The days of Quake, Unreal and Doom FPS action are long down the drain. The games almost feel like coin filled arcade cabinet games of yesteryear and many gamers who grew up with the classics weep at just what has taken over. Flying Wild Hog and Kalypso, however, released a homage to the genre of unrelenting shooters back in October of last year, now they’re back with a free update and a retail release of their product packing in all the same from last time, and just a little more.
Hard Reset is what they call it. The reason behind the name could be from anything between a reference to the steampunk, cyborg filled world it takes place in, the gruelling difficulty of the game, or for us personally, the strain it put on our system.
Telling a simplistic, short tale of the standard mechanical revolution and the effect it could have on the planet, Hard Reset tasks you to drop your job as a protection officer of Bezoar amidst a revolt of the world’s cyborg companions and escape to a place known as Haven. A place you’re not even sure exists.
Armed with two highly advanced transforming guns, your weapon upgrades will simply come as upgrades to your existing arms with each switching their components around to reflect their change of usability. A rocket launcher that looks so much like your standard issue rifle? We can see lots of deception going on if this had a multiplayer component. Never the less, your two + 10 weapons will serve you well and shine in a given scenario. Electric mortars, rocket launchers, stun shots, shotguns, energy snipers; you name it and you’ll need it at some point. We found the game ruthlessly difficult even though we felt we had lucked out with our choice of upgrades before a serious brawl broke out. Make the wrong choice and you could be in for a hell of a harsh time.
Hard Reset is very skilfully thought out game. Environment is key here and using it to it’s full advantage will make your life easier. Not using it – at least somewhat – will most likely mean death around every corner. And bosses? Well you’d better get learning what blasts out electricity and what’ll burst into flames. For the most time your trips around Bezoar will be in very well crafted, yet chlostrophobic, environments. Multitudes of durable machines charging your way either as bombs, tearing animals, spinning blades or a whole lot else will rip you to very bloody peices in a matter of seconds. You’ll be doing a lot of running and gunning and swapping to every weapon under the sun before you feel safe enough to press on. Remember, this is a very old school FPS experience, you’ll be conserving and relying upon medipacks for a long time. Sure your shields will gradually recharge, but they really won’t deflect as much as you’d expect from something like say… Halo.
While the campaign may only clock in at around 6-8 hours with a decent amount of death along the way, for £14 on Steam you’re really getting a nice package. Multiplayer isn’t an option here, and while that does seem like a slight loss of potential, Hard Reset rests itself as a great throwback to games of old. The harsh difficulty, great range of weapons and enemies, thought process needed to survive, and the slight scares it can give when you see a hulking machine smashing through walls to shatter you into peices is a great feeling indeed. Be aware though, replay value comes from the in-game achievements which mirror with Steam; the retail copies are not Steam keys. The achievements will still be available, but they won’t accumulate to your bulky account giving you little incentive to even attempt them. The scores at the end of each mission assured us that we could improve a lot with most coming in at a quarter of what they could be, but the game-specific achievements of retail copy left us with no real reason to improve; though we doubt we even could.
Those who already have Hard Reset on Steam will notice their game has already updated to include 3 new missions and gigantic ‘Overlord’ boss prior to your arrival at the promised land. They’re free. And for anyone looking to get a bit of flashy nostalgia really owe it to themselves to pick this gem up. It’s hard, it’s beautiful, it’s cheap, and a hell of a lot of fun.
Final Score: 4/5