Guest Author - James Shea
A fast-paced classic-style arcade shooter, Hard Reset combines solid run-and-gun gameplay with Cyberpunk aesthetics.
"Hard Reset" is an FPS produced by Polish developer "Flying Wild Hog". It's a classic run-and-gun in the spirit of games like Doom and Quake, focused more around direct shooting than story element. It's got solid basics, and is a fun game in that regard, but it lack of variety might bore some gamers. The game is set in a Cyberpunk-style future; the player takes the role of a hunter assigned to a section of a human city currently overrun by vicious robots. There's some story, but most of the setting is seen through the game's stellar visual design.
There are two main guns in Hard Reset, a firearm and an energy gun. Both guns are transformable, and each has five forms (though only one for each is available at the start). The firearm can become a machine gun, a shotgun, a grenade launcher, a rocket launcher, or a mine launcher. The energy weapon can become a rapid-fire blaster, a lightning gun, an electric grenade launcher, a wall-piercing railgun, and an auto-homing smartgun. Each mode also has two upgrades - one alternate fire option and one general improvement. In addition to this, the player-character's health, radar, carrying capacity, and so on can also be upgraded.
Upgrades are purchased with N.A.N.O., a collectable form of experience that can be either taken from destroyed enemies or found scattered throughout the world. This provides a way to reward exploration, but in essence N.A.N.O. is the game's only real "resource". Besides the orange-colored N.A.N.O., there's also blue, red, and green pickups - energy, bullets, and health respectively. The energy gun and firearm both use the same ammunition across their 5 different types, so in essence you've got two pools of ammunition from which to draw. Pickups are pretty common - in fact, enemies have them visible on their bodies, so you know what you'll get after you take an enemy down. In addition to your "health", which must be replenished via pickups, you've also got a shield that regenerates slowly over time. This means that if you get heavily wounded in a fight, you've at least got a backup shield to tide you over until you find some health.
The game's enemies are relatively diverse (though they're kind of boring early on). There's tiny swarming buzzsaw robots, suicide bomber robots, big charging robots, shooting robots, and so on. The robots clank and smash fairly satisfyingly, but they get kind of boring as the only enemy. The environments are full of destructible items, of both the explosive and electric variety, so firefights quickly turn into chaotic frenzies as the player attempts to both find items to shoot and tries to stay away from possible chain reactions.
The graphics are really astounding for a title of this nature. It's a dark, gritty Cyberpunk jam-packed with retro-futuristic aesthetics and glowing neon signs. Aircraft floating above cast shadows on the city streets, and despite being hastily abandoned the city shows signs of being lived in (albeit in a cramped, uncomfortable way). The lighting effects are really good, and gameplay-relevant too since the different light colors signify different collectables or environmental effects. It's a game that's fun just to watch in action.
Overall, Hard Reset is a solid shooter with good basics and a great atmosphere. My main gripe is the limited content - there's a single-player campaign, and that's it. Some multiplayer, even to a limited extent, would be nice, and as-is it's hard to justify the $30 price tag. However, if you want a classic run-and-gun game akin to a modernized Doom or Quake, you can do a lot worse than Hard Reset.
We purchased this game with our own funds via Steam.