October 28, 2012 3 Comments
Hypotenuse is a geometry term meaning quack quack quack moooooooooooooo. I lost all my readers four words into this review, so I might as well have fun. But bringing math terms into a video game? Not such a good idea. Imagine if the recent apple of my eye Dishonored had been called “Spleen ÷ Sword = Corpse”. I don’t think I could have gotten behind it. Maybe I’m wrong. I suppose the popularity of Geometry Wars proves me wrong. Quick though, show of hands: how many people heard that name and pictured JFK calling up Khrushchev and yelling “A square has an area of sixteen square centimeters. What is the length of each of its sides?” into the phone?
Just me huh?
By the way, the above paragraph was a total waste of time. Hypotenuse is just a hack & slasher where waves of katana-brandishing baddies run at you and try to perform subtraction on your body, with the apparent hook being that everything is a rectangle. Enemies run at you, swing at you or throw a ninja star. The animation is smooth, the play control is good, and overall Hypotenuse is a well made game.
So why can’t I recommend it to you? Because there’s just nothing to it. Enemies run at you. You kill them, and then more come at you. I have no problems with games being repetitive if they’re fun. Most golden age arcade games do only one thing over and over again until you die or get bored. The difference is when the gameplay is so fun that you don’t notice it. It’s not always clear what makes one game rise above the curse of repetition while others don’t. I can’t tell you why I like Ms. Pac-Man but don’t give a shit about Lock ‘n’ Chase, or why I can lose myself in a game of Galaga but would rather be suffocated by Ralphie May’s ass than spend a minute playing Phoenix. I guess in Hypotenuse’s case, it just never shakes the feeling of being a tech demo. If this had been something thrown together to show off the hardware of, say, the original Xbox in 2001, maybe I would have walked away from it with fond memories of the slashy rectangle game. But it’s not that. It gets boring quickly, and has nothing to keep you going. There’s no variety of enemies, no variety in combat, and no variety in weapons. There’s only one play mode. There’s no multiplayer. There’s no hook at all. Hell, the game’s entire point is to see how many dudes you can kill, but there’s no online or even local leaderboards to give you a reason to try.
Hypotenuse is not terrible, but it’s not fun. Again, all the props in the world to the developer for making a game that has few (if any) technical flaws. Plus, he put in the option to turn off flashing effects, and I’m always sincerely grateful for that. Games that offer less than Hypotenuse does have been amazing, and games that offer much more have been horrible. It’s not about the amount of content, and it never has been. It’s about the quality of that content and how much entertainment you get from it. I can’t imagine anyone getting more out of the full copy than they do from the demo, and that’s why I say nay to purchasing Hypotenuse. Perhaps a sequel with more options would go over well. Maybe one where you fight rectangles AND circles. Variety!
80 Microsoft Points said the game should have thrown in trapezoids just to really flex its developmental chops in the making of this review.