Xbox One, PS4, PC
July 31, 2020
Hellpoint is a Souls-like open-world action RPG set in in a sci-fi world. The game is developed by Cradle Games and published by tinyBuild and comes with a single player mode, local and online co-op mode, and PvP mode. Originally funded through Kickstarter, the game developers were keen to pay homage to old-school Souls-like games with challenging and complex combat and gameplay.
When you first boot up the game, you wake up on an abandoned space station by the name of Irid Novo with no idea of how or why you’re there. When you start exploring your surroundings, you’ll quickly discover that every room you enter is crawling with all kinds of monsters out to kill you – some mercilessly difficult to defeat, others easy.
As far as story goes, you don’t learn much more about the universe you’re in. After some exploring you do come across one supercomputer who tasks you with ‘collecting information’ about Irid Novo, although the sparse dialogue does very little to illuminate why your character is collecting information in the first place. The writing can also feel verbose and generic at times. As a result, the world you’re dropped into feels rather superficial in places, and players are largely left to their own devices to fill in any story gaps.
When it comes to tutorials, character abilities, or in-game menus, things feel very cryptic and at times unpolished. You’ll find yourself figuring stuff out on the fly quite often. Cradle Games touts its multiplayer mode as one of the biggest draw cards in Hellpoint, for example, although it took me and a friend over thirty minutes to find the menu where we could boot up a game together. While some players might enjoy being thrown into the deep end as an extra layer to the Souls-like gameplay, I mostly found it alienating as a player.
These bumps in the road so early on are unfortunate, because Hellpoint does offer up an interesting environment with engaging combat once you get stuck into it. There’s a huge number of varied and ruthless enemies that require a strategic approach to be taken down. Similar to titles like Dark Souls, you’ll find yourself dodging and attacking at the right intervals to survive, and it’s a given that you will die many times over. It’s safe to say that the combat mechanics steal the show, and the developers have put a lot of thought into developing mechanics that honour other games in the genre. Hellpoint’s combat is unforgiving and incredibly frustrating, but it is also clearly engineered to make players feel exhilarated when they finally manage to take down an enemy after dozens of tries.
“…a thrilling and hair-raising combat experience that’ll leave you on the edge of your seat.”
Fans looking for a real challenge also have the option to increase enemies’ strength, and in turn, the game’s difficulty. Every enemy you come across also feels suitably threatening, too. When enemies spot your character, they’ll come racing towards you to attack, and after you die somewhere, the game will spawn an identical ‘echo’ of your character, complete with the same weapons and armour. Once you venture back into the same area later on, your own echo will turn hostile, and you’ll have to defeat them on top of every other enemy in the vicinity. Combined with the eerie soundtrack and a huge map to explore, these mechanics make for a thrilling and hair-raising combat experience that’ll leave you on the edge of your seat.
This dynamic environment is where Hellpoint truly shines. While its story may be thin, the diverse setting Cradle Games developed definitely isn’t. Another example of the game’s original setting is Irid Novo’s twenty-one-hour orbit. The abandoned space station supposedly circles around a black hole, with one lap taking about twenty-one hours in total. In-game this translates to dynamic events taking place with every cycle, and as a result no two playthroughs will be the same from one day to the next.
While Hellpoint feels like it lacks polish, seeing the ever changing environment the game is set in made it very clear for me that this game is much more about creating a unique challenge and combat experience for players, rather than giving players an immersive story to get lost in. While it’s certainly not the most intuitive interface or the easiest game to crack when you first start playing, perseverance pays off for players keen for a challenge to sink their teeth into.
- Engaging battle mechanics
- Intriguing dynamic environment
- Varied enemies
- Tough game to crack
- Counterintuitive interface that feels like it needs further finetuning
- Thin story and generic and verbose dialogue
With little to no indication of where to begin as a player, Hellpoint can be a tough game to crack. However, if you’re not fussed over a lacklustre story, but big on skill-driven, strategic combat, customisable armour, weapons, and abilities, Hellpoint will not let you down. Instead, it will keep you keep you busy with one ruthless enemy to defeat after the other.