Out later this month, A Void Hope is, it would seem, a story about the beginning of the end. It’s a story about the world on the verge of crumbling as a deadly virus takes hold of its citizens. So it’s a zombie game, then? Well… sort of. The people infected by A Void Hope’s virus lurk in shadows and it’s only when you get close to them, seeing the glowing glint in their eye, that you know they’re affected. They’re not zombies… but for all intents and purposes, they may as well be.
But A Void Hope isn’t your typical zombie game. Sitting somewhere between an adventure and a puzzle game, this is a thoughtful, atmospheric pixelated romp through a stricken town. Essentially, it’s the story of a couple as they struggle to come to terms with what’s happening around them. The Steam Next Fest demo – which you can jump in for free right now – only gives us a taste of the story, which sees the pair separated and trying to find each other, with their relationship depicted through flashbacks.
Being alone and trying to find a loved one in a world where more and more people are turning into zombie-like creatures isn’t a great place to be, then. Action plays out as a 2D side-scroller, with you able to move, jump and push boxes left and right. As you progress, you’ll get new tools: during the course of the demo, we got a gun and a crowbar, helpful for getting through barricaded doors. The gun? It doesn’t so much kill the infected, but it does stun them for a few seconds – which is all you need to sneak by.
You’ll pass through lots of different environments in A Void Hope. We’ve passed through factories, city centres, the inside of an office block and a docklands, just to name a few. You’ll pass in and out of buildings which, as it turns out, is an important part of getting around. Figuring out how to get from A to B is part of the puzzle here, and you’ll regularly need to exit buildings in order to find another way in to get where you need to go.
Pushing boxes is a key mechanic, allowing you to climb up on higher ledges, or unblocking paths to make for easier traversal. Along with stunning enemies, your gun will come in handy for shooting out-of-reach switches which do various things like open doors or activate lifts.
A Void Hope isn’t exactly teeming with enemies, but there are enough of them to always keep you on edge. Perhaps the worst thing? You don’t always know who is an enemy until you get close enough. The backgrounds of areas, especially out on the city streets, are filled with characters, shrouded in shadows. Maybe they’re just minding their own business, or eating a snack. They could be perfectly innocent, simply trying to survive like you. But until you get close enough, you don’t know if they’re infected or not. Only that glow of the eyes will tell you – and it’s an absolutely fantastic system that will keep you on your toes throughout.
A Void Hope releases on 29th February on Switch and PC and, if you enjoy adventure games peppered with puzzles and soaked in a tense atmosphere, this one is absolutely for you. Don’t forget to give its demo a try.