I’ve seen Hellpoint described as a ‘Sci-fi’ dark souls, it’s like Dark Souls in the same way a pancake is like a victoria sponge – it has the same basic ingredients but ultimately it ends up being a very different thing. This is both good and bad, and as a fan of Souls it’s left me feeling a little undecided.
Hellpoint throws you into the Irid Novo space station, with only a few hints scattered around (mostly related to combat and equipping gear) you must work out what the heck is going on. You are a human who has been created by the station to rid it of it’s affliction, which I’m unsure if that’s the weird infected guys or the stronger enemies who are torturing them – that you’ll see walking around. You’re immune to whatever’s turned them mad and must work your way through the station to get rid of them, which essentially means kill the baddies and then the bosses. You start at a kind of dimensional tear which acts as your bonfire, and the souls in this are called Axions. All of your actions are managed by stamina and when you die your Axions are left for you to try and get back to. What I found odd was returning to the tear/bonfire didn’t top up my healing injections nor did it bring the enemies back (like usual souls). Much like Souls before it you must find various routes and doors around the station so you can easily plan your route from your checkpoint and get some experience grinding done, as well as working out the quickest boss routes.
The most important thing in these games is always the combat, the world can be mad and the story very unclear but what always ties these games together is the combat. Firstly you, and I, need to remember that this was created by indie devs so when I say that it’s comparable to the first Dark Souls that is a compliment. However it’s not all there, you can dodge and block but there aren’t any parries or back stabs, and it’s just a bit….janky, and often the animations (especially the blood splatters) can look preeetty bad – but like I said it is from an indie dev so you can forgive some of this. Things like the glitches that meant we couldn’t play coop, or my XP drop wasn’t where I died, or even the frame rate being very bad at times (considering the graphics this is poor) can definitely be off putting.
I suppose the main issue really is simply that Dark Souls exists, so everyone who tries to copy that isn’t FromSoftware is exactly that, a copy, and unfortunately this can feel like a cheap one. I don’t want to keep dissing it and comparing it to souls because although they’ve unashamedly copied it (some boss fights literally just have a sci fi coat over them) they’ve done enough of their own thing to make it feel different. It’s in space, the bonfires work pretty differently, their are random XP ghosts that pop up etc. Also the contrast between general enemies and bosses is huge, I think this can be a positive for people new to the gameplay but also bad for those who are experienced as they’ll find it very easy past a certain level.
Thing is that isn’t to say I’m not enjoying it; I like the game, it definitely had that bug of ‘I need to keep going until I’ve killed this boss’ that games like The Surge definitely didn’t have. I want to keep experiencing what it has to offer, and keep killing the bosses, and working out what the hell is going on. I really like the audio, the creepy space stations setting and the mysterious story; these are the things that are making me want to keep playing. Plus because it’s not as punishing as other games it’s easier to keep going with, I know that I won’t need to invest a lot of time (find the other health injections) to make the game a tonne easier to run through.
I think if more time was spent on it, just some polishing and bug fixes, this could be the indie game of the year. I am still unsure if this is my final review score but for now I give it a: