It seems only yesterday that we were questioning the lack of parkour games with Lemma's Evan Todd. Yet barely a month later, French developer Fusty Game hit the streets with its futuristic, free-running Kickstarter project Hover: Revolt of Gamers. But will this Mirror's Edge/ Jet Set Radio mashup gain enough momentum to reach its funding goal?
A moment of honesty: that previous question was a bit of a trick. Hover: Revolt of Gamers destroyed its initial funding goal of $38,000 in a mere three days and, as of writing, is well on its way to reaching its fourth stretch goal: a Wii U version. But never fear, Hover always was and always will be a Unity-based PC, Linux and Mac game with controller support and possible Oculus Rift compatibility in the future.
"We wanted to combine the interactivity and immersion of Mirror's Edge with the very arcade style – the grinds and the tricks – from Jet Set Radio," Fusty Game's Charles Vesic told me when asked about Hover's inspirations.
Such influences are obvious upon watching Hover's enchanting Kickstarter trailer. Hip-and-cool cartoon skaters sporting incomprehensible future fashions jump, grind and race their way through a vibrant city where every pipe, wall and rooftop is a possible stepping stone to that one, big trick.
Despite containing footage from a four month old alpha made by the three-person team, the trailer shows what looks to be some impressively fluid controls and animation both in Hover's first person and third person modes. But Hover also looks extremely fast paced in comparison to the small handful of parkour games that have come before it meaning that tight, functional controls are all the more important.
"We've gathered experience from our previous game <The Secret of Space Octopuses> ," Charles told me, "It was too complicated – there were too many things to do and too many buttons to use. For Hover we want to have technical gameplay using the least amount of buttons possible. There will be various level of mastery yet anybody will be able to start enjoying the game after only a few seconds."
Breaking rules and boundaries is at the heart of parkour. Hover: Revolt of Gamers is no different. Between bouts of free roaming, players are tasked with freeing the city from the grip of a tyrannical mayor intent on making videogames illegal. This is achieved through a range of non-linear missions which will include saving citizens from the police, retaking confiscated games consoles and beating rival gangs.
Fusty Game has described this mission system as "dynamic". But in an industry full to the brim with buzz-words I was curious as to what this so-called dynamism actually means in terms of player progression.
"What we call dynamic is the freedom we're allowing the player," Charles told me. "No mission will be forced upon players and they'll be able to discover the story in the order of their liking. There will be multiple ways of achieving a goal and progressing through the story."
So that resolves my curiosity regarding Hover's dynamic missions, but my next burning question focuses on the game's theme. Many games, such as Hotline Miami and BioShock, have tried to pose almost philosophical questions regarding player agency and the power and role of violent content in media. At least some of these messages have been in response to public outcries of videogames' supposed affect on the minds of young children and teenagers, and the numerous campaigns that have attempted to ban or to censor violent titles.
It seems Fusty Game have decided to tackle these issues head on by aiming the "stick-it-to-da-man" themes of Jet Set Radio and Mirror's Edge towards the very notion of videogame bans. Surely Fusty Game are trying to make some sort of statement with a game that revolves around the liberation of videogame-less citizens by free-spirited gangs of athletic "gamers", isn't it?
"We really wanted to speak about videogames in a videogame," Charles told me, "It's a funny and different idea breaking from the usual conflicts found in videogames. We wanted something light and fun – Hover's scenario isn't realistic nor moralistic.
"We fancied doing a tribute to the community," Charles continued, "Every gamer dislikes people thinking that video games make you violent and procrastinative. They're going to love hating Hover's Mayor!"
It looks as though I read too deeply into what I thought Hover would be trying to communicate upon its launch. Instead of making some grand statement about the future of videogame censorship, Fusty Game is attempting to appeal to those in disagreement with modern day concerns regarding the supposed negative affects of gaming.
But for the most part Fusty Game is aiming for a gameplay, not thematic, orientated experience. Hover is set to contain a range of interesting features including online multiplayer and co-op, the ability to reverse movement and rectify mistakes, and a soundtrack by Jet Set Radio composer Hideki Naganuma.
This being said I feel as though Hover's main selling point is its visual aesthetics. It's a sad fact that a modern, high-definition, colourful, cel-shaded videogame is an anomaly, even within the sphere of indie gaming.
"We think that most often cartoon games are, unfortunately, designed for children" Charles told me. "As if the developers were convinced that adults only wanted to play realistic and violent games. The kids are less demanding than adults towards technical and graphical aspects, meaning cartoon games are often bad or average.
"We think that many adults are waiting for a colourful cartoon game designed with them in mind," Charles continued, "This is why we've chosen that path. With Hover we want to do “cartoon”
History has shown that even the most captivating of videogame concepts aren't always enough to make it on Kickstarter. In fact, we've featured several indie titles such as Ashen Rift and the aforementioned Lemma that, despite interesting premises, failed to secure funding. Fusty Game have managed the amazing feat of ticking all the right boxes and developing a Kickstarter campaign with mass appeal. As a result, Hover: Revolt of Gamers is sure to be remembered as one of the videogame crowd scouring successes of 2014. Now all we have to do is wait.