Game: "Hyper Parasite"
System: PC
Genre: Action
Published by: Other

Reviewer: Dr. Boogie
Posted: 4/3/2020

Review: The roguelite genre is crowded. Nobody knows that more than me. I've packed my Steam library with them. I can't say I've beaten more than a couple, but I have played plenty of them long enough to be frustrated as hell, but still I keep chasing that dragon. One more good run, that's all I need. One where I get the good powerups not those crummy second-tier ones that make your shoes slightly pointier. No one-shots, no lingering poison damage, just me slowly plowing a dungeon full of robots, or snake monsters, or mummies, or whatever.

Hyper Parasite mitigates that by turning your enemies into those powerups. You're a body-swapping parasite and in pursuit of "The Thing"-ing the president, you have to fight off basically everyone on earth. Drug dealers and soldiers alongside geishas and hobos. Everyone knows what you look like and everyone wants a piece.

But as fragile as you might be, you can possess those crummy humans and turn their weapons again their fellow man. And it doesn't matter if they're shooting guns or tossing basketballs, it's all deadly in your recently-repurposed hands. And if one host body gets mulched, well, just grab another and keep your killing spree going!

That's the strongest part of Hyper Parasite: the dichotomy between making a perfect run and just hopping from host to host. The potential is there for you to ride it out as one enemy type, supplementing your own skills with single use items and occasional stat boosts. All the enemies have simple attack patterns and as long as you can manage crowds and avoid unnecessary risks, you can go pretty deep on one host. But you never feel like you're obligated to stick it out with one body. Even during boss fights the game will slowly trickle in additional bodies ostensibly to hinder you but more often as just a cartful of meat for you to hurl as you please. Get one squashed and pop into the next one, you're good as long as you can avoid taking a hit as the parasite.

The catch is that you can't just possess whoever you like from the get-go. In order to possess any common enemy or miniboss, you first have to kill an elite version of that enemy, cart their brain back to the level's store area, and then donate a set amount of money to unlock them. Progress toward each brain carries over from one run to the next.

I like having that opportunity to grind things out a bit but it means that significant progress is tough. Most of the host bodies aren't designed to take more than a couple hits, with melee characters taking the most. If the furthest you've ever gotten is the second stage and then you make it to the third, things get very tense. Once that body is gone you're in big trouble until you both kill an elite and get enough money to buy their brain. It's possible to go through multiple rooms without even seeing an elite, let alone earning enough to unlock a brain after you get it. Call me a wimp but I would have liked it if reaching a new level for the first time unlocked a common enemy. It just feels odd that enjoyment of a successful run includes a segment where the game's central body possession mechanic is walled off.

I'd also like to see more of the less common enemies. Each level includes a miniboss with their own special arena and while unlocking them means you have access to one particularly powerful host, it wouldn't hurt to give the player some random chances to fight and possess stronger versions of lesser enemies. Maybe elites would be more common, but you could possess them after wearing them down a bit so you'd have a common host but with beefier stats. Plus, you'd have to decide whether to ditch your current host for a slightly stronger one, or stick with the weak one that was still good enough for you to beat the elite!

Even without those changes, the game still hits the sweet spot for roguelite difficulty, where it's possible to get on a roll but still have it cut tragically short the second you get sloppy. You can buy items or hope for a lucky drop but Hyper Parasite makes your enemies into your powerups, so there's never the feeling that you aren't going to have a good run because all you're getting is substandard loot. It lends the game an arcade feeling that makes it much easier to start up a new run even after a crushing defeat. Lots of roguelites try for that feeling but Hyper Parasite nails it.

Overall rating: WholeWholeWholeWhole
(Scored on a 0.5 - 5 pickles rating: 0.5 being the worst and 5 being the best)

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