An evil parasite is slithering around a dystopian 80s, controlling civilians’ host bodies and wreaking havoc. As a roguelite twin-stick shooter, you play as said parasite, with various body types to take over and each with their own unique stats and abilities. So let’s conquer the world, one body at a time.
With the unique premise of playing as a parasite, you are able to take over 60 different enemy bodies that each have their own unique standard and special attacks. Not only does this provide a greater level of depth to the gameplay, but it simultaneously works as a way to collect health/armour as taking over a body protects you, the parasite.
When an enemy is getting ready to attack, you’ll see it begin to flash. If you manage to attack the enemy whilst it’s flashing, it’ll cancel out their attack. This turned out to be a fantastic feature as it provided strategy as to which enemy you should be targeting next; focussing too much attention on one enemy could be your downfall as the other one will have the freedom of time and space to whittle you down to your base form.
Collecting brains unlocks different body hosts for you to possess. If you haven’t unlocked them, you’ll see a padlock above them to indicate that you cannot control them. Whilst traversing through levels and going along your merry way, you’ll pick up coins just like in any roguelite. Whilst you can purchase temporary upgrades from Wito’s shop, you can also spend coins to unlock characters that you have collected a brain for. This is a great sense of progression that assures that even though you may die a few times, as long as you put a few shiny pennies towards these characters, you’ll be flying high in no time!
HyperParasite is certainly not an easy game and much like most roguelites, you’ll be almost required to spend as much time searching for upgrades before you take on an Act’s boss battle. These boss battles become easier over time with the more enemies host bodies that you unlock but until then, you will die a lot.
Just like in any good twin-stick roguelite, Hyperparasite features co-op, allowing two parasites to go around claiming host bodies and taking out civilians. To balance this, the developers cleverly implemented so that when your partner dies, you can revive them, but only at upgrade sections, forfeiting an upgrade to one of your stats.
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In regards to the Switch version, I never like playing twin-stick shooters with the Joy-Cons due to the slightly awkward placement of the right joystick. That’s not a fault of HyperParasite‘s, rather that these games don’t tend to play well unless you’re using a more traditional controller (or keyboard and mouse). I played most of HyperParasite in docked mode with my Pro Controller as it just felt much more natural and gave me less hand cramps.
I find that it’s always difficult to comment as to whether a level is designed well in a roguelite as the map is always procedurally generated. However in this instance, the randomness works in its favour as there is so much to unlock with each run. It feels warranted as if it had the same layout with each playthrough, the game would quickly become tiring and monotonous.
The rooms themselves also provide a great level of strategy, allowing you to use your surroundings to your advantage. The level layouts are all quite varied as well, with cars to manoeuvre around in the Downtown stage and bath houses in the Asia Town stage.
When it comes to roguelites, context is the key to the game’s success as more often than not, you won’t be exactly progressing the plot until the final boss. In the case of HyperParasite, the plot certainly justifies the means. Not only is the concept of you running around as a parasite, taking control of host bodies and using them to fight alongside you is sheer genius, but it explains the actions that you are performing.
The opening half hour of the game certainly has you bogged down with tutorials and dialogue boxes, but as the dialogue is funny and well-written, it helps to make this a lot more bearable. It’s a shame that we don’t see much more of this after the tutorial, but it makes sense considering the type of game that Hyperparasite is.
Graphics / Art Direction
Each stage’s aesthetic replicates that of its theme and might I add, very well indeed. HyperParasite also has an 80s action movie aesthetic, which is timelessly nostalgic for those who either grew up in that era or for those who grew up watching action movies from that era (the latter being me).
In handheld mode, the enemies appear small, often making it difficult to determine which abilities they have until they start firing at you. That being said, the enemies have a cell shaded quality to them, which goes to show that the developer was aware of this and has done what it can to help make this more manageable; +1 for effort!
Music / Sound Design
The soundtrack fits the bill perfectly, being upbeat and adrenaline pumping. There’s nothing better than taking out hordes of enemies to a rocking beat, especially when it fits each stage’s aesthetic so well.
The sound cues are also quite clever. For example, when you enter a new room that has enemies, you won’t be able to escape until you’ve taken them all out; once you’ve done that, you’ll hear rusty iron doors swing open, indicating that you can now leave the room. It’s touches like these that avoid onscreen indicators and doesn’t dismiss the player’s intelligence.
Final Score: 92%
HyperParasite is simply an absolute pleasure to play. The gameplay is tight, the concept is marvelously unique and you feel rewarded with each playthrough as you unlock more host bodies to control. It’s a roguelite done right in every sense of the word and is one that deserves every recognition it gets and then some.
Thank you for checking out our HyperParasite Switch review, thank you PR Hound for providing us with the review code and thank you to our $5 and up Patreon Backer for their ongoing support:
- Andrew Caluzzi (Inca Studios / Camped Out!)
- Belinda Cubitt