HyperParasite Review

Man, HyperParasite is tough. I mean, seriously, I’m sure I’m not that inept at games. Roguelikes have never really sat too well with me; though I enjoy the gameplay generally, having to restart from scratch after each death soon takes its toll on me. HyperParasite takes this to an extreme, though it does have some neat ways of giving us a little leg up.

I really dug the 80’s sci-fi punk aesthetic; from the gaudy, neon soaked visuals to the decent synth soundtrack that accompanies the action, this was what initially hooked me in. While character models are small and fairly simple looking, the use of colour and the style more than makes up for any other shortcomings. I did find I occasionally lost exactly where I was in the carnage, but overall I was able to keep up with the action well and it looks great.

We play as an alien parasite that has invaded Earth and is taking over the bodies of humans. A war has been declared on us, and every citizen of Earth has been tasked with using what ever means of force they have to take us out. This results in not only officers of the law attempting to kill us, but cheerleaders, basketball players, wrestlers and more. Each of the 5 acts have their own unique enemies to face, though as you may gather from the intro, I didn’t quite get to see them all.

Our parasite is fairly weak and ineffectual on its own. A single hit is enough to kill us, and its attack could be generously described as shit. However, those pesky humans attempting to kill us will be their own undoing – pulling the left trigger near one sees us inhabit them, turning their method of attack against their allies. Starting off we only have access to the basic types, a homeless guy wielding a trolley for example. By killing other humans, a chance to collect their brain occurs. Manage to get this to one of the vendors dotted on the map and we can unlock them for use – for a price. The more powerful variants cost upwards of a few thousand coins, but these coins can also buy temporary perks and upgrades so it’s a constant battle of where we feel the need to spend. On my first half dozen runs I found the coins to be dished out in such small amounts that I soon gave up bothering to look. After that I was hoovering up hundreds at a time, though I don’t really know what changed. Hopefully my early play was unfortunate luck, but it bears mentioning as unlocking the brains takes long enough as it is. Luckily though, once money has been deposited into unlocking a brain, or it has been fully unlocked, it remains this way across runs.

Once unlocked we can possess them any time they pop up in a fight. The humans have far more health and fire power, but we need to be mindful of their flaws too. The firefighter, for example, has a powerful melee attack, but getting in close is more likely to get us killed. When our host dies, they explode in to chunks and as the parasite we are free to select a new body. It’s really not advisable to stick as the parasite if possible, their fragile health bar won’t do us any favours. There are random power up points to find too; these allow us the choice of either an extra hit point for the parasite, or an upgrade to our host bodies attack or defence. These points are limited, and it adds another strategic layer to proceedings. I found upgrading attack damage to be the best option, but the extra life for the parasite saved my ass on more than one occasion.

The maps are randomised on each run, though we soon begin to notice the same building blocks popping up, the enemies within remaining largely the same too. This did keep things fresh to an extent, though the lack of ‘designed’ levels can make some runs feel tedious or unfair – one run saw me collecting a ton of coins, but before a shop appeared I hit one of the randomly selected mini-bosses and lost it all. I get that’s part of the package with roguelike’s, but it’s doesn’t make it any less annoying.

Each level ends with a big boss fight, and it’s here that I fell the most. The first boss handed me my ass over, and over, and over. Not only were bullet hell elements brought in with their attacks – a genre I love too – but enemies are thrown into the mix, meaning more often than not I simply couldn’t avoid contact with something that would kill me. I did eventually best them, but died pretty much immediately on the next stage. It was here that, unfortunately, I was done. I get the appeal in a challenging game, and I understand the roguelike genre is meant to test players. But literal hours of trying to beat the first boss, then dying almost straight away and having to start from scratch again was too much. Once our host has died it can be a bit difficult for a few seconds to get our bearings, enough time for an unseen enemy to do us in. I appreciate the inclusion of the brains, them being carried across plays means that most of the time I felt like I’d at least accomplished something, but the combat was not fun enough for me to slog through yet more attempts. Each room fills up with enemies quickly, but until more have been unlocked to possess it can be a real grind to clear even simpler ones. If more coins were doled out allowing us to buy upgrades or temporary perks at a faster rate, it could have been more bearable.

Conclusion

HyperParasite has a really nice aesthetic style, with bright, chunky visuals complimented by a decent synth soundtrack. There are some nice ideas here too, being able to posses bodies to fight back offers up some fun gameplay and scenarios. But it takes for too long to unlock more bodies, and the combat and difficulty is too uneven to really get the desire to have ‘one more go’.

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This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by the publisher.
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Good
  • Nice visuals
  • Decent music
  • Core body possession mechanic is cool
Bad
  • Far too hard
  • Tedious at times
  • Takes too long to unlock more bodies
5.8
Average
Gameplay - 5
Graphics - 7
Audio - 7
Longevity - 4
Written by
I've been gaming since Spy vs Spy on the Master System, growing up as a Sega kid before realising the joy of multi-platform gaming. These days I can mostly be found on smaller indie titles, the occasional big RPG and doing poorly at Rainbow Six: Siege. Gamertag: Enaksan

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