There are a few reasons why you should care about Hard Reset. Firstly, it’s a PC exclusive, so if you’re a PC gamer who has ever lamented the “dumbing-down” of PC gaming thanks to the dominance of the console market and the growth of the medium as a mainstream hobby, then you’re almost obliged to at least have a look at it.
The second reason your should definitely check it out, is it’s available on Steam for $30 (R230).
Of course the main reason you should really check out Hard Reset is that it’s actually quite a good game. In fact, it’s almost a very good game, and if it were not for a few game design missteps and an incomprehensible storyline, it would be a great game.
Developed by Polish studio Flying Wild Hog, Hard Reset is a sci-fi first person shooter. The aforementioned incomprehensible story is delivered by way of a budget friendly comic strip narrative. Put simply, it is a badly written and badly told story, and no matter how hard I tried I could not quite get my head around why I was shooting at the shiny robots, apart from the fact that it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
With that out the way, we can look at what makes Hard Reset work: gameplay. Put simply, Hard Reset is a very solid shooter with some unique, and some less unique ideas that make for a rather entertaining and sometimes brutally challenging experience.
Like many shooters before it, Hard Reset places a hefty focus on environmental damage. This is one of the less unique ideas, and it’s really nothing we haven’t seen from the likes of Bulletstorm, Bioshock, and countless others. Still, it works well, and even on medium difficulty the game demands that you consider your surroundings when in combat. Exploding barrels and terminals which emit powerful bolts of electricity in all directions when fired upon are your best friends when taking on often dozens of nasty robots at a time.
It’s not all about your environmental damage though, because Hard Reset has a weapon upgrade system that is more comprehensive than some AAA games that cost four times the price. You start out with a fairly traditional assault rifle and a more futuristic NRG gun which fires balls of plasma. As you collect credits by exploring and killing enemies, you can upgrade these two weapons. By doing so, you expand their capabilities, with the machine gun morphing into a shotgun and the NRG also drastically expanding its potential. As you play you come to realise that the two weapons have their own unique uses, and understanding the differences between them is an important element of the game.
Sadly, the storyline is not Hard Reset‘s only shortcoming. As previously mentioned, Hard Reset is not an easy game. This on its own is not a problem, however, the fact that you cannot save at anytime is a travesty, and indeed, a slap in the face to PC gamers. Often you will have to get through a handful of challenging enemy waves to make it to a check point. If you get through the first few waves but die on the final wave before the checkpoint, you have to restart from the previous checkpoint. This became immensely frustrating, and was easily the most annoying thing about Hard Reset.
The game also becomes repetitive quite quickly, and the scenery never really changes. This sense of sameness coupled with the lack of any character or story development leaves Hard Reset feeling like a solid and fun but ultimately soulless experience.
Still, it’s totally worth R100 if you’re a fan of action driven shooters.