Life is busy, free time is short, and there are a hell of a lot of games coming out… More than any person could ever play, let alone finish. I do my best to keep up with the neverending flood, but there’s only so much one man can do. In an effort to be more nimble with my coverage, I’ve decided to roll out This Is Not A Review.
Like the title says, this is not a review. The content of this column will be general impressions, ideas, thoughts, and any random thing that pops into my head after spending time with the non-review game in question.
The subject of this installment? Energy Hook, from Happion Laboratories.
This title comes from Jamie Fristrom, a person who was largely responsible for the web-swing mechanic in 2004’s Spider-Man 2. To be perfectly honest, I have very little recollection of playing it, but I’m going to assume that it was good since it’s being used as a selling point here. However, praise for a barely-remembered game from the past doesn’t get very far with me, and although I am a huge fan of jetpacks and grappling hooks in general, I can’t say that I am a huge fan of Energy Hook.
The game features a protagonist with an arm-mounted beam that hooks onto structures in the environment and a backpack with booster jets for maneuvering. The premise is that the player will use this gear to swing and jet around different environments while doing tricks and chasing high scores. There’s no story whatsoever so it’s all about the performance, which is really strange because the performance here is garbage.
I’m not trying to insult Mr. Fristrom because I’ve never met him and I’m sure he’s a wonderful fellow, but I’ve got to be perfectly frank — the quality of this work is abysmal. It’s more like the result of a weekend game jam or someone’s third assignment at DigiPen than a finished product. The camera is hyper-squirrelly, the character physics are off, it’s hard to get a good sense of what’s going on or how to maneuver because the game is constantly doing things that I’m not expecting, and I was never even remotely comfortable with the gameplay. It is jank incarnate.
Although I tried to adjust the camera settings to make it a bit more playable, it never rose above feeling like the roughest of rough prototypes. I’m sure that Energy Hook was a labor of love and more work than I can comprehend to create, but the bottom line is that calling this a complete game and selling it for real money on PSN is a very, very poor decision.
I’m always down for jetpacks and grappling hooks and I dig the concept of Energy Hook quite a bit, but the difference between its concept and the reality is a vast, endless gulf where another year of polish and tweaking should’ve gone.
I can’t recommend this to anyone.