IMPLOSION Never Lose Hope Review: Hack-and-Slash Gameplay on the Nintendo Switch

From developer Rayark, Inc., and published for the Nintendo Switch by Circle Entertainment, comes Implosion: Never Lose Hope. This action style hack-and-slash port of the 2015 IOS and Android release combines a unique top down perspective with tons of customization options and a unique story that will keep gamers coming back to this game, even if the gameplay itself feels a little repetitive and cliché.

Set in the year 2201, Implosion: Never Lose Hope takes place 20 years after an alien invasion of our planet. This invasion was so severe that it led to the evacuation of all human life from Earth. As a member of one of three surviving factions of humanity, IVONIX, you begin a return journey to Earth, equipped with a Warmech battle-suit, to investigate a new threat coming from your former home. But given that 20 years has passed, there may be more than just a new threat waiting for you on your older planet.

The gameplay of Implosion employs a very standard hack-and-slash style from the third-person perspective, while also incorporating some ranged gunplay to help with some of the necessary strategic battle sequences. The often times frantic rush of enemies to the screen promotes a ‘button mashing’ style of play, but at the end of the play session the fact that you only have a few attacks at your disposal never feels like too little because there is always action going on around you. There are even some boss fights or middle stage enemies that take a significant amount of strategy to defeat. These moments offer a great challenge compared to the majority of easily defeated enemies.

At the end of each level you receive a grade for your performance, but don’t be discouraged if at first you get a bad grade because levels can be replayed multiple times to earn higher grades or unlock special bonuses based on specific circumstances for each level. Some of these bonuses allow you to unlock even more content, which even includes a different Mecha suit.

Throughout the levels you are able to earn ARK fragments, which allow you to customize your individual Mecha. These fragments can be earned during levels, or purchased from a shop. They change a few things, including distribution of attribute capabilities and also how the Mecha controls somewhat, but ultimately the gameplay and success of the player relies heavily on the individual skill level of the player, especially when considering some of the finer strategic elements that come in to play for larger boss fights.

The level design for Implosion is pretty basic, offering very little innovative content but also being large enough in most instances to create a sense of wonder in the world you’re exploring. One gameplay mechanic that I feel detracts from the sense of exploration is the guidance mechanic that is always present. The Mecha you are controlling always has an arrow pointing you in the direction of your next destination. I feel this limits the true sense of exploration that I enjoy in most games, but ultimately is something I found helpful if you do ever decide find yourself veering off of the chosen path to do a little bit of exploring when the level allows you to do so.

Where I think Implosion really excels is in its visual presentation and in the delivery of the story. The graphics are still quite good given the age of the game (it was released first on IOS and Android devices in 2015), and the game runs very smoothly in all modes on the Switch. This game also plays well using all of the Switch’s different control styles, though I have really enjoyed playing this game in docked mode with my Pro Controller in order to get the full scope of the graphical quality of the game. I also appreciate that during cut scenes, the graphic style shifts to a much more visually pleasing delivery of fixed visuals driven home with great voice acting, instead of trying to fully animate the scene.

While the story of the game is very standard for the science-fiction action genre, it is presented in a way that it keeps driving the narrative forward and encourages your continued pressing on of the game. Having the story be told from the character you control also offers a variety of different initiatives that keep you invested. It also helps that the voice acting is really top notch. This studio didn’t spare any detail in incorporating these voices, which is often an element that can make or break a game. This driving narrative paired with a clean and at times unique graphic style really contributes a lot to this game.

While I personally stick away from hack-and-slash games for the simple reason that they usually offer very little in regards to gameplay and often rely on a story that never delivers, Implosion: Never Lose Hope is able to deliver in this area and ultimately deliver a good gaming experience. For this also being the first game of its kind on the Switch, it proves that even a Nintendo system can handle this genre of game and do it quite well.

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