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HYPERGUN
Game Reviews

HYPERGUN

Polished gameplay and addictive undertones make this old-school arena shooter worth a closer look.

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Do you remember that one crossover game that Disney and id Software released years back called “Doom Versus Tron” ? No? Well, that’s because they never made it. You probably wish they had, which is good as NVYVE Studios made HYPERGUN, which is essentially the same thing. Get ready for a rogue-lite that plays a lot like an arena shooter of yore with semi-randomly generated rooms added to help keep things ever changing and ever unique to the run. Things get pushed to further randomness with a multitude of weapon attachments that run the gamut from the typical to downright bizarre.

Even better, there’s a story attempting to tie everything together. As an intern, you find yourself at the laboratory on the weekend. Your duty is to do research but you’re also free to explore offices and read computer files and Post-it notes strewn throughout the spaces, which adds a lot to the world-building as well as the charm of it all.

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Unfortunately, you can’t hang out in the office all day long as you must go into “the simulation” in order to find the perfect “HYPERGUN” to save the world. Sure, it’s a flimsy setup, but the game knows you don’t really care about that. Instead, it wants you to just enjoy the dripping neon colors, the thumping beats, and the non-stop pew-pew gunplay action.

Each time you hop into the simulation, the maps are semi-randomly generated in the same way that modular board games are. Each room is basically a tile and the game randomly generates which of its doors are open (green) and which are closed (red). Each room is a snippet of a multiplayer map for an arena shooter and you need to destroy all the enemies to open the next door before they destroy you. All these rooms are stitched together – randomly – to give you a full layout of the level, with a boss right at the end.

Having already played the pre-release build, I have to admit as soon as I entered the simulation the game nearly fell apart for me. The aesthetic was still there and everything seemed intact, but there were a few elements that immediately soured the experience. Something just didn’t feel solid quite yet. More than anything, progression was at a snail’s pace, if not slower.

The full release, however, fixes much of this and changed my perception of the game’s quality on the whole. In the preview, Hypercoins, the game’s Meta Store currency, seemed to drop at a glacial speed. The grind to unlock anything felt as if it would take far too long to feel any sense of progression. The drop-rate appears to have been increased following the update, which makes it easier and a lot more fun to experiment with different classes, weapons and perks.

The ability to upgrade your character at this pace adds significantly to the “just one more” trap that other rogue-lites such as Rogue Legacy and Dead Cells do so perfectly well. One more run might get you that much closer to that one tantalizing upgrade you’ve been craving! Of course, this only adds to the addictive nature of the game, which in turn leads to just one more round to eat up your precious time.

The guns themselves are the main feature here and, I’m sad to say, the guns just aren’t as intoxicating as one would hope. While they can be insane and have some very unique properties, they are still a bit samey. There are many types of attachments but other than some fairly standard accuracy/health/fire rate/damage, they don’t do much. With a crutch stock, espresso machine barrel, silly puddy ammo it’s easy to see they’ve definitely hit a sweet spot of goofy and impractical when it comes to the attachments.

Unlike this year’s Mothergunship by Grip Digital and Terrible Posture Games, the available weapons here aren’t nearly as customizable as you’d like them to be. Instead, when you start a run, you’re basically just add random modules you’ll find in the map to make a single gun with all these attachments adding/taking away from the original stats on your weapon. So by the end you’ll have a gun that’s got a dozen mods on it, yet still feeling largely the same.

When upgrading classes you’re also changing what base of gun you’ll be working with. The intern starts with an SMG, then there’s a Rifle, Shotgun and Sniper class. These class changes do add some variables to the combat and ask that you adjust your play style accordingly, which can be refreshing after spending a chunk of time with a different base.

Even with a powerful gun, the enemies are bullet sponges but can still inflict massive amounts of damage. The trade-off is you just running around, strafing like crazy person and bunnyhopping like a crazy, well, bunny – especially when attempting to avoid the ever annoying sniper enemies whose red laser sight you always seem to be running away from. There’s even boss battles to help break up the randomness, though these encounters feel entirely different as they don’t inflict as much damage yet have much higher HP counters to chip away at. You’ll basically just dodge and shoot your way to victory, emptying clip after clip until the job is done.

Word of advice: the pulsing, pounding music and gunfire can get to you after long sessions, even if you love the techno throb of EDM and electronica. You might want to give your ears a break with some Simon & Garfunkel, podcasts, or even a collection of babbling brook sounds. Perhaps all at once?

All this aside, the gameplay and addictive undertones really help make HYPERGUN worth checking out. It’s neon-styled visuals and pulsating soundtrack may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but they certainly match the twitchy gameplay you’d expect an old-school arena shooter to have in the current era. I plan on keeping this one installed and ready, just in case I get the urge to jump back in and wreck a little disco havoc for a spell, all the while feeling like I’m making some kind of process.

About the Author: James McKeever