A space station has fallen to interdimensional beings set on destruction. The Author has created you to find out what happened and to stop the madness. If you die, you are just reprinted and are basically immortal. Hellpoint is an action RPG that’s meant to be brutally difficult. The only way to succeed is to level up and gain new equipment. You can tackle the various sections of the space station at your own pace. There are a lot of secrets and by no means are they on the clear path. Did I mention cruel and angry cosmic gods? They exist too, making matters even more complicated. Welcome to Hell.
Here’s what I liked:
Hella Creppy — There’s a certain atmosphere that’s somehow gross but pleasant. Enemies look disgusting and sinister. The music is just ambient dark-sounding noise that just tells you “you shouldn’t be here”. Like a dark hum with a few thrown in evil sound effects. There’s also a spark of science fiction thrown in. Decaying flesh of discarded bodies riddle hallways and show signs of impending, all-encompassing evil. I like it. Horror is my jam and Hellpoint succeeds in creating the right (or wrong) vibes. Each new boss seemed more threatening than the last. If we’re in Hell, at least there’s a lot of consistency.
Enemies to Die For — My favorite part of my maybe eight hours in Hellpoint was fighting a new monster. There were smaller ones that were generally easy to figure out and dispatch. But then there were larger ones, ones that I knew would always be fight-or-flight situations. Do I have full health and potions to spare? Let’s kill it! Half health and lots of axioms on me? Goodbye! The design of these monstrosities is exactly how they should be. No elegance, no frills, just a corrupt being of hatred. Each boss was a pleasant surprise of death. Their attacks were neat and often brighter than normal enemies. My favorite was the Celestial Beast. The boss is quadrupedal and has several tails. It can lunge at you, do several attack patterns with the tails, or shoot some laser thing at you. I never stuck around the front of the beast to really get a good look at what it was doing. It’s things like these that really make a game memorable.
Level Up — Getting stronger is a must. There are points called breaches where you do so, and a thing called axioms are your resource. Each time you gain a level, the number required to invest in a perk increases. Grinding out these levels can really help so, even if an area is difficult, you can eventually become strong enough to make it passable. Picking up axiom bundles were my favorite item as, even if I died and lost what I had, these were always available until I opened them. This led to planning out and doing simple math to make things work even when I was doing terrible. It really is a feeling of accomplishment to become more powerful. Enemies that were once a nuisance become a two- or three-hit kill. Becoming more powerful is important, and you get the chance to do so even if you’re pretty bad at playing.
Here’s what I didn’t like:
Intro to Hell — Typically, an introduction to the game is a way to ease you into the mechanics. A little short tutorial on how things work with good explanations on what to expect in your adventure. When you start this game, you’ll be spending quite a long time in the “tutorial”. It’s a level on its own and it forces you to die and level up before being strong enough to beat the first boss. I probably spent a couple of hours trying to figure everything out and become strong enough to pass to the next area. Then suddenly things became extremely easy for me. I don’t think it’s really that difficult afterward. The difficulty comes in the form of not knowing what to do next. When I got stuck, the reason was not knowing where to go next. Lacking any form of direction or map doesn’t make me feel accomplished for figuring it out on my own, it sways me to force quit the game only to be more confused the next time I try playing.
Management — Want to change items or explore your inventory? Get ready for a lackluster experience. Navigating the menu system is a pain and looks awful. It looks like you’re playing a game decades old. To top that off, you must go to one specific place to dismantle your items. But there’s fast travel! Yet, it’s extremely limiting. First, you must find an item to allow you to synchronize a breach (where you level up). These are not only limited but difficult to find. You then must backtrack with no map to these points to be able to teleport. I understand making things difficult, but it’s not “hard”, it’s straight-up cumbersome. You’ll spend more time trying to navigate the world to simply dismantle bad equipment than you will destroying the enemies and actually earning them. The system doesn’t only look bad, but it’s poorly implemented as a curse to make you spend more time wandering around like a fool.
Mirror Match — You’ll die quite a bit, which isn’t all that frustrating. Unless of course, you die to your spawn. When you do die, a spawn of yourself equipped with your gear will be running around the world. He is a cool green and you almost think you have a friend to help you. Think again, this jerk is after your blood. You don’t get much for killing him either if you can manage such a feat. He seems nearly immune to stun and attacks relentlessly. Defeating him gives no real reward beyond a few axioms. The biggest problem is defeating the spawn will likely result in using up valuable health potions. When I see him I just want to run, and if I’m killed I just want to quit. Just let me be in peace! Going to kill the enemy that defeated you to get your revenge comes with the suffering of meeting your defeated self. This mechanic might be more suited if you “increase the power” of enemies. Just seeing the green version of yourself take off after you is enough to be very annoying.
A dark and terrifying adventure that many may go into, but only a few survive. The good is met with the bad, evening out the quality to being pretty decent. While the design of enemies and combat are great, the flaws (in my opinion) lay in the confusing areas and much too well-hidden secrets. The lack of resources that would allow you to travel hinders the overall experience. No map, limited fast travel, and zero direction on what to do next will be confusing enough to stop you from completing the game. Is it difficult? Yes, but not all in the sense of combat. It’s difficult to continue on with the journey because of hurdles that slow down the pacing. I thought leveling up was great and dying only made me try harder. However, doing simple tasks like dismantling items or picking your next weapon was a chore. Play with a friend? I couldn’t. The system is based around codes. You have a match code and another player must be in the same area and enter this code. No simple “invite to game” option. Why must everything be so difficult to accomplish? It has to be on purpose, to give those that love pain and suffering something to enjoy. I’m a bit torn on my overall opinion. There’s a lot to like but a lot that ruins it for me.
Score: Reader’s Choice
Hellpoint was published by tinyBuild and developed by Cradle Games on Xbox One. It was released on July 30, 2020, for $34.99. A copy was provided for review purposes.