Hive Jump, as well as the code I received for this review, comes to us from Graphite Lab. It’s a 2-D action rogue-like, with randomly generated levels. Yes, I know, there are way too many of those on the eShop already. Please, humor me, because this one had me thinking about Starship Troopers at times. Some of these types of games are good, some are really bad. A few manage to be amazing. Where does Hive Jump land on this scale? Let’s find out…
A Story of Disposable Jumpers & Killer Queens
Hive Jump has you, and up to 3 of your friends, dive into underground hives of alien insects. Your goal in these hives is to make your way through their maze-like levels, exterminating enemies and trying to survive the occasional challenge room. If you do somehow manage to complete these challenge rooms, you’ll earn a perk that will aid you on the rest of your run. The only other reason for running through these hives is to collect the all-important Goo, which serves as the game’s currency. There’s not much else around. I found grenades in some of the randomly placed chests and that’s about it. Goo and grenades. Nothing else.
The 4 player Co-op is a great addition but it’s also a double edged sword. Playing with a full squad may sound fun at first, but two players is where I found the sweet spot to be. With four players sharing the same screen, things immediately become hectic and almost impossible to track. Players will kill each other and have no idea what happened. It becomes frustrating and annoying rather quickly.
Most hives are only 3 levels deep. Hives where the Queen resides are 6 levels deep, with a mid-boss at the end of level three. Of course, you’ll have to destroy their beloved Queen. You are, of course, an extra-terrestrial pest control professional. Doing so won’t be a cakewalk, however. The first few times I came face to face with a Queen, she destroyed me in pretty short order.
Controls and Gameplay
Controlling my character in Hive Jump almost made it feel like I was playing as a super-soldier. (Some of those Starship Troopers vibes I mentioned earlier.) All of your weapons are tied to a heat gauge that you have to manage. Fail to pay attention to it, and you’ll quickly find yourself overwhelmed and dead. Your soldier’s jump-jets are mapped to the ZL button. The jump-jets are there to let you get to higher areas. You can control what direction you’re boosting yourself by adjusting the right stick. It all responds well, but movement did sometimes feel to be too slow, especially for this style of game.
The area where the game suffers is in the variety of level and enemy design. Most of the time, I found myself fighting the same types of enemies, with little variation in environments. For me, most of the game ended up blending together, which made it boring at times. This is a game that’s best played in short bursts. Especially if you’re going to be playing single player.
Your main incentive to making repeated runs is to collect that Goo. You can spend your Goo on new weapons, weapon upgrades, as well as a selection of special equipment. I wound up using to the same loadout most the time, which made a lot of the choices available useless to me. They’d be great in Co-op mode, where you could strategize and carry different loadouts to help you complete your mission.
The in-game shop has a variety of guns, grenades, and other equipment for sale that open up a variety of loadout configurations. Playing mostly single player, I tended to try and choose something versatile. When playing with some friends, everyone could have a more specialized Jumper, greatly increasing your chances at success.
A nice additional touch are the number of icons and character skins you can unlock simply by playing the game and completing levels successfully. Each skin unlocks after you have beaten a certain number of levels. This customization is essential for being able to differentiate between players in co-op mode. For the solo player, it’s a neat option to be able to change your Jumper’s appearance.
Two Unique Twists to the Formula
The custom Jumper that you painstakingly customized in the beginning? They’re all disposable. Each time one of them dies during gameplay, their backpack starts to float in the air. This backpack is what has the game’s health bar, when it reaches zero you’ll get a game over. As long as you protect that backpack, another Jumper will soon appear to carry on the mission. It’s a nice gameplay system that adds something interesting to the strategy involved in completing a successful run.
Another unique aspect to the game, is how the campaign is set up. Hive Jump‘s campaign is separated into four acts of gradually increasing difficulty. What’s different is that they start with a something that reminds me of RTS (Real-Time Strategy) games. You (The Humans) and the aliens take turns trying to occupy nodes to ultimately try and take control of the whole map.
It’s when you try to take over an alien controlled node, that you’ll have to send in some Hive Jumpers to clear it out, causing the standard gameplay to take over. While it’s an interesting idea, it feels tacked on and doesn’t offer much in the way of interesting options. It seemed as if it’s sole purpose was to slow my progress and create an artificial sense of depth and length of gameplay.
Hive Jump is an ambitious title but ends up being disappointing overall. The developer’s attempt to craft something fun and unique within the rogue-like genre winds up being repetitive and somewhat shallow.
The core gameplay and the weapon and abilities systems are all enjoyable. There’s just no reason to use all of them since you’ll probably just settle on a favorite loadout and forget about the rest. The enemies and environments are all repetitive and become predictable and stale quickly.
I’d only recommend Hive Jump to hardcore fans of the genre and gamers who have friends available to jump into the game with them. Playing alone will only leave you bored and sometimes frustrated. Hive Jump is available on the NA eShop for $9.99 USD.
6/10 Average Rogue-likeOverly Ambitious Rogue-Like That Misses the Mark.
- Fun Gameplay & Solid Controls
- Interesting Weapon and Ability Systems
- Included Co-Op
- Bonus Customization
- Shallow & Repetitive Environments
- Repetitive Enemies w/ Predictable Patterns
- Almost Zero Story & Explanation
- 4 Players is too chaotic to be any fun