Review – Hellpoint
Not all games inspired by the infamous FromSoftware Souls series can pull through. Games like Remnant: From the Ashes and The Surge 2 have successfully managed to recapture the essence of the Souls-like genre, whilst having unique elements in order to stand out from the rest of the crowd. However, many others have failed. Hellpoint is the latest in the line of Souls-like games, but can it actually recapture the spirit?
Set in the far future, a mysterious event called “The Merge” has occurred and dark forces have invaded a nearby space station. You play as an avatar sent in by the “author” to discover what happened. There’s not really much story to delve into here or context. Much like the Dark Souls games, this is supposedly given to you through clues in the environment or NPC dialogue, but I found it really hard to care about what’s happening and why.
If you’ve played any Dark Souls game in the past, you will be at home with the core gameplay. For the most part, it’s perfectly fine. You’ve got your standard light and heavy attacks alongside your dodges and ranged weapons. There’s plenty of variety here to suit everyone’s playstyles. I played with a sword on one hand and a railgun on the other. There’s even a dedicated jump button that fits in with some platforming-focused levels, though I often fell to my death due to imprecise controls. There’s also just a general lack of polish in the gameplay as a whole; combat feels floaty and hit detection feels off with a lack of visual feedback.
Level design is of course a mostly linear affair, but with winding paths and interconnected areas. It doesn’t give you a clear direction where to go and lets you discover the way by yourself. Certain areas can be completed in different orders, but as a whole I wasn’t really impressed. The enemies that you fight against can get tiresome really quickly and you will be fighting a lot of the same type throughout the game.
So what are the bosses like? For the most part they are fine and apart from a couple stand-outs, don’t offer anything unique or interesting. Most of the time simply strafing around them and dodging their attacks is enough to deal with them. They are much easier than they look and I often came out on-top on my first attempt. The biggest sin though is that they don’t really have a place in the universe. Where in Dark Souls the bosses are essential to the lore and feel like they belong, in Hellpoint they are just there.
Like many Souls-like games, Hellpoint has a unique mechanic that it bases its entire game around. This time it’s the black hole that is literally at the centre of the game. The station orbits around this black hole and adds some dynamic elements to the game world. That’s the idea in theory, anyway. The changes the black hole brings are so insignificant and unnoticeable that it can often feel like an underused mechanic. You can raise or lower the difficulty of an area using certain items, so if an area is giving you trouble you don’t need to overly grind levels to get through.
Leveling up is done at the breaches and you can level a wide array of stats that appeal to your playstyle, such as stamina, health, mana, strength, etc. With a rare item you can synchronise these breaches and teleport between them. It adds a layer of choice of when is best to use them. If you use them too close to another one, it can often feel like a waste of rare resources. You can feel trapped into a specific area with the only option to either push through or backtrack a long distance.
Hellpoint isn’t a bad-looking game to be honest. It’s just really uninspired, with a dull generic sci-fi dystopian future design that I feel I’ve seen before many times. Corridors all look the same with light grey metals all over the place, occasionally lit up like a Christmas tree. There are a few areas that make great use of colour with some superb environmental design and unique looks, but it doesn’t take too long to thrust you back into the same corridors. Some boss designs feel like they belong in Dead Space. When it’s trying something unique, it looks great even if it’s not the most graphically advanced game out there. Frame rate is also a problem with some areas bringing us way down into the low twenties to high tens at times.
Hellpoint is a Souls-like game that is actually really close to being good. The black hole mechanic was a noble attempt at adding something unique to this subgenre of games, but it’s not enough to make up for the uninspired level design, framerate issues, boring story and dull combat.
The generically designed levels can let down some decent visuals.
Clunky yet serviceable combat with weak bosses.
Unremarkable sound design in about every way possible.
Fun Factor: 6.5
A Souls-like game that is close to being really enjoyable, but doesn’t quite hit the mark.
Final Verdict: 6.0
Hellpoint is available now on PC, Xbox One and Playstation 4.
Reviewed on Xbox One.
A copy of Hellpoint was provided by the publisher.