Can you recall a time when you and your friends dumped quarter-after-quarter into arcade game machines to reach that next level, so engrossed in the action on-screen that time and money became unimportant? If so, Hive Jump, a new side-scrolling shooter from Graphite Lab, will take you on a nostalgic journey back to those golden days of arcade gaming glory. With blazingly-fast sci-fi action and surprisingly deep game design, the team at Graphite Lab has created an experience that is indelibly fun throughout its several hours of game-play.
The premise for the game should be familiar to fans of the sci-fi genre: Set in the 24th century, the human race is at war with an aggressive and blood-hungry horde of inimical aliens and it is up to you and the other members of the J.U.M.P. Corps to save humanity from extinction.
Though its premise is nothing original, the game’s pure emphasis on fun game design and challenging game-play are what make it a joy to play, especially in its cooperative mode along with up to 3 friends.
Dynamic Level Design
After launching the game’s campaign, several different paths can be taken to eradicate the alien horde.
Known as “Jumps”, each level provides a stiff challenge filled with evil aliens to destroy and many secrets to discover, such as upgrades for your team’s arsenal or ancient artifacts that provide special abilities. Jumps are comprised of “procedurally generated” hives of alien armies that develop based on the player(s) actions and performance.
A simple, but brilliantly fun meta-game serves as the skeleton of this system, where each decision the player(s) makes and each Jump that is taken affects the ultimate outcome of the ongoing war between aliens and humans.
A Welcome Challenge
One component of the game’s difficulty comes from an AI system that bestows enemies with the ability to defend strategically and attack tactically to get an edge on you and your friends.
Graphite Lab gives a nod to the brutal challenge of retro arcade games of yore by providing players with a mobile re-spawn point in the form of a backpack, which, if destroyed, causes the player(s) to lose all lives and restart from the beginning of the game’s adventure.
An Homage to Gaming’s Roots
In addition to its fast-paced, fun-focused game-play, Hive Jump’s art design is a romantic tribute to pixelated arcade shooters from two decades ago–an enormous amount of detail has been packed into each environment, and with graphical touches such as dynamic lighting powered by Sprite Lamp, the game’s retro style looks both gorgeous and fresh.
Each environment has been beautifully crafted to convey its own unique feel–Graphite Lab has clearly taken a lot of care to make each part of the world feel like uncharted territory to the player, and with obstacles and enemies spawned based on individual play-style, there is plenty of reason to come back for a second or even third play through.
By smartly blending old-school art, music, and game design with modern graphical touches and game-play elements that leverage the power of the PC, Mac, Linux, and Wii U platforms, Hive Jump offers something unique in the often ubiquitous world of modern video games.