Across the last few years, first-person shooters with roguelike characteristics have become relatively common. Efforts like Mothergunship, Immortal Redneck, Heavy Bullets, and Paranautical Activity have all blended visceral gunplay with procedurally generated environments, randomized perks, and permadeath, resulting in a number of thoroughly rousing experiences. As such, any aspiring upstart has a moderately high hurdle to overcome before earning the admiration of its audience.
Certainly, NVYVE Studios’ Hypergun hits all the requisite checkmarks of an ambitious competitor. As the moniker infers, firearms are the real star of the show. Beyond a multitude of add-on modules that adjust stats and add modifiers like freezing or critical damage, players can spend coins to unlock characters with additional base weapons. It helps that the game is attractive, with the Unity Engine rendering neon-hued environments with fluid framerates on systems with an advanced GPU.
Yet, while Hypergun has the tenets, a lack of balance undermines play. One of first perceptible problems stems from your loadouts. Starting with an underpowered machine gun and a single perk that elevates one stat while de-buffing another, eliminating enemies isn’t all that enjoyable. Trash mobs teleport in unexpectedly and while their rudimentary pathfinding makes them easy targets, they tend to teleport into a stage, inflicting damage as the blindside you.
The game’s snipers aren’t any smarter, but are armed with defensive armor, which makes eliminating them a bit more challenging. They tend to move about and are briefly vulnerable as they drop their protective shielding to shift about. But once they establish a position and fortify themselves, they’ll hunt you down with laser targeting, forcing you to keep moving- especially when there are multiple snipers in a room. As such, you’ll circle-strafe your way through much of the game, which can get fatiguing after just a few rooms. While movement is ubiquitous in first-person shooters, here you’ll be doing it few breaks, as the number of enemies in room feels excessive.
Another wearying element are the modules themselves, which typically don’t improve your ability to eliminate the hordes of foes in each room. Occasionally, perks make things harder. You won’t know until you pick up an item that its going to reduce your firing or movement speed or lessen the impact of each shot. And Hypergun’s enemy absorb far too much damage. The most basic enemies like crab-like Crawlers make multiple shots to kill, while bulkier foes like armored Chargers demand upwards of a dozen shots to decimate. There’s nothing wrong with a hearty challenge, but when it feels like your using an enfeebled gun to take down bullet sponges, a first-person shooter not longer feels visceral, like it does here.
There are some engaging moments, with boss battles being one of the best showdowns Hypergun has to offer. And while they’re gratifying as you whittle away health and try to evade taking damage, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll lose a portion of your health. Here, Hypergun doesn’t offer the traditional post-win rejuvenation, as such, you’ll often head back into battle in a weakened state. All too often, any momentum gained after a hard-fought victory will be stolen from a collision with a subordinate foe in the next stage. Ideally, Hypergun would have include more health regenerating pick-ups as well as the pick-ups that refresh your secondaries, which allow you to do things like throw caustic coffee at adversaries.
On the upside, Hypergun’s narrative is cleverly presented, permitting players to read the myriad of Post-it notes scattered around to glean elements of the apocalyptical context. Gameplay is rooted in the concept of simulation, so here it makes sense to repeatedly die and revisit the game world with a slightly stronger loadout. And while game’s unlockable characters and their corresponding guns don’t radically tip the balance, it doesn’t seem like it would be too difficult for NVYVE Studios to make some adjustments.
Having played Hypergun for a few weeks proceeding launch, it’s evident that the developers are listening to players and making necessary changes. But in its current state, the game still isn’t much fun, and feels like a collection of ideas tossed together without much cohesiveness or playtesting. While there’s still hope for Hypergun, if you’re seeking a first-person rogue-like, give City of Brass or Mothergunship a go first.
Hypergun was played on PC with review code provided by the publisher.