Hover : Revolt Of Gamers PC Review
Lack of story
Christmas 2002 was a wonderful time in my house. While I didn’t get the GBA I asked for, I did however get an original XBOX. With that XBOX came a game I would learn to love and cherish, that game was Jet Set Radio Future. Many years later, as middle aged man, I came across a Kickstarter too late to donate, but that I was thoroughly interested in. That Kickstarter was for a game that would be a spiritual successor to JSRF and have a cool soundtrack, neon futuristic settings, and fast pace gameplay. I watched this development since near its infancy for what seemed like forever, but I wanted to wait for the real release. Two years later I was shocked that I would have it given it to me for review.
Hover: Revolt of Gamers is set in the future where a tyrannical oppressive government is cracking down on the populous’ freedoms and it’s your job as a rebel to show them what freedom of expression really means by taking down propaganda, breaking the law, and racing around town in clear defiance of unjust laws. The story here is actually fairly interesting, but even after playing for hours literally none of this is spelled out at all and I’m left scratching my head as to what my motivations actually are and where I’m supposed to go and why. In JSRF, you were a normal street punk looking to join a new crew and do whatever you want and spray paint your turf to show off while fending off the police. In Hover, you are apparently a clone that is newly minted and shown the ropes of high speed, high tech parkour for some unknown reason. Stories can be slow to progress sure, but this is downright obtuse.
Confusing story aside, Hover has you running at high speeds through a very large city to grind on rails and jump off walls to make it around this neon cement jungle. However, this type of game is meant to be very fast paced, and to have quick turns and tricks, to be thrilling in a chase, or to run for your life from the cops. All this energy is so easily lost with your momentum as the turning is not unlike a boat, and the grinding is boring. In JSRF you could build up your momentum to ridiculous speeds while just doing a bunch of tricks in succession on any rail you could find thereby making it fun to find ways to go fast. Hover has so many obstructions to kill your speed so it becomes a real chore to get up and running again. There is a Prince of Persia kind of power that lets you rewind your last movement, so it is nice to have when you fall off a building to just rewind where you were. However, when playing Gameball for instance, when you are carrying the ball and rewind it drops the ball where you started the rewind killing your mission entirely.
Hover has some decent modes like Gameball (holding a ball to score with), Racing, and Deliveries (very similar to Gameball), so there are some interesting missions where you really have to think about how to gain altitude or speed quickly in order to win. Racing can be pretty fun, but as soon as you hit anything, or grind it somehow loses its flavor. There are a great many racing side missions to choose from, and when you are done with those, Hover does have a very well done multiplayer mode that’s built into the city itself, so real people are constantly out and about and can join your missions or races in real time with very little effort. This sounds great, but it does have issues like when the other person joins, and they win the race, you lose the mission even if you beat the CPU. So if some expert joins out of nowhere, you have no choice but to go offline if you want to beat the mission.
The development team are clearly fans of JSRF, and it is wonderful to have an homage like this in existence. I want something like this so bad so it is heartbreaking to see what it could be but is not. Having someone like Hideki Naganuma do a few songs on the album is great, but that can’t be the only selling point. Having one large area to go through, instead of many slightly smaller ones without the aid of any kind of mini-map is incredibly frustrating. They have come far in the two years on early access but we all need to see more progress, but with the great community behind them constantly giving feedback that is a real chance to make something great.