Interesting run and gun action saves a somewhat middling roguelike.
There is something about roguelike games that works on Nintendo Switch. The ''one more try'' format is perfectly suited for a handheld and makes coming back for a second venture an utter joy. On the flipside, it has become increasing harder for the genre to impress me. Case in point, Hive Jump just barely slips through the cracks for me. The game's shooting and exploring may find an audience somewhere, but they left me without anything to hold on to. The big problem is that it didn't do enough to create some outstanding moments.
Hive Jump begins with the set-up, which is solely there to provide context for what you're doing. The human race is fighting evil aliens, and you're there to be a hero of some sort. You and a team of space marines, known as the J.U.M.P. Corps, rush into the action to secure a variety of areas. Hive Jump's campaign sees you blowing up enemies, collecting the game's currency (goo), and building bases to brighten up the outlook. That sounds fun, and initially it is, but sadly the bosses become the sole highlights when everything is said and done.
The run 'n' gun and roguelike portions are the heart and soul of the adventure. You and up to three friends will enter various alien hives to destroy them from the inside. The main objective is to shoot anything that moves, collect all the goo, and reach the next floor of the randomly- generated level. If you are able to get out, you can carry on to the next challenge with everything that you managed to collect. Hive Jump is about knowing when is the best time to leave and live another day. Luckily, the experience is backed up by some tight platforming and crisp shooting elements. The weapons, including the machine gun, felt endlessly satisfying to use throughout many of my sessions.
The action is solid in its base principles, but it isn't hard to see the cracks develop over time. The main issue is that so much of what you see and do is the same. I don't mean repetition in gameplay, as that is to be expected, but rather the variables of the title. Unlike other roguelikes that know how to package its attributes soundly, Hive Jump repeats elements way quicker than it should. It isn't unheard of to see the same environments and enemies pop up a bunch of times back to back. The foundation for a great game is here, but I can't shake off the feeling that I've seen everything fairly early on.
In addition, the base-building side of Hive Jump is a complete throwaway. The developers tried to elevate this game about shooting and running by adding strategy elements to the mix. The implementation is such a waste as you really spend little time considering your options. You will use your collected goo on a series of nodes, fortify your bases, and then carry on with whatever mission comes next. I think it is good to try new things for the sake of being different, but without any really meaning, you start to ponder why the concept was added in the first place.
Beyond the campaign, there are some others modes to lengthen your overall play time. The Arcade Mode is a simple pick-up-and-play experience without the strategy or other progression elements. While the main problems remain, this is how I mostly had fun with others. Challenge Mode is a fine addition too, offering a variety of missions with strict objectives and restrictions.
Overall, the presentation is just fine. Hive Jump runs very soundly on Nintendo Switch, no matter how many players join in on the fun. The 2D sprites pop off the screen with bright colors and sharp design choices. That being said, the animations were very stiff and not in line with the moves the space marines could perform. The soundtrack is a variety of chiptune tracks that fit well with the game's overall theme, but I can't really say that I remember any tunes off the top of my head. The music is good, but nothing more than that I'm afraid.
Hive Jump is an okay-ish roguelike with interesting run 'n' gun segments to back it up. Where the game really falls short is in how it packages its content. The main campaign repeats environments and enemies way too much for its own good, leaving a sour taste. The levels are too alike and the strategy elements between the stages aren't all that great. The extra modes can be decently fun, though they won't last for nearly as long. Overall, I really wanted to like Hive Jump a lot more, but as things progressed I became less of a fan.