Platform: PC (console releases coming in the future)
Periodically, I find myself interested by an Early Access (E.A.) game, such as ‘Hover’, which is uncommon as I generally avoid E.A. games like the plague. For the unaware, Early Access (also known by many other names) games are games that are released early to allow people to play while the game is still in development. This allows for gamers to experience a game early while a developer gets money up front to aid in development. As of late, the category is filled with concept games and shovelware, with no guarantee that any of them will be finished.
That possibility could come true (nothing is ever certain) for the game of focus in this discussion, but even if it weren’t completed I’d still say it was worth the time I have spent and continue to spend on it. ‘Hover: Revolt of Gamers’ is a love child of the atmosphere of Jet Set Radio and the freedom of movement that freerunning provides, set in the far, far future. You are a clone that has woken up in a chamber deep in a laboratory and must navigate out of it with the assistance of a rebel faction and a body suit that generates power from friction.
After you break out, you find yourself on the lowest level of Hover City, a city with an oppressive new overseer called the Great Admin. The Great Admin has consolidated his power into forcing the city into becoming a consumer juggernaut, with polluting industry and massive poverty. It may sound like a typical dystopic setting, but one critical difference sets the stage for the rebel faction to exist: any act of leisure is punishable with prison or worse. The rebel faction consists of gamers and they are pissed.
The Gamers are a faction outfitted with body suits that generate power from friction which enhances their abilities. These suits enable the user to jump high distances, run and grind at excessive speeds, and essentially make the environment into their playground. My favorite ability enabled by these suits is the ability to bounce, which launches you back in the air from a high drop. All of these abilities are able to be enhanced with overpowering the suit, known as the ‘hoverheat’ state.
So with a suit that you are able to survive falls that would turn you into a meat paste without it, what are you able to do in ‘Hover’? There’s a variety of answers, depending on your mood. If you want to give the local government a middle finger, you are able to be a super powered delinquent. You would be causing trouble wherever you can, such as damaging propaganda with your body or with spray paint, trapping the automated security drones, and disabling equipment.
If you are feeling like you just want to kill time, there is plenty of ways to do that. Races will test your ability to navigate all kinds of terrain, and Gameball will put you in makeshift arenas where you play a chaotic game that is essentially no dribble, full contact basketball. If you’re not feeling like a structured event, then just make the city your own version of a bouncy castle and just freerun throughout the city in a Zen-like state. I must admit that I zoned out doing this for a few hours when I was supposed to write this article instead; there’s something very relaxing about just freerunning around a bright and colorful city.
‘Hover’ is also fully multiplayer, so you can do anything I have mentioned above with a pal. The multiplayer is seamless with a multitude of people populating a single city, although player numbers are still low enough that I have been unable to determine what the population cap for a server is.
As a balance to the praise I have given this game, I must state for the record what is missing, considering its status as an Early Access game. Development is slow, as it is a hobby project of four developers, with an update dropping roughly every two or more months. There is to be a second section of the city that has not been added yet, and a prior patch made the prison section have unplayable areas due to bugs with security lasers and platforms. While a lot of the game works well, it is still prone to bugs. The community for the game is able to deal with these bugs, but if you cannot tolerate bugs, I would wait for the full release.
As of its recent update in April, ‘Hover’ is starting to take shape as a polished product. Its UI is more fluid, and well stylized, and came along with many bug fixes. I must admit that my favorite element of the past update is the addition of tracks from Jet Set Radio’s composer: Hideki Naganuma. Running in the sewers with an upbeat track and the improved presentation of the game was a pleasant surprise to wake up that day too, and I love the shape the game is taking.
If you’re willing to take the plunge, I don’t think you will be disappointed. However, if you desire a complete package, then you will have to wait but keep your eye on ‘Hover: Revolt of Gamers’. I see it developing into a fun game that would make its spiritual lineage proud.
‘Hover: Revolt of Gamers’ can currently be found on Steam.