Game

Fly by the seat of your pants in this high-octane space racer

Price: $2.99/£2.29
Version: 1.0
Size: 68 MB
Platform: iPhone / iPad
Developer: Patrick Cook

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Each level of Hyperburner is a daring high-speed escape through the depths of space, dodging galactic debris and jetting gracefully through futuristic landscapes in an adrenaline-pumping test of reflexes and dexterity. You’re not racing other pilots, you’re not running from some ominous villain, and you’re not fighting anything. But even as a solo pilot whizzing through highly dangerous parts of space for no discernible reason, the sheer thrill of evading certain death at breakneck speed is enough to keep you hooked to this excellent game.

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The opening “Holosim” level eases you into the game

Part of the reason Hyperburner works so well is the incredible simple yet highly functional controls: place your thumb on the screen and drag gently in any direction to steer. That’s it. You can tweak the sensitivity to your liking, and before long the ship feels like an extension of your thumb. The game auto-pauses if you let go of the screen, allowing you to take a breather without frantically searching for a pause button, and the game is designed such that it works great in both landscape and portrait mode. You can survive the odd knock, but the ship’s shields take time to regenerate and so two collisions on the trot – or one headlong crash – and it’s game over, thank you for playing, would you like to try again?

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Quick reactions are essential to excel as a space pilot

Graphically Hyperburner is superb, with varied and colorful cel-shaded levels and slick presentation throughout. Each of the six stages looks and feels unique, with incredible attention to detail and glorious lighting and particle effects. There are occasional moments where the level boundaries aren’t entirely clear, but overall the 3D graphics really shine. We’ve heard that the faster stages can stutter a little on older devices (iPhone 5 and below), but the game is smooth as silk on an iPhone 6s. The music, too, is very nice – but we couldn’t help feeling that the laid-back grooves and shortage of sound effects runs counter to the high-octane nature of the game. Perhaps this was a design decision to keep players from experiencing sensory overload.

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Play well enough and you’ll unlock improved ships

With levels variously involving snaking tunnels, labyrinthine passageways and intergalactic trade lanes, the environments somehow manage to elicit both intense claustrophobia and a sense of epic scale. It starts out relatively straightforward, but to conquer the latter stages you’ll need to be at the top of your game. Circumnavigating a relentless barrage of spinning turbines, flying rocks and tiny apertures isn’t easy, but it’s extremely satisfying to finish a level. None of the stages are especially long, helping to avoid frustration even if you have to retry a dozen or more times to land a perfect run. There’s some decent replay value here as well, with a double-speed “endless” version of each level unlocked upon completion, and plenty of healthy competition on the Game Center high score boards. Unlocking 100% of the game’s achievements is no mean feat either, representing an excellent challenge for hardcore gamers.

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You’ll need to be on your toes to avoid these rotating, slamming metal blocks

Hyperburner is a rare iOS gem that successfully merges a beautiful setting with impeccable controls and a tough-but-fair difficulty curve. Each level is a short but intense challenge that will leave you feeling like the plucky protagonist of your very own sci-fi action movie. Highly recommended – unless you have a heart condition.

Review: Hyperburner – thrilling space flier
Who knew being a space pilot was this dangerous – or this fun?
For
  • Well-designed, gorgeous levels
  • Pitch perfect control scheme
  • Decent challenge and replayability
Against
  • Not much to complain about!
4.6Overall Score