Have you ever gone back in time? Of course you haven’t, unless you’ve been able to keep what would be considered the world’s biggest secret from everybody. It’s probably not something anyone will ever experience. Well, if you play Hard Reset: Redux you’ll get a little taste of what that might be like, as it feels very much like a classic old school first person shooter, both in what it does well and in what it doesn’t.
In Hard Reset: Redux you take control of Major, something, I want to say Slater, in fact it’s possible he didn’t even have a name. I can’t remember. It’s funny because that kind of sums up the story. It’s not memorable. On top of that it’s completely nonsensical. Something about Robot AI taking over the world. It’s difficult to make heads or tails of it. You are kind of dumped into this world with very little context or background on the situation, and the game acts like you have a wealth of knowledge about the world’s history. It feels like a sequel. But it isn’t, and without knowing the world’s history, the further the story progresses the more difficult it is to understand. So here’s what I gathered. You’re a guy with a power to save the world from the evil robots and you fight them. That’s the story of Hard Reset: Redux I suppose.
I should take a quick pause here to explain that Hard Reset: Redux basically has two halves. The first is the original game. The second, an add-on section. While these sections have identical gameplay they differ from each other in two distinct ways: setting, and level design. The first half takes place at night in a gloomy, abandoned city. This setting would have been significantly more effective if I understood the context for why it was abandoned and what exactly was going on. There are hints at a lost world, and it’s a shame that the story wasn’t fleshed out more because it could have brought to city to life. Either way it’s an interesting locale, if not a little generic. The second half takes place in a factory during the day. I guess the best way to describe this area would be boring. Unlike the city, there is very little to see that would give context to the world. Mostly you’re just walking through piles of crates and garbage. It’s possible this factory area could have been better, but the level design held it back.
The levels in the factory area are actually geographically quite small in comparison to the city’s levels. That’s because they backtrack a lot, having you occupy the same space, and face waves of enemies. It’s not terrible but it’s a step down from the levels in the city. There, you feel like you are progressing forward, and that a new enemy could be around any corner, and who knows what will happen next. The city’s levels are unpredictable in a way the factory’s aren’t. Not to mention the fact the with all the backtracking in the factory you’ll find yourself asking the question, “What am I supposed to do now” more than once.
When it comes to the gameplay I can guarantee you won’t have any trouble knowing what you’re supposed to do. You’re supposed to blow everything up. And Hard Reset: Redux gives you the tools to do just that, but in an old school kind of way. There’s no aiming down sights, taking cover, reloading, or health regeneration, and let’s just say you move faster than the typical human. And it all works great. The gameplay focuses on making sure you are always moving, avoiding enemy attacks, picking up health and ammo, and waiting for your enemies to be in the correct position to kill them with environmental traps. And there are a lot of those; red barrels and electrical traps galore. The beauty is that they aren’t placed right in an enemy path. In order to use them most effectively you have to lure the enemies to certain areas, which makes it really rewarding when you destroy them with an environmental kill.
Speaking of enemies, you’ll be fighting hordes of robots. There are a few types: the small swarming robots, some of which explode, the human size ones that shoot, the “gorillas” which either charge at you or shoot missiles, and some big flying ones that have chain machine guns. There isn’t really a huge variety of enemies but they are always presented in different combinations and environments. This means that things don’t really end up feeling old or repetitive as you might expect. I consistently found myself enjoying the combat and not getting too fatigued.
While the enemy variety is a bit lacking, the ways in which you can kill them is immense. Along with the fast tight gameplay the real highlight of Hard Reset: Redux is the weapons. There are eleven different weapons in the game most of which feel very unique from one another and most importantly are so much fun to use. They are split into two categories, CLN and NRG. CLN weapons are your more standard realistic weapons like a shotgun, machine gun, proximity mine and RPG. While NRG weapons are most fantastical, like a railgun, or a smart gun that tracks enemies through walls, or a mortar that creates electrical fields to trap enemies. Finally, there is a katana, which at first I found kind of useless because you don’t want to let your enemies too close, but turned out to be useful if you were trapped against a wall. They can be unlocked and upgraded by obtaining nano canisters. You get these by killing enemies are finding them in secret areas hidden throughout the levels. This can allow you to give your weapons alternate fire modes and important upgrades. For example, with the RPG I unlocked the ability to create a cluster of additional missiles on impact with one upgrade, and the ability hold a laser dot on an enemy while the missile is in the air, guiding it to my target, with another upgrade. The real beauty of all these weapons is that I constantly found myself switching between at least 7 or 8 of them, and the ones I didn’t use were under-powered, meant for earlier in the game. It’s incredibly tough to find a game where almost all the weapons feel useful but Hard Reset: Redux has managed just that and cycling through them to tackle different situations is a real thrill.
Hard Reset: Redux is above all else, a fun, fast paced, old school shooter with a wide variety of fun weapons. While it’s not innovative and like many old school shooters it might be better to have no story at all, it’s worth your time and is a great deal for its price.