Once I found out that Energy Hook was made by the guy who was mainly responsible for Spiderman 2’s swinging mechanics back on the PS2, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on it. I also understood that Energy Hook was backed on Kickstarter. Games that successfully get funded, created, and published there with no negative problems are usually a labor of love. That’s why it pains me to say it but I felt no love from the eponymous hook. Which isn’t great because that’s all there is to this game. In no way should the main attraction ever be the victim of its own show. Alas, that is what we have here.
The game starts up with only one unlocked map to start from. Immediately I realized there was no story and I was in for a freeplay type game. I want to make clear that’s not a negative thing; having my own playground to screw around in can be equally as fun. Right off the bat I was not impressed with the graphics and trust me I know looks do not make the game. However, when they’re from two video game generations ago it’s obviously noticeable. Coming to the understanding that this wasn’t a story or graphically driven game, I was eagerly awaiting how awesome the gameplay would be to compensate.
I got spawned into a shipyard inspired map. All around me were objects and structures blatantly set up to swing and wall run on. That’s what this game is all about. Your uncustomisable character has a special grappling hook that can grab surfaces, like everyone’s favorite web-slinger, and swing from them. In addition, you also have a jetpack that stabilizes you mid or post-swing. It can also propel you forward faster, albeit brokenly. Beyond that there are also tricks you can do for points but the system is uninspired for this and it just feels tacked on and is incredibly basic.
On the map were a handful of light pillars that you could enter and start a challenge. They consisted of tests regarding how well you can swing, wall run, race to a point, and string together points. I honestly couldn’t give you an opinion on how fun they were because I could hardly complete them. It isn’t often that I hope I’m awful at something and instead hope that a learning curve is just so intense that it takes years of practice to get right. From here are a handful of other map locations with the same setup. Each location had a unique feel to it but the atmosphere is hampered from the previously mentioned graphics.
Now keep everything in mind I’ve already mentioned with what I’m about to tell you. This game feels like an unfinished tech demo. There’s not a lot of content and what’s there is almost impossible to play. In fact the most fun I had out of this game was swinging randomly on my own where and when I wanted. Even then I had to fight the game’s mechanics and controls to do so. The hook just didn’t work or grab on to things at time, the jetpack screwed you over if not entirely sending you flying in the wrong direction, the swing physics did not feel genuine at times, and randomly I’d make contact with something solid and die. No reason why. I’d disintegrate and restart over at some point I’d been before.
All of those problems are made worse on some of the challenges. A few were incredibly tight and I was lucky to get by one obstacle. Every time I got fed up and canceled the challenge but that was a problem too. Instead of taking you out of the challenge and back into the world, it required you to find your way back to the challenge’s starting point and exit there. Luckily, I found a loophole and simply quit the game and reloaded whatever map I was in. Yes, the easiest way to exit a challenge was to return to the main menu. Lastly, there was the ability to configure your energy hook and upgrade your jepack but there wasn’t one single combination that fixed any of the problems.
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