Cyber Hook Review

Cyber Hook is a fast-paced, 3D platformer that requires you to use your grappling hook to be the fastest of them all in over 70 levels. Designed by Blazing Stick, Cyber Hook is one of my favorite games of the year, being a strongly appreciated break from the long-winded games that are out there.

Do runners dream of synthwave sheep?

Enter cyberspace and you’ll be greeted by a friendly drone who grants you the power of the grappling hook. Your objective is simple: reach the portal at the end of each level by navigating through a dreamlike obstacle course of neon blocks. Equally as simple are the controls for the grappling hook: click to grapple, hold to reel yourself in, and space to let go. Seems easy, right? It’s one thing to learn how to use the hook; it’s another to master it. You can certainly take your sweet time and slowly parkour your way through the levels, but the true way to have fun in this game is to go F A S T.

See that meter in the bottom left corner? That’s your speedometer. Miles, kilometers, light-years—I’ve no clue what it’s measured in; but as long as it’s a big number, who cares? You pick up speed by building up momentum, whether it’s through swinging around translucent bars like a chimpanzee or through running on the ground so fast that it’s a miracle your feet haven’t started smoking like an overheating tire. There doesn’t even seem to be a limit to how fast you can go as far as I can tell. It’s such an adrenaline boost; being able to soar through the air, zooming past obstacles, screen shaking, music blaring as it changes to match your speed.

However you have to be careful, because if you hit a block or catapult yourself too high, your speed plummets as if a cop issued you a ticket for reckless grappling. The screen stops shaking, the music goes back to normal, and you blue ball your brain from its own adrenaline supply. But don’t fret too much if you’re struggling with maintaining momentum; it’s all part of mastering the game.

Stop that clock!

If you’re struggling with a level or messed up a crucial grapple, Cyber Hook’s got your back with the time warp ability. Hold up a finger, and time slows down for you, giving you ample time to look around and hook onto anything you please. Snap your fingers, and you’re back to normal. It’s a great feature for aiding players with getting past a difficult obstacle or for finding a new way around a section of the course. The timer for how long it took to complete the level doesn’t actually slow down with the ability, however, so use it liberally if you care about your score.

You also have a finger gun! It’s not just for show, however. You’ll need to use this bad boy to shoot certain breakable blocks to progress in certain levels. Or perhaps you don’t need to. The great thing about Cyber Hook is that you have complete control over your movement. Let’s say one level features a pit with blocks above it for swinging across. Naturally, you’d think you’re supposed to swing to the portal above the pit, but what if I told you that you could swing under it? Or maybe you’d rather stay on the side of the pit, using your wallrunning ability instead of grappling. You can do that, and the best part is, the game doesn’t tell you that it’s even an option. It encourages you to think outside the box on how to complete the level you’re in, as if you were solving a puzzle.

Race against time

Is there any overarching meaning to the game? Well, there’s actually a story, but it’s rather cryptic and omissive in details. So let’s just say that the real meaning to the game is to collect all three crystals in a level. You get them just by finishing the level, with the number of crystals you receive being dependent on your time. Three crystals means that your personal time is under the level’s time limit. One crystal … well, what’s important is that you tried. Keep trying, because you’ll need crystals to be able to unlock the next set of levels the game has to offer. Plus, could you really leave a level at two crystals when your time is 31 seconds, but the time needed for three crystals is at 30 seconds?

The game coaxes you to be competitive in your completion times, too. Not only does Cyber Hook show your personal best time and congratulates you for beating it, but it also has a leaderboard that shows all the scores for the world and for your region. The neat thing about it is that you can actually download the replays of people, seeing exactly how they finished the level. You can learn how to improve in both your times and your general grappling skills through these replays, and who knows—maybe you’ll even surpass that person on the leaderboard.

This is a game designed for both a casual audience and for those with speedrunning in their blood. You can be good at it or struggle a fair amount, and that’s fine! It’s still such a fun thing to do, swinging around from block to block, potentially breaking the sound barrier while you’re at it. Cyber Hook is excellent for those that don’t have time for a long gaming session. It’s pick up and play; launch the game, do a few levels, and come back later to continue playing. I’d definitely recommend this game to anyone out there, and I’m not just saying that because of the retrowave aesthetics.

So what are you waiting for, runner? Spread your wings and soar!

Cyber Hook is available on Steam.

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