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For: Android   Also on: iPhone, iPad

Believe the hype

Product: Hyperlight | Developer: In-house | Publisher: CatfishBlues Games | Format: Android | Genre: Action, Arcade | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Hyperlight Android, thumbnail 1
Fans of Geometry Wars will immediately feel at home upon loading up Hyperlight for the first time.

A few moments later, they'll realise their original impression of familiarity was completely unfounded.

While Hyperlight looks, sounds, and feels like Bizarre Creations's twin-stick retro space shooter, it's actually based on very different fundamentals.

It's not so much about shooting on sight as spending a great deal of time dodging, building up enough power, then crashing into anything that moves.

Shoot, parry, avoid?

You control a spaceship floating in a small arena of space. Enemies spawn around the map, but instead of blowing them out of the sky like an intergalactic badass you have to take them down by crashing into them at light speed ('Faster Than Light', or FTL as the game calls it).

The catch is that you only have a limited supply of FTL fuel, which means you spend a lot of time weaving between waves of enemies to collect power-ups to help you reduce their numbers.

You can't be too careful, as there are no heath bars. If an enemy crashes into you when you're going at the regulation galaxy speed limit, you're toast.

Get hit by a stray bullet and you become grilled bread. Crash into an enemy having run out of FTL fuel and, well, let's just say there's lots of ways to become heated bread products.

Other power-ups help you along the way. One causes an explosion when you roll over it, which is useful for stopping those tailing you too closely. Another briefly gives you an automatically firing weapon to take out those in front.

Another gives you a shield, which essentially acts as a one-use protection against the instant death which is the hallmark of the game.

Look Mum! No buttons!

The way the game eschews the traditional two-stick shooting mechanics in favour of evading fire clears the way for a button-free gaming experience.

Hyperlight takes place completely using the phone's accelerometer, with the player tilting the handset to make the spaceship dodge, weave, and burst into light speed.

Fortunately the controls are sensitive enough for this to be pulled off with ease, and the responsiveness makes turning at short (or no) notice very possible.

Pulling off FTL is a little bit more hit and miss. It mostly works fine with just a sharper tilt, but I had a couple of deaths which I would protest were due to my sharp tilt not being picked up, rather than my own lack of skill.

If at first you don't succeed: die, die again

Fortunately, the game is moreish enough for such setbacks to inspire you to do better next time.

There are two game modes: Infinite and Arcade. There's very little to choose between them, other than to have two high-scores to beat rather than one.

The game is powered by Unity for that bit of extra polish, but some explosions did cause a tiny bit of slowdown on the HTC Desire S – by no means a slouch of a phone.

Sound is optional, and you won't miss much by turning it off for a sneaky play when out and about, other than an audio indicator when you reach a new level.

As you'd expect from a game that models itself on the twin stick shooter, but removes both the twin sticks and the shooting, Hyperlight is an experience like no other.

It's not for everyone, but high-score chasers will relish the challenge, even if variety isn't the game's strong suit.
Reviewer photo
Alan Martin | 1 June 2011
Innovative and unique, Hyperlight may look as derivative as they come, but is a breath of fresh air to the Market Place. Fans of shooting and those that hate high-score repetitiveness need not apply
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