If you even have a passing knowledge of the synthwave/vaporwave subculture, then Cyber Hook’s retro-future aesthetic will be immediately familiar. If like me you are obsessed with the likes of Floral Shoppe, Mitch Murder, and Carpenter Brut, you are going to be bang into what Blazing Stick has created here.
You are plunged into a day-glo neon cyberspace, and informed by an anthropomorphic cube that you are trapped, and must escape. You do so by using a grappling hook to fling yourself at high-octane speeds through the landscapes. All while attempting to complete each stage in the fastest possible time.
Cyber Hook review: Blistering Parkour
This blistering parkour romp follows a very basic and easy-to-understand set of rules. Your trusty hook can grapple to the blue and purple blocks. You can shoot and destroy green stuff with projectiles blasted from your finger. And you must avoid anything red. You can employ a time-warping gimmick that comes with a cooldown. This slows proceedings to allow you to readjust, but crucially doesn’t stop the clock, discouraging over-use.
Some stages can be traversed without even touching the ground. The pace and momentum can be genuinely thrilling and evokes a sense of danger and vertiginous fear much in the same way you may have experienced in Mirror’s Edge or Ghostrunner. You can run, swing over and around objects, and double jump through the skies. All of this in levels that are designed to reward ingenuity and clever use of the obstacles to get the best time.
No wrong way to finish
The adage is – as long as you survive, there is no wrong way of completing a course. There are three crystals on offer for each stage, awarded based upon your completion time, and these in turn unlock subsequent levels.
Apart from a kind of endless mode which remixes levels into a continuous loop, and a set of challenges based upon existing levels, there isn’t a great deal of content on offer. Leaderboards will appeal to those with a speed-running fetish, no doubt. But this is a bit of a bare-bones package and will be done and dusted in a couple of hours.
Joy-Cons and Neon
Played in handheld mode, I found the control scheme on handheld mode Nintendo Switch to be a tad awkward. In fact, I’d recommend the use of a Pro Controller or similar. Hell, you can see why a mouse is employed for PC players. As that would probably be much more intuitive.
The constant neon 80s overload is wilfully ever-present and does become repetitive. But the whole thing is such a breakneck thrill ride that fatigue doesn’t really have time to set in. The core gameplay lives and dies by speed and momentum. It’s only when things slow down, or you are forced to employ traditional platform jumps to get out of dodge, does the game feel clunky and awkward. The rest of the time this is a senses-heightening adrenaline shot to right to the eyeball.
A genuinely thrilling sense of speed