Developer: NVYVE Studios
Platforms: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Review Copy Provided By Publisher
August 23, 2018
HYPERGUN is a roguelite first-person shooter that’s just been released on Steam, Xbox One, and PS4. When Earth is invaded by an unstoppable alien force, it is up to one man to save the world. Who is this hero? A genius commander leading a squad of elite troops? A futuristic supersoldier with the best equipment humanity has to offer?
You take on the role of Dewey Owens, an intern at DevTech whose only real qualification is that he’s a champion FPS player. DevTech is a large corporation that apparently runs on neon lights and Portal-esque humor, and they’re trying to build a new weapon to fight back against the alien invaders. However, rather than do something silly like have their scientists and engineers sit down to design the optimal gun to defeat the aliens, they created a procedurally generated simulation to do it for them.
In the ultimate case of throwing ideas at the wall to see what sticks, Dewey’s job is to run through the simulation again and again and again and again until he comes up with a weapon that beats the invaders. No mere Supergun will do; you need a HYPERGUN [sic].
The coffee-powered intern is your starting class, but you can unlock several others
Creating The HYPERGUN
The simulation has Dewey go through six different stages, fighting waves of aliens and looking for the weapon upgrades he needs to stay in the game. The idea is that when Dewey manages to create a gun that’s powerful enough to clear the last level of the simulation, they’ll know that design is strong enough to defeat the aliens in real life. At that point, they just have to make and sell it. If this comes across as incredibly silly, that's part of the fun - HYPERGUN is very tongue in cheek, and this set up at least gives a reason behind your constant dying and replaying.
The levels, enemies, and the titular weapon you are wielding are all procedurally generated, which can be a blessing or a curse for a game these days. Randomized levels make for massive amounts of replayability; however, the game itself has to be worth replaying. Luckily, HYPERGUN has the high speed run n’ gun action and enough silly weapon parts to back it up. It handles a lot like DOOM (2016), though sadly without the ability to beat demons to death with their own limbs. On the other hand, I once found an attachment that shoots rocket-propelled swords, so I won’t complain too much.
No roguelite would be complete without unlockables. In HYPERGUN, you have the opportunity to collect hypercoins that can be used at an in-game shop to unlock new weapon parts for the simulation, such as a can of soda that boosts your max health. Soda’s a weapon, right?
I found a tiny gun attachment for my gun that shoots even tinier guns. I am so happy.
Finally, of course, what’s a roguelite without brutal, punishing difficulty? Dewey might be one of the best FPS players in the world, but I most certainly am not. As I mentioned before, there are six levels that I’m aware of (because they’re shown on the high score list) - I have yet to beat level two.
Maybe A Bit Too Random
When a game’s core concept is a procedurally generated weapon that can do anything from shooting bullets really hard to launching bouncy sawblades, saying that it’s too random might be a strange accusation to make. However, what I really mean is that it may be random in some of the wrong ways.
First of all, you can't see the stats on your pickups until you get them. You could memorize what they look like, but that only comes after a lot of trial and error. I know that's how pickups are handled in The Binding of Isaac, which is pretty much the foundation for modern roguelites, but I much prefer how it’s done in 20XX where you get a quick explanation of each item and choose whether or not to take it. If I’ve got a really strong gun with a low rate of fire, I don’t want to accidentally pick up something that’s going to drop my accuracy, for example.
It doesn't matter how many "teamwork" signs there are, this is a single-player game.
My other concern is that many of the pickups give bonuses or penalties to your weapon’s stats based on percentages, rather than flat values. That means that focusing on one stat has increasing returns - if you boost your damage by 10% and then another 10%, the second boost will be larger than the first. Unfortunately, since you don't always know what pieces you’re picking up, there’s no way to reliably do that. Additionally, since many of the pickups give you a boost to one stat and a negative to another, making progress on your HYPERGUN can be difficult and largely comes down to luck. Sure, it can be a lot of fun, but it can also be quite frustrating.
Worthy Competition For Mothergunship?
While there are things that I like about HYPERGUN and a couple of things that I don’t, overall it is very enjoyable to play. My biggest concern is not anything about the game per se, but that it’s being released so soon after a very similar game about creating the best gun that you can and blowing up aliens with it - Mothergunship.
The main difference between the two is that, while HYPERGUN is randomized, Mothergunship lets you design your ideal gun from the ground up. At PAX East I saw someone build a gun that was just a complete square of machine guns all glued together, which would be impossible in HYPERGUN for several reasons. The other differences are relatively minor: HYPERGUN’s action is a bit quicker, and the dry humor definitely helps it to stand out but has little bearing on the gameplay.
The level one boss. I've only gotten past him twice.
So which one should you get? That’s ultimately up to you. The idea of a procedurally generated weapon in an FPS is a novel one, and just silly enough to work. There’s a lot of fun to be had in grabbing everything you can find and hoping for the best, and it leads to some fantastic surprises (like rocket-propelled swords, and guns that shoot more guns). There’s definitely a thrill in the gambling - and, for what it’s worth, HYPERGUN is $10.00 cheaper.
My final thought is this: At just $15.00 for a very fun game, I’d have no hesitation in recommending HYPERGUN to anyone who enjoys a good run and gun FPS. My only caveat is that it’s probably not worth buying both this and Mothergunship: while the games are different, they both scratch the same itch in different ways. So if you already own Mothergunship, or if you feel strongly that you’d prefer a customizable gun instead of a randomized one, HYPERGUN may not be the right game for you.
To anyone else, I say: Welcome to DevTech! Now where’s my coffee, intern?