Victimized by an army of beyblades, executed by toy soldiers, and other dumb ways to die — in a game that's sure to be a smash hit on Xbox

Hypercharge: Unboxed finally makes its way to Xbox, and it was worth the wait

Hypercharge: Unboxed
(Image: © Jennifer Young - Windows Central)

Windows Central Verdict

Hypercharge: Unboxed brilliantly taps into childhood memories, tapping into the childlike sense of wonder and fun by letting players experience the game from the perspective of an action figure. The levels, designed to mimic everyday environments with fascinating attention to detail, are both imaginative and visually appealing. The game's simplicity is one of its strongest points. It's easy to learn, making it accessible for players of all ages and skill levels. To put it bluntly, you'll have a great time.

Pros

  • +

    Nostalgic appeal

  • +

    Accessible gameplay

  • +

    Fluid mechanics

  • +

    Multiple game modes for solo and multiplayer

Cons

  • -

    Platforming can be tricky and inconsistent

  • -

    Simple gunplay may not appeal to the most staunch FPS fans

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Hypercharge: Unboxed may not be a new game, but it's one that only recently entered my consciousness due to some buzz around its impending launch onto Xbox. The game debuts on May 31, 2024, to an eager Xbox audience, and for someone who doesn't generally gravitate toward FPS games, its fresh twist on the genre piqued my interest. Only a game that looks as insanely fun and hijinks as this could have torn me away from Diablo mid-season, and I don't regret the distraction. Earlier in May, an emotional Joe Henson, Creative Gameplay and Marketing Director at Digital Cybercherries, posted a moving video on X/Twitter to announce the launch.

Hypercharge: Unboxed is made by a tiny team of 5 (possibly now 6) people, and it's clearly been a labor of love getting this out on Xbox. Henson spoke back in 2022 on about how this game would be perfect for the Xbox audience, and now it's finally made it I sincerely hope it gets the attention it deserves.

I'm going to pop the video from Joe in here because it was at this moment, seeing this passion, that I knew I was going to purchase this game at launch. Thankfully Digital Cybercherries were kind enough to provide Windows Central with a key, but this was always going to be on my list of games to check out this year. They have not seen the contents of this review before publishing. 

Hypercharge: Unboxed

Hypercharge

(Image credit: Digital Cybercherries)

Platforms: Xbox, Steam, Nintendo Switch
Developer: Digital Cybercherries
Launch date: May 31 2024 for Xbox
Cross-play: Yes between Xbox and PC
Cross-save: No, but working on it for future update
Xbox Game Pass: No
Players: Solo, 1-4 Multiplayer co-op and local split-screen, PVP modes available
Price: $29.99

My draw to the game comes from its specific ability to tap into some of my earliest childhood memories. I've always been a daydreamer; as an only child growing up, I'd imagine all sorts of scenarios in my mind to keep me occupied, inspired mostly by books like The Borrowers, an old English novel about a tiny family who use the most mundane household items to survive and have adventures. Hypercharge: Unboxed may be directly inspired by more high-octane adventures like Toy Story and Small Soldiers, but it transported me back firmly to my childhood and my daydreams of being a tiny Borrower exploring my own house.

Luckily, the game itself is forgiving enough that I could get lost exploring the levels without completely throwing the game, and I did exactly that. My review that follows is exclusively for playing through the campaign alone and enjoying some multiplayer with my partner. I did not review the PvP elements of the game as I don't enjoy PvP in video games at all and, as such, wouldn't really experiment with that mode, but the option is there if you do want to compete against other players online.

Hypercharge review: Gameplay

The beauty of Hypercharge: Unboxed is in its simplicity. The tutorial, if you wish to play through it, takes minutes. The game's vibe is very much about having a good time and not worrying about complex FPS mechanics. Something I personally enjoy, as playing multiple games in tandem is a skill I've always struggled with, remembering multiple controls and mechanics. Thankfully, with Hypercharge, it's simply a case of point-and-shoot action, building defenses between waves with an incredibly basic building system and running around the level collecting coins, stickers, and other collectibles. You can easily switch between first or third-person perspective depending on your preference.

You play as an action figure, kicking your way out of the box in each level, which are familiar scenes from any family home. You'll need to defend your bedroom, bathroom, or garden from the perspective of a toy. Even a mundane bathroom can be an interesting obstacle course when you're tiny. Guns have unlimited ammo, and the only thing you need to concern yourself with collecting are build tokens to create a lite tower defense system around each levels 'Hypercores'.

Even a mundane bathroom can be an interesting obstacle course when you're tiny

Multiple waves of enemies attack, and there's downtime in between to rebuild any lost walls, turrets, glue traps and various other tools in your arsenal. It reminded me a lot of the early days of Fortnite before they pivoted to Battle Royal (and I pivoted off that game due to my dislike of PvP). The game also gives you objectives to complete as your level plays out, encouraging you to interact with your given environment so for example "flush the toilet" or "shoot down the discount signs in the store." In one scenario, we had to turn off the computer at the bedroom level, which demonstrated precisely my and my partner's different attitudes to problem-solving. I stood shooting at the socket in an attempt to destroy it, he simply pointed out you could interact with the power switch on the computer. Sometimes, destroying everything in your path isn't the answer!

