Game Review: Hysteria Project 2
Release: January 27th, 2011
When preparing for my review of Hysteria 2, I thought I would first check out the original game to get a better sense of the world, and their similarities. After playing through the first and diving right into the second I can safely say the sequel brings a lot more to the table.
For those of you like me who missed the first, the Hysteria games are unique in that you are playing through a live-action game world filmed in a very Blair Witch style of horror/suspense. You’re always looking through a first person perspective, and are almost always being chased or on the run. In the original, the game was broken down into mini cinematic that would set up a scene, followed by a freeze frame of choices: Turn left, turn right, or hide for an example. You would tap a choice and watch what happens. Cool at first, but it very quickly became tedious. That’s where Hysteria 2 outshines its predecessor.
Hysteria 2 stays true to what made the original good, but improves upon the formula by adding a lot more variety to the gameplay, and you will notice this right away. This time you are not constricted to viewing videos and watching what happens to your character unfold before you with no control. Now there are small sections where you will need to pan around the screen, much like the 3D view on Google Maps, and look for clues, or scan the area to plan your escape. There’s also a lot more puzzle solving, and sections where the action slows down a bit, and you’ve got to use your brain to move on to the next sequence. These new elements go along way in creating a much more varied, solid experience than the first game.
– A solid presentation told in a very cinematic way.
– Great use of sound to create an intense feel. (Headphones encouraged!)
– Variety of gameplay elements.
– Clever, more well-rounded puzzles.
Hysteria Project 2 headed in the right direction for sure but still fell into many of the same pitfalls as the original. For starters, the developer went to a lot of trouble to create a very real, tangible suspense experience, but it is tarnished by the fact that there is no real sense or urgency behind the drama. If you fail at a task, you restart right on the spot and will retry until you get it right. What they should do is rather than the outcome always result in you immediate death followed by a restart, is have you go down a different path. For instance, if you fail to flee from your foe, rather than die, maybe you watch a terrifying struggle sequence, which results in your jumping through a window to make your escape and continue your journey down a branched story line. And if you succeed? You should be rewarded with an achievement, and continue your path to eventually see the “good” ending. As it stands now, there is no reward for the players who are observant and figure things out first try, compared to those who failed 40 times and are just tapping the screen to progress. It’s a big opportunity for Bulkypix to perhaps consider for any future releases. Another big problem I had with the game is the fact that there are sequences where you WILL die 100%. Anytime a new gameplay element is thrown at you, there is absolutely no direction given to you on how to control it. It will always result in you dieing in order to see the screen that says Game Over and tells you the controls. I’m all for getting rid of tutorials in games just like the next guy, but you should never be forced to die in order to figure something out. There is one sequence early on where I didn’t even know I was able to take control of the action until it was too late.
Despite some major problems to the game, they don’t truly hamper the overall experience. I applaud Bulkypix for improving in a lot of areas where I felt the original was very weak in, and rising above simply being a visual ‘choose your own adventure.’ Had they improved everything, they’d have a true classic on their hands. But as I said, even without it they’ve still got something pretty cool, and a unique offering for the App Store. Plus, it’s a bargain at only $1.99. I say if you’re in the mood for something a little different, give Hysteria Project 2 a chance. If you’re on the fence, you can get a little taste of it by downloading the original for FREE.