Scurge: Hive Hands-On

We get our hands on a work-in-progress Game Boy Advance version of Orbital Media's futuristic action game.

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Scurge: Hive is a futuristic action game in which you'll assume the role of a bounty hunter named Jenosa Arma. Armed with projectile gauntlets and wearing a prototype battle suit, Jenosa is sent to investigate a remote research lab that hasn't been heard from since it sent out a distress signal some 48 hours earlier. The research lab was studying a virulent organism known as the scurge, which is capable of infecting biological, energy-based, and even mechanical creatures. No prizes for guessing what Jenosa finds when she arrives at the facility, then.

Jenosa's projectile gauntlets pack quite a punch.
Jenosa's projectile gauntlets pack quite a punch.

As you explore the isometric planet on which Scurge: Hive is set, you'll find that it's populated by no fewer than 65 different types of creatures, and the only thing they have in common is that they invariably attack Jenosa on sight. Fortunately, Jenosa's projectile gauntlets pack quite a punch, although the eight-directional controls can make targeting enemies a little tricky sometimes. Jenosa's enemies aren't shy about attacking her in numbers, and you can generally expect to take a hit or two if you end up fighting them at close quarters. Most of the enemies you defeat will drop health pickups, though, encouraging you to adopt a somewhat gung-ho attitude toward combat rather than cautiously attacking all of your enemies from range.

One of your most dangerous enemies in Scurge: Hive is the scurge organism itself, which can't be seen or attacked but which surrounds Jenosa at all times--slowly contaminating her body. A gauge at the top of the screen will let you know what percentage of Jenosa'a body is contaminated, and if you ever let that number reach 100, you'll rapidly lose health. The only way to keep the scurge at bay is to regularly visit decontamination stations scattered throughout the game. This mechanic encourages you to play through the game at a brisk pace, since it essentially forces you to try to find the next station within a time limit. If you fail to reach the station before your contamination level becomes critical, you'll be able to backtrack and use the last one that you found, but since all of the enemies respawn when you reenter an area, it's definitely preferable to keep pushing forward. With that said, though, the nonlinear nature of the level designs means that you'll often end up exploring areas you're simply not equipped to get past yet.

Attack enemies with the wrong weapon, and you'll actually make them more powerful.
Attack enemies with the wrong weapon, and you'll actually make them more powerful.

As you progress through the game, finding keys that let you get past security doors, Jenosa will level up, which increases the number of health points she can afford to lose before she dies and you're unceremoniously invited to start again from your last save point. You'll also find a number of interesting power-ups as you progress, which give you the ability to drag objects around, slingshot across gaps, and even slow down time. You'll also learn to perform different types of attacks, such as electrical "shock" projectiles that make short work of mechanical enemies but actually make energy-based enemies more dangerous if you hit them. You'll switch between your different attack types using a radial menu that pops up when you press the left shoulder button, and you can return to your default weapon at any time simply by tapping it.

In the few hours that we've spent playing Scurge: Hive we've found it to be both entertaining and challenging. Having our progress come to a standstill at one point simply because we failed to notice a doorway that was made difficult to spot by the game's isometric viewpoint was definitely frustrating, but overall we're quite impressed with what we've seen of Scurge: Hive, and we look forward to bringing you more information on the game as its September 15 release date closes in.

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