Hellpoint – PC Review

Hellpoint – PC Review
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Genre: Souls-like Action RPG
Developer: Cradle Games
Publisher: tinyBuild
Release Date: July 30th, 2020
Edited by AlexKnight2005

Have you ever wanted to play Dark Souls in Space? Here’s your chance—Hellpoint is a little Soulslike-style critter in a huge, ancient space station orbiting a black hole. What does that mean, exactly? It means you can get your backside removed and served to you on any, sort of platter you like, as often as you’d like, and see an even more hostile environment than space itself on the other side of the windows. It gets the point across, but little more. That bit’s really pretty. The rest of it, not so much.

Most of the game is tight, cramped quarters in which getting mobbed by several creatures is a very real danger. Most of the game is like that. There’s a definite lack of polish in the environment—what’s not blocky looks like it’s covered in slime. Everything else, from jumps to attacks requires near pixel-perfect accuracy, while your opponents seem to be able to hit you from several meters away. The “ladders” are kind of neat, but using them adds to the In-humanness of your avatar. It muddles not just what story there is, but all the other things that go with it. You’re told after the first boss that you’re human, while everything you’ve experienced thus far makes clear that you are not. That level of in-humanness, starting from the moment the avatar is decanted drives a wedge between the player and the sense of suspension of disbelief.

The sad part is, it’s the game and the creatures that inhabit it that tell the lies—nothing in the science of what’s happening around you speaks falsely. The black hole and the vast size of the station you’re on appear to be sufficient to keep you walking on the floor. The age of the structure seems semi-realistic. A little more dense metal, and it’s all very nearly believable.

That’s most of where the good points end. The soundscape, while nice, isn’t anything we haven’t seen a million times before—the ground hum in the background to suggest that the station is still under power, the alien voice that’s not quite incoherent. Oh, and the crunch you make when the mobs turn you into chunky salsa. Nice touches.

In a Souls-like game, I can guarantee that if a thing exists at a distance, I can have complete certainty that I’ll be killing mobs there at some point in the future, and wishing I was still looking at it in the far distance. The station is far more complex than the worst mazes in any Souls-like games—The flip side of that is that with a very few exceptions, everything is cramped quarters with creatures that can take your head off from across the room. Even when they can’t, they hit like a massive starship traveling at hyper luminal speeds. The laggy controls can take up to three seconds between button press and an attack, even with a light weapon and a light attack. Initially, your stamina bar is good for two dodges, two backsteps, or a Heavy Attack. The light attacks do so little damage comparatively that you might as well not bother. Even with the increase in attack speed, you won’t even get close to the damage of a single heavy. Oh, and the light attack will take up just over half of your stamina meter. Fun times.
What gets me the most is that the demo they put out a couple of months back, Hellpoint: Thespian Feast was substantially better. Not by a lot, but there was more polish, a premise that made sense. The little things.

Speaking of the little things, the leveling setup for the game and its demo isn’t what I’d call ideal. You have to pick up currency called “Axioms” through the game, and take them to a checkpoint portal-thing (which was very nicely done), and pay to upgrade your abilities. There are a foreboding number of these, and every addition is a character level. Even when pushed way beyond what’s reasonable, your actual ability increases per level are minimal at best. The difference between strength one and strength two is imperceptible, and even when looking at the yawning crevasse between 1 and 50 only amounts to at most two or three DPS. The life, energy, and stamina bar upgrades are somewhat better, as you can see the difference in the number of HP/Energy/Stamina you have available.
The game looks and feels like a late alpha rather than a complete title. It’s in dire need of polish and optimization. Thirty-five dollars USD is far too stiff for a game that needs this much work. I’ll be interested to see how it works when/if it gets patched, but for right now, it’s just not worth it.

This game wants to be an action RPG as difficult as any Souls-like, and it comes up short on both counts. There are far too many balance issues, and the RPG elements are thin on the ground. If they’d focused on making a solid ARPG rather than a Souls-like, I think the game would substantially better. Get a really good look at what Thespian Feast did well, and go from there. It seems obvious to me that the standalone demo was made, after the game itself was essentially complete.

Hellpoint is one of those rare games that deserves to exist but isn’t particularly worthy of storage space. The modeling and texture work are half-hearted at best, and the player’s avatar, while purportedly human, looks like an android with the outer skin removed. Some very poor design decisions mar what could have been a solid game, if not a good one.


Pros:

  • Solid decisions on voice work.
  • The soundscape is workable
  • Platforming is properly frustrating.
  • The setting is at least mostly believable.
  • Your Mileage May Vary:
  • Sci-fi setting may turn off avid Souls-like players.
  • What NPCs you can communicate with are lying to you.

Cons:

  • Thin story
  • Tight quarters and enemies with perfect sight and hearing make stealth near-impossible
  • Combat is laggy
  • Trash mobs hit like a 50-ton truck
  • The Player’s hitbox is too large
  • The RPG-like advancement schema is mostly just for show.

Lord Crocosquirrel gives Hellpoint a Drastik Measure of 4.5 out of 10 (45)