible for your brother’s murder.
The detailed corridors and hallways are complimented with a variety of commercial-type office furniture. Intersecting rooms are ingeniously placed to provide cover as well as to harbor a safe haven for the bad guys ready to ambush you. Literally, every shadow holds an attacker, every hallway harbors a killer, and every new level is a breeding ground for evil men to commit crime.
If You Can See Them, They Can See You
Other games may have used better graphics and smarter AI, but Intravenous does it rather effortlessly. The title boast of a ‘reactive AI and I was pleasantly surprised to see the attackers flank a doorway, wearily peeking in before going inside instead of waddling in one behind another. After a few levels, you really get into the whole vengeful mode and that’s because there has never been any question of injustice because the crimes are committed right there before our eyes. And once the blood starts to flow, it doesn’t let up.
From a gameplay perspective, the stealth component is done very well and adds a good challenge to even the most hardened players. For example, making too much noise while disposing of a body will alert patrols who’ll come and investigate what all the ruckus is about. Also, shimmers of light that reflect shadows will alert the enemies of your whereabouts and expose your position, but that’s easily remedied by taking out the light switch in order to remain hidden.
As easy as it might seem to kick down every door and go in guns blazing, there are actually a surprising number of considerations to make for each of the campaigns. If hostages are present, for example, a stealthier strike will help prevent civilian losses. Intravenous facilitates these different approaches via a large selection of weapon classes and gear that are available for unlocking.
Prepare to be Intravenously Satisfied
Unfortunately, games of this nature often feel quite repetitive, as the actions you perform are fairly similar across the board. However, Intravenous is one of those games that effectively captivates the player long enough to finish the game from start to finish.
And given the fact that Intravenous was released alongside big-budgeted titles like Elden Ring and Days Gone, and it is still managing to hold its own tells you of the massive potential this game has. This proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that a game crafted by the able and loving hands of its creators can become something special.