Amid a rush of political and social issues, it’s nice to return home to something so incredibly familiar that you take it for granted as you age up into the maturity of adulthood. As you begin the tutorial level and pop out of your cellophane-shelled cardboard encasement, HYPERCHARGE Unboxed proposes a lovely blend of what we millennials have come to love in the FPS or TPS genre, both fully on offer within. Flawlessly executed is an impossibly nostalgic representation of playing with our action figures on a cool Thursday afternoon as we wait for our parents to finish preparing our lower middle-class dinners with the utmost love and care. A memory long forgotten, yet fully realized with the intense action and thrill that HYPERCHARGE Unboxed presents with that same attention to detail that will have you calling your parents up to check on the whereabouts of your favorite childhood play things.
You Are A Toy
Initially released on Nintendo Switch and Steam in early 2020 with planned releases on the Xbox and PlayStation, HYPERCHARGE Unboxed offers a variety of modes including my personal favorite and ridiculously addictive Waves mode which pits you against, you got it, waves of increasingly difficult enemies as you scavenge for weapon upgrades and materials to build increasingly more interesting defenses for your Hypercores.
This isn’t a Fortnite clone with the ability to build ridiculous towers or shield yourself from enemies. Instead, the player is give the ability to choose up to 3 different types of defenses to use in each match, ranging from a small Lego-inspired defense tower, to “poisonous and venomous” vines that deal damage to enemies as they step on them, to turrets that give players that extra backup when you’re pinned down or facing some of the game’s incredibly fun bosses. The enemy variety here is plentiful, offering things from standard dummy bots that walk in a fairly straight line towards your Hypercores, to the Battle Blades, tops that spin uncontrollably and bounce into your defenses as well as you and your teammates, and even drones and attack helicopters. There was enough on display here that nothing ever felt repetitive or tired. Even though these enemies fell into obvious tropes of the Tower Defense genre, they’re all wrapped in a unique package that kept me excited to fire my weapon again and again.
Deathmatch is also available, pitting you and 7 other players or bots against each other in either free for all or Team Deathmatch for some intense and chaotic fun. Plague mode has 8 action figures running around the arenas with a shotgun and as the round begins, one player is infected, turning them into a zombie. The goal here is to hold zones while holding off the increasingly large pool of players or bots as they get infected and try to eliminate the other players. All of these modes are fun, if a little bit unoriginal.
The team at Digital Cybercherries, a group of 5 90’s babies that never gave up on their dream of playing with toys for a living, have done something truly special here. What makes this game stand out among a litany of other FPS titles releasing this year like Call of Duty Vanguard, Battlefield 2042, or Halo Infinite, is it’s impressive art direction and soundtrack, which finds obvious inspiration in things from 90’s cartoons to movies like Small Soldiers. Yes, the game is wholly fun, but without this attention to detail, I don’t think it would stand out as much as it does. It controls well enough, but there is a bit of a learning curve when it comes to in air movement and making jumps which can occasionally be frustrating, especially in the middle of combat.
Everything else is immaculate. The character models really look and feel like 4 inch tall G.I. Joe figures running around firing little BBs and your enemies break apart when killed just like you’d expect them to. Each unlockable playscape feels fully unique and lived in: locations like the ruins of a teenager’s bedroom to the isles of a We R Toys store are all fully explorable and have some fun collectibles to be found, granting you new and silly customization items for your toys. Some are hidden in plain sight with no obvious path, to others that are tucked behind packed boxes or folded pairs of jeans. Don’t worry, if you’re a completionist like me, you can go into the game via Free Roam mode to explore and collect everything you need to get all of those boxes checked.
Wrap It Up
With virtually nothing but great things to say about the game, it’s a shame that the player population is so low that I was left playing almost exclusively with bots. While the friendly and enemy AI in this game is largely top notch, there were several instances in my time playing where enemies would wander out of bounds, keeping me from being able to kill them, or just stop in place, making them exceptionally easy targets. HYPERCHARGE is certainly a title that’s built to be played with friends and I believe that as great of an experience as it is solo with bots, it would challenge any Triple-A title releasing this year for fun factor with a group of your buddies to rain hellfire down upon unsuspecting enemy toys.
While there’s no denying that the world has seemingly moved passed the stage of young kids playing with their action figures and instead has them playing video games on their parents Xboxes, HYPERCHARGE Unboxed does a fantastic job of making me feel like a kid in my bedroom, playing with my little brother and our action figures again more than any other toy soldier game has before it. For only a fraction of the cost of what I’ll spend on games like Destiny 2 or Halo Infinite this year, I cannot possibly recommend this game enough.