Hypergun is a stylish, procedurally generated first person shooter with a futuristic neon aesthetic and rogue-lite elements. You must fight aliens in an increasingly difficult simulation with the goal of building the eponymous Hypergun—the perfect combination of weapon parts that can eradicate aliens with ease.
In Hypergun you play as one of four office workers who are tasked with creating the Hypergun. This Hypergun is humanity’s hope against the alien invaders, and the best way this office knows how to go about creating it is a whole lot of trial and error. Unlike in recently released (and similar) Mothergunship, you don’t have control over how that gun takes shape. Instead, it seems like the builders of the Hypergun take a more machine-learning approach to it: try everything until something sticks. Some of these guns will end up looking quite silly: you can get attachments that shoot popcorn, or others that make your gun look like a coffee machine. It’s amusing, but the humor feels so sidelined or otherwise so arbitrary amongst the rest of the action that it was hard to notice.
To make the Hypergun, you must enter an alien combat simulation. When you enter the simulation you only get one chance at it, and once you die, that’s it: you lose mostly everything and must start a new run. Each run is a new attempt at a Hypergun. You pick up parts as you fight and maneuver your way through rooms with waves of spawning enemies. The action is fast, and can get quite hectic with melee enemies vying to slash you, and projectiles flying about.
As a first person shooter you would expect Hypergun’s gunplay to feel as good as its fast movement. Hypergun is so close to being a great, fast-paced shooter. But it’s not. It’s horrible. The gunplay is absolutely some of the weakest feeling, most unsatisfying shooting experiences I’ve had recently. While you accumulate gun parts, your proto-Hypergun changes shapes and projectiles often. You don’t get to choose how this goes, since you automatically attach anything to your gun once picked-up, but even so, nothing ever feels like you’re doing more than shooting a weak pea shooter at bullet-sponge enemies. You can acquire secondary attachments which do things like shoot grenades, rockets, or even sawblades and mini-zeppelins (which will then shoot your enemies) but none of these attachments have satisfying results. Hell, half the time I’m firing my secondary weapon I wouldn’t even be able to tell that an explosive projectile was launched unless I saw the cooldown for that weapon mode to activate. This isn’t only bad from a player feedback perspective, it’s just incredibly boring. There is absolutely no oomph to the way weapons feel or sound, and it’s a shame.
There are four playable characters total, each with their own characteristics, abilities, and base weapon. If you want to use a shotgun, you have to spend in-game currency to unlock the Executive class, or unlock the HR lady if you want to use the sniper rifle, etc. Each character has a series of abilities at their disposal: usually a speed boost, and a few other potentially effective support abilities. The intern can, for instance, throw hot coffee on enemies and is “thick skinned,” which negates some damage, etc. Each also has different starting (and potential) health, etc.
Each attempt at the Hypergun means a new configuration of rooms. While the procedural generation does a good job of randomizing room locations, it never creates anything too interesting. When entering rooms you know what to expect: the same five or six enemy types, and the same few room configurations. There is no elegance to the rooms at all. As you progress through Hypergun’s six levels, the rooms get cluttered with various thematic elements of whatever level you’re in, mostly adding clutter to the seemingly few room designs that already exist. Each level is also boringly single-storied, with there being little to no verticality whatsoever, making most rooms feel very samey.
Throughout your run you will come across three types of pickups: items that will help you on your current run, like health, item refills, etc.; bits, which are currency to buy items during that run; and Hypercoins which allow you to buy the other three playable characters, as well as attachments that will be discoverable throughout the levels. When you die in a run, you will lose all of your progress on that Hypergun, as well as everything you had with you. Every run is fresh—the only thing that persists is what you purchase with Hypercoins.
Hypergun does a poor job at making you feel like you’re moving forward. Progression isn’t a given in such a skill-based game, but power-ups or items you can collect that persist through death would have gone a long way to remove some of the tedious aspects of Hypergun. As it is right now, you have to use severely underpowered weapons through the same few rooms until you get lucky enough to get a weapon configuration that feels effective enough to continue.
The enemies themselves are interesting, but there just aren’t that many of them. The ones that are there are the normal variety you would expect to find: melee creatures that swarm towards you, snipers that hide behind shields, and alien mages that wield a sort of magic energy and annoyingly teleport around, etc. Sometimes the enemy AI would be questionable, however, as I would watch larger melee enemies repeatedly walk into walls or otherwise get stuck when trying to get to me. There are huge bosses to cap off each level, and these bosses are actually some of the bigger more impressive set-pieces in Hypergun.
Hypergun is so close to being good: it’s fast, its action is good, and the enemies were okay enough, but its gunplay and pacing absolutely make it something I can’t recommend in its current stage. A shooter needs good guns that feel fun and satisfying to play—especially if you are to repeat sections before surpassing them, which is the cornerstone of Hypergun’s gameplay.
Hypergun is available today on Steam, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.
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