If you were to ask a hardcore gamer what to play if you are looking for a challenge, no doubt they would point you in the direction of the dark souls series, undoubtedly the most successful franchise for delivering an exciting and, most often, a challenging experience. 2009 saw the release of Demons Souls, the first game in the action RPG series, the release saw was met with critical acclaim and was responsible for a host of main line releases thereafter. From Software filled a gap in the market no one had thought to fill. Many publishers have since tried to grab a slice of that market for themselves, some meeting success and others being left in the dirt. Cradle Games is one such company, Hellpoint is an ambitious project for a small team and hard work has clearly been thrown into building this world and expanding on the souls/borne formula.
In Hellpoint you play as a nameless android that is awoken on an abandoned space station, you are tasked with uncovering the events that lead to the destruction of civilisation upon the space station and fighting back against the darkness behind the disappearance of its inhabitants. Cradle Games have done a good job of building a world that holds your interest without giving too much away within a narrative, as we have come to expect from this genre. You learn of the events leading up to your arrival through lore items that are dotted around the station and environmental storytelling, not everything immediately becomes clear to you and its only through exploration that the story becomes clearer. I like this method of story telling and it is done very well in Hellpoint, exploration is rewarded not just with equipment and items that help you conquer this world but with a compelling story and the world is brilliantly crafted that I wanted to learn more.
From the outset Hellpoint wants you to know it means business, you are thrust into this Sci-Fi world without explanation or direction. Hellpoint is an extremely tough game, those opening hours are beyond brutal and until you manage to find a decent weapon and some armour you will die many, many times. I like that you are thrust into this world with no hand holding, it’s a challenge because you have to rely on skill to beat those early encounters, you have to dodge, you must learn the enemies attack patterns if you want to live. The difficulty is not artificial, the various beasties you encounter are not tough because they have huge health bars, they go down quick enough if you can get close to them. Combat is a game of chess; you read your opponent and wait for an opportunity to strike. This to me is one of the greatest strengths of Hellpoint. Yes, the game is tough but you can beat it if you are patient and play smart. In comparison to the souls/borne franchise Hellpoint’s gameplay isn’t revolutionary by any means, everything is here that you would expect from its genre, but it does it well. Hellpoint builds a solid foundation with its gameplay loop, it takes practice and patience to use to parrying light swings, to dodging heavier cleaving slices, to find opportunities to counter but when it all comes together and you manage to take down that boss you have been struggling with it feels incredibly satisfying and rewarding.
One aspect I particularly enjoyed in Hellpoint’s systems is its use of a “day/night” cycle, the space station orbits a black hole and depending on where you are in its rotation dictates how strong enemies are. This feature allows you to think more tactically about when to engage certain enemies and should you decide to take on the extra challenge you will be rewarded with rare materials, gear and currency which can be used to level up your character. Another interesting new feature within Hellpoint is in its death system, as you would expect from souls style game when you die you drop your currency and leave a grave site that you can collect if you can get back to it without dying, that isn’t all you leave though, a shadowy clone is spawned upon death that will relentlessly pursue you. This adds another layer of challenge that can be quite frustrating at times, especially in the early hours of the game.
Visually Hellpoint can be a stunning experience at times, I was extremely impressed by the level of detail that has gone into the world. The variety in environments is something I really appreciated, from dark and tight corridors that create an oppressive feel to vibrant exterior zones. We spend a great deal of time within the space station interior, but clever use of colour and lighting turn those zones into unique areas. Occasionally we are granted access to glance outside of the space station, these stunning vistas of space are great at instilling the feeling that we truly are alone out here.
Overall, I really enjoyed my time with Hellpoint, I think the team at Cradle Games did a great job in creating a world and setting that is compelling and adding challenge to a genre that isn’t just artificial. Combat is intense and pushes you to play intelligently and variety in environments helps create a sense of wonder and pushes you to find out what led to this civilization’s fall. While Hellpoint doesn’t add too much to truly distinguish itself from the Souls/borne franchise, I believe it does a good job at justifying its place within the market.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Sony Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - 7/10
Graphics - 7/10
Sound - 7/10
Replay Value - 7/10
User Review( votes)
While Hellpoint doesn’t add too much to truly distinguish itself from the Souls/borne franchise, I believe it does a good job at justifying its place within the market.