Gameplay to suit all skill levels

When I say Hypercharge is easy to learn, I really mean it. In fact, being nervous of playing an FPS game meant I initially started the game in Casual mode, which gives a lengthier amount of build time between waves and a more forgiving AI as far as the enemy is concerned. I found it so easy that I could stand back and let my team (of AI bots) finish off the enemies, at least in the first few levels. Casual mode is actually a fantastic difficulty if you're playing with kids, My youngest is 3, and he could just run around the room laughing at the giant toilet without really giving a damn what was going on.

Later I did pump the difficulty up to actually experience the game, and not just gawp at my surroundings, and I still managed to complete the first few areas with relative ease. That was until the toy store level. Lulled into a false sense of security and inflated sense of my own abilities, I found myself experiencing my first death. To a tiny 10mm high army man. I couldn't even be mad, he was adorable, but facing many of them parachuting from the sky to take me down was equal parts hilarious and terrifying. Speaking of terrifying, have you ever felt personally victimized by a Beyblade? I have; I was cornered by 5 of them on the third shelf in the superstore and quickly met my end in a tornado of blades. Again, I couldn't even be mad. It was hilarious. 

Speaking of terrifying, have you ever felt personally victimized by a Beyblade?

Death in Hypercharge is just funny rather than frustrating; you can immediately spawn back into the thick of the action, and there's no waiting for a timer to expire. The game does a fantastic job of keeping the fast-paced action going. My only frustrations during the heat of battle were that the platforming elements could be inconsistent; sometimes, you make that jump to the bookshelf with the build credits; sometimes, you don't — and it's difficult to understand what went right or wrong with attempts.

At the end of each level you can unlock new characters, new weapons and skins, and even new packaging for your figure to emerge from. My partner had great fun just making new names for his character, trying to come up with the most non-PG rated he could come up with. I leave this screenshot here with no further explanation.

This is a family game, but someone always has to lower the tone... (Image credit: Jennifer Young - Windows Central)

Better with friends

Hypercharge: Unboxed comes with a split screen mode so you can play couch co-op with up to 4 players, or if you have a friend who owns the game you can join up online which I did with my partner to play some of the story campaign. We had no issues with connectivity when playing together in either mode, and each level finishes with a pleasing stats screen so you can see how well or how terrible your contribution to the team effort was. "How did you die 3 times?" "Those goddamn Beyblades!"

Hypercharge review: Visual and audio

This playground isn't big enough for the both of us. Or maybe it is? (Image credit: Jennifer Young - Windows Central)

Visually, Hypercharge: Unboxed is unadulterated eye candy for your inner child; it's level design makes the most normal rooms fascinating to explore. The bedroom, one of the earlier levels you encounter, could have been captured from my teenager's own room, even down to the forgotten plate of half-eaten food he is just too lazy to bring downstairs. From the glow of the computer screen to the shadows on each item-laden shelf, it's a beautiful game to just wander around the levels.

Movement, aiming, and shooting all feel incredibly fluid. I played on both Xbox Series S and X and had no frame rate drops or lag spikes. This game is very well optimized for both consoles, with a smooth 60 FPS, though the developers have said they are aiming for higher in future updates.

The vibrant and nostalgic toy visuals are complimented with an upbeat 80s synth soundtrack, with the occasional spandex heavy metal. Basically, if you've seen any 80s action movie, you'll find the soundtrack familiar. Each character has its own voice and sound effect quirks, which you'll enjoy discovering as you unlock more in your progression.

Hypercharge review: Accessibility

Hypercharge:Unboxed has a handful of gameplay settings that can be tweaked, from customizing the difficulty to increasing the size of UI. I did immediately enlarge mine as I found it difficult to read the text on the in-level mini objectives, and despite enlarging them I think they could do more to make these more readable without having to squint. The aim-assist can also be tweaked if you need more support in that department, and audio can be balanced between sound effects and overall soundtrack. 

Hypercharge review: Should you play it?

There are game modes and difficulties to suit all players in Hypercharge: Unboxed (Image credit: Jennifer Young - Windows Central)

If you just want to have a good time, with a game that's easy to jump into either solo or with friends, then Hypercharge: Unboxed is absolutely worth a purchase. There are no microtransactions, along with the numerous updates already added to the game since its launch onto PC and Switch back in 2020. Since its launch, it has received 12 major content updates, adding new features, maps, and modes all to players for free, and we can expect to see further support following the Xbox launch.  

The game may not be 'complex' enough for most staunch of FPS fans, but if you're not going into this game expecting to sweat against a team of K/D ratio bros, you'll enjoy the heck out of it. In summary, Hypercharge: Unboxed may be an older title, but its blend of cooperative gameplay, impressive visuals, and unique premise make it a worthwhile addition to the Xbox library. So get ready to defend toy-kind and relive your childhood adventures.

Is Hypercharge: Unboxed on Xbox Game Pass?

No. Hypercharged: Unboxed is not on Game Pass. The developers have stated that "we believe our indie game is a fair price and will be worth the purchase." I for one agree with them! Check out our list of Xbox Game Pass games for information on titles available on the subscription service. 

Jennifer Young

Jen is a News Writer for Windows Central, focused on all things gaming and Microsoft. Anything slaying monsters with magical weapons will get a thumbs up such as Dark Souls, Dragon Age, Diablo, and Monster Hunter. When not playing games, she'll be watching a horror or trash reality TV show, she hasn't decided which of those categories the Kardashians fit into. You can follow Jen on Twitter @Jenbox360 for more Diablo fangirling and general moaning about British weather.