It’s always a tough sell to try and give a game a fair look while it’s still in an alpha state. In Hover: Revolt of Gamers, I’ve found myself both impressed and let down by the fact that the game isn’t yet complete. While most of the working pieces seem to be in place, the game’s current development leaves a lot to be desired, but with plenty of reason to believe that there’s a lot in store. From a perspective of exploring what’s currently available, and what seems to be hinted at, I set out to get into the meat of this early-access parkour-style runner and to put what’s been made available to players thus far to the test.
Hover: Revolt of Gamers is set in a bizarre dystopia where gamers are outlaws, and must avoid the ever-present law enforcement to have any fun. Players begin by creating their gamer with a simple yet varied character creation mode that largely consists of selecting your gamer’s colors and jumping in. After a brief tutorial to get through basic controls, players are let loose on the tightly-restricted city, free to roam as they will and engage in games of the basketball-like “Gameball”, races, and stunt runs.
Gamers can run, jump, and grind their way through the city, and also possess a bizarre “rewind” power that can help them get back to places they’ve been if they take a wrong turn along the way. Wall-jumping and rail grinding make up the majority of finding ways to new areas, and there’s quite a bit of space to explore.
Part of why I’m struggling with a proper take on Hover: Revolt of Gamers is that there are still tons of blocked-off areas claiming that they’ll be open once the game is complete. While there’s a pretty spacious area to roam in the alpha, running up against these barriers and walls around every corner makes it difficult to know just how expansive the game’s city really is. There’s certainly potential to the title if these spaces open up into larger, free-roaming spots, but it’s impossible to guess at the scope beyond the sealed-off entrances.
Another struggle in the game’s early going is a lack of direction; as I said, players are let loose to do what they will within the city, but there’s not a lot of direction. As much as I love the open-world feel, there’s little do drive players to do much beyond simply running, jumping, and parkour-ing their way around the futuristic cityscape.
I spent most of my time in Hover: Revolt of Gamers getting a feel for the game in offline mode, exploring the city myself and giving some of the available missions a try. The controls are a bit tricky to get the hang of and seem a little loose while running, but it doesn’t take long to get accustomed to speeding around and finding ways to climb, leap, and grind your way through the areas available to date.
The built-in rewind feature is a wondrous thing, especially while playing alone, as falling from tough-to-reach places is pretty common. Still, actually reaching the many missions and other things players can find using their gamer’s scanner is pretty tough since movement is all built around speed, making it difficult to navigate tight spaces or get from one point to another with precision.
As I mentioned earlier, Hover: Revolt of Gamers seems to largely be built around two types of missions. Races pit players against each other or the clock to see who can complete laps of a set route through the city. Gameball games are the other prominent style, and a bit more involved. These involve picking up the Gameball itself and successfully tossing it into a target bin. The target may be near the ball’s start point, which makes for fast-paced competitive games, or it may be some distance away, requiring players find a way to not only reach the goal, but avoid the police drones that will hound anyone carrying these less-than-legal devices. Little is offered up as an explanation for what these balls and goals really do, or why the city is so locked down against anyone attempting to enjoy themselves.
Thus far, Hover: Revolt of Gamers is a very limited and largely directionless game. The art style and supporting soundtrack are pretty great, and there’s a definite potential for something here — it just seems a bit to early to make a judgement on that potential. Once more of the city’s areas open up and the game nears completion, I’m certainly interested to see where this one goes. If I were offering suggestions to the talented three-person development team, I’d say the biggest needs at the moment are tightening of controls, a clearer objective or story, and more variety to the places to be explored.
That last point is the one that’s most clearly in the works to be addressed, but I’m afraid that without some additional plot or similar motivation, this sandbox-style homage to the likes of Jet Set Radio and Mirror’s Edge — both listed as inspirations for the gameplay — will remain little more than a diversion that’s great for some quick action and fun with friends, but without much for solo players or those who prefer their games to have identifiable goals and objectives. Those interested can take advantage of a 15% discount as of this writing and get in on the early access alpha on Steam for $16.99, down from the standard $19.99 asking price that’s likely to be in effect once the game is complete.