Game name: HYPERGUN
Release date: August 23, 2018
Price: US$ 14.99
Available on: Steam
Genre: First person shooter
Developer: NVYVE Studios
Publisher: NVYVE Studios
Remember when roguelites were a rare sight? Nowadays, roguelites are one of the most popular genres in the world, with a new one popping up wherever we look. This means that in order to stand out in this crowded genre, new releases need to do something different, or at the very least look beautiful enough to entice players to even think about buying them.
HYPERGUN tries to do both of these things, with varying degrees of success. Instead of presenting us with a top-down shooter slash brawler slash RPG, it’s an FPS through and through, and we’ll be spewing enough bullets to make Serious Sam blush (and that’s a mean feat, let me tell you that). As usual in the genre, we’ll make our way through seemingly endless arenas, shooting hordes of enemies and collecting different currencies in order to be able to buy stuff from two types of shops, one that shows up inside of the combat arena and will provide us with short term boosts, and another that exists in the area that acts as a sort of interactive menu.
The basic setup for the game is that we are human workers in a laboratory destined to research and build the titular Hypergun, which would be a weapon that can save Humanity from its impending doom. In order to create this technological wonder, we’ll choose a character, set up a number of abilities, both passive and active (at the start we won’t have much to choose from, but as we progress and find a certain currency we’ll be able to unlock more), enter a simulation and pick up different attachments that will modify our starting weaponry in a number of ways, ranging from fire rate to even things like spewing ice instead of normal bullets. The opposing forces are a varied bunch of alien-looking foes, all with their own signature attacks and specific quirks, and at the end of every level we’ll get to face a boss, who must be defeated in order to access the next area.
Mechanically, the game works just fine, with every enemy being quickly recognizable, and ranged foes shooting projectiles instead of filling our body with holes thanks to hit-scan weaponry. Melee-based attackers will have to perform an animation in order to damage us (thank the gods for that!) and the amount of “that’s bullshit!” deaths was very low in my case (though I’d love to have better feedback for the moment new enemies join the fray, as the current way of telegraphing their arrival requires us to be looking at the place their portals open, instead of warning the player with a clear audio cue or something along these lines). Each enemy type can also spawn with a particular mutator, ranging from double health, to double attack, or speed, or a mix of those. Luckily for us, boosted aliens will have an aura that will let us focus fire on them before they bring us down with their extra powers.
Boss fights can be exhilarating, and most of them have a nice twist that separates them from run-of-the-mill arena battles. The loot that pops out after defeating the end of level opponents will usually give us a nice boost ahead of the next area (or at the very least, top up our health after a tough battle), and I can guarantee that vanquishing a mighty foe in HYPERGUN feels almost as great as it does in a game of the caliber of Doom or Quake.
The basic shooting mechanics aren’t anything to write home about, but they do the job well enough, and trying out new weapon combinations can be a real treat if we are lucky and get the good stuff quickly. Loot isn’t exactly generous, but even if we don’t snatch new gun parts from the cold, dead bodies of our foes, we might end up with some coins, which can be spent at shops that offer health, chest keys (which will be used to open locked boxes in special rooms, rewarding us with weapon parts), shields or gun modifications. Aside from things that change the way our main weapon works, we might also find new secondary fire modes, or ammunition for our active abilities. The main fire mode does not require ammo, thankfully (as we’ll face countless baddies in battle, and would quickly run out of bullets if that was the case).
Sadly, for all its gameplay prowess, HYPERGUN doesn’t quite get level design right. Aside from visual changes, most areas feel the same, with stairs thrown here or there, and buttons that create cover if we shoot them littering the place. Environmental traps that don’t seem to affect the enemy make their appearance after we vanquish the first boss, and that’s the extent of the changes we’ll see from level one to the end. This isn’t exactly unusual in the genre, but many modern roguelites have shown us that procedurally generated levels don’t NEED to look like Wolfenstein 3D mazes, and can actually offer quality level design from time to time.
The same problem rears its ugly head when it comes to aesthetics, as all the enemies we face look incredibly basic (though as we said before, they are all instantly recognizable, and we can accurately predict their attacks based on their looks, which is a very neat feature). Rooms can look quite good from time to time thanks to a neon-tinted art style that fits the whole simulation theme like a glove, but the limited variety makes it hard to shake the feeling that we are going through the same areas over and over again.
With seven environment types, limited enemy variety, samey-looking levels, and no multiplayer modes, HYPERGUN starts to feel repetitive after a few runs. Players who wish to extend their time with the game can try to find the lore pieces scattered around in the “real world” or unlock all the playable characters or gun modifications, but in the end, with the way the game is structured right now, there isn’t enough content to go past the twenty hours mark without feeling a little bit bored. This is not to say that NVYVE Studios‘ first foray into roguelite territory is a bad title, far from it. At a price point of US$15, you could do a lot worse than picking up this sci-fi shooter.