Hard Reset is a throwback FPS made by Flying Wild Hog, a studio that features developers from CD Projekt Red and People Can Fly. If those two developers working together gets you excited, or if you miss the days when facing hordes of enemies was typical this is a game to check out. The amount of upgrades, explosions, and beautiful graphics will keep that trigger squeezed for a good long time, despite the short campaign.
Hard Reset plays like first person shooters of yesteryear in the best possible way. Guns in Hard Reset are deceivingly deeper than you might expect when you first load up the game. The main character, Fletcher, has two main weapons called the CLN and the N.R.G. The CLN starts off as your basic assault rifle while the N.R.G is an energy based firearm. However, once you begin upgrading these weapons you start to understand that each weapon has much more depth than one might suspect at first glance.
The CLN, once upgraded can be utilized as a shotgun, grenade launcher, RPG, and mine layer all at once. On top of that there are alternate fires of each mode such as a gravity grenade and guided missile just to name a couple. The N.R.G is just as upgradable as it transforms into shotgun-like form, a mortar, railgun, and “smartgun”. These upgrades also contain extremely powerful upgrades that make blowing up waves of enemies much more fun that the simple point and shoot mechanic. Fletcher too can upgrade himself with things like bullet time when health is low, extra ammo, and extra damage.
Levels in Hard Reset are set up in such a way to create obvious choke points that serve as battle arenas. Walking into these areas causes waves of enemies to spawn and its up to Fletcher to take them out in the most creative way possible, because most times shooting each enemy is not enough. Instead utilizing the environment and creatively mixing together weapon choices, such as a gravity grenade coupled by a mortar, leads to much more satisfying and manageable combat.
There are environmental items, such as cars and electrical stations that can be blown up to take care of certain enemies. Destroying a car at the right time can lead to a giant explosion that wipes out the five enemies that are coming right for you. Utilizing these areas of the level can be difficult due to the splash damage that occurs. There are also times where the weapon switching doesn’t respond quite as quickly as it should. This is where Hard Reset can get frustrating for some.
With the amount of enemies flying around coupled with the explosions that occur in the environment there are times where you can get trapped in a small area and die due to splash damage and the inability to get out of the way or pick the right weapon. Hard Reset isn’t unfairly difficult but after dying a few times on certain levels you begin to figure out what went wrong and how to correct it. It’s a total risk and reward system that lends itself to experimentation and not running in head first like a seven foot tall space soldier.
Hard Reset is an absolute wonder to look at, whether things are exploding or not. When the action is subdued the city is a glowing metropolis that mixes elements of cyberpunk with some art deco aesthetics to create a gorgeous world to traverse. High reaching buildings light up with glowing billboards and neon signs while just around the corner a dark alley is inhabited by a dumpster and graffiti covered walls.
Enemies in Hard Reset, while lacking in variety, certainly have a great look to them. The sentient machines that roam the street have a great sheen to them and degrade well after you lay into them. Even the guns in the game look fantastic as each weapon subtly transforms into its various alternate forms, an aspect that stays fun to watch throughout multiple playthorughs.
The best parts of Hard Reset are the parts that don’t involve the story and are just straight running and gunning. The story is barely existent and only surfaces in loading scenes that, while beautifully drawn, lend themselves to little more than confusing the player with a weird conspiracy story that doesn’t flesh itself out.
The shooting is what makes Hard Reset a game to play multiple times, if only to see all the content. The campaign itself is brief, clocking in at about four hours. After beating the first run-through of Hard Reset players will be left with only some of the upgrades unlocked. Luckily you can jump back into the single player for a second go and unlock the weapon choices you didn’t go for the first time. Increasing the difficulty and having all of these weapons at your disposal makes you feel like a complete badass as you destroy anything willing to face you with just a few well picked weapons.
Hard Reset is a something special, a budget priced game that brings together familiar shooting mechanics with aspects of modern shooters. Other games have tried to create this interesting balance but few have succeeded the way Hard Reset does. It’s a great experience for anyone looking for a fun, exciting, and different take on a saturated genre.