2.7 more seconds. You’re laser focused on the screen as you continue avoiding the hundreds of shapes whose only goal is to end your improbable run of survival. 1.9 seconds. By sheer millimeters you manage to avoid a tracking arrow who had vengeance in his non-existent eyes. 1.1 seconds. Then it happens. You zigged when you should have zagged, went hard left when you should have gone slight right. And just like that, while needing only 0.4 seconds longer, your run is over. Welcome to hyper|dot.
hyper|dot is a simple game in theory, but challenging to describe. In its simplest form, it’s a rhythmic game in which you control a small dot and have to maneuver your way through arenas while either simply staying alive or collecting items along the way. Of course the challenge is that while doing so, you are assaulted by tens or even hundreds of objects on the screen which can end you with a single hit. In the end, hyper|dot’s beauty is in its simplicity.
First and foremost, hyper|dot is both a single player and multiplayer experience. For players who prefer to play solo, it has a campaign that consists of 100 levels that slowly ramp up in difficulty while teaching new players the mechanics and nuances of the various arenas and enemy types. For those who enjoy a challenge, the game will be right up their alley as it ramps up heavily by level 60 and approaches madness after level 80. And for those who want the ultimate challenge, after completing the 100 levels there are an additional 5 secret levels that are unlocked and titled as “the impossible levels“.
I truly enjoyed my time playing through the 105 level campaign which obviously will vary in length depending on how many times you die along the way. For me, it took me a little over 3 hours to complete all the levels with the majority of the time spent on the late levels. There are several aspects that make the experience so endearing, one of which is the ability to instantly retry a level after you die. There’s no loading of a menu or having to wait. With a simple button press you are immediately back in the action and thus it keeps you focused on overcoming the challenge even after dying multiple times. But likely the most memorable aspect of hyper|dot is the fantastic soundtrack.
The music tracks in hyper|dot are catchy and perfectly compliment the on-screen action. More times than I can count I found myself either nodding my head or humming along with the tracks while I ran for my life. And thanks to a smart design decision by Tribe Games, the music tracks are constant; meaning even when you die and restart a level the track continues playing uninterrupted. This is a small nuance that many may not notice, but in a game where you die so often, it’s an important one and makes it feel as though the action never stops.
The fun doesn’t stop there however as hyper|dot also features a full multiplayer suite for up to four players in couch co-op. The multiplayer modes focus on pitting the players against one another to either outlast the others or race to be the first to collect a specific number of tokens that randomly appear on the screen. It can be best described as chaotic fun and if you have family or friends local, it can be a hilariously good time.
Finally, there’s also a level editor in which you can create your own challenges. The options for creation are far deeper than I expected. I created a maniacal level I named “Pandemic” which I’ve challenged myself to beat just for fun. For people interested solely in the campaign, they won’t find much enjoyment here but it’s a great addition for those who want to challenge others locally.
In all modes, there are variations in arena, player, and enemy types that mix up the action. Arenas can vary in overall size while having modifiers such as “ice” which forces you to keep moving at all times, or “dark” which only allows you see a small area around your dot. Enemies are designated by different shapes and range from simple blocks that fly in a straight line, to homing arrows, tracking stars, and more. And lastly the player can vary in size and whether or not you can use power-ups such as shields or bombs. The game does an admirable job of mixing all of these together throughout the campaign. Some levels are pure randomized insanity and others flow in a specific pattern that can take you several or even tens of tries to work out. By the end, it’s apparent that a lot of time and thought was put into developing the levels. You can also see inspiration from some old-school shmup design which only further endeared me to the game.
An example of one of the achievements which required survival of more than 30 seconds
In the end hyper|dot is exactly what you hope to see out of small studios like Tribe Games. It’s well designed, fun, addictive, and simple while still containing enough depth to keep you coming back for more. It’s also the perfect game to jump into for short gaming periods. Give it a shot and get back to having mind over matter.
Final Rating : 8.5
Fun Factor : 9
Technical Prowess : 5
Time Investment : 4+ hours
Replayability : 8
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We also interviewed Tribe Games Founder Charles McGregor who developed Hyperdot. You can find it at the start of Bitcast 105!