From the trenches of various wars to the depths of space, few locations are left unexplored by first-person shooters. As technology and hardware improved so did the scope of these games taking us from the dimly lit corridors of Doom to the sprawling vistas of Far Cry. However, while the environments have gotten bigger and more detailed we have still been playing regular-sized characters for the most part. This is what sets Hypercharge: Unboxed apart from the competition as it places players into the plastic boots of pint-sized action figures before unleashing them into regular human-sized environments.
Just like action figures were a lot more fun to play with when you had a friend or two around so is Hypercharge: Unboxed. The game does allow you to take on its challenges in solo mode, but without friends or even bots to help out, it’s not quite the same. Digital Cybercherries are hard at work to refine the single-player experience a little more, but in the meantime, this is a game where you are going to need your friends. Thankfully, the game provides you with plenty of ways to connect with them as it can be played online, via LAN or even with good old split-screen, which is a rarity these days.
At its heart Hypercharge: Unboxed is a 4-player co-op shooter where you and your squad have to defend static objects known as hyper-cores. You have a range of different weapons with which to accomplish this task, but due to the number of enemies eager to destroy your hyper-cores, you can also put up static defenses. These range from toy building blocks that serve as temporary walls to blobs of goo, spikes, flame traps, and several different gun turrets. You’ll need to pick your defenses carefully, though, as each player can only bring three different types with them into a level and each has a cost associated with them. This means that not only will you have to have the right tools for the job, but you’ll also need to run around and find enough money and “build packs” to construct these defenses before the next wave of enemies arrives. You are limited to where you can put up your defenses, so don’t expect to be able to block enemy routes or intercept them long before they can get near your hyper-cores. Finally, each hyper-core is powered by a battery that is used to recharge its shields and activate your defenses, so if it runs out you are going to have to replace it.
The limitations on how much you can build and where you can build them mean Hypercharge: Unboxed is not quite a tower defense game and that the action can get a lot more frantic.
This is not just the type of game where you can sit back and watch your defenses pick off enemies, at least not on anything apart from the easiest difficulty settings. Instead, you are going to have to constantly scan your surroundings for enemies that could come from any direction or rush over to help an ally if their core is suddenly swamped. The game also encourages exploration between waves as you are given a respite to repair your defenses or go search for the collectibles that are scattered around the levels.
Speaking of levels, Hypercharge: Unboxed features some of the best looking ones that we’ve seen in a while. They start off relatively small with locations like a bedroom or toilet but soon open into an entire toy aisle at a store, garage, kitchen, and even huge garden. It’s not just the scale of these environments that make them great either, but the amount of detail that the developers have put into everything. Exploring the levels, which can be as big vertically as they are horizontally in some cases, really is a joy as you’ll spot plenty of funny references. The only downside to the highly detailed visuals is that it can be hard to spot your teammates from a distance.
As levels become bigger you also have to deal with more cores to protect and more enemies to take down. The initial foes are usually quite slow and predictable, but it’s not long before you have planes raining down little plastic green army men with parachutes, helicopters and UFOs buzzing your cores, RC jet planes dropping bombs and sneaky commando-type action figures using cover. Don’t even get us started on the Beyblade style spinners either as they can wreak havoc on your defenses and cores if you don’t stop them in time. Certain defenses are better than others at stopping specific enemies, so eventually, you learn what to take with you and when to use them, but on the higher difficulties, your best-laid plans can still go awry in the blink of an eye.
Hypercharge: Unboxed also allows you to customize your character by choosing a body type, head, and skin for them. There’s nothing special about any of the different “types” so you can pick whatever you like for purely cosmetic reasons. Your options range from a G. I. Joe type character to a medieval knight and even humanoid dinosaurs or insects. The version of the game that we played did not have any female figurines, but this is also something that Digital Cybercherries are busy adding to the game. Along with the new heads and skins that can be unlocked by finding the collectibles on each level, you can earn more through XP and as rewards for completing levels. Different medals can be earned depending on the difficulty selected and how good you were at defending the cores, so there’s plenty of replay value. The customization doesn’t stop here either as you can also change your weapon skins, character name, avatar, and unlock new buildables.
