A Paladin’s Steam Review: Hard Reset Redux. Cyber Spacing the Robots.

Hard Reset Redux

  • Genre: First Person Cyberpunk Single Player Linear Shooter.
  • Developed & Published by: Flying Wild Hog & Devolver Digital
  • Platform: Windows, PS4 & Xbox One
  • Business Model: Single Purchase
  • Free Press Key Provided by Developers

Preamble
Hard Reset somehow came out under my radar back in 2011. I mean, I was playing shooters such as Serious Sam 3 around this time, so I’m not entirely sure how I never even gave Hard Reset a glance. When I saw Hard Reset Redux hit Steam a couple of months back, I knew I had to give it a shot. The Redux edition promised updated graphics, new enemies, improved combat balance, the ability to wield a cyber Katana, dash moves and improved performance along with the previous DLC being included from the start. I was curious about this title from the Shadow Warrior developers and wanted to see how this cyberpunk shooter stood up to the rest. So, I gave it a run and now have some thoughts on it.

Hard Reset was developed by Flying Wild Hog studios, a company in Poland that was formed in 2009 in Poland. A group of developers from CD Project Red (GOG, Witcher series) and People can Fly (Bulletstorm, Painkiller) came together to create this new studio focused on creating high quality titles for casual and hardcore gamers. Their focus so far has been crafting old-school shooters with some modern ideas running on their custom Roadhog engine. They’re best known for their reboot of the Shadow Warrior series with its impending sequel soon to launch. Though they did release a platformer called “Juju” back in 2014. Never heard of it but considering how many platformers get launched on Steam, I’m not surprised. So far, the company seems to be doing quite well with itself and if Hard Reset and Shadow Warrior are any indication of what this company is capable of, I look forward to seeing what comes next.

Initial Overall Thoughts

It’s interesting playing Hard Reset Redux after playing Shadow Warrior (2013). I can clearly see the beginnings of SE’s combat system and the enhancements to it in the Redux edition only highlight what they had started. It’s not the most polished FPS system I’ve ever experienced and the newly added Katana is situational at best. But you can see how they started with Hard Reset, created Shadow Warrior based on what they started and then took what they learned from SE and made HRR an even better game. HRR isn’t a perfect game because of it, but it’s so cool to see a developer learning and improving over time and watch it reflected in their continuing releases. It’s not even like the Cyber Katana even feels out of place! Though a lot of the enemies have a tendency to explode so getting close is a risky venture at best. It’s a visually unique FPS even if the fidelity is a bit lacking. Enemies are colorful and distinctive enough so as to avoid melting into each other. The city is a constantly dreary cyberpunk city that doesn’t forget that it can use color and vistas to make some impressive visuals.

Cutscenes in this game use a stylized graphic novel look with voice over to piece together the various different events happening in the game. I’m never certain if I like this look but I’ll admit that I’ll take it over a badly CGI-ed scene or in-game cutscene that doesn’t look good. The acting is b-grade sci-fi quality. It’s good enough to be believable but some performances weren’t the best, mostly in the side-characters. As for the combat itself, it isn’t too bad. It gets a bit repetitive and I maybe would have liked to see more variety in enemy types towards the end of the game. They tended to just add more in crazier combinations which is fine, it just wasn’t as interesting to fight. I know there was some complaints about the game being too short but I frankly found the length to be just fine all things considered. There’s even some pretty interesting boss fights that don’t outstay their welcome.

As for my thoughts on the game as a whole. I think it’s a very solid shooter. The two weapon platform system where each uses different ammo while being able to transform into four weapons is…odd. I can’t say I like or dislike it though. It’s a style choice clearly aimed at making the game more cyberpunk, but some annoyances crop up when you want a specific weapon from each platform and you’re unable to get to them in one click. The ability to upgrade them into four different modes with their own significant upgrades helps keep the combat interesting as well. There’s a few unique gun ideas that work. I think the game is pretty reasonably paced and has a decent amount of content for its asking price.

Gameplay Examination

Hard Reset Redux is a first person linear shooter that has arena/corridor combat with quite a few enemies. Most enemies just require you to hit any part of them while others have armor that has to be shot off before they can be downed. HRR’s combat is based on two gun platforms: the CLN Modular Assault Rifle and the EEF-21 Plasma Rifle. The assault rifle dishes out ranged damage with bullets and can be modified to do more damage, faster. It can be upgraded to a shotgun, RPG and sniper rifle variant on the platform. The plasma rifle unleashes electric based shots that at first operates like an assault rifle but can be upgrades for close range electrical attacks, slowing fields and shoot-through-wall shots. Upgrades are acquired by collecting enough credits by defeating enemies or collecting caches throughout the level. Exploring the levels and finding secrets will give you access to bonus credits though running the game straightforward will give you access to many of the upgrades normally. I actually like this system because most upgrades substantially improve and/or change the guns in a meaningful way. Both weapons look rather cool in the Cyberpunkness. The assault rifle even glows bright red after a barrage of shots are fired. It’s the little details that can make the difference. In HRR, there’s no regenerating health so you’re going to have to rely on health and shield pickups that fall off enemies or can be found all over the levels. However, avoiding enemy attacks are easier to deal with thanks to the newly added dash. The third weapon, the Cyber Katana, can’t be upgraded and doesn’t have any special powers attached to it. Though the dashing ability at least allows you to use it effectively.

