Graphite Lab have created a rather frustrating 2D platform shooter that clearly benefits from multiplayer. Hive Jump is fun. The mechanics are all solid and the game itself is good in many ways but it feels like multiplayer is required, because when playing alone it quickly becomes somewhat irritating and repetitive. A promising experience that is probably fun to play with friends if you’re short on other multiplayer experiences to enjoy with them.
The gameplay is fairly simple. You can progress through the campaign solo or in a group. This involves a sort of turn based type situation, where you can use the collected in-game resource, goo, to improve and defend your bases from the alien scourge that has befallen Earth. The Meatier gameplay comes when you choose to ‘Jump’ the hives that you are defending humanity from. This involves you entering a level and fighting your way through it with the aim of wiping out all the aliens and collecting enough goo to continue defending and improving your bases. However, escaping the hives involves completing a couple of challenges that are pretty frustrating and seem to become locked if you fail them, meaning that it seems like you can be locked into a hive with no way out other than quitting the hive, which cancels all of the resources you collected and means you can’t actually progress any further with the campaign because you don’t have enough goo. Whether or not there is another way out is extremely unclear. There is also an arcade mode for collecting goo to improve your character, which is what seems to be required for being able to tackle the campaign, but again, this isn’t really clear. The arcade mode is much more fun presumably until you have managed to level your character up enough to have less trouble handling the campaign alone.
Hive Jump does feel like a game aimed at people who enjoy difficult arcade style games. The enemies do end up swarming you quite easily and it can become overwhelming for those of us who dislike that style of gameplay or who just find it difficult. The game certainly appeals to a fairly specific audience and if you like difficult arcade style 2D shooters, then it’s likely you will find Hive Jump enjoyable and pretty fun. If you happen to have trouble with your object tracking or generally struggle with busy screens and large concentrations of bright colours, then this game probably isn’t for you.
Visually, Hive Jump is an excellent looking game. The animations and art style are lovely and look extremely unique. Each different in-game environment has a distinct feel to it and the saturated colour palette gives each level a very vibrant and energetic atmosphere. This is complimented extremely well by the utterly fabulous soundtrack. Due to the phenomenal energy created by these two elements the first impressions of Hive Jump are superb and certainly override some initial concerns about the essentially vacant multiplayer.
As a casual player Hive Jump is extremely fun in short, non-committal bursts but playing in this manner essentially makes any significant progress difficult to achieve. For those players who are keen on a challenge, sinking your teeth into the game solo will certainly keep you occupied but the real fun in this game requires a group of friends. Unfortunately the asking price of $18 may make it difficult to find enough people willing to join you on your adventures. A potentially very, very fun game let down by it's difficulty combined with a lack of a big enough multiplayer community.