Hyperburner Review

The most fun we’ve ever had for $2.99

Hyperburner is a gorgeous, responsive mobile ‘infinite runner’ style space game that is, IMO, the best game available on iOS (soon to be the best game available on Android when it releases on the Play Store on a yet-to-be-announced date).  Made by indie studio Bad Potion, Hyperburner has 30 missions spread across six completely unique zones, each with their own art style and set of obstacles.  Each zone also includes lore, so there’s a “Bit of theatre…always nice”, too. [Big props to anyone who gets that quote, btw – tell me in the comments if you do!]  Check out the Let’s Play below, or keep scrolling for the full review.

Gameplay & Controls

You’ll start out with the Domasus K4 ship in zone one.  You can unlock additional levels in each zone by completing the previous zone, and unlock a few more ships as well, of which there are four in total.  The controls are incredibly responsive, by far the best I’ve used in a mobile game: you can control the ship from any area of the screen (you’re not stuck to a designated control area like in Galaxy on Fire, for instance) and the game immediately pauses when you take your finger off the screen.  There’s also a settings area where you can tweak the sensitivity, which you’ll want to do as you get further along in the game and/or attempt endless modes. I’ve ramped my sensitive so high I control my ship by slightly rolling my finger on the screen!  Hyperburner also includes 20 achievements, and completing achievements is how you’ll unlock the fourth and final ship.  For those wondering, Hyperburner can be played in both landscape and portrait mode, and works in multiple aspect ratios for both phones and tablets.

Endless Mode

After you’ve beaten all 30 campaign missions, it’s time for endless mode.  Endless mode is absolutely nuts, and unlocks immediately for a stage after you’ve completed it in normal mode.  Endless mode adds additional speed and a corresponding score modifier, but some of the speed modifiers are an insane 2.5x.  They’re a lot of fun, but I tend to only survive a few seconds at these speeds!  You can also compete against other people through game center for high score: whoever gets the highest number of points in that zone gets the number one spot. The game has a first, second, and third place section under the name of the zone that’s visible to everyone. You can play the levels as many times as you want to try to accumulate more points and attempt the number one spot.   You even get a little bar graph that shows you kind of how many points you have in each level, which is pretty nifty.

Art & Music

Hyperburner looks fantastic.  Each zone is completely offering, not only structurally but artistically.  The zones each have a dominant color theme (blue, red, etc) and the variety of ways to explode into a wall is astounding.  There are some really neat and unique obstacles scattered across the various zones, and while you’ll be blowing up a lot, the gameplay and aesthetics are so fun that you’ll be laughing rather than throwing your phone.

I also really enjoyed Hyperburner’s soundtrack.  It sounds like MIDI done right, and the title track especially grabs you when you first launch the game.  The main reason we cover indie games here is to help spread the word about how talented these small (or solo, in this case!) indie studios are, and I’m very impressed that the gameplay, visuals, controls, and soundtrack in Hyperburner are all so impeccable.

Patrick Cook, the sole developer behind the scenes at Bad Potion, was awesome enough to send over some super cool concept work and other goodies that I’ve showcased here – thanks Patrick!

Hyperburner Development Screenshot 1

An Interview with Patrick Cook of Bad Potion

Patrick Cook is the one-man-army behind Bad Potion Games.  He was awesome enough to give us this interview:

Mike MaddoxWhat gave you the idea for Hyperburner, and how long did it take to develop?

Bad Potion LogoThe initial idea for Hyperburner was just to be able to cruise around an area with really fluid controls. Beyond that I didn’t know exactly what it would be, except vaguely that it would probably be set in space. I’d planned it to be a pretty tiny game as well, just one procedural area flying through space junk and debris.

Once I started exploring the different ideas for areas, and as those different aesthetics came together over the next couple months, the plan kind of exploded into something much larger.

In terms of time to develop, I honestly wish I knew. I didn’t keep a log of hours (probably for the best, for my sake), so all I can say really is that I worked on it on and off for about 18 months. The entire dev journey the game took is on my twitter feed.

Mike MaddoxThe art style for Hyperburner is really unique and impressive.  Who worked on the art (if not yourself) and concept art for Hyperburner, and what was their/your inspiration for the various stages?

Bad Potion LogoI did the art myself, which was actually one of my motivations to make the game in the first place. I’m most often doing code and game design these days but I worked for many years as a 3D artist, so it was a nice excuse to immerse myself back into that area again.

I don’t know if can pinpoint any specific inspiration other than a lifetime of loving sci fi, really my focus for the art was to make it feel like you were at different locations out there with some kind of story to them. Each zone in Hyperburner has history (literally – it’s not easy to spot the button, but you can read it, in-game), and I let that guide the art style.

Mike MaddoxEach zone stands apart from the other by featuring unique visuals, colors, and obstacles. Where did you get the ideas for the different zone?

Bad Potion LogoI tried to make the zones feel distinct from one another so you’d get a bit of a feeling of taking a journey through different areas as you progress, but I also let the stories I was imagining guide lots of the form and structure. Each area structurally is something I tried to imagine making sense (with admittedly pretty loose creative license) in some very distant future scenario, not just within themselves but sort of within a larger narrative that life there is very sparse and a little lonely. Not the game has a story, just that I tried to keep the cogs turning on larger ideas while building the areas.

The Badlands is probably the best example of a zone with history – the site of a massive catastrophe where absolutely everything was destroyed. It’s made of shattered and warped versions of many of the objects from former zones, due to the “incident”, and has a very different visual style to other zones. Initially the art for it was a stark red & black, but I felt the white & blue combo had more of a barren, lifeless vibe from the residual fallout.

Mike MaddoxWhen can we expect DLC or Hyperburner 2, and any chance of a co-op mode in the future?

Bad Potion LogoI’d love to do a co op mode! I don’t know about that for Hyperburner just yet, but I’d definitely love to add some content. I’m looking into what to do there at the moment.  Too early to say timeframe-wise, but hopefully pretty soon!

In Closing

Hyperburner is definitely my favorite mobile game, and it’s also my favorite game of 2016 so far across all platforms (with the exception of Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, of course).  The fact that one guy can create a flawless experience (Especially when so many large teams can’t even do that!) amazes me.  Hyperburner is effortless to pick up and play, is beautiful, responsive, and freaking tons of fun:  It’s the best $2.99 I’ve ever spent.  Don’t hesitate to buy it right now if you have an iOS device. Btw, Patrick has not only confirmed that there’s DLC on the way, but it (and all future DLC!) will be free.  How rad is that?  Here’s the iOS app store link here.

Editor’s note: special thanks to Caleb Simpson for his gameplay and additions to this review

Hyperburner Screenshot 3
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I lead a digital marketing team during the day, and spend the rest of my time gaming, rock climbing, reading, and writing, usually in the company of awesome people. My favorite game franchises are the Homeworld series and the Descent series. Follow me on twitter: @FoHmaddox

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