What is The Hive?
The Hive is a story-driven fantasy game that combines RPG elements and blends them with real-time strategy. Players take control of the Insectoid Hive mind.
After a very solid presentation that details the background to the game you begin with a single worker and an objective. The first objective is to build a hive. The objective system is the primary game mechanic that leverages the storyline and the gameplay. Each time you complete an objective you are presented with a new challenge. Rinse and repeat.
In order to complete a number of these objectives resource management comes into play. You must hunt or dig for resources – food and minerals. It is these that enable you to develop your armies and your villages.
Without a shadow of a doubt, the highlight of the game is in its presentation. This includes the graphical and audible presentation as well as the narration.
I thoroughly enjoyed the opening cutscene to the game. I thought it served extremely well as an introduction to the game and it inspired me to want to play through the game. This led in well to an overall graphics and audio display that is of an exceptionally high quality for an indie studio. It is one of the best-presented indie games that I have had the pleasure of playing.
The screenshots and gameplay footage featured within the trailers serve as an accurate reflection of the artistic approach to the game. They have not been doctored to make them look better than the actual quality you will see within the game.
The narration and the overall storyline are top notch. This kept my motivation levels high to grind through the game even as the actual gameplay itself was disappointing. It invested me into the game to the degree that I was certain that I wanted to continue playing the game when any drop in quality may have seen me quit entirely. Therefore, I absolutely give kudos to the writers as well as the artist and sound engineers.
Falls short as an RTS
The game falls short of the mark when it comes to being a deep RTS. Although the game has all of the mechanics and tools that an RTS has it generally lacks depth and polish. This, in my opinion, is because the game attempts to be everything and when that encompasses a number of genres that’s almost impossible to achieve. Had the developers spent a little more time attempting to specialize the game in a strategic direction it would have resulted in a vastly improved title.
Another criticism that I have of the game is that there always appears to be one best way to accomplishing a certain task. There is a distinct lack of variability and this reduces the replayability of the game. Therefore, I find this to be more than a little disappointing considering the game bills itself as a game having ‘many different endings and possibilities’ with players being able to ‘create their own unique route, strategy, and story.’
A final criticism is that the AI of the computer is poorly designed. Whenever the computer is successful it feels as though it is a result of the player’s own stupidity and sheer dumb luck rather than being a hard fought contest. Once you do figure out that one best way to any given solution players will utilize the same strategies again and again throughout the course of the game.
Is it Steamified?
The Hive has 40 Steam achievements as well as a set of trading cards. Given the nature of the game this is about as Steamified as what we could possibly ask for.
If the developers were able to produce the same quality in the gameplay as they did in the presentation, we would be looking at an indie game of the year contender. The Hive is not a poor game but it’s just not a great game. It lacks the overall polish and depth in the gameplay department to be a truly special game. However, we must bear in mind that this is the first game developed and published by Skydome Entertainment. I genuinely believe that they would have learned so many lessons through the creation and development process of this game that it should hold them in good stead in the future. Consequently, they are a game studio to keep a close eye on. The potential is there if they are able to put those lessons into action in their next game. The Hive is a good beginning.
I recommend The Hive for the high quality of work in the presentation of the game.