Hoplite (PC) Review

Hoplite by Brimo Games can’t even be described as a one-trick pony. It’s more like a 0.25 trick pony. Plus, the devs might be liars too. Read on!

Hoplite is an attempt at a game delivered upon us by Russian developers Brimo Studios, who are doing business here as Brimo Games; however, they’ve also released titles such as Heavenly Battle and Night Forest – a track record that bodes particularly well, as Forest was published by Dagestan Technology, the silly oafs who brought us the technological achievement that was VCB Why City. Rather forebodingly, at the time of writing, Hoplite has but one Steam review written by a Russian fella called Dmitriev, who writes: “I’m not wasting money. The game is excellent. I hope the game will improve. I advise everyone to” (translated from Russian). Powerful stuff. It’s also worth noting that Hoplite came out today and Dmitriev has 0.1 hours of playtime. Surely the paying customers aren’t being hoodwinked!

“Attempt at a game” might sound extremely aggressive and demeaning, but this is only truth, not an attempt at a hitpiece. Spend ten minutes with this game and you’ve seen everything it has to offer: it’s a shoot-‘em-up where you’re a stationary shooter in the middle of the screen, and, using both your weapon and your (disappearing and reappearing at will) shield, you must fend off an endless wave of mechs, laser bullets, and mechs with laser bullets in their mouth and when they bark, they shoot laser bullets at you. This continues ad nauseam. Forever. No respite. No progression. No sense of achievement. Hoplite is the same thing forever. The game continues until your health is depleted, and due to the rapid-fire nature of what comes at you, that happens in short order. Essentially, what we have here is the ingredients of a good game. Hoplite is fast and frenetic, and moving your mouse in time to block the rhythmic pulse of lasers and fire at enemies gets genuinely hair-raising. It’s just a shame that this feels like a tech-demo, a title that slipped through the net of early access far too quickly, as variation in gameplay is non-existent. There’s no power-ups, no levelling-up, even – none of the tropes that gaming made its bread and butter 30 years ago, let alone now. The only “killer twist” that Hoplite has to offer is the ability to slow down time, making the onslaught of lasers easier to negotiate, but this is a weak offering, especially considering how unnatural it feels to use – you’ll be more likely to grit your teeth and bare the hailstorm of light than bother with any extraneous gimmicks. Ultimately, Hoplite’s just an amuse-bouche, one that you’ll greedily snaffle up before asking “Okay, what’s the main”? as the chef sheepishly says: “That was the main course”.

I have to stress, the text that says “Wave I” and also indicates a score at the top of the screen? Doesn’t actually appear in game. This screenshot was on the Steam page. Remember that lies make baby Jesus cry.

What makes it sting even more is that the graphical design could dupe any unsuspecting victim, as initially, it looks promising – stylised 16-bit menu art appears, and while it isn’t uber-pretty, it certainly makes a decent account for itself. Then you load the game proper. Get used to seeing that background – that putrid, sandy, puke-coloured background, because it’s here to stay in all its disgusting, vomit-tinted glory. Otherwise, everything else looks passable and mundane, but that’s the inherent problem with Hoplite. Everything is so tinged with the boke that it drags everything else down with it to the bile-ridden pits of the foulest stomach. Really, this comes to symbolise the entire game – something – SOMETHING, even if it’s a meagre but tasty portion – that ends up ruined by the fragrancy of throw-up. Sometimes I lie awake at night and cry thinking about what Hoplite could have been.

Don’t even bother examining the music closely, because it’s just two repetitive techno tracks that grate on the ears and brain before too long, but honestly, you’ll be far too numb to care by that stage, the overwhelming shame of having invested in this game, your belief thrown back in your face, being too much to bear. Reviewing this will leave you apathetic and questioning why people DO this? Why do they tantalise us with that little piece of cheese before snaring us in a trap?

This is how the game actually appears, taken as a screenshot from my retail copy of the game. So, you know, which is it, lads?

Ultimately, you won’t find yourself angry but disappointed in this game – it won’t leave you out of pocket to begin with, costing 79p/99c RRP, but Brimo were just capable of so much more, and you will walk out of this game feeling so disappointed and short-changed. They could have implemented waves, power-ups, different backdrops, even something as pointless as cosmetic upgrades. Instead, they did the absolute bare minimum in gameplay, graphics, music – even controls, it’s all played out on the mouse! – and just slapped it into the big, stinking trough known as Steam. Instead of “bon appetite”, all we heard was, “come and get it, you fat pigs”. Doesn’t that taste bitter?

Verdict: It’s cheap, sure, but they just didn’t care. That’s the worst part. It’s one thing to hastily weld a game together with premade assets, but they just didn’t care. This game feels like it was pushed out the door in order to make a few pennies. It’s not even glitchy. Just wildly incomplete, made even worse by the idea that Brimo Studios might have been caught red-handed lying. Doubtful they even care, though. Simply, Hoplite is a disappointment.

Score: 3/10

Ben McCurry

Ben McCurry is the Editor-in-Chief at Ludotempus, which is a title he came up with to make himself sound important. He believes that gaming peaked with BMX XXX and that Final Fantasy VII is a 'mug's game'. Follow him on Twitter.

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