Players control a team of expendable space marines called Jumpers, whose mission it is to clear out subterranean aliens hives to make the galaxy safe for human colonization. Players explore these alien hives, blasting bug-like creatures with sci-fi weaponry, collecting lost relics, and amassing stores of alien too to spend on upgrading their arsenals. The game features procedurally generated hives, local and online co-op for up to 4 players, boss battles, and a twist on permadeath that revolves around keeping a transponder backpack safe: as long as the backpack is alive, players can respawn indefinitely, but if the aliens destroy the backpack, the players are on their last lives.
Hive Jump is currently released as an Early Access title on Steam for PC / Mac / Linux platforms. Hive Jump's full release and Wii U port are planned for Q4 2016.
As a 2D action platformer, the player's core abilities consist of: running, jumping, jetpack movement, 360 degree shooting, throwing grenades, carrying and throwing the transponder backpack, and using a variety of utility items.
While exploring an alien hive, players begin their mission with a transponder backpack at full health. This backpack is automatically equipped to player one, and is protected from harm as long as it is equipped by a player. If the player carrying the backpack dies, the backpack will drop and become vulnerable to alien attack. If the backpack is destroyed, the team of players attempting the hive mission will lose a variety of beneficial effects: infinite jumper respawns, access to the S.T.O.R.E. to buy and upgrade weapons and items mid-hive mission, and the ability to call in a nuke for the Queen boss fight at the end of the hive. The backpack's health can only be restored by finding a rare relic, and once destroyed, cannot be restored. Players may attempt to continue with their mission and attempt to clear the hive even if the backpack is destroyed.
The transponder backpack also serves as a focal point for team gameplay. In local "couch" co-op mode, the player with the backpack has more control over where the game camera is, because the backpack must always be on-screen in that mode. In online co-op, players have their own cameras bound to their characters, but when players die their camera moves to the backpacks location, and their jumper respawns there.
Players may outfit their Jumpers with one of each type of equipment: rifle modification, grenade modification, and utility item. Rifle modifications change the type of projectiles that your Jumper's rifle shoots. Grenade modifications change what kind of explosive damage the player's thrown grenades do and how they are detonated. Utility items can be passive (always in operation), or activated on the player's command. Each utility item is unique and provides the player with a new ability that helps differentiate themselves from their teammates and assists in various aspects of combat or hive exploration.
A player may modify their equipment loadout before the beginning of a Hive Mission, as well as between every level of an alien hive as long as the transponder backpack is still alive.
Relic Rooms and Bonuses
While exploring an alien hive, players will discover special doors that lead to offshoot rooms in the hive. These rooms will not spawn alien enemies, but instead challenge the player with harder platforming segments with a guaranteed relic chest at the end of the room. These relic chests will spawn a random relic from the 20+ available relics in the game.
Each relic grants the entire team of players some form of stat bonus. Examples include increased health for each jumper, decreased weapon overheat rate, damage resistance against various types of damage, and more jetpack fuel. Some relics even grant additional benefits for that hive mission, such as constantly regenerating health, immunity to knockback, or a chance to resist fatal damage. One relic, the Necronomicon, actually confers a penalty to players in the form of increased chance to encounter fully-dark levels.
Relic bonuses only last for the particular hive mission they are discovered in. This allows the concept of a "run" to be built in the game. Players will have runs where their particular assortment of collected relic bonuses will be more or less helpful than other runs, due to the randomness of relic spawning and level layouts.
Procedural Alien Hives
An alien hive is a series of levels that spans multiple environment types based on the depth of the alien hive being explored. In the current Arcade and Challenge modes available in the Early Access version of the game, Hives are always 9 levels deep, and span 3 of 4 available environments. These environments include: crystal caverns, lava caverns, ice caverns, and mushroom caverns.
The different environments all have different hazards, special alien types, and unique bosses. For example, the crystal caverns have dangerous pools of acid, special crawler aliens that shoot bouncing electric projectiles, and the final challenge in the environment is the Crusher alien boss.
Hive levels are randomly generated from a list of hand designed modules in a style similar to the game Spelunky. The levels for each environment are also made up of modules of different dimensions, so environments like lava will feel more horizontally broad and cavernous, while the ice environment will feel tighter and more claustrophobic.
Each hive follows a pattern of two procedurally generated hive levels, followed by a third boss level or ambush encounter for that environment. This repeats until the full hive depth has been reached. There is a maximum of two relic room doors per hive level.
