Game Review #101: Hive Jump (Nintendo Switch)
Reviewer: Frankie W.
Developer: Graphite Lab
Publisher: Graphite Lab
Category: Action, Multiplayer, Rogue-lite, Metroidvania
Release Date: 1.11.2019
Price (at time of review): $9.99
Buy Hive Jump from the Nintendo eShop here.
A War of Attrition
It’s not often I find myself standing up from my seat, screaming at the screen, frantically barking orders at my friends as we attempt to ascertain a solution to the rapidly-going-downhill situation going on on-screen. Our carefully-planned loadout of 4 power-armor-clad Jumpers is suddenly thrown by the wayside as we all get batted in different directions by giant insectoid creatures branding massive claws, biological fluid being splattered in our directions.
Just like that, one of us is down, a respawn timer stuck under where his health bar once was. But this was the man carrying the backpack—your lifeline! As the rest of us fought hard to get back from the far corners to which we were flung, someone succumbing to the fire damage from lava in which they unfortunately landed, one of us getting picked off by shots of green goo from all sides from winged insectoids rapidly shooting them, and the last of us alive using the jetpacks to deftly weave between monsters to try and pick up the transmitter backpack that is currently under attack by these intelligent alien creatures.
As the respawn timers dwindle, so does the durability of the backpack, and as our last hero closes the gap, one of those gives first. Jetpack fuel empty, he lands among the destroyed backpack. No more help is coming, no more respawns to happen. The distracted swarm turns their attention to the lone Jumper, and he did not stand a chance much longer. Mission failed. Our attempt to take back one of our cities from the evil enemy ended in futility.
There will be many more fights, but this was one of my first experiences with this game. Let's get into what makes Hive Jump really stand out from the crowd, and I will explain a little more about what I just described!
Anyone Else Getting Starship Troopers Vibes?
Hive Jump is set in the far future, in which humanity's technology has grown far beyond what we have today, making space travel possible as well as all kinds of other sci-fi-quality-of-life improvements that come with it. Humanity's conquest has not been slowed until they ran into the bugs, from which a huge conflict arose. The Ordovician are a race of intelligent space-faring insects that are capable of rapidly colonizing planets with hives and killing all the inhabitants in the name of their own race. Not willing to communicate or compromise, the Ordovician use psychic waves and pheromones to communicate with the wide variety of kinds of bugs in this massive brood.
The ‘Vics, as the Jumpers call them, are the biggest threat to mankind ever seen before, and with the swarm pushing humanity further and further back, all efforts and resources have been moved toward fighting this menace.
Go For The Hive!
You will handle command of humanity’s forces against the Ordovician, choosing what to attack and how to defend on a large map featuring multiple colonies or hives, where you will take turns in battle with the Ordovician in order the win or lose the conflict. You handle the overall fight from this map screen, defending against the Ordovician in an automated battle, but when you choose to attack a hive, that's where the real meat and potatoes of this game come in. The game's story campaign is split into 4 acts with rising difficulties that feature a reason for the conflict. The game also features an arcade game-type to throw you right into the action if you don't want to get all into the story.
The gameplay of attacking a hive is where the hype sets in. You are playing as a randomly-named Jumper—a name which can be occasionally hilarious, so you will always be double-checking for it when you respawn—with up to 4 players co-op, in which everyone gets their own profile that saves their stats and upgrades. One of you will have to carry the transmitter backpack, which is what will allow you to respawn if you die. Once it is not being carried, the bugs WILL attack it, and if it is destroyed, that is how you trigger a game over. Death isn’t always the biggest problem if your team is well coordinated and quick to save the backpack, but it should still be minimized, because things can go from 0 to 100 very quickly in this game when the hive chooses to swarm you.
Your Jumper is outfitted with a primary weapon, a grenade-type sub-weapon, and a utility item. There is a big variety for all of these to allow you to cater to your preferred playstyle pretty quickly; from shotguns to flamethrowers, ice-ray guns and radiation blasters, you are sure to find your preferred bug blaster one way or another! The Sub-weapons are generally grenade-type items—of which you will usually be in short supply—that are all extremely useful for busting up bug butt and breaking rocks to get you into hidden paths!
The hive is randomly generated and full of difficult platforming that you wouldn't be able to handle without your trusty jetpack! Sadly, the hive is also home to tons of doors that lead to quick-challenge levels, with the prize being a relic—an Item that stacks up and gives you powerful effects, giving you the edge over the Ordovician—but a lot of these challenges come with just that, challenges! You may be stripped of your jet pack, or you might have to platform in the dark, but it is worth it, because you will get a relic and a huge amount of Ordovician goo! Why would you want goo, you ask? Well, because the humans have backward engineered the powerful biomatter contained within the ‘Vics to bolster our own technology and power. You will be able to level up your weapons and unlock more using the goo, as well as map actions like reinforcing your bases or performing psionic sweeps of the enemy hive.
You will fight your way to the bottom of the hive and fight a boss, which will finish your turn and hopefully reduce the hive’s durability to zero, allowing you to claim it and move ahead towards your objective. This is the gameplay loop to power up your own forces and be able to increase your battle power, take down the objective, and win!
Hive Jump’s core gameplay is extremely fun and rewarding. The game keeps throwing new enemies at you, as well as the ever-changing design of hives. I found myself having an absolute blast the whole time, and this game is going to see lots of repeat gameplay on my game nights! The rocking soundtrack and beautiful pixel artwork meshes well with what essentially feels like the Starship Troopers video game we all actually wanted—instead of what we got—and I absolutely love that! If you are looking for a challenging co-op game to play with friends, and you love some sci-fi goodness (This game features a FULL codex with a TON of world-building and exposition on the items and life forms in the game, which is a huge plus for me; I love that stuff!) then you can’t go wrong with picking up Hive Jump for $9.99! I give Hive Jump an 8/10!
Buy Hive Jump from the Nintendo eShop here.
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*Review Code Provided by Graphite Lab