I’m going to give it to you straight, right from the get-go. I, hope is a bad game in almost every way you can imagine. However, I think it’s very important to highlight its one and only strength, which is its caring support. Not just the message within its story, but the very cause that rests behind each and every purchase of the game. Those of you that buy this game can rest well knowing that 100 percent of its proceeds will go straight to charity. The charity in question is the GameChanger Charity, a wonderful organization that supports children that are fighting cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. On that note alone this game practically outshines any other game on the market. Fittingly, the story of I, Hope sits inline with that very notion.
The game is a 3D platformer that centers around a young girl named Hope. Hope’s life takes a turn for the worse when a monster known only as Cancer falls from the skies and infects her island home. It’s a heart warming message, that much goes without saying. In fact, it’s reported that the developer created this game to give a distracting adventure to children receiving cancer treatment. That, however, is where the limit of my appreciation ends. Now, if I could judge this game based only on its kindness and support, it would get a perfect ten. I fully support the developer and the aforementioned charity, as well as of course each and every young victim that is in the fight of their lives. I truly hope that this game sells well.
With that to the side, let’s break this down as we would any other review. The game briefly explains the story to its players before thrusting Hope into the action that awaits. I, Hope does a good job at constantly keeping the player informed on what they need to be doing. It’s almost as though the whole two hour experience is one long tutorial. It’s a necessary design choice, given the target audience. It appears as though Cancer’s arrival has infected the wildlife, leaving it up to Hope to battle against them and expel the infection. This means that for each and every foe you’ll encounter, you’ll be liberating wildlife and creatures of their ailment; bunny rabbits, wolves, plants and so on and so forth.
Hope carries a staff around with her that she can use to fend off Cancer. This staff can be used as a melee weapon as well as a weapon that fires projectiles. Each enemy that you best will be put into a momentary frozen state, to which Hope can withdraw the Cancer and then use it against other opponents. This is achieved via the left trigger, whereas firing that collected projectile can be utilized on the right trigger. There’s a small handful of different locations that Hope will travel to, each housing a unique weapon or item that be used to solve puzzles and defeat certain enemies. There’s also four hidden letters on each world that collectively spell the name Hope. Collecting each of these letters per-island will unlock a new song that can be listened to in the Cave of Hope.
These typically tend to be on your path and are far too hard to miss, which again I guess is due to the very specific target audience. The four essential items that Hope will obtain from each island includes goggles, a gong, a gauntlet and a horn. These items attempt to inject some innovation into the mix but fail miserably in doing so. I dare say that each of these items serve as a means to slow down the pace of the short game rather than going on to do anything that’s particularly spectacular. The goggles, for example, can be used to uncover hidden passageways, though serve very little meaning when the majority of these passageways are the very passageways that you need to proceed through to progress further into the game. It just feels like needless filler and lacks any real function outside of that.
They can also be used to uncover invisible platforms, but again, these platforms are often needed to get to the end of the island. The gong, on the other hand, will freeze nearby enemies and objects. This comes in handy when you’re up against a tough foe or when you need to freeze a platform in place. The horn can be used to summon a rising platform that can help Hope to reach new heights. Finally, there’s the gauntlets, which as you can imagine, enables Hope to move heavy items from one place to the next. It would have been nice to see more innovation on this front, such as allowing players to revisit earlier levels to access secret areas. Though I guess beggars cant be choosers. Each of these items come with a short cool-down timer, lasting roughly about three seconds on total per-item.
Combat tends to be pretty hit and miss. Several times did I miss an attack on my opponent due to poor hit detection and a complete lack of lock-on or target assists. Don’t get me wrong, the game is a lot simpler than it seems, but its poor design and clunky combat only goes on to emphasis how frustrating I, Hope can be. The same can be said about using the gauntlets. Trying to maneuver Hope when shes grasping a structural object is hard work. The controls during these moments of play often fluctuate, making it nearly impossible to get Hope to move into the direction you want to go. This is at its most predominant when you’re up against a boss battle. Speaking of which, each and every boss encounter remains the same throughout the entirety of play. Even the final boss is a repeat of each boss before it, save one single unique encounter when these have been defeated.
Boss battles consist of fighting the same ‘tentacle’ over and over, albeit with different mechanics depending on which island you’re situated on. It’s lazy, it’s boring and it’s repetitive, even taking its short game length into account. It doesn’t help matters that the game is poorly designed elsewhere. The third and fourth islands require quite a bit of precise platforming, however this rapidly becomes an issue when Hope fails to execute a landing nine times out of ten due to floaty jumping. Throw in the fact that there’s a wide range of glitches within and we have a recipe for constant annoyance. If that isn’t annoying the hell out of you, the narrator – who sounds like a constipated Yoda, will get the job done. When Hope falls, be it at the hands of an enemy or by falling off a platform, a generous checkpoint system will always place you near to your last failed attempt.
This doesn’t totally alleviate the frustration, but it does help to some degree. In regards to the difficulty of the game, there’s not really anything to lean on. As already alluded to, the game can be maxed out in about two hours time. Most of your deaths will be due to either falling through the map or falling outside of the map. Despite the diverse locations that Hope travels to, the visuals remain shoddy from the onset, coming tied to a soundtrack that’s equally as so. There’s nothing impressive whatsoever about this game, other than its message and its commitment to support its chosen charity. The gameplay is boring and the mechanics are nowhere near as interesting as they could have been. The puzzle solving is far too basic too, consisting of hitting objects in sequence, or merely moving blocks onto panels. Again, I want to point out that I really want this game to sell well. Though, if I am to be completely honest, if you’re simply looking for your next platforming fix, you wont get that here.
On the basis that 100 percent of proceeds are being donated to charity to help sick and suffering children, I, Hope outshines any other game on the market. The same sadly cannot be said about the game in general. I, Hope is a shoddy platformer that’s bland, frustrating and utterly underdeveloped. If you’re looking for your next platforming fix, this two hour adventure will only serve to disappoint you.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.