Despite giving players access to weapons like flamethrowers, shotguns, grenade launchers, and lasers, Hypercharge: Unboxed is not a gory game. Since all your enemies are toys there is no blood and guts in sight. The worse you’ll see is an enemy reduced to its individual pieces after blowing it up or some charred plastic if you favor the flamethrower. You generally start each level with a straightforward machine gun, but the other weapon types can be found or bought while exploring. The game also features an attachment system for the weapons, so you can pick up new scopes, stocks, flashlights, and other accessories to improve your guns.
Due to the amount of vertical space in Hypercharge: Unboxed you are going to have to do a lot of jumping and vaulting to reach the higher spots in the levels. Thankfully, the controls are up to the task and your character can run, jump, double-jump and vault up ledges if you hold the jump button. It takes a bit of skill and practice to master these moves, but it becomes a lot easier once you get used to the controls. Some members of our team did experience a bit of nausea from all the jumping and climbing, but this usually happened when scouring the detailed environments for hidden collectibles and bobbleheads. You are not just restricted to building offensive turrets either as most levels have spots where you can place jump pads or towers that can help you to reach higher spots or navigate across the large maps faster.
When it comes to the audio there’s a lot that we like about Hypercharge: Unboxed and, unfortunately, also a little bit that we don’t. The various sound effects and noises made by the weapons and enemies sound great as does the grunts and groans from your own character. We also love the synth-heavy soundtrack to game as it really fits the retro aesthetic of the toys, but without overpowering everything. However, what we don’t like is Sgt. Max Ammo shouting at us the whole time to rebuild our defenses when we can’t do that during battle. He also has the bad habit of screaming that a core is under attack, but doesn’t specify which color it is, which would actually have been helpful. Thankfully, the announcer’s voice can be lowered or even turned off completely.
As it is Hypercharge: Unboxed is a great game that provided us with hours of fun. Even if you don’t have any friends with the game you’ll still be able to find online servers with others to play. It’s not as much fun as friends who you know, though, as you never know whether or not the people on your team will actually co-operate or bugger off if things get hectic. We do like the fact that the game has some additional modes to try out if you are not in the mood for co-op. You can either shoot other people in a straight-up deathmatch or play the “Plague” mode where someone is “infected” and must convert the rest of the players by hitting them. Unfortunately, we had to create our own rules for this mode as the infected player is very easy to spot courtesy of their bright green, glowing skin and doesn’t have a weapon to retaliate with. This meant that everyone could simply get to high ground and pick off the poor infected player as they tried to close the distance. By agreeing not to use guns and only evade the infected players we had a lot more fun and it made the game much tenser, so hopefully, the developers can add this as a modifier to the game in the future. Toning down the brightness of the infected players could also give them a better chance of sneaking up on other players.
Hypercharge: Unboxed is definitely a game that we returned to again and again to unlock new things or earn new medals. It features outstanding visuals, a great soundtrack and the game is genuinely fun to play, provided you do it with friends or end up with a decent group. The single-player mode is a little lacking at the moment, but we do not doubt that the developers will rectify this in the future. Digital Cybercherries has done a phenomenal job with this game given the small size of the team and we heartily recommend it to anyone who loves co-op games and shooters. They’ve also released a free demo of the game, so don’t just take our word for it and go check out Hypercharge: Unboxed yourself.
- Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
- OS: Windows 7
- Processor: Intel Core 2 Quad Q9550
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GT 640
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 13 GB available space
- Requires a 64-bit processor and operating system
- OS: Windows 10
- Processor: Intel i7-4770
- Memory: 16 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1050
- DirectX: Version 11
- Storage: 15 GB available space