Early Access Review: Hover – Revolt of Gamers Nathan Ortega April 9, 2015 Reviews 1 Early Access games are real tricky propositions for consumers, as each project exists in different phases of ‘alpha’. While in some cases, it merely means the game needs a few finishing touches, like UI tweaking or a slight visual polish, other times it can mean that the game is lacking significant chunks of content, resulting in titles that exist solely as proof of concept sandboxes. Typically games with long legs, like replayable survival games or multiplayer competitive titles, tend to thrive in Early Access due to how often players come back to them to see updates. Others, however, can squander player goodwill by presenting buggy experiences and a lack of exciting content. Hover: Revolt of Gamers is a game I want so desperately to like, but come away regretting that I played it before it was finished. Taking place in a colorful future world of neon, Hover is a first person free-running game born out of a love of titles like Jet Set Radio and Mirror’s Edge. After a brief character creation menu, players are thrust into the role of a funky sci-fi street tough recruited to join a gang of anti-government rebels. In the future of Hover, a fascist regime is in control and is cracking down on video games and the people who like them. It’s up to a bunch of hip thugs in hover boots to go about the city, freeing imprisoned gamers and liberating game consoles (please keep eye rolling to a minimum.) Gameplay consists of hoofing it through huge cityscapes, grinding on rails and running along walls while performing all sorts of acrobatics, occasionally accented by tasks like races and sport oriented objectives involving throwing balls into little receptacles. The act of moving about in the game is really satisfying, with players able to build momentum very quickly so that you really feel like you’re moving at intense speed all the time. Quality environment collision is something incredibly important to a free-running game, and Hover nails it in that department. There’s rarely ever a moment where players find themselves wrestling with getting over a ledge or clearing an obstacle once they have a moment to familiarize themselves with the controls. A slight rewind ability to help retry certain feats makes missing a jump much less frustrating. The soundtrack is amazing. Fans of Jet Set Radio’s phenomenal mix of funk, electronica and hip-hop influences will adore this game for the music alone, as Midgar Studios managed to hire Hideki Naganuma, famous for his work on Jet Set Radio and Jet Set Radio Future, to compose the score. It results in precisely what they aspired to do, which is to recreate the audio-visual overload that Jet Set provided so many years ago. The biggest issue plaguing Hover in its current state is a lack of compelling things to do within its colorful sandbox, and a lack of communication to players as to what they should be doing. After a brief intro sequence that trains you on the basics of the controls, the game dumps you into its world with little to no guidance on where you might want to go first. There are no in-game prompts to where missions are, and while there is a scan function that sort of lets you know what things might be nearby (computer terminals and the like), they don’t give you any clue as to what these things actually are or why you’d want to go interact with them. Once you find things that seem like they might be important missions, the game is very cagey about giving you the information you might need to complete them, merely tossing you into a race or a competition, leaving you to figure out what you should be doing and why. After spending several hours running around the world of Hover, I felt no more adept at the game outside of being real good at jumping on stuff. I completed some objectives, and they seemed a bit fun, but I certainly enjoyed myself more when I was just climbing on things and sliding around aimlessly. I have no idea how far along this game is, and it’s possible that a lot of the issues I had with it will be resolved by the time the game is ‘finished’. The problem stems from this game being a product you can pay money for now. There is simply not enough to do here to warrant purchasing it, expecting a feature complete game. The only people who should be Early Accessing are those content with having a sandbox to run around in with cool music. As someone who adores the games that inspire Hover: Revolt of Gamers, I am holding out hope that the finished product can be amazing. It is entirely too soon to tell if it’s a lost cause. Daniel Fox Hideki Naganuma is a top-five composer for me, so I’m tempted to check this out purely for the music. I think I’ll just wait until it’s done to experience it as a cohesive whole, though.