You have awoken, floating on a derelict space station orbiting a black hole. The crew is nowhere to be seen but something terrible has happened. You are the only one who can find out what happened aboard the Irid Novo. Hellpoint is a brand new skill-based combat RPG from Tiny Build and Cradle Games which takes a number of familiar aspects and blends it into a surprisingly refreshing experience.
Hellpoint has earned the nickname Doom Souls, and for good reason. Gameplay is strikingly similar to what you would expect from the Souls series, but it has been given a fresh coat of paint with an aesthetic and theme not unlike Doom. The game begins as you awaken in a pool; a nameless cloned spawn tasked with discovering what happened aboard the massive derelict space station. All the usual tropes from the Souls series is here with your key resource – called Axiom – (similar to souls from the Dark Souls series) being dropped upon death. Dodging, blocking, and jumping will all pull large chunks from your stamina, and your healing item recharges incredibly slow. The entire station has a cold, empty, industrial feel while giving you the sense of an eerie infestation. Each enemy you meet will be a twisted and mutated facsimile of a human blended with mechanical augments.
One Hell of a Fun Challenge
This is all happening because of the ships orbit around a black hole which plays a far greater part than just narrative. I was confused by the clock at the top corner of my screen until I discovered that at specific times – lining up with the proximity to the black hole the Irid Novo orbits – any number of events can take place on the ship: mini-bosses will spawn and wander the halls, enemies will increase into a horde, and sometimes even locked doors will suddenly open. I thought it was an interesting touch and I quite enjoyed taking on the lumbering Death-like mini-boss who spawned.
There is little Hellpoint tells you about the game when it comes to stats and mechanics, so hopefully you come into this having played a Souls-like before. There is a helpful menu to explain the status you can upgrade, but it otherwise is a rather “fend for yourself” sort of motif. Hellpoint also added a feature which was frustrating at first but it is rather clever. Upon death you are respawned with your previous gear, however the body you left behind is brought to life as an entangled spawn; an entity controlled by whatever nefarious being is controlling the chaos. This entangled spawn will have whatever abilities and gear you had upon death and will wander the halls to seek you out, forcing you to defeat yourself. It turns out AI me is a far better fighter than the actual me, as it killed me more than a few times.
I don’t often play skill-based combat games but Hellpoint intrigues me. Something about its mechanics and narrative give off the “tough but fair” feel that not all Souls-like games manage to pull off. You can tell the game is a labor of love as it feels quite nuanced despite the odd technical bump like a dead enemy turning into a glowing polygon before disappearing. Despite being under-powered and under-prepared, you surprisingly don’t feel scared as you might expect. While the nature of the game is horror, it doesn’t feel insurmountable which is refreshing. I quite enjoyed being lost in Irid Novo and finding each of the hidden corridors, paths, doors, and other secrets as I made my way towards the boss and had an enjoyable battle.
My time with the game was limited in scope but Hellpoint does also feature ranged weapons and up to three slots for each hand of gear to swap between (although I sadly did not come across any ranged weapons) and if you want to give the game a try but don’t feel confident going alone, Hellpoint features couch and online co-op to bring a friend. I greatly recommend giving Hellpoint a chance as it takes just enough risks to be fresh without alienating the player or making drastic changes to the formula for the sake of standing out. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, and Hellpoint is on track to deliver a crisp sci-fi ride through hell. Are you interested in jumping into Hellpoint? Let us know your thoughts on Facebook, Twitter, or the Comments section below. Hellpoint is planned for release in Q2 of this year on PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch. For more information check out the game’s official website.
*Xbox One code provided by the publisher*