Switch version tested
Review code provided
HyperParasite is a rogue twin-stick shooter with procedurally generated levels developed by Troglobytes Games and published by Hound Picked Games and QubicGames. It releases to a warm welcome on PC, Xbox, PlayStation and, of course, Nintendo Switch. Will the parasite take hold, read on.
Take control of a grotesque alien parasite, the HyperParasite to be exact, who embodies yet despises the human race because why not. I mean, if you hate something that much why not attempt to destroy its very existence by becoming it. The concept is a pure mix of the best bits from Invasion of the Body Snatchers set against a dark dystopian backdrop with more ’80s neon glow than the latest series of Stranger Things.
Starting each run is quick and painless, the groovy pixel art loading screen details tips and tricks to aid the cause. The usual set of options are available alongside an almanac of characters unlocked over the five different acts. Once you drop into the arena, sporting a fresh human carcass, it’s time to explore and eliminate. Movement is mapped to the left analogue stick with 360 aiming via the right, standard attack, special attack and an essential dodge mechanic can be found on the shoulders and triggers. If you want to survive master the dodge manoeuvre as a priority, opponents are unforgiving and carry an arsenal of firepower. You will soon become overwhelmed and die, so my advice is to keep on rollin’ quicker than Fred Durst.
The form you begin with is randomly selected from the roster of unlocked characters, each bringing a different style of play linked to their weapon ability. It really goes a long way in making sure each run remains fresh while giving an element of dread because you’ll often end up with ‘the crap’ character. Some will be masters of long-range attacks, the next Hawkeye in the making, while others specialise in a more up close and personal death. With over 60 different characters to unlock, by looting in-game currency dropped by fallen enemies or crates, there’s always good reason to have another quick run out.
Due to the design each playthrough is never quite the same, areas generate to build the 5 acts in a random fashion. Although the game will look and feel the same it provides uniqueness in the layout. To help navigate the neon nightmare the inclusion of a mini-map is a welcomed addition. The top left of the screen is host to player stats although playing in handheld mode all of the text was very small and just about readable.
Defeating the hordes is fun and the main objective in HyperParasite but it’s tough going. A single run can last mear minutes if you are not fully hyped, upon entering each ‘dungeon’ area the parasite will be locked in until every last living thing is dispensed of. A quick dash, a perfectly timed shot and explosive barrels or abandoned vehicles can be turned into a nifty cocktail of fiery death for any poor soul dumb enough to be in the local vicinity. Once an area is cleared you are then free to progress to another before repeating the same steps once more.
Kill in quick session to build momentum and chain, with some dropping coins. The in-game currency is hard to come by but once acquired can be exchanged in the shop towards new characters or a selection of power-ups. Upgrades for the parasite form can also be found out in the open. Speaking of which, if you take too much damage then your human body will explode to reveal the parasite. Think of it as a second chance to keep going but note, it becomes a one-shot permadeath situation and you will be unable to use coins in the shop apart from on the new characters.
Boss fights follow the same formula but provide more of a challenge and the need for a tight strategy. Many will bring backup so try and dispense with their minions as quickly as possible, all the time keeping an eye on the big bads health bar. Bosses add a touch of humour in naming conventions that nod pop culture. In fact, there are subtle and not so subtle nods throughout, it was great to encounter and take down the ultimate underdog Rocky with my Ghostbusters proton pack in the first act.
In the visual department, as touched upon at the start of this, the stylisation opted for provides an ’80s vibe. The world is dark yet contrasted by neon pinks and blues, it looks great but the character models are just a tad too small in handheld mode to pick up on the finer details. HyperParasite runs smoothly and the combat is fast-paced. The package is finished off with a synth-tastic soundtrack that will have you bopping away during play. It’s an original score by Van Reeves and Joe Kataldo and worth a listen.
While HpyerParasite doesn’t push any new boundaries in the genre it is a good example of how to make an enjoyable experience for the player. The setting and visual design are very appealing and go a long way to covering up some of the issues with fidelity that is lost on the Switch version. I originally played an early build at EGX on PC and the game looked a lot better. HyperParasite is challenging but a little time with it and eventually things will click into place, there’s a decent co-op mode if you want to share the killing.
TBG Score 7.5/10
Platform: PC, Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch
Release Date: 03/04/2020
No. of Players: 1-2
Category: Shooter, Action, Arcade
Developer: Troglobytes Games
Download link: eShop