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Hellsign Early Access Preview

Posted by GG Goblin On November - 21 - 2018

Carry on, my wayward son.

As a fan of all things Sam and Dean Winchester, the idea of a video game in which I could become a hunter, someone who tracks down, identifies and then disposes of supernatural menaces, really gets me quite excited. When Hellsign was announced and described itself as a “monster of the week” style game, I was on that like Sam and Dean would be on a vampire nest.

hellsign2 (Copy)

Hellsign, from Ballistic Interactive, launched just recently on Steam Early Access. The game is an isometric RPG shooter in which the player is cast as a hunter of all things supernatural. This will mean not only killing anything creepy that the player comes across, but also investigating potential supernatural occurrences and trying to identify the beastie involved. It’s a great concept, and has some brilliant ideas.

A warning first up, the language in Hellsign is incredibly ripe from the offset. Now, I quite often find myself surrounded by people who talk like salty sailors, and so am not quickly offended. However, Hellsign really does make an effort to drop profanity into pretty much every sentence. Does it bring anything to the game? Well, perhaps a sense that those who hunt the supernatural are a little messed up? Otherwise, it could probably be toned down a little.

Anyway, players begins by creating a character from a number of different classes. They then find themselves not only sporting an epic tattoo on their back, with no knowledge of where it came from, but also apparently having volunteered to go and scout a house for a couple of hunters. The tattoo is something to do with the overriding story, and also seems to be responsible for bringing the player back to life every time they die, which will be a lot.

From the town map, the player will find a bar in which all of the dodgy dealings will go down by selecting and talking to the different silhouettes. There are a few tutorial style missions to get the player started, which will also introduce the player to the different features of the game. Firstly, the player is sent into an abandoned building to look for paranormal activity and identify the cause. This will involve using an EMF meter and a black light to search for clues, and then cross referencing the clues with the Cryptonomicon, which is some kind of giant supernatural field guide.

hellsign3 (Copy)

The great thing is that those clues, and any other trinkets the player finds as they go about their business, can be sold to some right shady guy in the bar, which gives the player some income, that can then be used to purchase better equipment or weapons. It’s a cycle that is surprisingly more grindy than you would expect.

Because next up, after some chat, the player will have to deal with the combat tutorial. For this, another abandoned house is used and the player is attacked by freakishly large spiders. There are centipedes later on as well, but to be honest it doesn’t really matter what they are, as they move way too fast to actually shoot. The isometric view point places the camera quite far from the character, and the actual reticule when the gun is being used is really small. Add to this the dark, often grainy visuals due to it being at night and the use of torches, and the fact that the damn spiders move so quick and have such a small hit box, and players will fins themselves using bullets like they are going out of fashion, not to mention the health potion things that are needed as the spiders gradually chip away at my characters health.

Fortunately, dying just means waking up in the safe house. But still, to make money and improve, the player will have to collect evidence and complete jobs, which is too frustrating at the moment. Sure, there are different types of jobs available, showing up on the map or available from the various characters in the bar, but the early game still feels like an uphill battle.

hellsign4 (Copy)

That being said, this is Early Access and the perfect opportunity for things to be fixed. Hellsign has a lot going for it, from the excellent comic styled cut scenes, to the apparent depth of the skill tree, to the huge amount of different equipment that the player can use. The developers are updating the game regularly and seem to have big plans for the future. If the developers can make the combat a little more comfortable for regular players, and keep a hardcore mode for those that want it, Hellsign could prove to be a massive hit.

Hellsign is currently available on Steam Early Access, priced at a very attractive £11.39. Get hunting!


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