Hive Jump blends together a mix of randomly generated levels, platforming, shooting, and even base defense to make for a fine action platformer.
There are some fantastic titles that have released over the years that use randomly generated levels such as Dead Cells, The Binding of Isaac, and of course, the classic, Spelunky. The roguelike genre can sometimes be intimidating because many times, you are left within deep areas to explore, and it can leave the player trapped in a deep maze to get out of. However, the great titles in the genre leap beyond just random level design and create something memorable.
Hive Jump is somewhere in between these two. While the game does have some satisfying combat and smooth movement mechanics, it never does anything special to separate itself from the pack.
The story isn’t worth much getting into. It is your typical alien invasion narrative where humanity must make its final stand to survive. There is some dialogue between characters that got me to chuckle a couple times, however, overall, the story wasn’t anything to write home about.
What Hive Jump does do that differs itself from the norm is that there is some light strategic base defense. Before jumping into a new level, you must defend your bases from the hostile alien race. You can use the experience that you have earned in each level to buy more troops for a certain base, reveal information on other bases you will eventually invade, or invest in mega robots for defense. It wasn’t much and not very in-depth, but it was a nice diversion from the randomly generated levels and side-scrolling platforming.
Speaking of the levels and platforming, this is Hive Jump’s bread and butter — at least, it tries to be. Each level kind of just blends together a little too much and can make you feel like you have been walking around in circles for eternity. On top of that, the lack of enemy diversity can also make everything seem a little too familiar too often.
However, the platforming and combat make up for the bland level design. The movement feels tight and concise. Some weapons pack a satisfying punch. I say some because there certainly are some weapons that can be passed on. The rocket launcher and shotgun almost felt as if they were a waste of my time because of how slow the rate of fire was. On top of that, the damage dealt from these weapons didn’t feel significantly greater to the machine gun. Once I upgraded my machine gun, I was blasting weird alien creatures left and right and spraying fire all willy-nilly, just like the old Contra days.
Each level drops you, or up to 3 other players, at the beginning of the enemy hive. You must fight your way throughout the labyrinth and collect experience that can be used to upgrade your equipment, fortify your bases against alien attacks, or attack alien bases. As you make your way through the alien hive, you will come across weird crawling enemies and some flying enemies that will shoot projectiles. While there really wasn’t a wide assortment of foes, the massive onslaught that can appear always had me engaged with what was going on screen and my finger on the trigger. Would it really be an action platformer without spraying bullets everywhere?
Once deeper into the hive, there are challenge rooms that will reward you a nice bonus for the rest of the level. However, there is only one chance at the bonus. If you happen to die, you are kicked and locked out of the room. These were a nice change of pace and were a little more platforming focused compared to the normal hive. They weren’t anything special, but mixing up the action and platforming certainly doesn’t hurt.
After traversing through the enemy hive, you will finally come across the boss, which I found to be the standout part of the game. Each boss mixes the action and platforming together very well and created the highlights of my playthrough. Some of them felt very Metroid-like, if that makes sense.
For example, the first boss I defeated wasn’t a gargantuan of an enemy, but instead a slightly large bigger creature that would pace back and forth in the middle of the room. Every now and then it would smash the ground and stalactites would fall from the ceiling, charge me if I got too close, or spawn more enemies to help defend itself. I would juggle these three options while simultaneously jumping over the enemy to shoot at its weak spot on its backside. It was a challenging, yet rewarding boss fight that really stood out.
Hive Jump is certainly not the next best roguelike on the market. Many of the levels blend together too much and makes everything feel way too familiar. There is a lack of diverse enemies to change up your playstyle and you will run into the same ones over and over again. Many of the weapons just felt like a waste and I ultimately just used the fully automatic machine gun for most of my playthrough. However, despite these shortcomings, Hive Jump does provide tight platforming, satisfying combat mechanics, and memorable boss fights that will leave most fans of the action shoot ’em up genre satisfied. If this title happens to go on sale and you are looking for a fun and action-packed platformer, I would reccommend Hive Jump.