The development history of Flying Wild Hog’s debut title Hard Reset is an interesting one, especially considering the constant hype and drama we are constantly forced to sit through during lengthy hype building exercises by the bigger publishers. Out of nowhere, we received a teaser trailer for a game called Hard Reset with no hard details and never thought much of it. The following month we received a gameplay trailer along with a release window of this year. The following month we received a press demo with a release date of September. From announcement to release the title is ready for gamers in less than six months? That’s unheard of this day and age, and thankfully it’s not the only surprise Hard Reset throws our way.
What Hard Reset Got Right
Hardcore roots – Everything about Hard Reset is screaming hardcore shooter from the golden days of Quake and Doom. The game throws you in the deep end with no tutorial – just guns and things to shoot. There is no regenerating health, no reload button, no duck, and no cover. You’ll be running, jumping and strafing your way to the end while taking your enemies out one by one, and trust us you’ll be seeing a lot of enemies.
The lack of regenerating health and a need to actually scavenge for ammo really catches you off guard and provides quite a challenge. Another nice touch is the classic end of level report that gives you a bunch of stats including how many secrets you found, time completed, deaths and giving you an overall mission score. Hard Reset will hit you with a wave of nostalgia – or introduce you to what PC gaming used to be like.
Gorgeous visuals– Hard Reset is built on a brand new in-house graphics engine that honestly looks sublime. The Blade Runner-esque world is brought to life with some fantastic lighting effects and the explosions really pop and provide a nice showing. Character models are great and the animations are smooth as a button. Creating a new engine can often be either hit of miss – we’re glad that Flying Wild Hog have created a great looking game in the process.
Unique weapon system – Hard Reset only provides you with two physical weapons – the CLG Firearm uses “ammo” rounds and the N.R.G Weapon uses electrical pulses. When the player picks up enough N.A.N.O from fallen enemies or finding drops along the way they can use an upgrade station to unlock new abilities for these two firearms. Each unlock has three tiers adding additional functionality to the weapons. Then it’s as easy as cycling the mouse wheel to select which version of the weapon you want to use and hit the ground running. This makes for some really interesting combat situations – we found a tasty combination of EMP Blast and a few hits with the shotgun did very nicely indeed.
In-game computer system done right – Interacting with computers in-game is often a chore, but Hard Reset manages to get the system right in our opinion. When accessing terminals and the upgrade stations your crosshair will automatically change to an “on-screen” mouse cursor allowing you to make your choices with ease. It provides a seamless transition that really just works with the fast paced nature of the gameplay.
What Hard Reset Got Wrong
Weak story – The combat is definitely satisfying but unfortunately, the story of Hard Reset is weak and lacks pulling power. It’s your typical dystopian future storyline that involves conspiracies, robots, and scientists and considering how great the game world looks we were hoping for something a little more. The story is presented through a series of comic style cut-scene that do a decent job but hardly reveal anything amazing. Thankfully the gameplay allows you to check your brain at the door and just enjoy blowing shit up.
Short length – On the easy or normal difficulty, Hard Reset should only take most gamers 4-5 hours to complete which is a little short considering it is a single-player only game. Once the game has been completed there is an EX mode which allows you to restart the game with all of your upgrades on a harder difficulty. Considering each level has a number of secrets to find there is more than enough reason to go back, but the abrupt end to the story really makes the title feel a little short.
The Final Verdict
Hard Reset may not provide the story driven experience that its game world demands, but it does a fantastic job of taking us back to the golden days of PC shooters. Through the use of hardcore mechanics and game design choices, Flying Wild Hog have created a beautiful sci-fi shooter based on gorgeous new technology that should appeal to anyone who has picked up PC gaming in the past 20 years. While it may be an indie studio behind the game, it comes off feeling like a multi-million dollar project, albeit a little too short. We hope we see more of this intriguing game world soon.