Hypersensitive Bob (PC) Review - A fun game that is full of surprises
Hypersensitive Bob is a roguelike action game with RPG elements. The game is developed and published by SIEIDI Ltd and released March 29th, 2016. The gameplay is very similar to that of The Binding of Isaac, yet it remains fun and addictive. It also contains beautiful graphics and soundtrack, and a surprising storyline.
A Life of Isolation
The story of the game revolves around Bob, who is an unfortunate individual that is allergic to absolutely everything. No matter how harmless or innocent something may appear, it will still be a threat to poor old Bob. Due to this, he has led a life of isolation, confined to the safety of his little cabin, hidden away from the dangers that lurk outside.
Bob has had enough and can no longer take any more of this isolated lifestyle. With a modified asthma pipe, he decides to confront the world that lays outside the haven of his cabin, in the hope that he'll get over his allergies and finally lead a normal life.
The storyline to Hypersensitive Bob is one that at first appears extremely basic and straightforward. As the player progresses through the game, however, things begin to change -- as does the happy and cartoon-like tone it has presented.
The storyline has surprises in store for the player, as it starts to transform quite unexpectedly. Saying any more would be edging into spoiler territory, but it is a well-written story line that messes with the player's expectations, and presents a twist that is not easy to see.
Straightforward and smooth controls
The controls for Hypersensitive Bob are relatively simple, consisting of using the WASD controls to move, E key to use objects and the arrows keys to fire Bob's gun in each direction. The controls are extremely responsive and smooth, allowing for quick maneuvering.
The two issues I have with the controls are the shooting penalty and the inability to reload the gun manually. The shooting penalty is a split second delay when the player shoots that they are immobile. The penalty is possible to remove by finding or purchasing an upgrade throughout the game.
As for the inability to manually reload the gun, this is due to an upgrade that allows the player to become invulnerable for two seconds while reloading. If it were possible to reload manually and have the upgrade, players would exploit it to no end.
Both of these issues are playing into the upgrade system of the game which we will go into more depth later, but they can cause frustration. There is nothing at the beginning of the game to state these two features, so they do come across as bad design choices instead of being a part of a system.
Similar gameplay to that of The Binding of Isaac, yet unique enough to create its identity
There is no mistaking that the gameplay is inspired by Edmund McMillen's The Binding of Isaac. Despite this being the case, the game takes a unique approach to the formula and creates its identity.
The object of the game is to defeat all the enemies in each level. Once the player has defeated all of the enemies, they may enter their rocket to progress to the next level, eventually reaching the final boss. At the start of the game, the enemies come in more basic forms, have simple attacks and are a lot easier to kill.
As the player progresses, enemies slowly become harder with more advanced attack and movement patterns. The difference in the enemies as the game progresses requires the player to learn their patterns and create a strategy for defeating them.
Just like with the story, the well-designed advancement of the enemies come as a pleasant surprise to the player. It adds a wonderful additional depth to the game that isn't presented at first and adds to the many surprises the game has to offer the player.
Indeed, this will sound all too familiar to that of The Binding of Isaac. Nevertheless, the playful, cute and cartoon tone is one that is quite the opposite of The Binding of Isaac. The different tone and the colorful and cute enemies give the game an identity of its own that is just as much fun as its comparison.
Upon defeating enemies, they drop vials of vaccines that have multiple purposes, such as purchasing items at the end of a level, respawning, and upgrading the vaccine machine.
The player can also find vials of vaccine from breaking crates, giant coins and chests that sometimes spawn in levels. Upon completing a level, the player is given a choice of three different items. Each item has its own positive and sometimes also adverse effects.
Items come in five different levels -- gift, common, rare, epic, and legendary. The higher level the item is, the better the effect it contains. The amount of vaccine vials the player needs to purchase an item depends on its level.
Gifts are basic items which do not cost anything. Common items cost 15 vials, rares cost 50 vials; epics cost 100 vials and legendaries cost 200 vials. All items purchased only count towards that individual journey. If the player should die or complete that journey, they lose all the items they acquired throughout -- again, very similar to that of The Binding of Isaac.
The player may also find items throughout levels by defeating bosses, breaking chests, and through the vaccine machine. Each time the player finishes a level, there is a possibility that a vaccine machine will spawn. A vaccine machine allows the player to place ten vials into it, which goes towards upgrading it.
As the player begins to improve the machine, they can receive additional health or items. The higher the level of the vaccine machine, the better the rewards the player gets from it.
At the beginning of the game, the player only has basic items available to them. As they progress throughout the game and find new items, they unlock and become available from there. There will always be a chance they will appear as one of the three items to choose from at the end of each level. If the player dies, they have an opportunity to respawn, assuming they have enough vials to do so.
