First-person speedrun games are increasing in popularity so does Cyber Hook have what it takes to keep you hooked? Let's swing to it.
Cyber Hook is a game where you run forward as fast as you can. Of course, that would be boring on its own so thankfully, you're running through tricky levels that mostly consist of small suspended platforms staggered above a seemingly bottomless void. The point of these levels is to reach the exit as fast as you can and doing so relies on your ability to maintain momentum. In other words, if you smack into a wall or slow down so you can make a more precise jump; odds are, you won't end up getting a decent overall time.
Where Cyber Hook becomes interesting is in its use of its titular hook which lets you swing from blue surfaces by aiming at them, tapping a shoulder button, and then letting go with the jump button. Obviously, this mechanic helps a great deal with maintaining your momentum because if you can time your swings correctly so you fling yourself forward, you'll be golden! You also have the ability to shoot which is handy because pesky green boxes will sometimes be in your way. To round things off, you can also slow down time which grants you more precision as well as lets you grapple onto further-away surfaces. It's pretty complex for such a simple premise.
It goes without saying but once everything clicks and you have a particularly good run, it feels awesome! This is especially true considering that each stage has its own leaderboard that you can climb. With that being said, there are many elements working against you with the most irritating being that you have to aim perfectly in order to attach your hook to a surface. If you're off by just 1 pixel, you may fall to your demise. I imagine playing with a mouse would be much easier and more accurate. To make things even more frustrating, the hook has a very short range and even though it can be extended when you slow time down, it still doesn't feel long enough.
Cyber Hook is not only poorly-optimized for console controllers, its graphics are also kind of a bummer. It's one of those games that uses an '80s neon aesthetic which is okay albeit arguably overdone in today's gaming scene but where it falls apart is the fact that everything essentially looks the same. I wish there was some visual variety; imagine playing a level that looks like a jungle and you swing on vines. That would have been cool. In addition to the unvaried graphics, many of the stages are designed too similarly. There are some stand-out moments but I regularly asked myself, "Didn't I already play this level?" Perhaps they should have implemented more gimmicks.
Although I'm discussing many aspects that I didn't enjoy about Cyber Hook; allow me to reiterate that it isn't a bad game because it can be quite rewarding once you practice a level multiple times only to end up having a solid run eventually. Plus, the slow-down mechanic is definitely nifty and extremely useful once you get in the groove of using it effectively. So, there is some fun to be had.
For a game based on maintaining your momentum, it's disappointing that Cyber Hook wears thin after playing it for only a short while. That being said, some gamers who enjoy re-playing levels repeatedly to outdo their previous efforts might enjoy it.
- + Gameplay can be rather rewarding when things click and you have a good run
- + Slowing down time is a novel mechanic
- + Each level has its own leaderboard
- - Far too many poor design decisions frequently get in the way of the fun
- - Visuals are unvaried and generic
- - Many of the stages feel too similar