Hayfever promises to be a lot of things. A little bit Super Meat Boy, a little bit Celeste, but it never actually decides how to present these ideas in any sort of meaningful way. Instead, we’re presented with a clunky, frustrating romp through an otherwise extremely charming world.
Game Name: Hayfever
Platform(s): PC (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch
Publisher(s): Zordix Publishing
Release Date: 02/25/2020
Price: $14.99 USD
You play as Thomas, an adorable little mailman who has terrible allergies. One day, Thomas wakes up and is especially afflicted by said allergies, and loses all of his mail. He and his mail-van, Carlie, go on an adventure through four worlds collecting all of the lost postage before his grumpy boss, Harvey, fires him.
The world of Hayfever is beautifully crafted, Thomas is cute and his animations are clean and perfect and some of the enemy designs are creative and fun. Unfortunately, that’s about all the praise I can sing for this title. The rest of the game from the majority of the NPCs and enemies, to the levels, traps, and bosses are inconsistent in their design and are upsettingly uninspired. This feels more like the hasty product of a game jam than a well-developed title, that borderline miraculously is releasing on every current-gen platform and Steam.
Thomas, while cute, controls poorly, one of the first things the game has you do is go through a Cuphead-esque tutorial and I found that Thomas’ sneeze ability frustratingly bounces you backwards when you’re right up against a wall or any other piece of geometry. I figured this was a bug, and continued on, only to find that there were parts of the first levels that use this as a mechanic. This discovery aligns itself with how I feel about most of the game.
Not to get too tangential, but I like to consider myself an amateur game developer. I like to tinker with different engines and play with an idea or make a little thing or two maybe once or twice a year. This game largely feels like little mistakes were made, take the wall bounce for example. It feels as though it’s a collision detection issue because if you’re standing perfectly still and push the sneeze button, Thomas is flung forward. When you’re against a wall, it pushes you away from the wall, backward. Whether or not it is an intentional design decision and not a bug that the team decided could be worked into the game is not important, the important thing is that it feels bad to play.
On the same subject, the hit detection is all over the place. The most common enemy is the worker bee, a slouching lazy bee that can sit still, move along a dotted trajectory, or again, just do whatever it wants, frustratingly breaking the rule that the Bee will show you its path that it previously established. As Thomas, you can’t fight the enemies you encounter, being only able to outsmart them with the tools you’re given. So touching them will instantly kill you. There is seemingly no rhyme or reason to where this Bee’s hitbox is. You can stand behind it if you walk up to it slowly, it’s back partially obstructing Thomas, or the negative space between its wings and its hat will kill you. It’s wildly inconsistent and so is every other enemy in the game. There are some that throw dash power-ups at you, and then some that through deadly projectiles at you and the only way to tell them apart is the character skin they have on. The targeting and sound effects are the same.
I played the game on Steam with an Xbox One controller. I tried to play with mouse and keyboard, but without being able to change the key bindings, and the extremely bizarre control scheme, the game was unplayable. The game’s UI isn’t user-friendly, either. It’s Clunky, confusing, and obviously not well thought out. I found myself baffled by the constant problems that I’d run into, buttons being selected when the cursor wasn’t on them and more. Eventually, I discovered while exiting the game that even though I was playing on an Xbox One controller the mouse input was still being accounted for in the menus, highlighting other options as I tried to select different ones. None of which many any sense to me. I don’t recommend plaything this game with anything other than a gamepad.
Review Disclosure Statement: HAYFEVER was provided to us by Pixadome for review purposes. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please go review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
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I don’t think it’s necessary for me to continue to tear this game down. There are things to like about it, and I didn’t hate every minute of the 5 hours I put into it to get through the first 2 worlds, but I don’t see myself wanting to rejoin Thomas and Carlie on their quest to gather the rest of Thomas’ missing postage.
- Charming charters and world
- Level design
- Enemy design
- Inconsistent difficulty
- Terrible and confusing UI