Going to get straight to the point on the intro to this review. An extreme, arcade, sports video game has released, with mega Jet Set Radio vibes, and you’re not surprised I’m the one reviewing it for Pure PlayStation. Yup.
In neo-dystopian, sci-fi, punker fashion Hover takes place in a brightly lit city that’s ruled by the great, great, great, great-grandfather of the villain to Footloose. Ok, that’s not entirely canon, but you’ll understand the comparison. The dictator of the land has banned all forms of entertainment with steep jail time sentences and finger wags at all the young ruffians. Naturally, it’s up to you and a gang of parkour elitists to run, grind, jump, and barrel your way through the city causing as much mischief as possible. This could be as involved as racing, retrieving items, or simply spraying graffiti while avoiding the many dangers and state drones. Also, just act like young adults and beat each other in games of speed and skill.
While the comparisons to Jet Set Radio are apt, Hover’s characters don’t quite use rollerblades. The speeds, heights, and grinds reached are thanks to natural ability or augmented suits that can be upgraded with medals. There’s also a few things to assist your character like boost pads, boost pathways, etc. placed throughout the world. Additionally, you can perform tricks that, like nearly everything else you do movement wise, will gain points. It’s nothing too in-depth, but the tricks and movement abilities contribute to energy you acquire. The more energy you have and the higher it fills your meter, the faster your character can travel. It drops off though if you fail to continue running/jumping or perform basic tricks.
You can upgrade your character with medals which are, of course, coded into rarities.You can earn them from exploring or from events/missions and the better you do the better medals you’ll be given. The flashier and more colorful they are, the more potent the upgrade to things like grind speed, acceleration, base speed, graffiti spray time, movement with a held object, jump height, and more. There’s only so many you can place into your character, and dependent on your level, and some spots are taken up by your graffiti image and your companion who hovers over your shoulder. You’ll never have to worry about attaining these powerups as they are plentiful.
Controls to Hover are a bit on the looser side and for good reason. The game is extremely fast paced, to its detriment sometimes, and multiple abilities are mapped to multiple buttons. To the point where I’m comfortable saying there is a learning curve to this title. Especially if you choose to load into an online world where other players are playing the same “story” missions as you. The action will zip around you like crazy and the game doesn’t hold your hand. Which would be fine if Hover didn’t make it so hard to keep track of things. Your objectives, in non-race related events, are usually outlined in a thin, neon rectangle or square. Even just trying to find missions in the world too. It is insanely easy to lose track of things or lose your general sense of direction. Whether this is because of the fast paced nature of the game or the matching neon environment I don’t know.
Now this isn’t a problem with the game in itself, but Hover focus more on timing and precision than it does outright speed. This is very apparent on anything related to moving vertically or the many edges you’ll sail off of. The developers being aware of this added a rewind button for your character so you can fly back to safety as you hold it. The power does not change time however. So if you mess up your opponents will still be able to take advantage. Hover’s calculated swiftness also makes traversal climbing a pain in the arse. Your character will grab onto nearly any object with a ledge while moving upwards and push themselves in that direction like a super basic Assassin’s Creed. The problem is this doesn’t always work and an imminent plummeting down will commence. Mix that with fast and loose controls and you might not want to play for a bit. The impressive verticality of Hover is dampened by this issue.
Even if it causes more problems than it’s worth, Hover’s stylistic, neon city is pretty gorgeous. Vibrant and bright colors bring a certain retro yet modern feel. No matter where you look you’ll find a splash of color. That is until you travel down into the sewers which is gated off until you complete a certain amount of missions. Other areas and events will require certain levels as well. The soundtrack is a reggae, hip hop lovers dream and is certainly phresh. (Am I cool yet with the kids?) Even falling victim to the title’s shortcomings will keep you bumping with the beat.
Hover PS4 Review
Hover isn’t the digital, parkour comeback you may have been hoping for, but it is a damn fun one. The speed and customizable upgrades alone are worth experiencing if you enjoyed Jet Set Radio. You’ll find just figuratively flying around the city is enjoyable in its own right. The entire experience is just held down by questionable HUD and game design elements. Not to mention the finicky relationship between all out speed and precision. Still there aren’t many high-speed titles on the market right now and that experience will be awfully tempting.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a digital copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using a PS4 Pro.