Take a trip down memory lane to the ’80s, in a satirical approach to all things you hold dear and love in HyperParasite. That is, if you’re old enough to remember them. However, even you aren’t, you will most likely be able to recognize a handful of characters. Take control of an alien parasite to wreak havoc on the United States. Your ability is to take control of an enemy. There are lots of different weapons and powers you’ll be in control of. Comfortable with a pistol? Or do you enjoy more up close and personal with a chainsaw? You go on a “run” through the game, consisting of stages and sub levels. You aren’t meant to survive at first, but slowly you will unlock more characters that you can swap into as a “free life”. In fact, you’ll be restarting over again several times, as you are meant to slowly progress. Don’t worry though, each playthrough is slightly altered and changes as you get farther.
Here’s what I liked:
More Than Just Retro — Sure, there’s been a ton of retro titles released. Not only are they less to make and easier to make for indie developers, but the original gamers have now grown up and it gives them a simple form of happiness. Troglobytes has taken it even a step further, and with some creative alteration have put all your favorite classic characters into one game. They range from TV shows, movies, and even cartoons. The fun part is trying to figure out who they represent, especially since there are hints in the bio of each character. For example, a clawed ninja with a metal mask has something mentioning that he hates turtles. The music and sound effects all sound appropriate. I absolutely loved the sound effects! When jumping into your host you hear a scream followed by a semi slow-motion sequence as you jump in. All to the background of a great soundtrack.
Choose Your Route — Navigating the map is all up to you. When doors open, you can go through the small tunnel and get a little preview of what’s ahead. Don’t think you can handle a mini-boss? You can totally skip it. After getting even farther you will unlock various routes that let you bypass boss battles. If you choose, you may go to a sublevel just for that extra upgrade opportunity. Upgrades are also choices. You can pick from an extra life, an attack buff, or a defense buff (sometimes no life option). At first, I was going all offense, thinking I could just switch bodies when I died. This proved to make the last acts extremely difficult, so I started to put more points into defense and it really helped. There are a lot of skills you can obtain, randomly with luck or by purchasing at the store. Only three are able to be equipped at once and they must all be of a different type. You must pick what you would rather have mainly based on your playstyle. They vary in strength which is shown by a number on the icon. Ultimately it comes down to how you like to play and what you’re after (upgrades, money, hosts).
Alien Combat — From an early age in gaming, I’ve wanted to be the bad guy. Not because I’m evil, but because sometimes you just want a taste of the other side. Not only are you an alien parasite that you can control and attack with, but you also get to swap into the “enemies” and become them as well. Every single one of them can be unlocked and played as (except the bosses). Since your real form is weak, you won’t be wanting to use it. Once outside of a host, you’ll be in survival mode looking for a new person to take over. The result is fast-paced action with moments of frantic survival. The only way you can get new hosts is by beating an elite version of them, taking their brain, and delivering it to a shop so that you can spend your money to buy it. It makes you want to keep playing, just to try out every character available. The battles are set up in an almost maze-like area fashion. You kill all the enemies and then pick a door to go through. The areas are all pretty unique too. Enemies will usually swarm you from all directions, bursting through windows or coming out of doors. There is an extra humorous area in Act 1 where there are a bunch of cars and hearts forming above them. You can use your imagination. You hit the cars and they jump out confused. Hit the cars enough and they explode. There are tons of different traps and explosives littered around that really bring a lot to the combat.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Clumsy Items — There are several items you can find that give you a temporary buff or power. You can find shields, turrets, damage multipliers, and a bunch of others. What I found was that they just got in my way. If you die while in a host body, you drop the item. You must then pick it up again. I have dropped items and walked off completely forgetting about them several times. They have little effect and I didn’t find the DoT ones to be effective at all. You throw them like a grenade and most of the time it either missed or only damaged the enemy a little bit. I could kill them faster with the Reject character. So when I find the shop, I don’t even look at what’s available because it would just be throwing away money. A lot of the skills and items have similar icons. For example, there are three different skull icons that don’t really look all that different from each other. The solution is to spend time looking through an in-game pause menu and look it up yourself. I might use them more often if they weren’t such a hassle. When I store a body in a freezer for later, the item drops and I have to leave it behind. It just seems there could be some tweaking to the mechanics.
Press Start — When you unlock a character, you have a chance of becoming them on a different run. The chances of getting the character you want are slim to none. I’m talking 20 hours worth of playing and not getting a certain mini-boss. It’s all cops and rejects for me. Now there is a way to just keep trying to spawn with different people. You can just keep quitting and restarting. It gets quite old though because you’ll very rarely get a mini-boss and when you do, they’re always from the first two Acts. Unlocking characters can be kind of a grind, especially in later levels when I’ve earned my keep. I’ve beaten the game, unlocked a $48,000 superhero, but cannot use him from the start. Instead, I must take about an hour to get him and use him for maybe a few rooms and a boss battle. That’s if he spawns. I just figure I’ve beaten the game, earned the character, why not just let me use whatever host I want?
You can really get sucked into HyperParasite. It’s not going to blow your mind, but it is highly addictive and fun. It felt similar to obtaining a card collection, also something from my childhood. This game is truly from the heart of those who created it. The humor and nostalgic nature provide an atmosphere worth reliving. I found myself constantly thinking of what other characters could have been included and what their powers would have been. I have put over fifty hours into this title. I have beaten it and kept going because I wanted to unlock absolutely everything. Because of the time I have had lately, there were a few almost non-stop days where it’s all I would do. Go grocery shopping? Nope, I’ll order pizza. Of course, not everyone will like it. It is an almost grueling grind, one I might compare to unlocking everything in a Dynasty Warriors game. Would I have liked it to last 20 to 30 hours less? Probably. Too many hours of gameplay can be a bad thing for a lot of people. I personally don’t care too much for rogue-lite based games. Having to start over is not something for everyone, and I’m not always a fan. There are a few rare titles that I end up making an exception for, and HyperParasite is one of the best and most addictive rogue-lite games I have played.
Score: Highly Recommended
HyperParasite was published by Troglobytes Games/Hound Picked Games and developed by Troglobytes Games on Xbox One. It was released on April 3, 2020, for $14.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.