Hyper Universe is Nexon’s take on the 2D side-scrolling MOBA popularized by Ronimo’s Awesomenauts back in 2012. The game recently went into a buy-in Early Access on Steam (it will be F2P at launch) and we took the opportunity to check it out.
For the most part, Hyper Universe works just like Awesomenauts, even down to the zany cast. You can pick from characters ranging from anime Count Dracula to Nexon’s take on Supergirl and everything in between. The game doesn’t have the vibrant, Saturday morning cartoon style of Awesomenauts, but its characters offer a diverse (if generic) mix of options to play with.
Unlike your typical MOBA (and again, like Awesomenauts), you bring your items into the game with you. Each character can be loaded out with a deck of items to bring into the match, but those items don’t actually do anything for you until you spend in-game gold earned throughout the match on upgrading them to activate their bonuses.
The map features seven floors with both teams starting on the central floor, leaving three floors above and below your starting position. One interesting wrinkle Nexon’s added is the use of ladders to move from floor to floor. It’s actually possible to shake off enemies who are climbing up a ladder, which adds a layer of risk to making the decision to switch floors. There are smaller “jungle” camps to fight, as well. But you’re typically going through the familiar MOBA loop of pushing creep waves to take down towers and eventually the enemy’s base.
There are some key differences between Hyper Universe and something like Awesomenauts and this mostly manifests in the way the game controls. Personally, I’m not a fan. Awesomenauts is a mouse friendly MOBA, while Hyper Universe doesn’t use the mouse at all. It plays more like MapleStory in the sense that you’re using arrow keys to navigate around. Thankfully, Hyper Universe allows for the use of a controller and I strongly recommend taking advantage of that if you do decide to jump in and play.
Despite my frustration with the game’s controls and the highly derivative overall package of the game, Hyper Universe still manages to be quite fun. Once I got the controls set up in a way I was comfortable with, I was able to enjoy the game’s surprisingly polished presentation and solid gameplay. Everything from the amusing and well localized voice-over lines to the fluid combat animations was impressive. The matches can sometimes drag a bit and they take a while to find due to the low player base, but Nexon’s got something solid here with Hyper Universe. If you’re a fan of Awesomenauts or the idea of a 2D side-scrolling MOBA, you should definitely give the game a look. The Early Access package will set you back $15.99, but you’ll get the entire cast and their item sets. Or you can just wait for the game to launch free-to-play later this year.