Publisher: Huey Games
Developer: Huey Games & Four5SixPixel
Platforms: Xbox One (reviewed), PS4, Nintendo Switch & PC
Release Date: Friday 11 May 2018
Hyper Sentinel is a 2D retro-inspired shoot em up from Huey Games & Four5SixPixel and is a spiritual successor to classic Commodore 64 & Spectrum game Uridium. The game is a fast paced arcade shoot em up where players control a space ship assaulting a space station in short levels with only a few screens where players can fly back and forth taking out enemies until they have destroyed enough to complete the level and trigger the end of level boss, or Guardian as they are known in the game.
Controls are fairly simple and easy to get to grips with. Left stick moves your spaceship, A to shoot and Right Trigger to boost. The difficulty of the levels on Normal difficulty is a fair old challenge that it took me several tries to complete each level and there are 2 difficulties above Normal, Hard and Retro Hard, for you hardcore shoot em up fans looking for an even stiffer challenge. There are multiple enemy types of both ground targets and enemy ships to contend with and although each level is similar in essence the variety in enemy types make each one feel fresh and issues a new challenge with each level ending with a different end of level boss every time that have various attacks and some have multiple phases with attacks changing as the fight progresses.
There are 13 stages divided up as 1-A, 1-B, 1-C and so on up to level 5-A. On each level there are Medals which offer a number of additional challenges to encourage replayability offering more challenges for completionists and there are 3 game modes; Arcade play through each level in order and you can start at any level you have unlocked, Survival which is Hyper Sentinel’s endless mode where you play a level and try and survive for as long as possible and Boss Mode where you take on all of the game’s Guardian bosses. There are leaderboards for you to compete against other people’s scores online making the game highly replayable repeating levels to try and get a higher score and move up the rankings.
Since the game is a spiritual sequel to Uridium the developers have included a few visual options to make the game look like a Spectrum game, Commodore 64 game or that it is running on an old CRT TV. The normal modern graphics are 1080p 60FPS on PS4 & Xbox One with 4K 60FPS on PS4 Pro & Xbox One X. The game also features innovative interactive streaming capabilities on Microsoft’s Mixer streaming platform allowing viewers watching someone stream the game to join either the team trying to help the player or trying to kill them offering some pseudo multiplayer options which is a great laugh especially if you invite a few friends to watch you. Viewers can add powerups if they are on the team helping the player or enemy ships if they are out to kill them.
Hyper Sentinel is a great arcade shoot em up with a retro aesthetic that looks like some of the old 80s classics I grew up with. The gameplay is simple for anyone to pick up and play but offers a stiff and engaging challenge that feels satisfying and rewarding. With a few different modes and a good number of stages and varied enemies and boss battles. A number of different powerups and weapon types to collect and figure out how best to use them to take out enemies with. Different graphics options for a healthy dose of nostalgia if you want the game to look like the old classics as well as nailing the feel of them in the gameplay. For fans of the shoot em up genre Hyper Sentinel is easy to recommend and is accessible enough for casual fans to enjoy as well. Online leaderboards, Medals and multiple difficulty levels will keep you coming back again and again and interactive streaming features if you are playing on Xbox One with Mixer offers even more ways for players and viewers to enjoy the game. Other than these interactive streaming features it doesn’t do anything particularly new or innovative in the genre but it is very well polished and is an absolute blast to play.