The sometimes-justified rap on mobile games is that they're too casual, too easy. Too oriented to delivering distraction, instead of challenging design. Inferno 2 is not one of those games.
Inferno 2 is the latest release from Radiangames, a one-man indie studio who's been making agile, small-scale games since the days of Xbox Live Indie Games. Schneider makes titles that can be, at their core, looked at clever, mechanical re-configurations of classic arcade experiences. And, like some of the creators of those old games, he uses sequels to deepen the mechanics proven out in a series' first entry. You can feel that intensification in Inferno 2.
Like its predecessor, Inferno 2 is a hybrid of twin-stick-shooting and RPG upgrade systems. This new game ups the ante on nearly everything the first game did. Enemies converge on you from multiple angles, with more variation amongst them. The number of weapons have increased and combines with a beefy upgrade system to enable a breadth of strategies that wouldn't have been possible in Inferno 1. You're going to need to experiment, too, because things ramp up pretty quickly.
The game gets grindingly tough early on, even on its 'Hot' (normal) difficulty. After four hours of play, I'm only four levels in, thanks to a whole lot of dying. For example: one too many instances of getting killed by chunky waves of creeps prompted me to change from seeker missiles to mines, which blew up the phalanxes before they got too close. Progress, in fits and starts anyway. Inferno 2 doesn't have in-app purchases so any headway is going to have to be won by good old-fashioned perseverance, experimentation and grinding. It's not exactly a great game for your morning commute or waiting in the queue at the supermarket. But it's about as good a test of reflexes, resolve and planning as exists on the App Store at the moment.