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Game Info:

The Hive
Developed By: Skydome Entertainment
Published By: Skydome Entertainment
Released: August 25, 2016
Available On: Linux, macOS, Windows
Genre: Real-Time Strategy; Role-Playing
ESRB Rating: Not Rated
Number of Players: single player
Price: $14.99
(Humble Store Link)

Thank you Skydome Entertainment for sending us a review code!

When trying to look up information about The Hive, I noticed that there have been quite a few games with the same name released within the past 30 years. This one, in particular, is a real-time strategy and role-playing game hybrid by Skydome Entertainment—a small indie team from Finland. The Hive starts with a human NPC narrating about how a war more or less drove off all the humans off the planet of Eden. It’s the typical “mankind screws up and the remaining organisms evolve and fight each other to become the dominant species” plot.

With the humans gone, the insect population evolves into the Insectoid Hive, a species that laid dormant underground for centuries. Their journey through New Eden is to reach the surface, while eliminating everything that their path. You, alongside the Insectoid Advisor, must guide the Insectoid Hive to victory.

There are a good handful of units to strategize with. You have the worker units whose main job is to gather and collect resources. They have minimal combat capabilities. The main resources used are meat and crystals. Meat is gathered from the turtle creatures or fishing spots and used to summon ally forces. Crystals are gained from mineral veins scattered throughout and are used to build structures. Ally units can consist of offensive types such as the general melee insects called legionnaires, defensive types called rhinos that can take aggro, ranged insects like hunters, and specialist/support insects like medics and the hive queen. The hive queen is a bit more unique than the rest as only one can be on the field at a time. Different structures have to be built as many units are unique to specific buildings. Two structures that aren’t tied to any unit is the turret and the worker’s den. The turret is what you’d expect it to be while the worker’s den acts as the research unit, upgrading structures and units.

The Hive
Highlights:

Strong Points: The setting and narrative keep you interested to see to the end  
Weak Points: Fairly unoriginal in terms of gameplay; large difficulty spike in Act 4; very little replayability 
Moral Warnings: Bloody violence between insectoids and creatures; lots of magic usage by enemies; New Eden is a polytheistic world, with nearly every faction having their own respective god or gods that they worship; rituals are present and sacrifices must be made in order to progress; supernatural creatures can be encountered as well

As there are no humans left on the planet of Eden, the world has taken a rather organic look with a blend of a tribal and mystical style. Ancient temples and caves are what you’ll be traversing through. It almost makes you wonder if it was the humans that built these temples or was it something else. The enemies, called the Chala’toi, look similar to shamans and tribesmen, even at times wearing masks that are either made of wood or bone. They are also distinctly humanoid but look very little like humans. The setting and scenery are done well, even if the graphical quality is rather basic. It goes to show how far a solid art direction can carry the look of a piece of media.

The Hive has a ten act structure, with each level acting as the act. The Insectoid Advisor will give you a list of objectives to complete, with some of these being puzzles. Not every act has a puzzle, but they do help break up the monotony of “build up an army and ‘zerg rush’ them to death.” The acts' difficulties is rather balanced, with the exception of Act 4 which takes a rather large difficulty spike as enemies constantly invade your base with little time to prepare. To separate itself from most RTS games, Skydome added RPG elements, such as the ability to level up your units and equip items to your units to bolster their stats. You can also dissolve (discard) the items collected from looted chests or enemies to earn DNA. DNA is used to acquire the talent of being able to summon other units. Truthfully, I don’t feel that the RPG elements add all that much to the game and actually manage to drag down the RTS experience. Because of the RPG mechanics, I believe that some of the RTS mechanics either had to be simplified or removed. The experience, in my opinion, would have been better if scrapped.

Surprisingly, there is voice acting in this title and the direction of it done well, especially since English isn’t a common language in Finland. The few characters that have speaking roles either have this echo-like filter to their voice or a deep boom to represent something that is godlike. It’s both alien, yet familiar—to represent a world that once was ours but also one that moved along fine without us. The music isn’t played very often but when it is, it has instrumentals that are similar to the ones found in the Southern Hemisphere. None of the pieces stood out to me but they fit the atmosphere.

The Hive
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 68%
Gameplay - 12/20
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 6/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 67%
Violence - 5/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 1/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 7.5/10

In an interesting turn of events, Skydome has released a major update, three and a half years after the full release named Rise of the Behemoths. Released March 2020, It adds two new unit types, the Behemoth a blend between a melee and ranged unit, and the infestor, a special unit that relies on damage over time effects. It is always interesting to see developers return to or support a single-player game long after it was released to the public (and I’m not talking about in terms of DLC). The faith that they have in their product is admirable.

Although even after three and a half years, there are still bound to be bugs (the programming kind) and exploits that slip through the cracks. One funny bug I encountered was my hive queen unit learning how to “noclip” and simply phased into the wall and refused to come out. At the time I didn’t know that any highlighted unit (even ones through walls) can be deleted with the delete key so I went through half a mission without a queen. There were a couple of crashes—thankfully all of them happened through transitions into acts so only a few seconds were lost. I also encountered an interesting exploit. Since you need DNA to gain access to your other units, if you happen to dissolve your items and then unlock access to them, but lose the battle (as in have no more units available to spawn) you then pause the game, unpause, pause again and exit to the main menu, you would have unlocked the ability to use the respective unit but your inventory is left untouched.

For a game about bugs and tribal creatures, it has a plentiful amount of moral warnings. It’s pretty bloody, with both enemies and allies alike shedding tons of the red liquid with every attack. There is a lot of magic used by the antagonists, with one enemy, in particular, being a necromancer. The inhabitants of New Eden are a polytheistic group, worshiping many different types of gods. The Chala’toi go through many measures to summon gods, spirits, and ancients. Even the Insectoid Hive manages to call upon a couple of ancient deities. One of the first major enemies you face is a wraith. Rituals are even present and the Insectoid Hive are no strangers to ritual sacrifices to get what they want.

All I can say about The Hive is that was an okay experience. The setting and atmosphere haven’t been done often, which is very appreciated. However, it also hasn’t done anything that other RTS games haven’t. The RPG mechanics are more of a nuisance than not. With it being a single-player journey with only one faction, there is little replay value, even with the most recent patch. Ten acts in total with them ranging from a half-hour to an hour and a half to beat means the quest is just around the ten-hour mark. The Hive is simply a standard game—nowhere near something you would call bad but also something that doesn’t leave a lasting impression. People who can’t get enough of the Zerg and their infamous overwhelming rushes may just find some kinship with Skydome Entertainment’s first-ever release.

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Cinque Pierre

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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