Threadspace: Hyperbol PC
Trying to neatly slot Threadspace: Hyperbol into a genre is a difficult task. You control a spaceship and shoot other spaceships, but that’s where the clichés end. Indeed, excitedly trying to describe anything other than the premise of Hyperbol usually results in little more than a series of wildly enthusiastic but entirely ambiguous hand gestures. I realise it may sound like a complete cop-out, but if you find your face slowly screwing up with confusion at any point during the review I urge you to get on Steam and download the demo for yourself – it’s well worth a look for any avid gamer, quite simply because it’s so damn difficult to compare it to anything else you’ve ever played. Even the trailers don’t do the game justice.
Right, now everyone’s sitting comfortably, I’ll begin. Hyperbol is an online action strategy game in which you move your ship around futuristic flat arenas competing in the usual array of free-for-all deathmatches and objective based team games. Don’t be fooled though, this is no strafe-and-blast-em-up; movement is restricted and often dangerous. Hyperbol puts an emphasis on strategic ship placement and calculated projectile use rather than trigger happy assaults. In terms of weapons you’re spoilt for choice, being presented with a huge array of toys to play with, some offensive and some defensive – the latter of which you’ll need to use far more frequently than you’d expect, which is refreshing. The direction and speed of projectiles are controlled by clicking within a circular radius around your ship, whilst spin is added using a few buttons on the keyboard. This takes a bit of getting used to, but after a few minutes you’ll be casually rolling nukes round corners as if it were the most natural thing in the world, making light work of the training bots the tutorial throws at you. Once you begin to take things online however, things become entirely different.
Against human players the game begins to really come to life, defensive tactics become essential – firing deployable force fields, black holes and gravitational fields between you are your foe to make damn sure you’re never a sitting duck. 1 on 1 fights feel fairly epic, but it’s not until you delve into the team-based objective modes that you realise how grandly tactical Hyperbol really is. However this also means the learning curve can be a little harsh, particularly when after half an hour or so of playing with the new guys you’ve no choice but to play with the same set of 20 or so people who’re online seemingly all the time. Don’t be put off by this though; Hyperbol’s community whilst small is pretty friendly, which’ll make it less difficult to deal with when they mercilessly blow the hell out of you repeatedly. On the flip side, this makes scoring a kill online more fun than a barrel of cake, particularly when taking out better players rakes in a hefty bounty to spend on upgrading and tweaking your ship, buying new ones, and painting them all pink. A bit like in Puzzle Quest, the system rewards players for all the good stuff you do, but doesn’t penalise you as for the times when you’re doing awful. Even after getting absolutely battered online it’s hard to feel too bleak when the game cheerfully pins a few medals to your chest and gives you a handful of coins to go play with.
Hyperbol’s a thrillingly paced game that requires skill, fast decision making, teamwork and a little bit of luck. If you haven’t already, get a few friends to download the demo and play with you online, it’s an absolute blast. The only problem with Hyperbol is unfortunately its own complexity and the online matchmaking ranking system. The jump in difficulty between the practice servers and ones full of regular players is pretty stretching, and once you’re deemed to have enough experience to leave the practice servers there’s no going back. With no offline modes to speak of, joining in with the regulars really throws you into the deep end. Whilst it’s exhilarating at first trying to raise your game, you soon realise it’s hard learning to swim while being buggered by sharks.
Still, it’s a beautifully presented and balanced game that’s fresh as a daisy and deeply satisfying to boot. With a few rookie friends to get better with you’ll have an awful lot of memorable fun, and with the full game available on Steam for about a tenner it’d be rude not to have a look. Hyperbol’s tight community have put the time in for good reason, it’s a brilliantly crafted strategy game without parallel, and well worth investigating – if only to try and work out what the hell I was jabbering on about for the first half of this review. The difficulty curve means this one’s not for everyone, but more patient gamers may find it to be like waking up early on Christmas morning, except you get a present and mum and dad are still together. Enjoy!
An excellent game, just expect to come up against experts.