It’s no surprise that 5th Cell, the developers of games such as Drawn to Life and Scribblenauts, would be up for making a third person shooter unlike any other in the genre. All the same, I was surprised that their latest project, Hybrid, works as well as it does.
Hybrid takes place in a future where a dimensional rift has opened on Earth and the people from either dimension are fighting over dark matter, a new mysterious resource, in order to hopefully revert the entire planet to their original dimension.
Unlike other third person shooters, Hybrid takes place almost entirely behind cover. The right stick is used to for aiming, but it’s more importantly used for selecting what piece of cover you want to move to next; a press of a face button later and you’ll be flying towards that piece of cover, able to shoot, dodge, and change directions while you’re on your way. Combined with abilities such as teleporting to cover, and Hybrid quickly becomes a nuanced game of dogfighting and flanking tactics.
The shooting and flying feel incredibly satisfying, and this is thanks to some good animation and sound design; the controls aren’t too bad either. Zooming in with the left trigger and shooting with the right trigger are standard fare for third person shooters, and all of the buttons for vaulting over cover and moving to and from cover are handled with the face buttons; this demands a bit of odd finger gymnastics if you plan on aiming and shooting while you’re interacting with cover.
Special abilities keep the gameplay varied, as getting killstreaks rewards you with robotic drones to help you out. These drones range from small sentry robots that accompany you and return fire to enemies, all the way to big juggernaut drones that look more like flying tanks. I also was able to try out abilities such as teleport which, when combined with a shotgun, led to some cool moments where I’d teleport next to an enemy and blindfire over cover to take him out in one hit; of course, these leaves you vulnerable while your ability is cooling down, so there’s some risk involved.
After our interview, producer Caleb Arseneaux was elusive about whether or not Hybrid would arrive on other platforms, but anyone who owns a 360 will be in for a treat when the game releases this summer on Xbox Live Arcade. Check back on Vagary.TV for more coverage on Hybrid.