FarSpace Studios’ Hyphen is what you get when you cross Irritating Stick with a game like VVVVVV and add neon-coloured visuals to the mix.The rules of this puzzle game are extremely simple; move your piece through a maze without touching any of the sides. Of course, as with many of the simplest games, this is easier said than done.
In games like Irritating Stick you are given static pieces to move which is hard enough; Hyphen adds even more challenge to the mix by having the piece spin in circles. Not only do players have to guide a piece through small spaces, you also have to take into account how fast it is spinning and make a leap of faith.
The game also has no qualms with giving you impossible-looking obstacles; including turrets that shoot at you and can kill you instantly. Thankfully the game does give you a bit of a reprieve from this by giving out a limited amount of checkpoint markers. If you make it through a particularly tough spot, it’s a great time to use them.. but be careful you don’t use them all up too soon.
While the goal of the game is to get the piece through to the end, you are also timed. Every level has a goal time set and players can attempt to meet or beat that score. This is made very difficult by the fact that dying does not stop or reset the timer; everything plays out in real-time. This feature does give the game replayability; when you can’t stand looking at your pitiful times, you can re-challenge levels in order to improve. Another feature that extends the life of the game is the 2 bonus minigames which can be unlocked by playing through the main challenges.
Visually, Hyphen is similar to VVVVVV with the simple solid-colour graphics and black background except that it makes everything into a glowing neon. This gives the game the feel of an older arcade game or even a game on the Vectrex. It’s certainly not spectacular by today’s standards but the stripped-down look helps rather than harms the game; there is very little background noise to distract you from some very tough levels. The biggest complaint to be leveled about the graphics would be that staring at glowing pieces for hours can be tough on the eyes.
The audio of the game is well done; the sound effects are simple yet very effective in conveying what is going on. The soundtrack itself was composed by Andrew Lloyd who has worked on a few indie titles such as ReversE and SoundScape. The music is a techno style and is reminiscent of games like Shatter. There are upbeat tunes interspersed with numerous tracks meant to build up the tension. Sadly, the music is not nearly as memorable as some titles but it does work for the game in general.
While the simplistic style of the game might turn off some, others will no doubt dig the dayglo graphics, the techno soundtrack and the incredible challenge. If it sounds like your kind of game, then you couldn’t do any better than Hyphen.
This game was obtained from the developer and reviewed on PC. Available from FarSpace Studios.
Hyphen is a simple game that should please fans of this kind of puzzle game but that simplicity may turn off many players.