The best games to talk about when reviewing are those that generate a big reaction. It can be positive or negative, as ripping a total disaster apart creates just as much passion as gushing over something you love. It is those games that sit between the extremes, the games that bob along the vast oceans of mediocrity, that are the hardest to talk about. You find yourself struggling to comment, and that is how I feel when starting this review for the upcoming Hyper Jam.
Hyper Jam is a multiplayer brawler in which players play short matches where they need to murder one another. Weapons spawn throughout the arena, such as swords, hammers, grenade launchers, and bows, which aid you in your quest to slaughter all your friends. Each round ends when only one player remains, after which the players get to select perks that may help them in the next round. These perks are the usual affair, such as increased damage, health regeneration, and combat vampirism.
In order to win the match, you must earn above 1500 points across all rounds and then survive a final round after that. These points are earned by causing damage, staying alive as long as possible, killing players and, of course, by winning the round. Additionally, if you have the lowest number of points, you get the first pick of the perks, and so the better you play, the harder it can become to maintain your lead. It’s an interesting mechanic, and I’m sure that it would lead to some fun games with your friends.
The problem with Hyper Jam as it currently stands is that I have already described the entire game. The gameplay itself is fluid and is completely functional for a multiplayer brawler, but there just is not enough of it. There are only a few different maps and they don’t really impact upon gameplay that much. Sure, there are some maps with a death pit in the middle or with trains along the sides which might crush players, but they don’t really feel that different from one another in practice. Additionally, all the weapons that spawn are ubiquitous across all maps, meaning that each match feels pretty samey. Nothing about it is really bad, it just feels very lacking as it stands now, though this may change as the game develops after release.
I should probably speak a bit about the game’s setting and visuals. Hyper Jam is set in a generic cyber-punk world. That’s all there is to say. Now, I didn’t expect a multiplayer focused deathmatch game to have much in the way of story or setting, but they usually have something. Helldivers is an online-focused game, but it develops a wonderfully crafted, satirical universe. Hyper Jam just doesn’t really, which is not a deal-breaker but it just adds to the shallow feeling that is pervasive in nearly every aspect of the game.
The graphics themselves are decent though, and it looks pretty professional for a small team of developers. The maps, while lacking in gameplay variety, do all look visually distinct and appealing, so props to Bit Dragon for their work there. While we are on the subject of presentation, the music for the game is all Synthwave. I do enjoy this kind of music and it does fit with the 80s cyberpunk feel, but I can’t help but feel that this style is feeling its age. 1980s nostalgia bait feels a bit 2016 at this point; Hell, even Stranger Things feels dated in this far-flung year of 2019.
This complaint may just be a personal one, though, so if you enjoy this type of content, I’m sure you will appreciate it here. The music itself is varied enough for it not to get tiresome and is as silly as Synthwave should be.
It is at this point that I begin running out of things to say about Hyper Jam. I just feel very ambivalent about it: one the one hand, it is a functional and fluid brawler, but on the other, it just feels lacking in content and depth. Part of the problem is probably down to myself not having any friends to play the game with, and so I was stuck with bots and waiting around in online lobbies. It’s hard to judge an online game when you are playing alone, as half the enjoyment is created by the arguments you inevitably have when playing with friends.
Still, even if I had friends to play it with, I don’t think I would change my mind all that much. Sure, we’d probably have fun with it for a few hours, but then I imagine we would never touch it again, with poor Hyper Jam just collecting dust at the back of my Steam library. I had a look at the content being added into the game for its upcoming release, but it didn’t really fill me with much hope: more nice-looking maps with little depth, more skins that mean nothing, more taunts that will be repeated endlessly. The only good things promised were more music and cross-platform multiplayer, but even these don’t add anything new to the core gameplay.
So in conclusion, I am not sure if I could really recommend Hyper Jam above any of the other 90 billion arena brawlers on Steam right now. It’s not really bad, there’s just not much to it. You could probably do a lot worse, but I feel that the developers could have aimed their sights a bit higher. If you like this sort of game, consider checking it out, though I would say that you should probably wait for it to go on sale.
Hyper Jam sees its full release on Microsoft Windows, Xbox One and PlayStation 4 on 12 February.