Energy Hook is little more than a tech demo. The FingerGuns Review;
Spider-man 2 on the PlayStation 2 and Gamecube was pretty great, wasn’t it? At least as far as movie-tie in games go anyway. With a plot that expanded on the events of the film in the all the right ways and combat that tickled the Spidey senses, it was a really fun game to play, but it will always be remembered as the one and only game to date that got the whole ‘Swinging through the city’ mechanic to work and oh boy, did it work well. None of that swinging from the sky box and it was dynamic and weighty and it just felt…well…brilliant.
Energy Hook, which is available now on the PS4 and PC, is developed by the mind behind that swinging mechanic, Jamie Fristrom AKA Happion Labs, and is the self-described spiritual successor to the web-slinging in Spider-Man 2. You play as a nameless character who is equipped with a rocket jump pack and a energy hook thingy which you can use to swing your way through 6 distinctive environments.
Upon starting Energy Hook you are greeted by a learning curve which resembles a sheer cliff face rather than an actual curve. Automated swinging and grappling are things we take for granted in many other games but here, everything is manual. You control everything – the momentum, jump height, direction and even the length of your rope style hook thingy can be altered. Energy Hook is entirely hands off in its approach, offering very little in terms of tutelage of its core mechanic and at first, this can be very frustrating and it borders on unplayable.
It’s once you’ve managed to scale the mountainous difficulty spike, which for me was about an hour and a hundred faceplants later, does Energy Hook start to make sense. The gratification that is waiting for you once you’ve manage to string together a few clean swings, ran along a wall and pulled off some impressive stunts is well worth it. The big, impressive moments are what Energy Hook does well but the control scheme hamstrings small jumps or precision movements meaning that even when you do get accustomed to the game’s nuances, some annoyances still remain.
Unfortunately, the term ‘one trick pony’ was invented for Energy Hook. There’s little else to do in this game other than to swing around, run along walls and pull off tricks. There are races and challenges dotted around each of the game’s maps but it has taken me less than 6 hours to get through everything the game has to offer. It takes a surprisingly short amount of time for swinging around islands and cities to get boring when there is little purpose to it.
It’s also incredibly rough around the edges, lacking the polish and impressive visuals we have come to expect for a PS4 release. The frame rate can drop, the screen can stutter, the UI looks like something from the 80’s and acts like it too. The Audio balancing get’s it really wrong at times too, playing really irritating sounds louder than the toe-tappingly addictive soundtrack. The games website claims that Energy Hook is “a coherent vision that focuses on its visceral core gameplay with no extra fluff like combat or cut scenes”. Unfortunately, that extra fluff is exactly what the game is missing.
Energy Hook is little more than a PS3 tech demo with very little actual game inside it and it is plainly obvious that the game was made by a small team on a shoestring budget. Completing the challenges will keep you busy and frustrated for a few hours after you have wrestled control of the game and if you are one of those gamers that desperately likes to see their name on top of a world leaderboard, you could be in for a stiff test here. Unfortunately, the overall lack of polish and small amount of content means that I find it incredibly difficult to recommend Energy Hook to anyone.
Energy Hook is out now on PS4 and PC.
Disclaimer: We purchased a copy of the game in order to complete this review. For more information, please see our review policy.