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Hellpoint preview: This fun horror Souls-like game shows promise

Hellpoint
Hellpoint (Image credit: Windows Central)

I had the chance to spend three hours in Hellpoint and I adored nearly every minute of it. This up and coming sci-fi horror Souls-like shows serious promise and might end up being one of the better titles in this sub-genre. I dove right into the preview build that we were provided and from the start, I was presented with a dark sense of foreboding, a feeling of powerlessness, and overwhelming dread.

Each cautious step forward took me further and further into the depths of the in-game world, which slowly introduces its grotesque horrors. Any fan of Dead Space will notice some similarities here, but that's not all that Hellpoint does to differentiate itself from its predecessors.

I was presented with a dark sense of foreboding, a feeling of powerlessness, and overwhelming dread.

You play as a Spawn, a humanoid created to solve the problems of Irid Novo, the space station upon which the game takes place. Your typical Souls-like staples are here, including stamina management, currency you collect from enemies and item drops that you lose upon death, watching for patterns in combat, and enemies that can kill in you in one or two hits. Most importantly, it gives an incredible sense of accomplishment with each victory. Hellpoint presents the player with a challenge, for sure, but with caution and precision, you can master the early game levels and bosses. However, that's not all that the game offers.

Hellpoint takes place on a space station orbiting a supermassive black hole. Circling this behemoth can twist the game world in subtle ways, like opening paths that were closed before. Twice a "day," the station hits a point in its orbit that creates accretion storms. These spawn hordes of enemies at various points and here the difficulty spikes considerably, even for a Souls veteran.

Die and try, try again

When you die, you will respawn at the last checkpoint, which looks a lot like humanity sprites from Dark Souls. However, since the premise of the game revolves around a convergence of multi-verses, your character comes back to life in a new reality since you died in the previous one. That means that things can be very subtlely different as you're running back to where you died, though I didn't notice anything in a couple of hours I had to play.

As you can probably guess, your healing items are quite limited, but you can recover them simply by hitting enemies often enough, especially during boss battles. While you should still be careful and use them sparingly, it's nice that the developers include a means by which you can get them back over time without having to die or rest at a checkpoint.

Other than adding some twists on the formula, Hellpoint has improved drastically since news of it first hit the scene a few years ago. Back then, the animations looked pretty bad and the lighting and shadows ruined any sense of dread that it might otherwise convey. Now, it has a lot more polish and looks a whole lot better.

While I loved the little bit I got to play, there are a few things that I'd like to see addressed, if possible, before the final retail build launches. When the player character is running, it's like he's floating a few millimeters above the ground. While the boots clank on the metal floor, the feet themselves don't seem to connect.

Hellpoint

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Part of a Souls-like, beyond the resource management and combat, is the exploration. Hellpoint has one key difference from many others here: a dedicated jump button. That's right, you can jump on boxes, leap over lower obstacles, and otherwise reach higher places. That's fantastic, but I often discovered jumping and climbing puzzles, conquered them, and found nothing for my effort. In the Observatory, for instance, you can climb all the way to the top and there's nothing there as a reward for making it there. This was certainly frustrating and I hope it's just down to the fact I was playing a preview build and not the full version.

For the most part, the couple of boss battles I got to play were fun if not incredibly easy. Granted, I only got to play the first few areas, but the bosses were a pushover. Of the three I fought, two could be duped just by staying in close and circling — their attacks just couldn't reach me. The Artillery, the worst of them all, was completely vulnerable if you circled behind him. None of his attacks could hit you and you had basically free reign to whittle down his huge health pool. I kept expecting a new attack where he protected his back, but he just kept charging forward to reorient himself. A couple of dashes and I back to whittling down his health pool with abandon.

Loot was plentiful, but there were mostly soul items (Axions, as they're called in Hellpoint). I stumbled across some weapons and armor, but those were either on or very, very near the beaten path. As I mentioned above, I'd like to see way more rewards for exploration and puzzle-solving in the final game.

You can fail whilst look spectacular

Source: Windows Central (Image credit: Source: Windows Central)

Hellpoint does a good job setting up a diversified build system with a typical arrangement of Strength, Dexterity, and Intelligence. There's a fourth: Cognition, which governs your use of ranged weapons. I typically go for a Quality build in Souls-likes — which is an even mix of Strength and Dexterity — and Hellpoint has options for that, too.

Finally, the Fashion Souls looks like it'll be strong in this game. The armor that I collected looked pretty good, but the sets we've seen in the trailers look great. This is a sci-fi game after all, and I'm excited to see what the team at Cradle Games has cooked up to make our Spawn look awesome.

Considering that I played the preview build, I was impressed with how stable the game was. I noticed some bugs, like visual glitches when sprinting upstairs, but it was a genuinely great gaming experience. The development team highly recommends that you use a controller if you're playing on PC and I second that. The default layout is very similar to Dark Souls', so you should feel right at home if you've played those games.

Hellpoint is due out April 16 for PC, Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and Switch.

Jordan is a long-time gamer and PC hardware enthusiast. From the mid-90s on, he has constantly tinkered with computers and played every game he could get his hands on. Coming from a varied background, he found his passion in writing about Android in 2016, which also launched his writing career not long after. Now, Jordan is an avid gamer who just loves sitting down with tea or a glass of cold water to play whatever game has his attention (or he's reviewing), and he's lucky enough to make a living out of doing so. You can find him on Twitter if you want to chat: @jccpalmer.

1 Comment
  • I'm skeptical, it doesn't really feel any different from Dark Souls based on the video, at least the likes of The Surge, Fallen Order and even games from FromSoftware like Sekiro, pushed the gameplay forward in various ways. This just looks like Dark Souls in space with the same motions without any change (maybe the health thing, but Dark Souls and The Surge did that too). That being said, the multiverse thing is a really interesting concept and if it mixes up enemy/shop placement on death then I'm all for that.