Hive Jump Review
Metroid meet HellDivers
I don’t like writing reviews like this. It gives me no joy telling you that a game that looks really great in screenshots and video, such as this one, is not good. Though not good may be an understatement.
Though ‘not good’ may be an understatement, as I think I’m leaning towards hate because Hive Jump has the skeleton of what could have been a smash hit multiplayer Metroidvania title, but instead is a buggy, shallow mess that feels like something that should still be in Early Access.
Developer: Graphite Lab
Publisher: Graphite Lab
Release: January 18, 2017
Intel i7-3930K @ 3.20GHz
32GB DDR3 RAM
EVGA GTX 980
Hive Jump can be described as four player Metroidvania with both run and gun gameplay, roguelike item collection, and permadeath. Multiplayer is supported via both split screen and online play, or at least so I’m told as I wasn’t able to get online to function ever. As a matter a fact, the developers readded a beta tag to the online functionality with an update today, which was formally there while the game was in Early Access, of which it is not ready to have left.
In my time with the game (over five hours) I experienced various bugs from levels refusing to load and not allowing me to do anything until I manually closed the game and restarted it, to my character glitching through the edges of stages causing them to reset their location. While these bugs occurred maybe three times each, they are still worth noting but the least of this game’s problems.
The main mode found in Hive Jump, that just launched with the proper release of the game, is a campaign mode that has players building bases on an overworld map while fighting back alien forces. Every time you infiltrate enemy bases you’ll be tasked with finishing so many levels to bring them down. The number of levels required can be between 3 and 12, with every third level being a boss or timed ambush stage wherein players need to stay alive for a set amount of time.
On paper that sounds great, but the problem here is the overwhelming amount of repetition. Levels are randomly generated, or in this case made up of various set pieces that will quickly become recognizable after only an hour of playing. While there are a few different biomes, they seemingly all pull from the same database of pieces to use, and thus you’re just getting reskinned stages and a few reskinned enemies.
Speaking of enemies, there is around 11 total in the game, counting bosses. Enemies are made up of small nearly harmless bugs, flying bugs that shoot at you, explosive bugs, giant worms that one hit kills you should you step in their mouth (which is very easy to do), jumping bugs, and thick bugs that launch grenade-like projectiles at you. Aside from those you have a handful of bosses that are far less challenging or threatening than actually traversing the levels to reach them.
“the problem here is the overwhelming amount of repetition”
Even if you don’t mind a bit of repetition, what you’ll find is that there isn’t much to work towards here. Sure, you can unlock different weapons, upgrades, and skills, but in my time with the game, I found more success using the basic starter weapons after upgrading them. Other weapons sound great on paper, like rocket launchers, flamethrowers, and cryo guns, but none of them seemingly dispatch of enemies as fast or accurately. Obviously, they would feel a bit more useful when used in tandem with other players, but as online never seemed to work, I can’t confirm or deny that. Many of the upgrades seem like they may be useful for multiplayer as well, like healing fields and grenades, but obviously at this point I’ll never know.
Even if the online features worked, there just isn’t enough content here to warrant the price tag of $20. The campaign mode is repetitive and lacks any real depth having only a beginning and an ending cutscene. The arcade mode that has you playing through stages in a row, passing through biomes feels a smidgen better but still suffers from stages being randomly generated from the set pieces available.
An overall lack of content and variety mixed with various annoying bugs and a wonky online mode make Hive Jump one of the more disappointing games I’ve played this year. On paper and screenshots it looks great, but there just isn’t enough refinement and depth to warrant this worth purchasing or playing, even for the most diehard Metroidvania fans.