Boss Fights and Ambush Encounters
At the end of each hive environment, players will be challenged by either a boss fight or an ambush encounter. Boss fights feature large alien creatures with a predefined set of attacks, abilities, and weakpoints. Boss abilities will usually cover a large area of the boss arena, and their weakpoints are usually highlighted in a bright yellow color. When encountering a boss, players must defeat the boss in order to move onto the next hive level or complete the mission.
Ambush encounters begin by locking the players in a small hive room for two minutes while aliens spawn from indestructible portals. Players must survive for two minutes, as the frequency of aliens spawning increases faster and faster. At the end of two minutes, an exit door will be revealed and players may exit as aliens continue to spawn and hunt them. If players decide to remain in the ambush room, aliens will eventually stop spawning after another 30 seconds.
Hive Jump features a unique enemy spawning system that draws inspiration from Gauntlet and Left 4 Dead. Each hive level is pre-populated with enemies that remain static and are placed when the level is generated, but then depending on certain factors that contribute to the player's hive threat level, additional hunting type enemies will be spawned from destructible spawners within the level.
Hive Threat is an abstract measurement of a variety of factors that include: number of players participating in the mission, the equipment level of those players, the number of aliens and eggs killed, as well as the time spent in the hive. This abstract hive threat number starts low, then begins to build higher and higher until a threshold is hit, and then it drops low again. When the hive threat is low, fewer enemies spawn and spawn less frequently. As the number increases, more and harder enemies are spawned, until at the highest point a swarming state occurs where all spawners constantly spit out high volumes of enemies for a brief period of time. After a swarm occurs, the hive threat is reduced, giving the players time to recover and explore.
If players destroy a large quantity of aliens or alien eggs in a very short period of time (mere seconds), the hive threat system will also spawn a "rush" of enemies nearby that attempts to retaliate against the players. Rushes consist of a pre-defined number of hunting aliens that all travel together as a wave.
Players amass in-game money in the form of alien goo. Killing aliens, alien eggs, and finding supply chests in the hive will give the players goo. Goo is the only form of currency in the game, and there are no in-game purchases using real money, or ways to convert real money into goo.
Players spend goo at the S.T.O.R.E., or Strategic Ordinance Exchange, in order to purchase and upgrade their weapons, grenades, and utility items. There are a finite number of unlocks available in the S.T.O.R.E., meaning players can eventually unlock everything and will cease having a use for goo.
When the Campaign mode, currently in development, is added to the game, players will have additional opportunities to spend their goo on certain context sensitive actions in the Campaign map.
There are currently two types of challenge mode in Hive Jump. Daily Challenge and Weekly Challenge. These game modes use a specific seed for the hives they generate, so that all players participating in these challenges get the same level layouts, relic chests, and boss encounters. When a player completes one of these challenge missions, their score results are posted to an online leaderboard visible in the game. Leaderboards for these challenges are sorted by score, which is an abstraction of various aspects of player performance in the game, such as: goo collected, aliens killed, bosses killed, ambushes survived, jumpers lost, backpacks lost, and completion time.
Daily challenges allow only one attempt per 24 hours, at which point the leaderboard resets and a new hive seed is distributed. The weekly challenge allows unlimited attempts and its leaderboard refreshes every seven days.
Online Multiplayer in Hive Jump is handled using peer to peer networking, rather than a server-client architecture. This allows for up to 4 players to play Hive Jump together over the internet. Peer to peer networking means that all players must meet the minimum hardware requirements and have stable internet connections to one another in order for the game to perform well and stay synchronized.
Current issues being resolved:
The early access community and the developers are doing ongoing playtesting and patching to remove all causes of desyncs from the game and improve multiplayer stability.
If the game suffers a desync, players will still see each other in each other's instances of the game, but they will no longer have the same random elements in the game, quickly causing the state of the game to be very different for all players and the mission unbeatable.
Hive Jump's development began in late 2013 and the project had two Kickstarter campaigns in 2014. The first campaign was cancelled after two weeks in February of 2014, and the second campaign was successful in September of 2014.
Hive Jump is currently still in development. It released as an Early Access title on Steam in June of 2016, and there is an ongoing effort between the game's developers Graphite Lab and the early access community to playtest the game, finish planned features, and release the game in Q4 of 2016.
PC System Requirements
- OS: Windows Vista / 7
- Processor: Intel Core™ Duo or faster
- Memory: 2 GB RAM
- Graphics: 512 MB
- Storage: 1400 MB available space
- OS: Windows Vista / 7
- Processor: Intel Core™ Duo or faster
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: 1GB
- Network: Broadband Internet connection (for online play)
- Storage: 1400 MB available space