I used to think nothing could surprise me anymore, regarding SHMUPs. Then this one came along. Compared to its peers, In-Contro is a much calmer experience, but that’s a big part of what makes it so unique and interesting.
Forget everything Galaga, 1941, Raiden and other genre classics taught ya, because shooting your enemies in In-Contro is not the way to go. I know how crazy that sounds, but it’s the truth. Hit or collide with anything and it’s game over. What to do then? Why, get hit yourself, of course! Be a bullet sponge and watch as enemies get vaporized by having their shots make contact with… whatever you are. You’ll be forced to fire a shot every time the yellow bar fills, but you can empty it manually whenever, by pressing space.
Upon starting a new game, your score will – oddly enough – read -5. Not 0, but -5, and I have yet to figure out why. Each kill increases your score by one, and as the screen continuously scrolls upwards, enemy patterns get increasingly devious. That is, if you actually decide to be a killing machine. You see, it is possible to go through the entire thing without harming anyone, and this is where things get interesting. Since accomplishing this is not particularly difficult, I’m not going to spoil what it does.
According to Riccardo Caprari, its creator, this is “an art game that talks about communication without using any words”. After playing for a good bit, I have to admit that exactly what it’s trying to communicate has me puzzled. Based on the background design, I’d say that my character is ascending to the mighty Heaven above, but why? And what does it have to do with not killing anything? Is he/she/it atoning for a lifetime of sins, committed by way of brutal murders? That could very well be it, since upon shooting anything, the curtains are pulled, perhaps as a metaphor for closing the gates of Heaven.
Chances are I’m overthinking it though, and there’s probably something much more down to Earth behind it all. For such a short experience, it certainly sparked some deep thoughts and as such, I’d highly recommend taking In-Contro for a spin. Don’t forget to let me know if you agree with my ‘interpretation’ in the comments below, after seeing all it has to offer.