Arcade style space shooters normally mean one thing. Hectic fast paced action with a whole ton of whizzing lights, fast bullets and blind panic button bashing like your life depends on it. If the title is anything to go by, Hyper Void will be another one of those games that just urges you to shoot blindly.
But Hyper Void isn’t like all those other games. Set inside a number of cross-dimensional wormholes, as opposed to the vast galaxies that we tend to get the chance to experience, it becomes much more a game of strategy, and luck, as we attempt to fight and weave our way past wave after wave of enemy.
An on-rails 3D space shooter, Hyper Void sees you pilot a small ship across more than 25 levels. All are beautifully realised with bright neon colours and a tron style feel throughout. Whilst the pace of your ship is a little on the slow side, it is the sheer numbers and speed of the enemy that makes Hyper Void what it is. You’ll need to dodge from left to right every second of the way, sometimes inverting inside the wormhole to ride its complete circumference. Going into a spin as you dish out bullets is quite easily on the cards but this ensures that you can very quickly get confused, with left meaning right and vice versa. When you’re upside-down with your life on the line, sheer panic really does begin to set in.
You may think that holding down the fire button will be enough to get you out of trouble, but In|Framez have developed a system that doesn’t in any way allow for you to spray and pray. Your ship is equipped with three weapons, all assigned to different face buttons, and each one will be key to your survival – but spam the hell out of your buttons and you’ll quickly find your offensive capabilities take a hit and the weapons need repowering. In fact, you can only really fire away to your hearts content for a couple of seconds at a time before you need to relax a little and wait for a recharge. Whether you’re firing your slow paced twin bullets, standard single shots or high powered laser cannon, you’ll need to pick and choose the optimum time for firing, with concentrated bursts creating the best destructive force.
Each enemy attacks in a completely different way to the next with some coming at you full throttle before exploding into multiple smaller units designed for the most impact, whilst others will hold back, preferring to fire high proton beams from afar. Some are fast paced with others coming equipped with a bigger shield for you to slowly deplete. With each enemy having its own unique style of attack, that means you’ll have to employ numerous different strategies in order to win the day. Trial and error is very much key and you’ll find yourself exploding into a thousand pieces many a time before you finally settle on the prime killing technique.
For the times when you do find yourself without any form of attack, your ship is nicely fitted with a warp drive that enables you to speedily skip from one side of the wormhole to the other in an instant. Actioned with a combination of triggers and thumbstick, this is great for avoiding enemies altogether, although in times of many opponents and a manic fast paced feel, it really does come down to more luck than judgement should you manage to keep clear of the masses. You can warp fairly rapidly, but again a quick recharge is needed for your ship to continue working wonders. Three shield bars can very quickly become depleted and it is then which you’ll wish there were a few more checkpoints to be found in Hyper Void.
This is never more true than when going up against the big, extremely tough to beat, end of galaxy bosses. Not only are some of the latter levels stupidly difficult to reach the end of, but coming up against the bosses quite easily takes its toll on your patience, with you going up against enemies that are just a little too powerful for any ‘fun’ to come to the fore. There is a fine balance enjoyment and frustration and unfortunately there are times when Hyper Void just steps over the line and into the dark side.
With a ‘Hyper’ level to be found alongside each of the standard fares, fire enough bullets, destroy enough enemies and garner a high enough score and you’ll not only find yourself taking a slot on the worldwide leaderboards, giving you the opportunity to compare yourself against friends and strangers, but you’ll also unlock the Hyper mode for that specific stage – something which is an even more intense, crazier experience. If you thought the standard levels were challenging enough, then these should really only be attempted when you decide to bring your A-game to the table.
If you want to delve a little deeper into Hyper Void, then you can. The story, if you can call it that, is hidden away, for the most part playing second fiddle to the main shooting attraction. Find and shoot enough of the files that are scattered across many of the levels however and you’ll be able to discover a deeper side to Hyper Void – one which may or may not intrigue you a little more. Similarly, a secret Orb on some levels is always something that is worth keeping a look out for. It’s secret and rather magical!
Whilst I personally find Hyper Void just that bit too difficult for an every day player, if I’m continuing to find something to slate Hyper Void, then I’d also prefer a more solid control scheme. Whilst everything plays out smoothly enough – even when the screen is full to the brim with oncoming enemies there is next to no sign of lag – the controls that are in place are sometimes a little bit of an issue. Shooting works fine and the three different weapons are easily accessible, but warping is a bit of a different matter. Much of this is down to the fact that transporting yourself in the quickest fashion from side to side requires the press of either the RT or LT alongside a move of the thumbstick. I’d much prefer if the trigger buttons actioned the move independently of the stick movement. Precision is pretty much key with Hyper Void, and this strange control technique lets the side down ever so slightly.
Overall then and Hyper Void delivers exactly what it sets out to. If you’re in need of a space shooter that will not only test your skills, but also your patience, then the team at In|Framez have created something rather good. There will be times when you’ll want to throw your controller out of the nearest window, threatening to uninstall Hyper Void from your Xbox One for ever more, but the sheer relief that is found when you do finally manage to complete a whole stage can at times compensate for that. After the initial tutorial stages, there isn’t a minute of Hyper Void that can in anyway be classed as ‘easy’ and that alone will be quite off-putting to many.
If you are something of a sadist though, then you’ll be in your element.
Related: Let’s Play Hyper Void on Xbox One!