By: Matthew Striplen
Hurtling through space at nearly the speed of light comes the pilot of Hyper Void, a game which harkens back to the golden age of the arcade. As the player blasts through hordes of enemies, Hyper Void seems to be the spiritual sequel to the 1981 classic series, Tempest. Shoot your way through masses of hostiles to ensure the safety of your home world!
As with most retro-style arcade games, the controls are pretty simple. The biggest difference between this installment and the 1981 arcade game is the inclusion of different weapon systems. Hyper Void introduces three weapon types: heavy fire, rapid fire and beam. They’re assigned to the square, X and circle buttons, respectively, which makes switching between them fast and easy. Controlling the spacecraft is possible through either the analog stick or d-pad; however, the analog offers no advantage to the d-pad as movement gradations are not available.
Another new control mechanism is presented in the form of rapid movement/phasing. Holding either L1 or R1 while pressing a direction commands the craft to perform a jump, which quickly slides the ship across the screen, phasing through whatever danger awaits.
Although updated with more modern graphics, the style is most reminiscent of Tempest. As with Tempest, Hyper Void places the player in a long, hallway-like scenario, with enemies emerging from the distance. Depending on the level, the player may be able to travel in a circle around the entire screen. These sequences, which typically take place inside a wormhole, are filled to the brim with vibrant, psychedelic color swashes. All in all, Hyper Void looks quite pretty.
Hyper Void‘s soundtrack, while definitely good, does not stand out as exceptional. Most tracks form a suitable, exciting backdrop for the rest of the action.
As noted, Hyper Void appears to be a next generation incarnation of the classic Tempest franchise. For those who have not yet played this influential title, gamers are faced with various terrains to navigate and enemies to shoot. The main similarity is the game’s perspective: third-person shooter faced with a vast expanse.
One of the most creative additions to Hyper Void is how the player navigates this environment. While most areas only permit movement along the X/Y axis, many levels warp the very space through which the player travels. Most commonly, the player will be faced with a wormhole environment, which creates a navigable area in a tube-like form.
The most intriguing shapes take the form of loop-like structures. Although the ship does not directly travel along these loops, they enable players to see farther ahead. One would generally assume that increased visibility would equal an advantage in the field, but since most loops arc up and around the ship, the ship’s fire may not strike where one would expect.
On the subject of weaponry, the ship comes equipped with heavy lasers, rapid fire and a beam, all of which consume energy. Once depleted, the weapons are rendered inert until sufficient charge has replenished. This feature sets Hyper Void apart from other space shooters, especially those in the “bullet hell” genre, as the limited energy prohibits continuous use of the weapons. Don’t shoot ’til you see the whites of their… asteroids! Buh dum psh.
Enemy ships are not the only obstacles you’ll face. Anything from space debris, color-coded gates and control-scrambling viruses beset the player from every angle. These viruses pose a particularly difficult challenge, as their effect differs in each encounter. Some reverse the control scheme, while other disable weapons or obscure the screen itself.
The only consistent fault in Hyper Void comes in the form of the hit boxes. With any platform or shooting game, being able to distinguish between danger and safe zones is paramount. Unfortunately, this game does not always make a clear distinction. I was often surprised by escaping certain sections unscathed, while other times the ship seemed to take damage from nothing at all.
Hyper Void gently eases the player into the difficulty of the game. The beginning levels showcase the basic mechanics well without introducing too many challenging tasks. Don’t worry, expect any level after number five to bring the hurt. In other words, be prepared to die, a lot. Additionally, as you progress you’ll be sent farther back in the level upon death, so be careful.
Replay value comes in the form of high-score achievements and hidden items. Upon reaching a certain score, “Hyper Mode” becomes unlocked. Also, an orb, which functions as a passage to a new stage, is hidden in each level.
Hyper Void is a polished example of how retro-inspired games can shine in the 21st century with level design that should challenge t even the most seasoned gamer. With tight controls, vibrant graphics and gripping gameplay, Hyper Void has a lot to offer.