Energy Hook PS4 Review
Publisher: Happion Laboratories Developer: Happion Laboratories Genre: Action Players: 1
Age Rating: 3+ Other console/handheld formats: PS Vita
When it comes to Spider-Man games, 2004’s Spider-Man 2 was one of the true pioneers. It was the first truly open-world Spider-Man game and it also featured the web slinger swinging through the city of New York like never before. Jamie Fristom, the man who created the impressive web swinging mechanics that made the game such a joy to play is the very same man behind Energy Hook, and his new game is like a Spider-Man game without the hero.
Yes, Energy Hook does have you doing a lot of swinging about the place (using a futuristic hook as opposed to webbing), and you can jump to add extra height at the end of swings, but it would be unfair to call it a complete Spider-Man clone. The main character, Delilah, also has a jetpack on her back, which allows for quick boosts, and you can also do various high flying tricks and flips. Unlike Spider-Man, Delilah is unable to stick to walls, although she can run along them. All in all, there’s quite a lot to the game’s movement system, then.
Energy Hook is actually the Extreme Sport of the future, although that’s as much as you learn as to what’s actually going on. There’s no story, and it’s rather vague as to what you are actually supposed to be doing in the game itself to begin with, but it does quickly become obvious that each sandbox environment is your playground, and there’s no strict structure that you are forced to follow.
Yes, it soon becomes apparent that this is a game that wants you to just run, swing and play about to discover different things. Basically, there are various challenges dotted around the place, there’s 7 collectibles to find in each environment, and as you play you’ll also earn cred. You raise your level of cred by completing challenges and finding collectibles which, in turn, unlocks new challenges and areas, and that’s what you get for the structure of the game.
I must admit that I thought Energy Hook was going to be a game that I hated to begin with. The camera was all over the place, tutorials are basic, and the movement system didn’t flow as naturally as I hoped, but the more I played the game, the more I got into it, and the upgrades I received to things such as my hook, jump and jetpack seemed to make the game even more playable. Also, you can tune your abilities, and if you are able to find your very own sweet spot, then this can improve things somewhat, but not enough to fix the flaws of the game considerably.
Saying all the latter, even though I managed to tame the camera somewhat, it still regularly gave me some poor views, which really doesn’t help in a game that is all about speed and momentum. Such a game should be all about the thrill of swinging about and not having to worry about things such as the camera and the controls, and there was even moments in which my hook refused to connect to something that I intended it to from time to time, which also led to needless frustration. There’s fun to be had here, but it’s too often ruined by the game’s failings.
The game does have a nice variety of challenges (represented by coloured beacons), which includes everything from swinging through hoops as quickly as possible to reaching a certain height. Other challenges have you tricking your way through them and getting as high score as possible, which is fun as combining stylish mid-air tricks works just as well as it should, and others have you running along marked walls. There’s online leaderboards for each and every single challenge, although it seems that many players aren’t playing right now, as I found myself in the top five on every single challenge that I completed, and even found myself the lone player on the leaderboard in certain challenges. Even with the current lack of players, it doesn’t stop you from going for your best personal runs though, and scoring some impressively shiny medals.
While the game is certainly no looker and was obviously made on a tight budget, there’s a nice variety of cartoon environments, but some of them are overly bland and lacking in character and detail. There are six environments for you to swing through and once unlocked you are able to easily switch between them, and while you do get the freedom to do what you want in each of them, each individual playing area does remain rather compact. I found the three city environments to be by far the most interesting and detailed out of the lot of them, and had a particular liking for Misty City as well as Atlanic City, which brought to mind Mirror’s Edge. The huge difference in quality from one environment to the next is really quite shocking, and it’s also very disappointing as well.
Energy Hook has a number of issues which sadly makes the game difficult to love, but there’s also positive things that makes the game difficult not to like, at least in some way. But the truth of the matter is that this could have been a truly excellent game, although it’s a long way from being that. It is a rather mixed up game which offers bursts of fun, but it’s also one that requires time and patience to get the most out of it, and you must also be prepared to tolerate plenty of frustrating moments, particularly in the earlier stages of the game.