Hard Reset is a self-described old school sci-fi FPS. Set in the last human city of Bezoar, the player takes the role of a corporate soldier who must fight to keep the machines from assimilating the network which holds billions of digitized human minds.
I had been expecting Hard Reset to be a twitch shooter, but was surprised to find that this is largely not the case. Most weapons in Hard Reset have very limited rates of fire, limited ranges, and cause splash damage. This leaves a very narrow effective range, especially in the game’s typically tight combat spaces, in which to engage the many enemies charging into melee. While it’s possible to extend this window of opportunity by kiting enemies, this results in most of the game spent running backwards in a big circle as you pick off individual robots with the various slow weapons. Switching between weapons and modes also takes place slowly, so players can’t alternate between weapons to offset their slow fire rates, quickly adjust to changing combat situations, or line up combos between the various weapons. While these weapons traits result in a more deliberate pace in combat, I found that slowly grinding down the enemy robots was more tedious than thrilling. The weapons seemed to be what were holding me back, rather than my player skill level, which was frustrating.
What initially caught my attention about Hard Reset was its cyberpunk setting and plot. Story developments are delivered in an animated comic book format during the load screens, which I thought was both a clever and convenient way to present them. And like much else about the game, the story takes common and familiar elements and turns them sideways. I do wish that there were more variety to the level environments though. While the developers did make an effort to take the players through a variety of locations, they nonetheless all felt the same. Dark, metallic, and red-tinted.
Hard Reset will present a decent challenge for FPS players, but often it’s for the wrong reasons. One difficulty I had was the excessive bloom effects, which would frequently make it all but impossible to see what you’re shooting at. Another major annoyance for me was the checkpoint system. If a long battle or boss fight doesn’t go well, you’ll be playing it over and over until it does. Needless to say, this rapidly becomes tedious. On the other hand, when combined with the slow weapons, these elements do however make for quite a challenging gameplay experience. In all, Hard Reset came across as a game with lots of promise, but missing that final balancing and tweaking which would have taken the gameplay to the next level.
As it stands, it’s a decent first offering from a new developer, but mot much more. I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with next, and hope that they learn from and improve upon Hard Reset to create something truly great. Hard Reset is available on Steam for $15, and the developers have recently released a free DLC to sweeten the deal, including new levels and bosses.