Every time a new roguelike is announced the comment sections under it are filled with throngs of people stating that this subgenre is just being tacked onto a new title to stretch out the game’s content and add the illusion of replayability.
These statements are usually contestable as most titles do try their best to incorporate the elements of this new range of rogue games and use their unique characteristics to make something interesting.
With Hypergun, however, the comments section was right as this title seems to have a single, weak premise with randomisation and permadeath thrown in with very little care.
This central idea is right there in the name – each run starts out with a bog standard gun (an SMG, rifle, shotgun or sniper rifle) and through random unlocks the weapon becomes more powerful and exotic. While you may start with a weak sauce SMG, you can end with a monstrosity that looks like it was made by aliens as it shoots lasers and explodes blimps around the room. Crafting your own Hypergun and using it to defeat the game’s enemies is the central draw here.
In practice this process is slow, uninteresting and shallow.
These problems start with the gunplay. All the weapons here have zero sense of weight or punch and it feels like you’re using a squirt gun most of the time. Enemies barely react to being shot and the sound design is particularly poor. It also doesn’t help that you start with the SMG and the other guns are locked behind hypercoins – metaprogression currency that is difficult to come by early in the game.
New attachments to try to mix things up are mostly boring. We really can’t get excited about “+5% accuracy” or “+10% damage” when you don’t see the effects of those changes when you’re actually firing the gun.
The transformative unlocks which add alternate fire modes and significantly change how guns look are rarer to come by. While they do make firing a bit more fun, they cannot help the gunplay which is boring at its core, nor can it help the frankly awful enemy design.
Your opponents in Hypergun have no real sense of consistency both in terms of design and programming.
This game’s premise is that you’re in a simulation, which is why it uses such bright aesthetics and everything looks artificial. That being said, some enemies look like artificial programmes with hard edges and futuristic tech, but others are more biological and look completely out-of-place.
And, boy, will you have time to analyse these enemies. The game’s own bestiary shows that there’s only 17 different types of enemies. While that may sound like a decent amount, six of those are bosses you won’t be fighting very often.
This means that you’ll be killing the same enemies, over and over again. Gangs of the same enemy type can spawn in one room and, on some of the larger challenge areas, you’ll mow down multiples of every kind of normal enemy in the game.
A few of these are outright bugged too. One type stretches across the room and flies through the air when killed, and another charges into the middle of the room and then does nothing else, seemingly frozen.
This is all exasperated by the level design. Like many roguelikes each room is pre-made, but how they’re connected to make up a level is random every time. The randomisation in Hypergun is probably the worst implementation of this sytem we’ve ever seen. It creates multiple dead ends every level and there’s a tiny handful of pre-made rooms to play in. Never have we seen a randomised level system that feels so predictable and repetitive.
All of these problems are even more glaring to us because they are all encountered – multiple times – in the first hour of gameplay. If there was a bit more playtesting done here, these issues should have been brought up and addressed.
This leads to Hypergun feeling like a 0.1 alpha release on Steam’s Early Access, and not a $15 (R105 local price) full game.
If that was the case we’d be a lot more positive and optimistic about this game. The weapon system has promise and it could have been a lot of fun in a more competent game.
Speaking of: released just last month was Mothergunship, another FPS roguelike with a big focus on weapon crafting and even a similar theme of a resetting simulation.
While Mothergunship does cost more, it’s hands down the better choice here.
And that is, unfortunately, the real conclusion for Hypergun: don’t buy it. It’s not worth your time, and it’s not worth your money.
Outside of all the problems we’ve listed there’s many more smaller ones. Why is one of the most common enemies a sniper that tracks you across the room and takes forever to kill because it has a shield? Why is the music so limited? Why is the first boss a damn sphere which just floats in the middle of the room and lets you shoot it?
Argh, we’re rambling now. Even if you’re a roguelike diehard, we’d recommend avoiding this game.