A funky fresh sci-fi parkour street punk extravaganza
Since decades past video games have created an avenue to unite those who play. This strange sense of unity may have cultivated through an age of arcades before the rise of the internet, when friends would often rely on each other’s skills to overcome challenges, or even exchange cartridges and disks to share and enjoy games together. The games that have grown to become classics and all time favorites captivated a wide audience while cleverly hopping obstacles of game mechanics, always seeming to find clever ways to push their technical boundaries and audience’s tastes of the time. Games like this carry with them a uniquely appropriate sense of style through a synchronized harmony of light and sound complete with radical soundtracks and cover art that when combined into one experience could perceivably withstand the test of time.
But what if gaming as a form of art and entertainment had been denounced as evil? If hobbies like playing video games could be considered a detriment to society? Or even a crime? Would the unity of those who would still play be enough to rise against the weight of an almost gravitational force that would impose a game-less and unfulfilling life of pure labor? There’s no need to imagine such a dystopia, because this is the cyberpunk future presented by Hover: Revolt of Gamers, where gamers in the future do more than run around cyberspace from the comfort of a chair.
The world of Hover grants you control over a newly harvested clone brought to life amidst a sprawling urban waste of skyscrapers and sewers, complete with a host of aliens, robots, and toxic waste. Political turmoil has cut the city off from interstellar travel and any time spent having fun in any form has been condemned as a crime. The only way for a new generation of gamers to rise together against the unjust authorities and their propaganda is by playing technologically enhanced competitive parkour games across town to win the hearts and minds of everyday inhabitants and reclaim the value of fun for everyone.
After customizing a color scheme of your neon preference, your first gamer crawls out of an abandoned cloning facility and is prompted by members of the revolution to gear up and receive the rundown for some illegal parkour platforming. As you explore the world of ECP17, also known as Hover city, any form of entertainment is under constant scrutiny from E-cops and cameras on every street and highrise that threaten to “rehabilitate” gamers from their lives of fun. The variety of alien and cloned citizens alike seek to reconnect with their galactic federation, but instead live in fear of the city’s graceful tyrant of a leader who controls the city’s food and resources known as “the great administrator”
Hover: Revolt of Gamers is an open world adventure based on technologically enhanced free-running abilities. Featuring a variety of intriguing story elements and sporting athletic challenges, single and multiplayer experiences consist of exploring the city through daring leaps while platforming, grinding, and rhythmically landing tricks to score bigger combos and more points. Multiplayer matches and single player quest objectives land into one of three simple categories; racing against opponents and time, scoring points by executing tricks or specific combos lines, and the future gamer’s favorite act of civil disobedience, the team based goal scoring street sport appropriately named “gameball,” which feels similar to playing rocket league but between two basketball hoops in a variety of tony hawk skatepark arenas.
Midgar Studio, the game’s developer, utilized a clear influence from other fast paced, cell shaded, visually striking cult hits like Jet Set Radio or Mirror’s Edge. They even went as far to enlist fan favorite Sega veteran composer and funky uncle Hedeki Naganuma from the Jet Grind Radio franchise. A hat must also be tipped to in-house composer and sound designer Cedric Menendez and his equally funkadelic contributions of high energy grooves to hover city’s soundtrack full of disco, breaks, and drum & bass jams to get you jumping off of the walls and grinding the rails of Hover City in no time. The development team performed another unique feat in making the game possible through a successful crowdfunding campaign, raising over $100,000 of support from early access fans and also bringing together a community based workshop for even more fan created content.
After cranking up the soundtrack, fun is achieved almost at first jump. Unlike real life free running parkour action, the controls in Hover are fairly simple as actions are more rhythm based than focused on clusters on button input. The fluidity of motion and exploration often leads to much time being spent distracted from finding specific characters of quest objectives using your area scanner. However, there is also a list of area objectives, like finding secret items and catching spy drones, that pop up fairly often when exploring with no sense of direction.
These will challenge you to aid the resistance even while aimlessly wandering. Whether you’re fighting against inertia or becoming one with gravity, the freedom of movement feels great. Your futuristic gaming technology also grants you the ability to briefly rewind your movements from the start of the game, allowing you to recover quickly from less than accurately timed jumps and long falls to lower sections of the city. This quality of life mechanic makes finding that perfect angle for the next best combo or getting to and from different levels of the city far less of a vertical chore as the fall distances and difficulty grow with progress.
The majority of game time is spent in motion, but there is also an added layer of stat based grinding in the form of customizing your own team of gamers for each objective using hacking chips. Hacks can be found, unlocked, and equipped to enhance your team in an ability web of semi-permanent mods to specialize your team for different objectives by boosting their abilities to jump, grind, spray graffiti, or perform gameball stealing slams against your opponents. While this stat boosting and team building may not compare to an rpg or Pokémon team, these mechanics add a layer of depth to a game more or less based on platforming, races, and trick combos.
The best upgrades are found after achieving objectives but within the more difficult time constraints. This offers more rewards for practice-makes-perfect players who go for the gold medal times while earning rank as a gamer. Whenever the challenges of ability become too great it’s also not a bad idea to mindfully re-equip a more effective set of hacking chips. This system does a great job of offering advantages over situations in hover city that could easily become tedious or mundane when repeated without success and also sets this title apart from the earlier games that it draws influence from. Tactfully customizing a complimentary team by pumping up specific stats to their max power & potential is a great deal of fun, and eventually more characters with different base stats are unlocked.
Just like landing your first Ollie or flip, objectives will become challenging without some practice and at times progress can become difficult to find amongst the open world and list of area based achievements. There is always a factor of skill in defeating rival gamers that can eventually cause objectives to seem tedious without proper practice or adding to certain stats. Proceeding through the story can lead into laps of trial and error to unlock new sections of the game or break the threshold of the next trick combo. However, the quests are genuinely entertaining through their elements of style, humor and storytelling, as the world and characters become delightful if you’re not one for skipping the interactions and clever wordplay.
Hover: Revolt of gamers is available on a PS4, PC, and most recently added to the Switch. Consider playing hover on your most socially active system to free run with your friends and take advantage of the user friendly matchmaking sessions. Overall the game does a great job of not becoming repetitive despite its simple gameplay. This makes hover more than a free running Tony Hawk or Jet Grind Radio clone, there’s an exciting world in dire need of gaming unity and a lot more game than one would expect at first glance. What hover might lack in number crunching statistics and well timed dodge rolls, it does prove that an artistic visual style paired with a few innovative game mechanics can bring a unique vision to life.
- Simple controls and fluid physics.
- Interesting story, setting, and character design.
- Groovy soundtrack
- Thoughtful and innovative character progression and team building.
- High value rewards for difficult challenges
- No voice over or cutscenes featured for characters.
- Area objectives and quests have no particular priority or difficulty rating.
- Unable to track specific quests using maps or area scanner
- At times difficult to discern which vertical paths are accessible