New Life, Old Bones
Amid a sea of unoriginal mobile games filled with exploitative microtransactions, Hybrid Warrior is a welcomed breath of fresh air. This RPG auto-scroller from Cat Lab offers a fresh twist on the rougelite genre; starting after the hero has already won. During the final battle with the titular “Overlord”, the hero uses their final move and claims victory. However, this also leaves the hero as a sentient skeleton, which sets the stage for the main game.
Herein lies the main draw of Hybrid Warrior. Instead of traditional upgrades, the hero acquires vanquished enemies’ body parts. Arms, legs, torso, and head all have one of three attributes and their own associated buffs and stats. These combinations allow for some surprisingly robust builds as each enemy type offers passive bonuses along with their base stats. This means that swapping out body parts for an incrementally higher base value may not always be the right move. This is compounded by the weapon and glove systems.
Shop ’til You Swap
The weapons system is relatively standard. You can wield a weapon, shield, ring, and necklace. All of which are randomly provided through a “weapon lottery” that gives you a piece of random quality gear. For guaranteed higher quality gear, you can spend gems–the game’s currency–for a higher chance of better gear. The more interesting system that comes into play is the glove system.
Through some unexplained arcane magic, the hero is assisted by a sentient, disembodied glove. The glove also acts as the player’s main influence during runs. Clicking the screen allows the glove to shoot a missile that damages enemies in addition to the hero’s auto attacks. Gems can be redeemed to unlock different gloves that offer passive effects that help the hero advance. The different gloves can also be upgraded through the crafting system to increase their missile damage and passive effect.
All unwanted monster parts can be disassembled for component materials which allows you to craft new parts. This allows you to build a specific monster part type when you need it. There’s also a small chance that you will yield monster thread, which is used to upgrade your gloves. Weapons can similarly be disassembled into component parts which can be used to upgrade their effectiveness and unlock additional effects.
Onward and Upward
The gameplay is relatively straightforward. In the main mode, players enter the dungeon in ten floor increments where the hero moves and attacks automatically. The player can affect battle a few ways. Tapping the screen allows the glove to fire missiles at enemies for additional damage. Players can also craft an array of potions that grant various buffs, attacks, or healing to the hero. The hero also has a dash ability which deals a set amount of damage and has a relatively short cooldown. If the player reaches the tenth floor of their instance, they must face off against a mini-boss. Once defeated, the player can proceed to the next group of floors which yield better loot and more gameplay features.
Once players reach certain floor designations, they also unlock a boss rush mode. The boss rush features one of three elemental bosses in incrementally harder encounters; yielding unique loot. These reset daily, providing a fun but short distraction from the monotony of dungeon crawling present in the main mode. Each boss boasts unique mechanics which provide surprising depth in these brief encounters.
Also gated by a floor designation is the PvP. PvP is simplistic and features two players in a small room who auto attack each other until a victor emerges. These battles forgo any glove upgrades or active buffs, and instead focus solely on gear. This mode was, again, simple but fun enough as a distraction in-between runs in the dungeon proper. Winning yields tickets which can be redeemed for more materials to craft better gear or get new gloves.
The Price We Pay
To maximize gold income during runs, players are encouraged to watch thirty-second ads. Ads triple the gold earned in dungeons and can yield new weapons, buffs, and gems. While these are completely optional, if you want to maximize each run you need to watch them. These are fine in short bursts, and can be removed with a one-time purchase. These do become annoying during extended sessions, but can be forgiven due to monetization elsewhere being relatively light.
In short bursts, Hybrid Warrior’s incredible style, unique premise, and varied modes are enough to keep the game fresh. However, with extended gameplay sessions, the game quickly becomes stale. Compounded by frequent ad breaks, the pace of Hybrid Warrior can at times come screeching to a halt. That said, it’s still one of the most unique games I’ve played all year, and that alone warrants a download.
Is it Hardcore?
Hybrid Warrior oozes style and brings fresh gameplay ideas to the RPG genre. However, its gameplay can become stale with extended sessions, even with its varied gameplay modes. While not for everyone, Hybrid Warrior warrants a download for its uniqueness and polish alone.