Scurge: Hive Review

48 hours ago a distress signal was sent from a remote research lab studying a virulent organism identified as the

I cannot tell a lie, I have a big soft spot for 2d games. Especially ones with really clean sprites and well executed animations. Scurge delivers perfectly on the clean sprites, but the game misses a little something on the animations. You play the game on an isometric plane that has you looking at the world from the top down. The setup works fairly well, but I would have liked to have the ability to rotate the screen.

One can tell that Scurge was crafted with a lot of love. Set in the future on an alien planet you scour through abandoned research labs and across the alien countryside searching for cluse. All of the enemies have a unique look, and the environments are some of the most immersive and creative I have seen on the DS. Even with a multitude of enemies on the screen, the action never slows down and that includes having all the effects and other crazy stuff going on at the same time. This attention to detail really gives Scurge a great feel and look, but in the end it definitely shows its GBA roots. That’s not to say this is a bad thing, but the DS has more horsepower that is going unused here. On top of that I have seen the GBA version, and it looks even cleaner and doesn’t have any of the animation hiccups of its DS brother.

It really is amazing what developers can cram into a little piece of silicon and plastic. I am continually amazed by the quality of sound and music that gets pumped out by the DS’s little speakers. Scurge definately doesn’t dissapoint either. The soundtrack is exceptional with different music for almost every room and situation, and effects that coincide with the weapons used. I really enjoyed how the music had a very futuristic and spacey kind of feel to it. All of the music reminded me of the Metroid series, and it goes hand in hand with the art style and graphical look in creating a truly believable gameworld.

Scurge does a very good job of using almost all of the DS’s available buttons, and it keeps the controls fairly simple and intuitive. Unfortunately touch screen use is limited to the map and status screens. While it is a boon to have a persistent map, it is always disappointing to not see the touch screen used more.

Once you start acquiring more upgrades you use the R button to pull up a radial menu to pick your weapon of choice. This works exceptionally well in the heat of battle when switching weapons on the fly is the difference between life and death. You also have a tether linked to the L button that you can use to pull enemies and larger items around the game world. Also, the game world is designed to have you doing things that we’ve come to expect in some today’s biggest 3d adventure titles. Before you know it you’ll be shimmying and climbing around on pipes to reach some of the more inaccessible areas like a pro. However, not everything is peaches and cream. Because of the isometric view point it can be overly difficult to make some jumps and to gauge the right direction to fire weapons. A rotate view button would have alleviated all of these issues real quick.

It’s always a good thing when classic games like Metroid, Zelda, and Castlevania come to mind when you first play a game. Knowing that a game was built on solid foundations is reassuring, and it makes a gamer comfortable real quick. Once you pop in your Scurge cart you will instantly start to have De Ja Vu in a good way. You are playing as a bounty hunter in the future, who explores an abandoned lab room by room discoverin and using different weapons and moves to solve puzzles and defeat enemies.

What keeps this game from being a poor imitator is the great polish , the unified feel, and the unique gameplay twists of the title. When you first arrive at the planet your ship is attacked and you become infected by the “Scurge” virus. What this means for you is an infection level that you have to maintain during gameplay while spending a majority of the time trying to figure out what happened at the reasearch facility. Fortunately decontamination chambers, which double as save points, are liberally scattered throughout each level. On top of that, if you ever do hit 100% contamination you only start to lose health, and that can be regained by killing enemies. So what intially looked to be a drag, actually turns out to add genuine tension and excitement to the title.

Like any good “Metroidvania” style game, there are a plethora of weapons and powerups to collect that help you progress through the stages. Things like a tether cable, and the enemy specific weapons will really challenge you to figure out the best way to proceed in each area. One aspect I really enjoyed was entering a room and spotting four or five different enemies that all require different weapons to easily kill. It really challenges you to be quick and accurate. For any great imitator it is very difficult to surpass those you borrow from. Scurge does a great job of capturing the essence of past titles and still brings a lot of fresh ideas to the table. Unfortunately the title doesn’t bring enough new things, but what it does do it does it very well, and aside from a few control issues this is a very solid title gameplay-wise and just a little more innovation would have pushed it beyond its predecessors.

Scurge offers an exceptionally long single player adventure, and then it gives you three more difficulty levels to try after completion. Beyond that though there isn’t much else. For the completionist this will give you tons to play, but for the rest of us we get a very solid and enjoyable game to play through.

Ron Burke is the Editor in Chief for Gaming Trend. Currently living in Fort Worth, Texas, Ron is an old-school gamer who enjoys CRPGs, action/adventure, platformers, music games, and has recently gotten into tabletop gaming. Ron is also a fourth degree black belt, with a Master's rank in Matsumura Seito Shōrin-ryū, Moo Duk Kwan Tang Soo Do, Universal Tang Soo Do Alliance, and International Tang Soo Do Federation. He also holds ranks in several other styles in his search to be a well-rounded fighter. Ron has been married to Gaming Trend Editor, Laura Burke, for 21 years. They have three dogs - Pazuzu (Irish Terrier), Atë, and Calliope (both Australian Kelpie/Pit Bull mixes).
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