There was a point in time shortly after the release of Gears of War 2, that horde mode was a game type that every game studio was trying to replicate and every gamer wanted their hands on. Although, there have been many great approaches to the wave-based survival shooting modes over the last decade or so, Digital Cybercherries is taking the toys out of the wrapper in HYPERCHARGE: Unboxed, kitbashing horde and tower-defense together to try and create something unique in the first-person shooter genre.
HYPERCHARGE: Unboxed drops you into various areas of a household, without any safety nets or hand-holding leading to some fumbling around at first while trying to pickup the mechanics and flow of waves. (However, this is only temporary because the developers are implementing a post release patch that will add a tutorial). But once you are able to grasp the basics of combat and building waves, an enjoyable experience awaits.
The core mechanics revolve around building up traps and barriers in between combat waves in order to help stave off enemy toys from attacking the three HYPER-CORE you must protect. In addition to the walls and traps, each HYPER-CORE has a battery tower that you can power up to add an additional level of shielding to the health of the HYPER-CORE.
While during both combat and building turns, you can venture around the entire area of the room that you are in, searching for more building credits or other hidden unlockables, weapons, or weapon attachments. This is one of the things that HYPERCHARGE nails, the scope of being a toy and turning everyday environments into sprawling playgrounds of scavenging and shooting. Normally, these may seem like uninspired locales when used as settings in other first-person shooters, but in HYPERCHARGE there is a sense of of scale and amusement that other games wouldn’t be able to capture in the same setting. I guess unless you were a toy in those games too.
From the beginning, both PvP and PvE are readily accessible. Between single-player, local co-op, or online matchmaking you can squad up– or soldier on solo– in the first two available levels. The online matchmaking never showed any weaknesses in our time with the game online, but the lack of native voice chat is always a buzzkill. I spent some of my time playing solo, some partnered up with friends, and others playing with randoms– the only downside was playing by yourself the waves could either be too easy or way too difficult depending on the level and difficulty setting– I would avoid playing alone unless that’s you’re only option. HYPERCHARGE definitely hits its stride when playing with a full squad.
The gunplay feels fluid, and shots feel like they connect when firing at your foes, but sometimes the movement itself, more-so the platforming, can feel a little off at times. It would be rather frustrating to miss a jump when scaling a bookshelf trying to reach a hidden collectable and have to trek all the way back up from the bedroom floor. A stiffness in movement definitely can make traversal aggravating at times, but when your play is focused on combat and building it’s a little less obtuse.
Enemy variety is enough to keep new levels feeling fresh and changes the strategy that may go into tackling a new level or wave. Once you figure out the enemy, you’ll know what to brace yourself for in regards to strength and attack patterns, unless it’s something like the spinners that bumble around smashing into everything the same as they would if you let one rip in real life.
HYPERCHARGE: Unboxed took me back in time to when I would be sitting on my bedroom floor with my favorite action figures, while an army stumbles out from the toy box, only now it’s not my imagination and I’m fending for myself. Blending horde-mode and tower defense, HYPERCHARGE brings a refreshingly fun, take to the battlefield, with shimmering plastic and sense of wonder at the forefront. The gameplay loop overall, once you get into the groove, is addicting. Perfecting runs trying to get higher scores and unlocking new traps, levels, and customizations is the true drive of the game and without pay-to-win mechanics involved at all, the desire to collect cosmetics can be exhilarating without being a barrier to new players or gamers with less time to sink into HYPERCHARGE. The lack of game modes and the sometimes stale movement are the two big downfalls HYPERCHARGE: Unboxed has, while outside of that, it offers up an enjoyable co-op and competitive experience, something that isn’t readily available on the Switch right now outside of a handful of games. I would definitely recommend HYPERCHARGE for those seeking a wave-based, first-person shooter.
The developers have made the commitment to support the game post-launch, and have said they plan on taking the player base’s feedback into consideration when working on future free updates for HYPERCHARGE: Unboxed. So even if this experience doesn’t sound robust enough for you at launch, this may be a game worth keeping on your wish list for when future updates start rolling out.
HYPERCHARGE: Unboxed is available now for Nintendo Switch and in early access on Steam. We reviewed the game on the Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the developer.
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