Publisher Huey Games
was in attendance at this year's Play Expo Blackpool
event as Rob Hewson, the community manager for the team, held down the fort for Hyper Sentinel
. I put my shooting skills to the test and gave the game a go. I also had an interesting conversation with Rob, one of the old school gamers behind this love letter to the eighties.
Within seconds of starting, I was thrown head-first into a fast-paced level that didn't give any time to warm up or get acquainted with what was going on. Before starting, it would have definitely been worth looking at the options and tutorials to learn what to expect in terms of items, pickups, upgrades, enemies, and more. Thankfully, Rob was on hand to make me aware of the very simple controls. All that was needed was
to turn either left or right and move up and down, and any of the face buttons to shoot the weapon. I used
to shoot by tapping it repeatedly. I could also hold the same button down to give my ship a boost of speed.
The aim of the each level was to clear out specific parts of a large enemy carrier marked by green arrows and there was a lot going on. There was a regenerating health bar to look after as I made my way around the small map, destroying the specific parts of the ship, obliterating enemies that were constantly flying around and trying to avoid enemy projectiles. Various powerups changed and upgraded my weapon, regenerated health, or gave a bonus score. There was an icon in the top right of the screen that indicated the number of ship parts that still needed destroying, thankfully. The multiplier, score and time taken were each shown at the top of the screen.
After destroying the objectives, the boss was introduced in the form of a turret built into the carrier. The turret was tough to take on as I could only shoot towards it in a straight line when approaching from the left or right. I had to make use of my ship's agility and speed to try and shoot and dodge at the right times and then quickly change direction to line myself up for another barrage of bullets. Once the boss' health meter had diminished, the mission was complete. This game was no joke and, with its relentlessness and difficulty, was definitely inspired by arcade games a little before my time. I felt confident after my death-free run and I took that with me into the next level.
The second level didn't ramp up the difficulty too much although surprisingly I struggled to find all of the targets this time around and I had to make sure I took out the enemies constantly flying around. The second level's boss came in the form of two turrets, but with one at either end of the ship. The turrets were equipped with shields rotating around them making it tougher to actually land shots against them. I managed to win the battle again and continued to feel accomplished as I went into the third level. Sadly, I wasn't as naturally talented as I thought I was. I lasted about ten seconds into the third level before a shielded turret destroyed me pretty easily. After that, it was game over.
I enjoyed my short attempt at the game with its very old school flavour and tough difficulty. You could get to grips with it easily and I could make my way further into the game once I'd become more familiar with some of the advanced techniques and had a decent amount of practice. Afterwards, Rob showed off a technique I'd missed completely. As Rob turned the ship, there was a split second where he would be invincible. It looked really hard to do constantly but you'd know when it was done correctly as a blue circle would appear around the ship for a second.
The game will come with just single player functionality but with a variety of different game modes that each has 12 different levels. This includes Arcade, Horde, and a Boss Run type of mode where the player will need to run a gauntlet against multiple bosses for as long as they can. Three different levels of difficulty will be available to allow players to begin easily or tuck straight into the tough-as-nails difficulty, staying true to the old days of gaming. Each level within each mode will come with online leaderboards for those looking to knock out the competition with the highest scores.
In terms of the gameplay itself, players can pick up different upgrades during play, such as a Smart Bomb, Double Lasers, or Buddy Drone, but you would need to use your ship's boost or move into a potentially dangerous spot to grab these. There's no reward without risk so it will be up to you to gamble and grab the powerup that won't be on your screen for more than a few seconds. Here are a few examples of the powerups:
Energy Recharge - Instantly recharge your Sentinel's energy meter Invincibility - Activates invincibility for a short period Points - Collect bonus points Smart Bomb - Activates a devastating Smart Bomb which wipes out all enemies on screen Max Multiplier - Boosts your score multiplier to maximum
Once you die it's game over, but progress will be auto-saved after each level is completed. Should you die, you'll need to restart the level again. When asked how gamers had found the game so far, Rob stated that he was pleased with what he'd seen and the team are definitely going for replay value through extreme difficulty. The game's medal system adds a lot more for those looking for an even tougher challenge.
Each specific level will come with medals to try and obtain. These can be earned by completing each level, completing levels without taking a single hit, and for other miscellaneous tasks. For example, you may need to complete the level within a certain time or reach a specific score to unlock the medal. Within this same medal menu, percentages would showcase how much of a particular difficulty or mode you'd also managed to fully complete. Players will have the opportunity to go above and beyond and really showcase just how skilled they are if they manage to fully complete the list or even obtain some of the more difficult medals.Hyper Sentinel
will be coming to the Xbox One soon and be sure to check out the game's Kickstarter
page for more details. DLC will be making its way to the game post-release and will be in the form of graphics packs and more. Specific details are yet to be announced.