By Tyler Trosper / April 7th, 2017
Starting up Hive Jump, I was immediately bombarded with Starship Troopers vibes. You and up to four friends star as members of the J.U.M.P. Corps. Your mission: infiltrate hostile alien hives and destroy their queen. When you aren’t running and gunning, Hive Jump becomes a turn-based strategy game, allowing you to strengthen your forts from alien bug attacks. I played the game on PC, but it is also available on Wii U.
As you tunnel your way into the various hives, you avoid dangerous traps while protecting your transponder backpack. The game gives you infinite lives so long as your transponder backpack is working properly. If it is destroyed, no more extra lives for you. During boss fights especially, protecting your transponder is key to victory. Even if you die, Hive Jump allows you to keep some of the goo you collect from enemies in order to buy upgrades and rifle mods. With the mods, you can have your gun shooting anything from shotgun blasts to rocket rounds. There are defensive items as well, such as items to heal, which truly are a godsend for this game.
And this is where the game really makes it or breaks it depending on your skill level: I died a lot. As a man who mainly plays RPGs and visual novels, Hive Jump is brutally unforgiving. Even with multiple players (I played with one friend), we still died a staggering amount of times. Say you lose during a level’s boss fight. Okay, I’ll strategize better next time. The downside to that is that every level is randomly generated, including the boss fight at the end. One time playing level one, you could be fighting a flying insect, the next time with the same level, a giant worm. These boss fights are intense and require a lot of strategy. Don’t get me wrong, it provides tons of replayability, but it can be a chore as well if you are stuck.
The fun part of dying: every time you die, you spawn as a new character. Each character has their own name, many of them nods to classic science fiction and even anime (Eren Jaeger and Major Kusanagi being two examples). And when you finally complete a level, you are rewarded with a memorial wall, each name of your killed characters inscribed upon its surface. It’s a sobering reminder of your failure, but also a testament to your triumph—if you completed the level, that is. Thankfully, you still retain your upgrades and weapons from the previous character.
Visually, Hive Jump is impressive for a 2D game. The visuals hearken back to the old days of Metroid. Enemy animations, from the smallest flying bug to the large ones shooting harmful goo at you, are fluid. However, because the levels are procedurally generated, backgrounds are on the repetitive side. The music too is incredibly 16-bit and upbeat. Mowing down enemies feels right with such intense music.
Hive Jump is a solid game. When you aren’t being swarmed by killer bugs, the game provides variety in the style of a strategy game. Besides the campaign, you can also tackle enemies online, play an arcade mode that does away with the story and strategy, or take on a challenge mode. What truly holds it back is its difficulty. If you have three other friends to back you up, maybe you can have more of a fighting chance. If you live, eat, breathe difficult games, Hive Jump is also for you. For anyone else, approach with caution.
Graphite Labhive jumpmultiplayerPCSteamWii U