REVIEW: ‘Hellpoint’ Is Hard but Well Worth the Struggle (PS4)

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Hellpoint

Hellpoint, an action RPG published by tinyBuild and developed by Cradle Games, is an intense, brutal, and unrelenting game that will test both your skill and your sanity. Hellpoint throws you into the thick of things from the very beginning. Artificially birthed from a growth chamber, players take control of a creature that is both familiarly human and alien. Beckoned to follow a mysterious voice who refers to you as Spawn, players immediately encounter hostile, grotesque creatures. With only your fists and wits to defend yourself with, players will be forced to explore a labyrinth of hallways and rooms to defeat monsters, collect new armor and weapons, and upgrade their Spawn, all the while trying to reconnect with the ethereal voice that created them.

Not long into the game does the story expand. The identity of the voice is revealed, although not the intent or the purpose of this person. The players find out that they are stranded on a space station, the Irid Novo, and something bad has happened here. Humans are still around, and, in fact, Spawn is human although different, but the might of the human race has suffered despite colonizing hundreds of planets.

It is this mystery that pulls you in. What happened to humans? What is this space station? For what purpose were you created? Although this game is not story-forward, there is a story to found. But there are a lot of enemies that lie between you and this story’s progression. You will have to explore the convoluted Irid Novo to find more information and it’s this drive to discover the history of the space station that kept me playing.

Beyond the mysterious beginnings of Spawn, the game should hit home with players who are familiar with or enjoy Dark Souls. In fact, this game is eerily similar to many of the games in this genre, from the leveling system to the death mechanics, to even the attacks and movement. Even the “tutorial” system where players interact with a glowing green handprint on the wall to learn more about movement, attacking, and using items is very familiar.

But the fact that Hellpoint leans on the mechanics of this genre isn’t a bad thing. Having played Dark Souls, I went into the game already knowing the basics. This was certainly a boon because Hellpoint is a difficult game; it has very little mercy to give. Enemies hit hard and you have very few health regeneration items so you need to use them sparingly. Death resets entire areas you have already conquered. It is punishing but, at the same time, extremely rewarding to overcome the challenges the game offers.

The entire game has a dark sci-fi atmosphere to it, from the derelict hallways filled with alien architecture to the creatures you encounter. Between the visuals and the music, the ambiance of the game is fantastic and will keep you on your toes. There are some great shots that give you glimpses of the largeness of the space station and cold, dark space surrounding it. It really engenders the perspective that you’re all alone on a massive space station and everything around you is hostile. The game harkens to Dead Space in the way it feeds into your isolation and desperation, but this game is in no way a horror game. However, whether purposeful or not, some of the armor you’ll find definitely emulates the suits Isaac wore in Dead Space.

Hellpoint

From mechanical knights to alien beasts, there’s a wide range of enemies to encounter. This variety not only keeps things fresh but also forces players to adapt. Every enemy has its own movements and attacks and, just like any other game in this genre, not learning an enemy’s moves will undoubtfully result in death. The bosses are also some that I have never seen before. They are unique and require vastly different strategies to overcome. One wrong move spells disaster but it is oh so rewarding to conquer them.

There are a variety of weapons and armor to find, each pandering to different playstyles. Different weapons have different attack speeds and damage. The weight of the armor you equip impacts not only the amount of damage you can take but also your movement speed and dodging. Aesthetically, the weapons and armor are interesting and unique. However, the downside is that some armor continuously makes noise. The noise gets louder the faster you move, but after a few hours of play, such a small aspect of the game became very irritating.

Beyond upgrading Spawn, weapons can also be upgraded and infused with various items to produce different special effects. However, the various upgrade systems are not immediately intuitive. There are work stations and machines you can find across the map that allow you to create weapons and armor along with upgrading them. But there is no true tutorial system for these. Many of the games in this genre don’t opt-in for complex tutorials, but there is a small help button at the bottom of some screens that, once clicked, does explain more. Despite this, you’ll likely find yourself clicking through a plethora of options and entering and exiting various screens over and over again. On top of this, the lettering in these menus is a tad small and I had to strain to read some of it. You’ll eventually figure out what everything does, but it’ll take a while.

There isn’t any difficulty setting which is pretty typical of this genre. However, you can manually make enemies stronger in certain sections as you level up. Enemies will also get stronger during natural events such as when the station passes by a black hole. This black hole event also ensures better loot will drop from enemies. So, although there is no way to make the game easier, there are a variety of ways to make it harder.

Hellpoint is, mechanically, a typical game in the Dark Souls genre. However, the sci-fi theme is really what separates it from other games. Although the upgrade systems aren’t always intuitive and the game has a few other minor issues, the unique enemies and story make up for it. Hellpoint is a hard game but well worth the struggle.

Hellpoint is available now on Xbox One and PC. Coming soon to PS4 and Nintendo Switch.


Hellpoint
  • 8/10
    Rating - 8/10
8/10

TL;DR

Hellpoint is, mechanically, a typical game in the Dark Souls genre. However, the sci-fi theme is really what separates it from other games. Although the upgrade systems aren’t always intuitive and the game has a few other minor issues, the unique enemies and story make up for it. Hellpoint is a hard game but well worth the struggle.