Hyperlight – iPad Game Review

Hyperlight is a fast and furious psychedelic shooter game, controlled only by the accelerometer. Enemies, power-ups, and weapons whizz by in a hypersonic blur and the only way to win is to go faster than everything around you. Don’t play this game when you want to relax, because there’s nothing calming about it. You’ve got to be QUICK – it’s destroy or be destroyed.

Your goal in Hyperlight is to keep your spaceship alive, which is actually a daunting challenge. On the left side of the screen, there’s a single bar you need to keep an eye on. It measures how much fuel you have to maintain FTL (faster than light) speed. The only way to destroy enemies is to enter FTL mode, which you do by quickly tilting your iPad until your ship glows, and zooming right through them. Be careful though, because when that bar empties, you’re completely vulnerable. Luckily, there are blue teardrop shaped power-ups that will restore some of your power, and the main objective becomes collecting these fuel refills while avoiding and destroying enemies.

After launching Hyperlight, it’s best to take a look at the instructions. There’s no tutorial level, and if you dive right in, you may end up frustrated. There’s a lot going on between enemies, power-ups, and weapons. This is a tough game and there is a bit of a learning curve to get the hang of the acceleration controls. It can be hard to accelerate quickly enough (through tilting) when an enemy spawns right next to you.

Speaking of enemies, there’s no shortage of them during gameplay. There are seven types of standard enemies, plus special enemies, dimensional enemies, temporal enemies, mid-bosses, and bosses. Oh, and all of them have different abilities with one thing in common – they’re out to get you. Generally, you can avoid blue enemies, but purple ones will lock on to you like a homing missile so they have to be blown up right away. Other enemies will form complex arrangements to defeat you and sometimes these formations must be destroyed in numerical order.

You have one more thing in your arsenal to help you succeed: a variety of weapons. There are four different weapon types in the game, each with a different and devastating effect, from explosions to laser beams. These will be your only recourse for survival if you run out of FTL.

If you’re interested in achievements, it’s important to amass a lot of points. In order to rack up a high score, you need to snag combos of two or more points by annihilating enemies in quick succession. Gameplay may be simple, but some of the achievements are formidable and will take serious skill to master. For example, one achievement is to complete arcade mode without being killed once. Did I mention that you only ever get one life to begin with? That’s right, run in to one enemy and it’s back to the start menu.

There are two modes in Hyperlight – Arcade and Infinity. In Arcade mode, the difficulty ramps up slowly, while Infinity mode gets you right in to the heart of the action. The accelerometer in the game is calibrated to work in two different ways – flat and tilted, so you can hold it in whichever way is most comfortable to you.

Hyperlight’s gameplay can be infuriating at times when you’re back at the start menu for the hundredth time in a row, but the awesome retro style neon graphics and fast paced gameplay more than make up for it.

What I liked: The simple line graphics were very appealing and contributed to the feeling that I was playing a classic arcade game. The challenge was actually refreshing, as a lot of iPad games can be too simple.

What I didn’t like: Only having one life frustrated me. Many times I would progress only to die to something inane, usually an inability to tilt fast enough to destroy an enemy that appeared right next to me. While I did enjoy the classic “pew pew pew” sounds, I ended up muting my iPad while playing because I got tired of hearing “GAME OVER,” and the music wasn’t great anyway. It seems like the accelerometer is difficult to use at times, and I think a button on the side to tap to enter FTL mode instantly would help game play.

To buy or not to buy: Buy, especially if you’re a fan of tilt motion games. At only 99 cents, this arcade style game is a great deal. It’s tough, but that just means there’s a greater sense of achievement when you finally beat it.
App Name: Hyperlight
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Category: Games
Developer: Alessandro Avigni
Price: $.99

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