Souls clones are all over the place these days in the gaming industry. Not content waiting on the sidelines, Cradle Games enters the fray with their new title Hellpoint. Is the game worth a playthrough, or should you stick to the classics? Check our review and find out.
Hellpoint starts with you naming your character and picking your sex. You aren’t told what’s going on or where you are; you’re just tossed into the fray. As you explore, you soon find out that the people in this space station have mutated and gone mad. You, still being somewhat human, are their target. By salvaging what equipment you can, you have to fight your way off the station and piece together exactly what happened.
After defeating the first boss, you get your first bit of info on this incident. Something known as the Merge took place, infecting every living creature onboard. You happen to be immune to this Merge, but you aren’t sure why or how. From there, you can scrap together bits and pieces of what happened from notes, terminals, logs, and mind cubes. There is some interesting lore, but it is so scattered that it generally isn’t worth the trouble.
At its core, Hellpoint is a Souls clone. Combat involves heavy and light attacks, dodge rolls, blocking, and timing. There didn’t seem to be a backstab, but most normal enemies die quickly. There is a magic system, but I did not use it much as I played as a brute. Both co-op and invasions are included, along with boss fog walls and bonfire-type stations. Healing is a little different, but is still reminiscent of Estus Flasks.
The combat in Hellpoint technically works, but felt a bit too floaty for its own good. Players will feel like they are gliding too much when attacking, moving your character bit by bit until you are no longer in a favorable position. The impact of weapons also feels light; even with a heavy mace, I just didn’t feel the swing’s force. The lock on works great, but the camera zooms out sometimes for no real reason mid-combat. There are guns as well, but as I said, I only focused on melee, so other approaches might work better.
Enemies are repetitive and bland most of the time. The game suffers from the classic problem of reskinned enemies and bosses becoming regular enemies. My biggest issue with this is the way they fight. They try to dodge or move around you, but have zero idea of their surroundings. It is not uncommon for an enemy to roll or walk right off a cliff. They also have large hitboxes, making them easy to hit but annoying to run past. In general, the AI could use a bit more polish.
There is no traditional map, but there is a weird compass map that has been placed in the corner. Honestly, this addition felt useless. This space station has many long corridors, along with similar and repeated assets that make it way too easy to get lost. Some shortcuts connect areas, but without a proper map, it doesn’t matter. The one spot you actually have an idea of where you are is at the healing points (bonfires). Here you can warp to other areas as long as you have a healing point at that location and the right item. It helps, but it isn’t enough to prevent getting lost.
The crafting system is one thing I think other Souls-like games could copy. You find materials throughout the station and break them down to parts for weapons and shields. Equipment you don’t want can also be broken down for extra parts. Being able to craft improved weapons and upgrade them certainly helped on the more daunting enemies. The crap you find is basically like fighting with rusted metal, and the things you craft are like steel. They can be upgraded for more damage, scaling off stats, and a few other things. The only problem is that you need to find weapon stations, or travel back to the first one.
Players will be able to level up and get new stats that improve your abilities, which is typical in an action RPG. Your weapons also improve after being used for a certain amount of time. These might add passive buffs or give you a new ability that might add more damage or even range. Not every skill is unique, but the base weapon of a sword and the crafted sword do have different skills. It encourages you to experiment to find the best equipment that works for you. The only downside is that it can be a bit grindy to get multiple weapons skills unlocked.
Let’s talk about the bosses real quick. I was 50/50 on these, as some of them were quite fun. However, once again the AI fails in some of these fights. It wasn’t uncommon for me to hide behind a pillar and for them to lose track of me. I would then pop out, strike, and disappear again without much repercussion. If there wasn’t a pillar, it would be a long hall or arena battle. This worked, but even then the enemies would sometimes spin in circles. Again, more polish was needed.
As for technical problems, the frame rate was all over the place. I had a couple of crashes when trying to join co-op. The screen seems to shake, which I think is meant to simulate the station shaking, but it had a bad effect. I also had a bug where I’d put my co-op symbol down, and the screen stayed up without being able to exit. Say it with me now: the game needed more polish.
Hellpoint might have been a decent Souls clone if it didn’t suffer from so many technical problems. A few more months in the oven would have done it wonders, but it is an easy skip in its current state.
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