STAFF REVIEW of HyperParasite (Xbox One)

Friday, April 24, 2020.
by Adam Dileva

HyperParasite Box art I actually got to play HyperParasite about a year and a half ago on PC in a very early access state with the promise that it would be coming to consoles eventually. Well, that day is here, and HyperParasite is finally on Xbox One ready to infest any and all human hosts it can find. Developer Troglobytes Games originally asked for $37K on Kickstarter long ago to bring their gaming vision to life. While it didn’t meet its goal, they somehow managed to not only make their game a reality, but also bring it to console as well.

While the world is in turmoil, there’s a new threat to mankind, an organism that’s capable of taking over a host and controlling them, much like a body snatcher. This is you, you are HyperParasite. The President has called for everyone to come together; criminals, police, homeless and average basketball players alike will all try and stop you in your journey to try and take over the world. Your goal is to infect the President and use his body to press the big red button that will surely end the world as we know it. Doing so won’t be easy, as the whole world will be against you.

To make this backdrop even more appealing, it’s set in the 80’s, so expect a palette of bright neon and tons of pop culture references from the era, something an 80’s child like myself really enjoyed and appreciated, though younger audiences probably won’t clue into these references. Snatch, zap, repeat.

You’re a simple parasite that resembles a blob, but of course you have the ability to take over the body of any host you come across. When you’re in your true form you’re incredibly weak, barely do any damage and can die with one bad hit. When you take over someone’s body though, you are that person, so you gain access to their stats and abilities. Turn into a cop for example and you can use your pistol to shoot enemies from afar. If you take over a papergirl, you’ll throw, well, newspapers at your enemies. Need to take over a homeless dude with a shopping cart? You got it, you’re going to start ramming people with said cart. When your host loses all of their health you’re forced out of the body and must try and infect another before you die, which is easier said than done when things become chaotic.

Gameplay is like another other twin-stick shooter with some roguelite elements mixed in. When you die, and you will, you start all over again, though there is some progress that does carry over. I would best describe HyperParasite’s gameplay as Kirby meets Hotline Miami. The 80’s aesthetic really makes it stand out amongst others, as does its humor and great pixel work. The camera is top-down with the Left Stick moving your character and the Right the direction you’re aiming. If you’ve played SmashTV before, the way you’re locked into each room is similar, as you’ll need to clear each one before being able to move onto the next. Levels are procedurally generated so every run will always feel fresh.

There’s a ton of enemies you’ll face against, including mini bosses and full blown baddies that will take many tries to overcome. While you won’t be able to infect and take over every character right away, eventually you’ll face off against a harder version of a certain character, and if you bring their brain back to the safe zone shop, you’ll be able to unlock them and use them when you spend enough coins. The better the characters, the more coins it costs to unlock. This means your first few hours will simply be trying to gather as many brains as possible to get the character unlocks, then saving enough coins to actually be able to use them. Luckily this is the progress that carries over each time you die.

During your adventure, you’ll come across cracks in the ground that the HyperParasite can use to upgrade its attack, defense or lives. Your natural form is very weak, so you’ll always want to take over someone’s body, as those are essentially your lives. There’s about 60 different characters, and the special ones like Rocky, Detective McClane, Hulk Hogan and Teen Wolf are just a few of the pop culture references you’ll come across, but of course they are called something different to avoid copy write infringement and are very tongue in cheek. With each character having its own unique attacks and specials, you’ll eventually find a handful you prefer that suits your playstyle. While I’m glad a multiplayer mode was added to play alongside a friend, it’s a shame it’s only local couch co-op only and no online support, as HyperParasite is quite challenging solo.

While I may be a little bias in favor of the 80’s neon aesthetics, as I’m a sucker for bright neon and pop culture, it really suits the overall feel and mood of HyperParasite quite well. The pixel artwork is done quite well but the synthwave soundtrack is even better. While I don’t normally pay much attention to soundtracks and audio, I was grooving along to the beats the whole time I was body snatching, so kudos to Van Reeves and Joe Kataldo for the kickass soundtrack.

HyperParasite is an interesting concept with fundamentally decent gameplay, but where its shines is its heart, as you can tell a lot of passion went into this project. Having seen it evolve over the past year and a half proves a lot of work has gone into making it the best game it can be. It’s hilarious, has tons of pop culture references and more than enough glowing neon that you’ll know what to do with. If you’re a twin-stick shooter fan, HyperParasite is worth checking out and infecting the human race for as long as you can handle its challenging difficulty.

Overall: 8.2 / 10
Gameplay: 7.8 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 9.0 / 10


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