Hellpoint is a “souls-like” third person action RPG that was recently released by Cradle Games. It draws a lot of inspiration from the Soulsborne games, and stays very true to the formula. It doesn’t take many risks, but the developers have imitated From Software’s style very well. A sci-fi setting helps distinguish Hellpoint from it’s inspiration, but it isn’t enough to make the experience feel truly unique. Here’s my Hellpoint review.
Hellpoint is a typical souls-like. It plays it safe, but it does imitate the Dark Souls series very well. The developers clearly understand the genre and have created a good sci-fi souls game. If you are looking for challenging boss battles and a dark world connected with shortcuts then this is for you. There are some unique features, but nothing that drastically alters the game. When you die, your ghost stays as an enemy that you must fight. These can be challenging duels that make venturing back to where you were killed even more exhilarating. Another unique aspect is the accretion storm, an event which causes hordes of enemies to spawn along with demonic entities. These help keep things fresh, but the core loop is identical to the Souls series.
Difficulty is, of course, the feature these games are renowned for. Hellpoint offers a consistently challenging adventure, but it isn’t as punishing as Dark Souls. Most of the bosses I fought were tough, but I was able to learn fairly quickly and defeat them. This pales in comparison to the days I spent fighting the Blood Starved Beast in Bloodborne.
Lots of Lore if You Dig
Hellpoint offers rich lore if you choose to dig into it. You play as a ‘Spawn’, an artificially created humanoid tasked with exploring Irid Novo, the space station the game is set on.
Irid Novo is a dark and mysterious place. It oozes an ominous atmosphere which made exploring the space station a thrill. However, Hellpoint falls into the same pitfalls as the Souls series. The story can feel rather convoluted and unnecessarily complex, leaving unclear breadcrumbs scattered around for you to piece together. Again, Cradle Games imitate the genre well, but this is one aspect I’d rather they had adapted and made a little more accessible.
Sci-Fi Theme is Refreshing
One aspect unique to Hellpoint is the visual theme. Rather than being stuck in the traditional fantasy setting, it takes the genre to space. This creates a cold, dark environment coated in mystery and intrigue. This atmosphere is similar to the Souls series – tense yet intriguing, a dark and cold world – but taking the time to gaze out the window at a black hole amongst the stars is a beautiful moment in an otherwise poignant game.
Breaches Or Bonfires?
Dark Souls introduced the ‘bonfire’ mechanic. It’s a place to rest and level up. However, this comes with the caveat that every enemy respawns. Hellpoint’s ‘breaches’ are the equivalent to this mechanic. They give you a second to rest and spend your points on improving your various attributes. However, breaches differ in a few fundamental ways.
They don’t respawn enemies when used. Instead, enemies respawn on a timer or when you die. When you venture back through an area you’ve recently passed through the enemies may not have respawned yet. This allows you to explore the environment a little more comfortably and keep an eye out for all the little secrets scattered through Irid Novo.
Breaches also don’t heal you. Instead, you have two healing ‘charges’. Once used, you can gain them back either by dying or killing enemies. This makes every fight rewarding as you are getting one step closer to that all-important heal. However, it can make boss fights frustrating as you don’t always get the chance to heal before.
These changes both feel great. You no longer have to fight the same enemies over and over again after levelling up. This doesn’t make levelling slower, you still progress at a good pace and I never felt under-levelled. It just takes away some of the tedious grinding. Breaches not healing you can be tough at first, but it makes your use of healing items very strategic. You have to weigh up whether it’s best to risk healing early or to save it for a big boss battle.
Fast Travel is Tedious
Fast travel in most games serves as a convenient way to navigate a large map. Hellpoint’s space station is fairly big, but the fast travel system is more tiresome than terrific. You can turn Breaches into fast travel points, but only by using a specific item. This item is fairly rare, meaning you have to know when best to use them. This can get frustrating and leaves you with two mindsets. Use them when you think is best and risk needing it later, or fall into the classic RPG problem of saving every single one just in case. It’s an unnecessary change to the standard fast travel formula which often forces you to backtrack through large sections just to upgrade a weapon or find a certain item you need to progress.
Cradle Games’ Hellpoint is a great action RPG. It takes a lot from the Dark Souls series, and it’s clear the developers understand the ‘souls-like’ genre well. The art style and a few changes to the gameplay mechanics start to help Hellpoint carve it’s own identity, but ultimately it plays it very safe and feels very similar to what has been done before. This can be positive – the gameplay is great – but also acts as a negative. The story can feel convoluted and tedious, with lore details being given through vague notes on the walls. Ultimately, Hellpoint is a strong entry in the genre and a lot of fun, but it stays in the shadow of Dark Souls and doesn’t offer any significant changes to the formula.
Hellpoint is available now on Xbox One, Playstation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC. Let me know what you think of the game in the comments or on my social medias!
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This game was reviewed on PC with a code provided by the developer.