The combat is about doing a lot of dashing, keeping an eye on what attack larger robots are about to execute and keeping your distance from enemies that want to give you a (charging/explosive) hug. Littered throughout the levels are environmental hazards that the player can use to take out a swarm of robots. Including but not limited to exploding electrical traps, oil barrels, A/C units and more. The environments aren’t destructible though so don’t expect to blow up a bunch of gas cans and create a new path. The environmental hazards at least help to change up the combat and require you to keep an eye on your surroundings because those hazards can hurt you as well. Outside of some fatigue with it towards the end of the game and the Katana’s questionable usefulness, HRR’s combat system is quite good.

Narrative Talk

You play as Major Fletcher, the main protagonist, whose an officer tasked with keeping order and protecting the last city of Humanity: Bezoar. Humanity has been fighting a war against the machines to the point that the last of humanity is inside “The Sanctuary”, a network that contains billions upon billions of human minds in a digital space. The AI wish to take over this network and wipe out the last remnants of humanity. The city is run by the CLN Corporation and Major Fletcher is tasked with securing the walls of Bezoar and dealing with any incursions from without and within. Our story begins when Fletcher is tasked with hunting down and ending a scientist named Professor Novak whose suspected of letting in robot invasions to the city. Fletcher also has personal grievances with the good Dr and is happy to hunt him down. After a multitude of battles against robots and a chase to the Dr’s laboratory, Fletcher shoots him. But before the Dr dies, Novak reveals that his intentions were for the best, that he was fighting the evils of the Corporation and the machine army’s attempt to create a superweapon. So, Fletcher transfers Novka’s consciousness into his own and sets out to find out what’s going on. What follows is a fairly straightforward campaign of the two of them figuring out just how advanced the AI machines were becoming and gathering up AIs for their own purposes via boss battles.

There’s nothing that surprising as far as twists or changes in character development. The game maintains a very serious, post-apocalyptic tone throughout the game with little in the way of humor. It doesn’t get oppressive about its tone, which I appreciate. But it certainly permeates the game. Professor Novak is the typical mad scientist whose right this time while Major Fletcher is a fairly straightforward soldier. The rest of the cast is fairly forgettable. Overall, it works to create a believable, if not the best acted out, world for a cyberpunk shooter. It’s a fine story, if not the most memorable or best fleshed out.

PC Settings and Audio/Video

Options confirmed by PCGamingWiki.

Game Options User Configurable Options
Resolutions: All Resolutions Supported, Multi-Monitor, Ultra-Widescreen and 4K Supported. Display, Aspect ratio, refresh rate, fullscreen on/off, resolution.
Field of View & V-Sync & Framerate Cap. 50-90 degrees FOV, Triple Buffering V-Sync and 120+FPS.
Anti-aliasing, SSAO & Anisotropic Filtering. FXAA & Up to 16X AF. SSAO Enabled/Disabled
Textures, Shadows, Post processing, Particles, Physics and Debris Low/Medium/High/Ultra
Key Rebinding Support Multiple key bindings supported and two controller layouts.
Audio Controls Music and Voice Volume Controls.

The Road Hog Engine pulls in a very reasonable performance in Hard Reset Redux. I didn’t notice any significant performance problems or bugs. I never crashed either and by all accounts the game seems to be stable. Controls also seemed to work pretty responsively as well.  

Final Thoughts

Hard Reset Redux is an overall fun game and competently crafted FPS. The story isn’t really that memorable though I believe they really tried to make it so. The combat is pretty good overall and certainly Redux has improved it to be a lot more enjoyable. The dashing, the optional Katana and better enemy placement doubtless made this a more painless experience than the original doubtless was. The amount of content is very reasonable and there’s a pretty good amount of exploration on these linear levels to keep things interesting. I think it’s worth getting. Even if there isn’t one specific reason as to why I like it. If you need a cyberpunk shooter, I think Hard Reset Redux is worth getting. If you don’t like the changes from the Redux edition, they give you the original Hard Reset at no extra cost. I always like it when developers do that. 

GOG Link

GOG Link

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-KingIsaacLinksr

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