Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Indie Impressions - Hive Jump

Hive Jump

Now Available on Steam

Developed by Graphite Lab


In a corrosive, primal, psychedelically toxic world of spores and insects. One not too different from how one would imagine the Sea of Corruption told of in Ghibli's classic Nausicaä, a group of hardened yet gaudily colored space marines are tasked with ridding the badlands of deep and twisting Hives of an oppressive insect species. Kinda sound like something you've seen? Well.. the story isn't too important here anyway, because Hive Jump will have you incapacitated with flashing lights, intense action, and plenty of bug guts, anyway.

Hive Jump is a sci-fi roguelike with an emphasis on volatile and intense multiplayer action. It also has an emphasis on big, satisfying to use guns. And lots of them. The variety of weaponry in Hive Jump,  the customization they come with in the form of upgrades, and the satisfaction caused by their force of impact and the crunchy explosions which send the currency flying across the screen play center role in keeping you engaged and hunting for satisfying to collect bug Goo.

It's also absolutely gorgeous. Hive Jump creates visualizations that I've probably never seen achieved with such a distinct pixel-art style particularly through its incredible usage of lighting. Every bullet flying down a frozen hallway, and every fire-y explosion of a grenade lights up the surrounding surfaces and backgrounds with sense-assaulting lights, colors and sounds.The bosses are impressive, majestic and grotesque behemoths that cover a good portion of the screen. With complex and dazzling bullet patterns, fighting these gigantic insect beasts reminded me of the sacred Ohmu species from the aforementioned Nausicaä and makes me wonder if it was an influence.

The forward-pushing, cave clearing, dungeon crawling nature of the formula here was spot-on, exactly what I expected from a beautiful pixel-art roguelike at first. That was propelled into in absolute addictive phenomena the moment I thrust myself into the chaos of online co-op. Hive Jump supports online and local multiplayer for up to four players, which was an inticing premise to me for a roguelike and probably one of the central and integral features here. Once I found a nice, quiet overseas friend with the matchmaking we dove into the Hive over and over to collect that sweet Goo and upgrade our weapons. Then we'd take our upgraded weapons and do it again just to see the carnage. This repeated several times until I realized my entire night had gone by and I was actually happy for it.

Even after all this, I still had so many weapons and gadgets to unlock and try, so many more upgrades to unlock, so much more goo to collect. Each consecutive night was spent hunting for new comrades to drag into the depths with me. Hive Jump has a seriously effective way of dragging you back in and making you think about it when you're not playing, especially with a good partner or team to stick with.

The challenge rooms take a much needed turn away from the monotonous randomness of the standard roguelike fair, pitting you against challenging and well-designed platforming sections that feel more akin to addictive classics of the SNES era in exchange for new upgrades and extra loot. These were a very nice distraction from the randomized dungeon delving, and a great opportunity to score much needed upgrades.

A campaign mode is now available after a long road to the final release of Hive Jump which adds a layer of strategy and progression to the game that offers even more incentive to jump into increasingly difficult Hives. It features a tactical, turn-based overworld map that gives you control of building bunkers, setting traps, and using your hard-earned Goo to reinforce them all with more troops. This mode can be tackled with as many players as you wish, but it's especially nice to have around for solo sessions when you want more motivation than just incredibly paced action.

The music is as infectious as the venomous insectoid lifeforms your team will be mowing down. The visuals are a wild and neon ballet of bright bullets and colorful insect plasma. The weapons all feel heavy, bad-ass, and ultimately satisfying to use and the action is as addictive as it gets. Hive Jump isn't just another roguelite, it's an evolution of the genre.

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