Review: Hard Reset Redux (PS4)

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Title: Hard Reset Redux
Format: PlayStation Network Download (6.24 GB)
Release Date: June 3, 2016
Publisher: Gambitious
Developer: Flying Wild Hog
Original MSRP: $19.99
ESRB Rating: M
Hard Reset Redux is also available on Xbox One and PC.
The PlayStation 4 download version was used for this review.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.
PS Nation Review Policy

Gameplay:
Hard Reset Redux is a fast-paced old school shooter from developer Flying Wild Hog. The game is all about moving and shooting. There is no reloading and no cover system.

My feelings about Hard Reset Redux rose and fell throughout the game. Although I am overall positive about it, if I had reviewed this based on just the first two hours the score would have been a bit higher.

It certainly nails the old school shooter feeling. For anyone tired of the same rehashed military shooter, this is a breath of fresh air. Equipped with an assault rifle and a plasma rifle, the player is constantly on the move.

There is no reloading and there are ammo pick ups everywhere. If for some reason you do run low on ammo, just switch to the other rifle.

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While there are only two guns, each has different variations. The assault rifle can be used as a shotgun or an RPG. Each rifle variation also has upgrades and alternative fire modes that can be purchased. And for good measure, the player also gets a sword. You know, just in case.

There is a weapon wheel but it is not needed. The face buttons are used to switch between the two rifles and the sword, while the D-pad is used to switch between the different variations. There is never a reason to slow down during combat.

For the cherry on top, the world is full of explosions. There are fuel tanks and explosive barrels everywhere. There are also machines and electrical panels that the player can shoot which sends electricity arcing out in all directions.

… the gameplay loop gets repetitive …
Some of the enemies will even explode if they get near you. A number of Trophies popped early on too. Only adding fuel to the fun gameplay loop.

People looking for a challenge will certainly get that here. Even on the easiest difficulty, players will struggle at times along the way. It is important to use all the different weapon variations.

When enemies try to surround the player from all sides, the plasma’s mortar is a great way to keep them at bay while focusing on the other enemies. When the game is at its best, it is pure distilled fun.

However, after a few hours, the gameplay loop gets repetitive. There is little variety in the enemy types. Even the boss fights, which are not good, feel similar to each other.

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When a game that is all about over the top destruction, you generally do not expect a terrific story. Still, there is no variety in mission objectives. Pretty much every one of them boiled down to “get to a location and push a button or pull a lever to get to the next area”.

It is odd too. There is such an emphasis on constantly moving, but the game consistently forces the player to stop. For example, the player will reach a gateway blocked by an energy shield. The player must turn off the power to continue.

The player must follow a power cable, just sitting on top of the ground, to the power source, blow a hole in a wall to reach the switch, and then go back to the gate and continue. This is repeated a number of times and is just frustrating and annoying. There is nothing clever or puzzle-like about this.

Difficulty in games is great, but bad checkpoints can quickly make a game frustrating. More than a few times I would fight my way through a tough encounter only to get killed by a puny minion in the next area and then have to replay the tough encounter.

… It makes all the player deaths feel cheap …
There are some technical issues too. Take an elevator or stairs up to a new level and chances are the game is going to freeze for a few seconds to finish loading the level. Sometimes this would happen in the middle of an area or while fighting an enemy.

The game would also freeze every time I was about to die. One of the bigger enemy types has an attack where it raises its arms and slams them on the ground. If I had low health, the split second he started to lower his arms the game would freeze and then I would be dead. It never even gave me a chance to use my dash to get out of the way.

When you are in the middle of a big fight running around and all of the sudden the game freezes and you are dead, it just doesn’t feel right. It makes all the player deaths feel cheap and quickly breaks any immersion with the game.

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These last few items may be nitpicking but they did bug me. The upgrade menu does not pause the game. You walk up to machine and a menu appears in front of you. The trick is to move just right to see the whole menu. Move slightly too far to one side and the menu will go away.

A few more quick tutorial tips that pop up on the side of the screen would have been helpful. I discovered the weapon wheel by accident as well as being able to switch between weapon variations using the D-pad.

This is not type of game that you want to be bogged down with tutorials, but it is important to be able to quickly switch between the different weapon modes if you are going to survive.

Lastly, the game doesn’t have bad level design but it sorely lacks variety. Except when backtracking to turn off a power supply to an energy shielded gateway, the player is funneled forward through small areas to the next area. More open areas would have been exciting and could have allowed for more weapon experimentation.

… more color and vibrancy would have done wonders …
Visuals:
The cutscenes are told through stop motion comics. They’re well done, but would be more enjoyable if the story was easier to follow.

There are a few neon signs and lights scattered throughout the levels, but otherwise the setting and backdrop are dull and gray. Some more color and vibrancy would have done wonders with the boring and lifeless environments.

The framerate is consistent besides when freezing to finish loading a new area or when the player dies.

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Audio:
The audio is simple but effective. The background music is upbeat and energetic. On top of that is the constant sounds from the enemies, explosions, and weapon fire. It gets your blood pumping and makes the player never want to stop moving and shooting.

Online/Multiplayer:
This game is singleplayer only with no online component.

Conclusion:
Hard Reset Redux is an old school shooter that feels old. The core gameplay loop feels great but lacks variety. More diversity in enemy encounters, level design, and objectives would have gone a long way towards keeping the game feeling fresh.

Ultimately, if you can look past the lack of variety and weird freezing issues, there is fun to be had. Plus with the different difficulties and multiple secrets to find in each level, there is enough incentive to replay the game.

Score:
6.0

* All screenshots used in this review were taken directly from the game using the Share functionality on the PlayStation 4.

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