In a somewhat surprising twist, Nexon America is bringing Hyper Universe all the way from Korea to western territories (North America, Latin America, Europe and Oceania). In all honesty, it wasn’t all that unexpected, considering the current demand for MOBA games in North America and Europe, but it’s the design itself of Hyper Universe that made us wonder if it was ever going to happen. And we’re glad it is happening, here’s why.
One of the few side-scrolling MOBAs that works
When Hyper Universe was announced, we frowned at the idea of a side-scrolling MOBA – and we’re pretty sure many of you did the same. This was probably going to be a niche game that would play like a slog and be as enjoyable as being punched in the head. When we saw the first gameplay, however, it didn’t look bad, so maybe it could work.
And it does work. Developer CwaveSoft managed to cram quite some depth into an unusual perspective for this crowded genre, making it stand apart from the competition while turning it into a proper alternative for fans of the big names. It’s side-scrolling with 4v4 matches, but with the added depth of platforming mechanics and up to seven levels of verticality, something that spices up the matches quite a bit. There are some clever touches, such as the ability to shake the ladders to make your enemies fall off of them. Side-scrolling also requires that players go back to the sensitivity of days mostly gone, with attacks only going left or right, so you have to learn the range of the attacks to be effective as there’s no actual aiming. Most of all, the gameplay is fun and it will suck the hours away without you even noticing.
Fun, diverse characters
One thing that makes or breaks a game, especially a MOBA, is the cast of characters and just how appealing they look and feel. League of Legends, SMITE and Dota 2 all succeeded with their very own ideas, and Heroes of the Storm and Master X Master preferred the snowballing trend of using popular franchise characters. For Hyper Universe, the choice went to crazy, diverse and colourful characters, or Hypers, some of them inspired by legendary icons in popular culture including Bruce Lee, Power Rangers, Transformers, Kid Icarus, a Korean Popstar, a smoking sexy elf, a supergirl and this female succubus, among any others. There will be around 30 characters at launch with specializations such as Tanker, Supporter, Technician, Stalker, Striker, and Bruiser.
To make this all work and avoid falling into a blurry mess of characters and projectiles, it takes a studio and artists at the top of their game and that is just what happens. It’s even more laudable considering it’s CwaveSoft’s first game, a South Korean studio that was founded by the former head director of Nexon. The Hypers are of very different shapes and sizes, animated just like a dream and with a range of colourful visual effects that never seem out of place in this game world, and it still looks good when there’s a lot going on at the same time. The backgrounds are very detailed and fit the overall style pretty well, never to the point of hindering the action that is going on in the first plane. As free-to-play games usually go, Hyper Universe will make its money mostly from alternate character skins, and the few examples we’ve seen are definitely going to bring the big bucks, as the eye-candy is strong in them – there’s a maid costume and a bikini, but also others that are just plain stylish.
Just as it happens in every other MOBA, Hyper Universe isn’t just about your team versus the other guys. There’s a lot going on in every map besides the five turrets to dominate and defend, as the jungle has bigger and stronger monsters for players to defeat and earn more gold. There’s also a big boss monster, that may be a huge dragon or robot that requires some massive beating to kill, but the rewards are worth it. If only for the first impression that they make, these bosses are totally worth seeing.
Clean, clever UI and controls
Hyper Universe is played with the keyboard, using a two-handed control scheme and ditching the mouse altogether. This is more than enough to move around your Hyper using the arrow keys and then you can use the items with the number keys and abilities and jumping to the letters. The map is right there at the bottom of the screen, sitting at a place where you constantly have to glance, as it is near the abilities and other important info.
Hyper Universe is shaping up to be the “fun” MOBA, the laid-back alternative to those more serious games of the genre. Don’t misinterpret us, though – it’s still competitive as hell and could easily become your go-to MOBA.