Hyper Scape has charm and potential, but confused design choices permeate the experience.
There is no shortage of battle royale experiences on the market these days. Fortnite is still king of the genre. It’s important to stand out if you’re going to break into this genre. Hyper Scape seeks to do just that, placing an emphasis on mobile gameplay, and wrapping it all up in a slick techno aesthetic. On paper, it sounds like a great idea. Unfortunately, a muddled design philosophy feels at odds with itself throughout the experience, creating a game that flounders its considerable potential.
For the first few hours, Hyper Scape won me over. There’s a lot of charm to this game, and it manages to coast by on it for the first few hours. The game opens with a beautifully animated cutscene that introduces you to the game’s setting. The cutscene is full of energy, with hints of sarcastic humor that help ramp up the charm. That charm continues throughout the visual design of the game. The characters are colorful and expressive. That color carries on in the rest of the game, which has a bright and vibrant color palette that makes the game a pleasure on the eyes. Even the representation of the map shrinking is cool to watch. Since technically you’re supposed to be playing an in-universe game, the map shrinks by showing zones slowly pixelate and de-render. It’s a cool effect, and looks more interesting than yet another mysterious cloud closing in on the players. It also means that, instead of always closing in a circle pattern, the map can segment into several distinct chunks. This makes it look different every single playthrough.
"But after a couple of hours, the holes in the foundation start to appear, and by the end of my time with Hyper Scape, the game’s glaring flaws had become all to apparent."
After watching the intro cutscene, you’re spawned into a training area, where you’re familiarized with the game’s mechanics. Most of them are pretty standard; you spawn in with nothing but a melee weapon, and have to find guns and abilities scattered across the map. The abilities, called hacks, are meant to augment your current abilities. They tend to be highly mobile though; even the offensive ones, like the slam attack, give you a significant boost to your maneuverability. This usually comes in the form of a dash forward or a huge leap into the air. All of your weapons and hacks can be upgraded by picking up duplicate spawns of them in the world.
On paper, this sounds like a great recipe for a fun, exciting, and fast paced shooter. And for the first couple of hours, it really feels that way. The game is extremely fast. You move fast, and the hacks give you constant boosts to your movement that keep you going at top speeds the entire time. A simple climbing mechanic makes verticality a key aspect of the game. Meanwhile, a large variety of guns help keep your loadouts feeling varied. For the first few hours, the recipe seems to be a success. I had a lot of fun dashing and sliding and leaping across the map. It felt cool, it felt fresh. It was a lot of fun at first.
But after a couple of hours, the holes in the foundation start to appear, and by the end of my time with Hyper Scape, the game’s glaring flaws had become all to apparent. The core issue with the game can be boiled down to one massive flaw; time to kill. For the uninitiated, time to kill is pretty much what it sounds like. It’s a reference to how long you have to shoot an enemy player before you get the kill. Most fast paced games like this have a quick time to kill. They need to, because the high speed and mobility makes it rare to have an enemy in your sights for very long. And this is Hyper Scape’s glaring issue. It has a ridiculously long time to kill, far too long for a game that moves this fast and has this much mobility. Getting a single kill can become a long, drawn out affair. Oftentimes, you wind up having to chase a single target across the entire map, wasting precious seconds and even minutes of the match, because it’s simply impossible to put enough bullets on them before they leap, slide, or teleport away from you.
"The high mobility even hampers many of the abilities in the game, making only a few of them worth using."
I did some testing of the gun mechanics in the training zone, which can be accessed at any time from the game’s hub. Nearly every weapon in the game requires close to half of their magazine capacity to score a kill. Even the shotgun, which is one of the worst I’ve seen in a modern FPS, requires two or more shots to kill. In a game as fast as this, that makes it a functionally worthless weapon. Most weapons don’t get damage upgrades until the final upgrade tier. This makes upgrades feel essentially useless, unless you luck into getting the max upgrade. At that point, you will win any duel with a lower tier version of the same gun, with pretty much no exceptions.
Most of the explosive weapons, meanwhile, do far too little damage and have far too slow projectile speeds to be worth much of anything in combat. There’s one in particular, a single shot explosive cannon, that requires three or more hits to score a kill. But being a single shot weapon means you’re constantly reloading. Combined with the extreme speed and maneuverability of players, and you end up with a gun that won’t kill much of anything at all. This makes the handful of guns with the highest damage and highest accuracy the only guns that are really worth using at all.
The insane time to kill also promotes a brutal team shot meta, where it’s almost impossible to win an encounter where you’re outnumbered by your opponents. Since your own time to kill is so slow, you’ll almost never be able to kill one of your enemies before they simple gang up on you and melt your health down. It results in game that, on paper, has a lot of room for tactical positioning and strategy. Unfortunately, in practice, the game ultimately boils down to lucky drops and pure twitch reflexes.
The high mobility even hampers many of the abilities in the game, making only a few of them worth using. The wall power-up is easily navigated around. The ability that spots enemies on the map for you is generally outdated by the time you even use it, because the enemies move so fast that they’re usually somewhere else entirely. Meanwhile, the slam ability dominates everything, as it gives you a massive leap into the air and deals damage when you land. The game’s high mobility and slow kill times work against each other, creating an environment where only a few guns and abilities actually feel worth using.
"With some patches to make time to kill faster, and to better balance the weapons and abilities, Hyper Scape could become an enjoyable experience."
It’s a major shame, too, because there is a good game hiding under these problems. A highly mobile battle royale has the potential to be a lot of fun. The movement is fluid, and the abilities are legitimately fun to use. But they overpower the weapons so aggressively that it takes away any real feeling of skill or strategy from the game.
It boils the whole experience down to a matter of who found the submachine gun, easily one of the best weapons in the game, and turns most gunfights into drawn out chases that end in you turning a corner and unceremoniously dying. With some patches to make time to kill faster, and to better balance the weapons and abilities, Hyper Scape could become an enjoyable experience. But here in season one, it’s a disappointment, one with a lot of potential but deeply flawed execution. It’s possible to have some fun here. But I’d recommend waiting a season or two and seeing if the game gets the patches it needs.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox One.
There's a lot of charm to Hyper Scape; the movement feels fluid and responsive.
Slow time to kill makes the game feel at odds with itself, draining the experience of most of its potential.
Hyper Scape is a game that you'll probably want to like, but only the most forgiving players will be able to overcome its contradictory design.