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Review: Hive Jump

Title: Hive Jump

Genre: Action, Platformer, 2D

Modes: Single-player, Multiplayer (local)

Developer: Graphite Labs

Publisher: Graphite Labs

Platform(s): PC, Xbox One, Wii U, Nintendo Switch (reviewed)

Release: January 11, 2019 (Switch)

Outnumbered, you (and the many jumpers you control) are the last stand against a full on onslaught of bugs. Destroy the hives and defend your base. Welcome to Hive Jump, jumper!

Hive Jump, a roguelike run and gun, makes it way to the Nintendo Switch and Xbox One. The game features a campaign mode, arcade mode, and challenge mode.

In the campaign mode, you play through the story of the game, defending your bases as you invade each hive. As you destroy a hive, you take control of that area and build your base on that space. If you lose a base to the bugs, that space turns into a hive, and you need to destroy the hive again to gain control of the base again. You start off on the easy levels and, as you progress through the game, you open the harder levels.

The arcade mode you are clearing out the hive without any story. And in the challenge mode, you try to complete the challenges that are presented to you like, for instance, completing a clean run. These challenges can be difficult, but a nice addition for those that beat the campaign mode and want a new challenge.

The Switch version allows for up to four local co-op players, and you’ll need all the help you can get to wipe the bugs off the face of the planet....

The Tip and The Top

The game mechanics are easy to pick up; the right stick aims, and the left stick moves your character. The RZ button shoots your gun, the right shoulder throws grenades, while the LZ button is used to trigger your jetpack. After a hive run or two, the controls become second nature. And it’s a good thing too, because with all the action on the screen, you need to react quickly.

While the game is difficult, there are aspects of the game that provide some relief to the player. One of these aspects is the idea behind the backpack. You’re going to go through a lot of jumpers (the characters you control). Each time the jumpers die, they drop the backpack that they’re carrying. This is your objective, to get the backpack to the hive boss, and if the health of the backpack is lowered to zero, then your run is over. After the jumper dies, the backpack acts as the respawn spot for the new jumper. The catch is that there is a delay before the new jumper respawns, so you need to maneuver the backpack so as not to get hit by the bugs and their projectiles.

Another aspect that makes the game more manageable is that it incorporates the roguelike aspects very well. The hives are broken down into different procedurally generated levels, and each bug and nest you eradicate will drop goo, the in game currency. Once you complete a level of the hive, all the goo you accumulated can be used to buy new weapons (or upgrade the weapons you purchased). You can also save the goo you earned to upgrade your bases. This presents a dilemma to the player: do you keep going through the level while clearing out as much as possible to earn more goo, or do you advance to the next level so you take on the hive boss with as much life left as possible on your backpack. This presents a really good risk/reward system; and sometimes you gamble and win, and other times you regret the decision you just made.

The boss fights are fantastic, reminiscent of boss fights of SNES and Genesis era of gaming. The battles are epic since the bosses have a lot of life. But the sense of exhilaration after beating a boss is quickly washed away when you realize that you have more bugs to extinguish.

The Flip and The Flop

The game does get a bit busy, and this did affect the overall performance of the game a few times. It was a brief moment where there was some lag, but during our game play, this only happened twice. It certainly didn’t take away from the overall experience of the game.

Final Grade: A

Hive Jumper does roguelikes right. The risk/reward system is fair and balanced, and it leaves the players with a sense of accomplishment. Even a failed run allows the user to keep some of the goo that they earned, which allows you to level up your character and your bases. The combination of base defense building and run and gun gameplay certainly adds a new and welcomed dynamic to the roguelike genre.

Overall the game is just pure fun, a wonderful nod to the SNES/Genesis era games while incorporating new aspects of modern gaming.

Review copy provided by Graphite Labs



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