Ever since the massive success of Starcraft (and even before that, with games like Dune), there have been many games that tried to reproduce that formula, the mix of Sci-Fi and strategy. Some have succeeded, others have failed. The newest game to follow that formula’s road is The Hive, by Skydome Entertainment.
The Hive’s story begins more than 100 years into the future. While Earth continues to prosper, news of a huge asteroid heading its way reaches its citizens. Understanding that their planet is about to be destroyed, the Earth’s nations band together and create a huge colony ship, which is able to save some people, leaving billions dead when the asteroid reaches Earth. The survivors wander the galaxy for years, until they reach New Eden. On the surface, New Eden is nothing like its namesake. It’s a barren desert planet, with fierce sandstorms raging on its surface. Still, it’s humanity’s new home. Underground, however, there are more things going on. An ancient insectoid race awakens, just in time to greet the humans.
This insectoid race, The Hive, is who we are playing as. The gameplay is pretty easy to get the hang of, especially if you have played RTS games before. In every level, we start out with a Worker. A Worker is the standard resource gathering/building unit. Using him, we have to create our first buildings and gather resources.The resources we use are minerals, food and DNA. Minerals are needed to build new buildings, food is required to build units and DNA is required for upgrades. Minerals and Food can easily be collected on the map, although both are finite. DNA on the other hand is a bit more hard to get. DNA is found in items. In order to get said items, we need to explore the map and fight enemies. By doing that, we will find items on three places. Scattered on the ground, in chests, and in the corpses of our enemies. The items are split into two groups. The basic items’ only use is to dissolve them for DNA. However, there are also items that we can equip. These items can be given to one of our units, increasing its statistics, such as defense and attack. While that is of course very useful, these are usually the items that yield the most DNA once dissolved. Knowing that, there will be many times in the campaign where we will have to debate whether we need to upgrade one unit a lot or a bunch of units less.
Regarding the buildings, things there are much more simple than in most RTS games. There are very few buildings we can build, making it easier to set up a base and keep track of things. The only things The Hive can build is a barracks for new soldiers, a turret for defense, a workshop for upgrades and a “town center” where resources are gathered and workers are produced. Speaking of upgrades, a great thing the game does is keep our upgrades from level to level, allowing us to keep getting stronger.
Once we have our resources and our base set up, it’s time to explore the level. Each level has a number of objectives for us to complete, which are relayed to us through our Advisor. Most objectives include some fighting, which means we must always have an army. In the first stages, the only units we have for that purpose are legionnaires and hunters, a melee and a ranged unit respectively. As we upgrade, we get access to more units, each playing a specific role in our army. When it’s time for combat, things are pretty straightforward, since we only need to click on the unit we want attacked. Things get a bit more complicated on boss battles, since some of them have Area of Effect attacks, which require us to micromanage our units in order to get out of harm’s way.
As you can see from the above, The Hive is a pretty standard RTS, with a few twists. What really sets it apart however, is its graphics. I don’t know how the developers did it, but everything just looks so vibrant. Every level looks so different from the others, all thanks to the art team, who have made each location stand out through the use of different colours. On top of that, the animation is also great. My soldiers really feel like insects scurrying about the place. Generally, the graphics are very close to an AAA game.
The game’s music, on the other hand, is not good at all. It seems to me like there was little work done in mixing and equalizing the different sounds. For example. if I have all the sound sliders on the exact same spot, the ambient sounds, such as a waterfall or the flow of lava, drown out everything else. The game thankfully has subtitles, else I couldn’t hear a thing that my advisor told me. Speaking of the advisor, his voice acting is lacking. The voice actor, in his attempt to sound like an actual insect, decided to speak with big pauses in random spots. This was often very jarring and annoying. Moreover, the game’s camera is also a bit slow in its response time, costing me precious time when I wanted to check on units.
Apart from the two issues above, The Hive is a stellar RTS. Although it doesn’t break new ground in the genre, it’s well made and offers hours of entertainment. It might not be THE game to get into RTS games, but it can offer a good challenge to old strategy fans for sure.
You can find The Hive on Steam for 20 euros (14 on the Autumn Sale currently going on)
The Hive is a standard RTS game with some excellent graphics. Although sound and camera issues prevent it from achieving its full potential, it can nevertheless offer a veteran RTS player hours of solid fun.
+ Enjoyable RTS gameplay.
+ Fantastic graphics.
– Bad sound design.
– Minor camera issues.
Philip “Snowchill” Alexandris