Video games, much like any other form of entertainment, are fun. Although they can be considered a form of art despite the community’s clamor for less sociopolitical commentaries, we can’t forget that they are just as fun as watching a superhero movie, or listening to an impactful song, or even reading a fiction novel with heavy social commentaries. It’s always good to appreciate thoughtful video games, but everyone needs a break every now and again. So far, 2017 presented the public with some unpretentious releases, Hover: Revolt of Gamers being one of the most recent.
Inspired by the cult classic Jet Set Radio, the popular Mirror’s Edge, and with a hint of Zenith (an experimental game developed by Arcane Kids), Hover: Revolt of Gamers is a third-person/first-person parkour hybrid that can be described with one word: fun. Set in a distant future, Hover takes place in a suspended city commonly known by its inhabitants as Hover City, which is under a strict dictatorship. For reasons I won’t be spoiling, the Great Admin rose to power and cut all communications the city had with the Galactic Union. On top of that, he prohibits citizens from having fun, which has a direct impact on gaming. Thus, gamers band together in order to fight the oppressive regime and free ECP17 from the tyranny of the Great Admin.
The setting is simple enough to allow players not to care if they so desire. Not knowing the fine details (which can be rather interesting) doesn’t impact the game’s overall appeal, which is to have fun in a carefully constructed sandbox open world. Hover City is composed of two outdoor zones and two indoor zones, each with their own aesthetic and challenges. The areas are a feast for the eyes with their colorful walls and NPCs and most importantly, the vertical layout which makes unique use of the parkour mechanics. There’s always a collectible to find, or a building to jump to, or new challenges to create using the game’s built-in level editor.
Hover: Revolt of Gamers makes use of some great ideas that move this niche genre of urban-themed games forward, but it doesn’t execute all of them too well. While the final product is polished enough to justify it being out of early access, it still needs improvement in key features. For example, the title counts with a seamless multiplayer mode that can be accessed with the touch of a button. No need to select a server, create your own, or sit through loading screens; just hit the option in the menu while playing and you’ll instantly switch between solo and online modes. It sounds like a dream, but in reality, it’s a bit of a mess.
The built-in chat relays messages using character names instead of Steam usernames, making it difficult to build a community in-game (not that fans didn’t get around that with their own teams and Discord groups). Once you log out and get back in with a different character, people will know you as a different person for the remainder of the play session. Additionally, despite how practical it is to turn multiplayer on and off, players would still benefit from the ability to create and host their own servers. There is an option to play online with friends only, yet it’s easier to build a community when regular users can easily recognize one another and hang out around the same public servers.
Despite the multiplayer needing improvement and even presenting some annoying bugs, Hover: Revolt of Gamers has a lot to offer as a whole. The game has a multitude of parkour-based missions that, while relying on this particular element, are just different enough to give a sense of diversity. Players can engage in different types of races, gameball matches (a mix of parkour and basketball), deliveries, gameball races (a chaotic race where teams are tasked with running a gameball through checkpoints), or create their own challenges through the built-in editor. The gameplay isn’t perfect and some aspects of it (such as gameball mechanics and the sewer challenges) would benefit from some polishing, but nothing is too unbalanced that the game is unplayable.
Thankfully, the developers seem concerned with continued support for Hover: Revolt of Gamers whereas other studios would completely abandon the project upon reaching a full release. Every now and again newcomers make new threads on Hover‘s Steam discussions with a few suggestions or content inquiries. The general response to gameplay enhancements (such as an UI containing more information) is “we’re planning on implementing it” and beyond that, the team seems to take suggestions for additional content into consideration.