App Reviewed on: iPhone SE
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Hyperforma is an ultra-stylish game that is somewhere between a puzzle game and something like Arkanoid. Perhaps the coolest thing about it is it uses its unique mechanics to simulate hacking in a crazy, cyberspace environment. It’s just too bad that the game quickly bestows power onto players that make it easy (and kind of boring) to breeze through it in one sitting.
Break through the firewall
In Hyperforma, you play as a hacker who is looking for a user named Princess in a digital world known as the Ancient Network. As you peruse this network, you encounter characters known as Interfaces that you must hack into by breaking through their digital defenses in order to continue your journey.
Every level in Hyperforma is a hacking sequence, but not one like anything you’ve seen before. Your character’s golden avatar bounces around a screen full of blocks, switches, and other obstacles, and you need to swipe on the screen to rotate the level so you character bounces into blocks to break them. Your ultimate goal is to reach a core block in the center of a level and attack it, which then grants you passage to the next level.
The gameplay of Hyperforma is strange, for sure, and it’s matched in kind by the bizarre, minimalist story it tells in its fantastical, cybernetic world. The game lays out the pretty basic premise of your character’s search for Princess, but otherwise weaves a tale that leaves a lot of room for interpretation and presents a mysteriously intriguing world and cast of characters.
A huge part of what makes Hyperforma so appealing is the game’s aesthetic, which is hyper stylized and completely gorgeous. The Interfaces are huge, digital beings that move and speak in ways that reflect their core functionality, but each one of them also contains some hidden depth. This can be uncovered by completing additional tasks on each Interface’s levels, which can include things like completing a hack in a certain amount of time, avoiding death, and other standard challenge goals for reflex-based puzzlers.
The power of hacking
At the outset of Hyperforma, you need to rely almost completely on your ability to rotate levels carefully in order to finish your hacks and move the story forward, but you earn powerups later into the game that give you a lot more tools at your disposal. By the end of the game, you’ll be able to make clones of your hero, burst multiple blocks at once, and even accelerate your hero to blazing fast speeds.
As cool as these powers can be though, they take almost all of the challenge out of Hyperforma. With all of the game’s elaborate constructions of obstacles for you to hack through, they don’t really mean much when you can multiply your character, then use a power that completely removes blocks from the play field, and then strike the core you were after, all in a matter of a few seconds. There are moments where you can’t just get by on this strategy (namely boss fights), but that doesn’t change the fact that you can blow through most of Hyperforma without thinking much about it once you get your second or third power.
The bottom line
Hyperforma presents a lot of neat ideas that all quickly get subverted by its powerup system. Each level in the game is clearly very carefully designed to present you with a new and unique puzzle to solve, but you don’t have to engage with it at all once you get a couple of powers. Instead, you can just hammer out a quick sequence of repetitive commands that let you beat almost every level without much thought at all. For a game that seems otherwise immaculately detailed and thought out, this powerup system is such a glaring flaw in the experience that Hyperforma is pretty hard to recommend.