Each time the player respawns the amount of vials needed increases. This mechanic puts the player in a position of having to plan ahead, deciding whether to spend their vials on an item or keep them for a respawn. The entire upgrade system has an awful lot of depth to it, something that players expect of a game of this style.
I love how the game puts you in a position of choosing between spending your vials on an item or keeping it for a respawn. It adds to the strategy and tactics required of a player to do well throughout the game. I find certain upgrades are not that useful to the point that the player would most likely not use them.
The reason such upgrades are useless is generally due to an imbalance in their effects, where the negative outweigh the positives. The Lobotomy upgrade would be the perfect example of this. I feel that the negative and positive effects of the upgrade need to be evened out a bit before players will use it.
Discover tons of secrets and unlockables
There are a ton of secrets and unlockables for the player to find throughout the game. Individual levels contain secrets which reward the player with vials and chests. There are also a lot of additional items which come in all different forms to find and unlock.
The game also has other unlockable characters. At the start of each journey, there is a row of four chairs, one belonging to Bob. Two characters occupy two of the chairs called Bill and Spoopy but are unavailable at the start.
The other seat is empty but suggests there may be another additional character to find and unlock throughout the game. How the characters are unlocked is a puzzle that I am yet to solve. The game comes with a total of twenty-three achievements to unlock.
Most of the achievements are straightforward and unlock as the player progress throughout the game. Others, however, are a lot harder to find and often are a result of finding a particular secret.
Beautiful graphics, cartoonish design, and soundtrack
The graphics for the game are just beautiful. Visually the game is full of bright and vibrant colors that are immensely appealing to the eyes. The characters and enemies are all wonderfully designed with a cartoon-like look to them.
As the player gains more items, the character begins to change with them. For example, if the player acquires the Dowsing Rod item, the character will hold it in their left hand. If they obtain the Lobotomy item, the characters head becomes gigantic to the point their helmet is barely big enough.
The side effects of the items come in all manner of silly forms, typical of what you would see in a kids cartoon. Quite the opposite to the rather graphic and unpleasant side effects that are in The Binding of Isaac.
The soundtrack is beautiful and contains a relaxing, sci-fi otherworldly atmosphere and feel to it. It adds to the overall atmosphere of the game and gives a sense of being in an entirely alien world despite it looking not so different from our own.
If there is anything I'd complain about regarding the soundtrack, it would be that there are simply not enough different tracks. Even for the boss battles, including the final boss, the music remains the same.
It doesn't escalate or have any impact to help increase the urgency of the moment. It feels like a standard battle, just a bigger enemy. Apart from that, the overall graphics and audio of the game are beautiful and help to create a magical world and experience.
Good level design and Balanced Enemies
The level design of Hypersensitive Bob is superb. The levels are small yet contain enough room to make it possible to maneuver and dodge enemy attacks. There is a nice variety of different levels to encounter throughout the game from woodland type levels to town type levels and more.
If there were any flaw when it comes to levels, it would be that the game would benefit from having more levels introduced. Despite it having quite a lot of varying levels, it doesn't take long before you have already seen all the levels the game has to offer. I feel adding more levels would certainly make a big difference.
The enemies of the game are quite well balanced. No enemy overpowers the player, yet they are not complete push-overs. Each enemy has their own movement pattern and attack pattern. The secret to defeating your enemies comes down to learning their patterns and creating a strategy that works against them.
Like any game of this particular genre, you will get playthroughs that are harder than others. Depending on the items that the player acquires, it can make a playthrough rather easy or difficult. It results in there never being complete certainty that you are going to win a playthrough.
A fantastic game that is full of surprises
Hypersensitive Bob is a fantastic title that has fun and addictive gameplay, incredible graphics and soundtrack, and a story which contains surprises for the player. There is tons of replayability for the player to experience in the game. Each time you play the game, there is always something new to discover and unlock.
It is well balanced both in gameplay, level design and enemies. It has a few minor flaws here and there, and it may be similar to The Binding of Isaac, but it is an entity of its very own. Hypersensitive Bob is a game that far exceeded my expectations delivering an amazing in-depth game full of surprises as opposed to the simplicity it first presents.
It is an easier game to get absorbed into than The Binding of Isaac as you always know what an item is going to do, allowing for you to create strategies from the get-go. It is a challenging game, but once you find what tactics best suit you, you begin to get truly addicted to it.
Hypersensitive Bob is available to buy on Steam for €4.49 until April 5th. After that, it will be fully priced at €4.99.
Disclaimer: A copy of the game was provided by the publisher