A Void Hope preview
The upcoming A Void Hope is a compelling addition to the sci-fi adventure-platformer genre, offering a blend of mystery and intrigue set against a backdrop of engaging pixel art and eerie music. The game starts with players taking on the role of Gilda (and later on her partner Keegan), as she navigates the city that's no longer the place it once was.
Storytelling in A Void Hope is achieved through character interactions and discovering memories, unraveling a mysterious narrative that promises to draw players deeper into its world. The music is a standout feature, varying with each scene and enhancing the mysterious, dark, thrilling tone. Dynamic lighting and parallax backgrounds in the pixel art contribute to a visually stunning experience. Environmental dynamics, such as birds reacting to the player's presence, further enrich the setting.
Platforming elements are a core part of A Void Hope, encompassing jumping, pushing boxes, navigating ladders, and engaging with moving platforms and elevators. Puzzle-solving plays a significant role, enhancing the gameplay depth. The inclusion of a gun (you find later on) that has a specific aiming and firing mechanism (SHIFT for aiming and N for firing) introduces an interesting combat dimension. The requirement to target enemies’ weak points adds a strategic layer to encounters, though the manual targeting system can feel somewhat cumbersome (at least on the keyboard).
The control scheme, while optimized for controllers, was tested using a keyboard, with the arrow keys along with the spacebar or WASD for navigation. A notable aspect is a slight sluggishness in character movement, which feels like an invisible force impacting the fluidity of actions. This characteristic, although initially challenging (especially in platform jumping sequences), intriguingly contributes to the game's suspenseful ambiance. This design choice, whether deliberate or not, adds a unique layer to the gameplay experience. Initially I was a bit put off by it, but over time I started getting used to it and didn't notice it much.
Interactions are intuitively indicated by an exclamation mark (!) symbol, which appears as a bulb above the player. This, coupled with subtle glows and twinkles, elegantly highlights interactive elements without detracting from the immersive atmosphere.
Checkpoint mechanics are uniquely implemented using small oil lamps that light up as players pass by, marking respawn points upon death. The game introduces enemies known as "Empties," transformed by a virus into shadow-like, zombie-esque beings. Their capricious nature, coupled with the lively environments populated by numerous characters, heightens the unpredictability and suspense. You'll find characters standing around in many areas, adding a lot to the vitality of locations. However, someone who was perfectly neutral at a first encounter can suddenly become a hostile "Empty" at the next.
Objectives in A Void Hope are clearly defined, involving item collection, specific actions like unlocking mechanisms, and finding exits. The option to revisit previous areas through map selection adds a non-linear exploration aspect, hinting at the necessity to return to certain locations with new abilities or items for progression. Metro stations in each area help with further fast travel in these areas. Having a map available of a specific area would have been a valuable addition.
This preview (covering the first four locales) left a strong, tantalizing impression, building anticipation for the full release of A Void Hope. We'll be sure to continue, as there's still so much more to discover in this atmospheric adventure!