Hive Jump, from developer Graphite Lab, is a run-and-gun side-scrolling platformer that does not feature much of a plot and instead focuses its main efforts on the action. The jump troopers you control are accustomed to going underground and attack the alines from below. The basic premise is that you by yourself, or a team of friends need to make your way down a level shooting everything you can, defeating all the enemies you see, and then taking on a boss at the end of each stage.
Everything is presented in a simple manner and it fits well within the action setting. You start out with a basic set of gear and equipment, but as you defeat enemies you’ll essentially earn currency that you can use to buy better weapons. The list of weapons is expansive and features all of your action-flick essentials, including rockets, flamethrowers, shotguns, machine guns, along with many others. Each of the weapons can be upgraded to improve their efficiency.
Along with the weapons, you can equip different sets of throwable items to use like explosives or healing grenades. There are also other abilities you can equip, which include stationary turrets, over-shields, and barriers. I was impressed with the sheer amount of weapons and equipment that could be used and while not on Dead Cells level of strategy and abundance, it was still fun to try out different equipment combinations.
As you earn money you can choose what you want to unlock, and this means you can unlock what you want instead of having to wait through a bunch of items you don’t want. Hive Jump encourages you to find out what you prefer and not just make you equip what you don’t want to use. There’s a great amount of options to customize your character and it’s worth mixing and matching to find out what works best for you.
This is especially true in co-op and Hive Jump is much more enjoyable playing with friends. You can create different classes and roles for your teammates and there’s a sense of bravado with coordinating attacks and working together. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun playing by yourself and is enjoyable in single-player, but you can tell this was the type of game meant to be played as a co-op experience.
The action and combat are well done and satisfying with enemies blowing up into bits with plenty to shoot at. As you explore levels you’ll find hidden crates for more currency, along with these challenge rooms that you can try to complete in order to earn additional rewards or rescue other people to earn other rewards as well. Bosses are rather large foes that are tough to defeat most of the time and the retro aesthetic makes Hive Jump seem like a blast from the past where shooters are concerned.
You play as jumpers and when you die you need to wait a few seconds for another jumper to come in so you can control them. The backpack can be damaged while you’re waiting for another jumper, so you really need to watch out for the health of the backpack, because once that hits zero it’s game over. The different jumpers have humorous names and I appreciate the nods to characters from great action films like Bruce Willis.
Overall, Hive Jump is a fun, albeit somewhat shallow, take on the retro co-op shooting experience. It is much better played with friends, but can still be enjoyable given you love old-school shooters. There’s plenty to enjoy here with a Campaign, Arcade, and Endless mode and you always feel like you’re earning something because the amount of currency you accrue. While it may become tedious for longer play sessions, Hive Jump still shines where it matters most: the gameplay.