HyperParasite is a rad roguelike with righteous potential

I’m not an RPG kind of guy, but there have been a few over the years that captured my imagination. Threads of Fate on the original PlayStation was one of the first. I was exactly the right age for this kid-friendly Final Fantasy quest staring a young shapeshifter named Rue. His power, to take control of each enemy you fought, stuck with me. Very few games have done something like this, so I always take notice when a similar powerset pops up. HyperParasite caught my attention for just that reason and managed to keep it with its tone and central mechanic.

HyperParasite Preview | Where’s the beef?

A procedural top-down arcade action game starring an alien pile of goo, HyperParasite‘s main mechanic involves snatching bodies to stay alive. You can’t take many hits as a blue blob, but taking over a passing homeless man lets you defend yourself. Each class of enemy has unique attacks and there are different enemies in each of the game’s three worlds. You get a few characters for free in the first world and then you need to capture brains and spend money to unlock the rest. There are more than three worlds on the way, but HyperParasite already has a good dose of variety even in this early stage.

It was a blast discovering the strengths and weaknesses of each new host I could overtake. The aforementioned homeless guy uses a shopping cart as a battering ram. There are cops and papergirls with appropriate projectiles. I even eventually unlocked a Ghostbusters-knockoff with a proton pack. You get stronger as you fight through each room thanks to set upgrades hidden in corners. You can also purchase some upgrades at the store, but it always seemed worth it to pump money into new characters instead.

HyperParasite Preview | I’ve fallen and I can’t get up

It’s a shame that the developers lock some of the game’s variety behind a pretty significant grind. Similar to other roguelikes, the first level as is doesn’t change up enough to be imminently repeatable. It needs more rooms and free power-ups that can make each run through the game unique. HyperParasite obviously expects you to keep going through because additional playable enemy types need a significant currency investment to unlock. You can maybe get one new character per run, but then you go on to the next world and there’s a whole different set of enemies to contend with.

That’s the HyperParasite‘s main design flaw. You are very week as the titular parasite, which is fine in the city streets you start off in. Surviving the second world long enough to unlock new characters seems like a herculean task. If you’re lucky enough to survive the first boss with a body, you might be able to clear a couple of rooms, but one wrong move and you’re basically dead in the water. Since you can’t start on the second stage, you never get a chance to learn enemy patterns because you’re always readjusting back to the first world. It’s a vicious cycle which leads to way too much repetition.

HyperParasite Preview | Traversing this alien Earth

HyperParasite

While the gameplay seems to be a work in progress, HyperParasite arrives in Early Access with a fully formed look. The fuzzy pixelated look isn’t wholly original, but it fits with the type of game that Troglobytes Games is creating. Not only does it make the game look pixelated without falling into that overdone trope, but it also makes you feel like you’re traversing an alien world. Your little blue blob wouldn’t recognize this world, and the blurry character models reflect that well. It would almost be better if the signs on the walls didn’t have English text to drive this point home.

HyperParasite is also decidedly an ’80s game with a synth soundtrack and lots of neon lights. That’s going to put some people off right away, which is understandable. But the synthwave tune are pretty catchy and it earns this style a lot more than a decent chunk of its contemporaries. There are plenty of games still coming out on Steam every week that use this theme as a shortcut. Not many of those games would reference some of the lesser known movies that HyperParasite has in its arsenal.

Thankfully, HyperParasite is early in development, and the Steam page highlights a whole host of new additions on the way. Whether these can solve the repetition problems is anyone’s guess, but what it has in this stage shows promise. There are just so few games in this vein that give you this many characters to play around with, so there’s a lot of untapped potential. If you’re a fan of the ’80s aesthetic or body snatcher flicks,it’s worth keeping an eye on HyperParasite as it keeps updating.


GameRevolution previewed HyperParasite on PC via Steam Early Access with a code provided by the publisher.