Hyper Jam by Bit Dragon is an engaging arena brawler with a variety of weapons and perks that works together surprisingly well. From the contrasting neon grunge look to the fast paced chaos of swords versus rocket launchers, the game is bursting with personality.
There really is no story, no reason for the fighting. The game is set in a not to distant future, a little dystopian attitude mixed a glow-punk aesthetic. There is room for a fun story for sure, larger areas and some strong enemies would go a long way here in a simple campaign mode. However, as for now, the game is all about multiplayer.
Each match you play with your friends is made of several rounds which ends when one player reaches a certain number of points through kills, style and survival. These round are never very long and have a pretty aggressive escalation system to make people fight closer and harder when the round is lasting too long. The actual fighting is broken down into three major elements: weapons, perks and maps. All characters are equal at the start of the match, everyone starts with a basic dash, punch and movement. Then weapons will begin to spawn and they can be picked up, used and then thrown if wanted. There are a few melee weapons, which do an exceptional amount of damage and are relatively easy to use but, getting close is the difficult part. On the other side, the long range weapons vary from bows to homing rockets. Luckily, all these feel mostly balanced when it comes to damage and speed. Some are a little too easy to hit and others too difficult to use effectively, but because of the constant drop of weapons throughout the rounds and match, it never feels unfair.
The maps are not going to change how you play the game at its core, but they do have hazards, drops and moving walls that add a lot of flavor to each match. The maps vary from night time city rooftops to gritty assembly lines and even a nice resort. The are very good looking actually, but never distracting, more function than flash The last and most unique part of the gameplay is the perk system. At the end of each round, a number of perks appear depending on the number of people playing, for example; three people gives three perks to choose from. The person who did the worst picks the first perk and so on until the person winning gets the one leftover perk. This allows for a fun catch up mechanic which doesn’t give last place a chance to easily win, but allows them to play more towards their preferred style and stack perks for themselves to be much quicker or do a sizable amount of damage compared to others. The perks are surprisingly diverse, faster cool down on dodge, freezing enemies, draining life, more attack or defense to name a few. By the end of any match, there will be a slow creep of chaos that is manageable and feels very fair and fun.
The style in itself is not very new or unique, but it is appealing and great for the gameplay. It allows characters and map to be more monotone and visually relaxed while the bullets, melee weapons and dashes are very clear. This means that the gameplay is well seen by players and very visually entertaining while being informative. The Hyper Jam official page calls it a “neon-soaked brawler,” which is the perfect way to describe it overall.
The music was produced by some small time artists which create an exciting and futuristic feel while being gritty and very intimate. The sound design is very good, each weapon and movement sound unique and help with actual gameplay very much. Nearing the end of a match, the sound does become a bit more messy and cluttered, but never annoying or too much to handle. In general, it has very fitting and excellent music and sound design.
This is a party game, which is both good and bad. The game is perfect for a group of people with different skill levels to have a lot of fun and just kick each other’s trash. The variety of weapons, perks and maps easily allows for just about any group of people (be it two going one on one or ten people passing controllers around) to have a lot of fun for an hour or two. It could be fun on your own, but because there is only multiplayer modes (online and offline) in which a person would only be playing against bots and nothing major to unlock, it won’t be something that a person would normally spend four hours a day playing solo.
Hyper Jam would really benefit from support in coming months, with extra weapons, perks, levels and characters, people could be entertained for much, much longer. It does however have a significant amount of customization for its matches currently; weapons, score goals and perks. This really allows the players a place to make ninja battle with just swords or crazy rockets that catch people on fire.
What It Could Have Done Better
Overall, the game is a complete package and above mentioned. However, the main criticism would be the falling mechanic in the battle. When a person falls, they are out of that round and lose out on a lot of points. With the dash mechanic and various weapons causing knock back, falling off the map seems a little unfair or too easy to do mistakenly. The game should punish or reward someone for players falling, but maybe not an instant death. Maybe a lot of damage or long stun and respawn time should replace dying altogether.
Also, adding in the option to turn off or on walls or allowing for map hazards in general should be an option at the beginning of each match. A campaign would also be a welcome part that would be really fun to push through solo or blast through with friends.The game doesn’t suffer from having a lack of these things, they aren’t necessary, but they would keep the game fresh and allow for more play time in the future with friends or family.
If you play games with others often and are looking for another fun addition to your library of party games, Hyper Jam is worth the money. The smooth graphics, engaging music and uniquely, exciting gameplay make this game a solid buy for people who enjoy party and arcade games.