The gaming nostalgia cycle is a humorous outdated factor. First, the style turns into in style. Finally, its recognition wanes as builders attempt new issues and transfer away from style conventions. Gamers start to pine for the less complicated days, then builders start to create video games extra like those they liked as youngsters or youngsters. Satirically, it turns into the case that there are extra retro nostalgia revival video games than there have been authentic examples of the style. That is one thing that is occurred to the 90s retro FPS video games lately. Video games like Doom Everlasting, Nightfall, and Ion Fury try to revive the great outdated days of fast-paced simplicity. To this checklist comes Hellbound, which payments itself as “a 90s FPS, 30 years later”. That is a lofty promise to make, nevertheless it’s not like Hellbound would not have trendy examples of the way to do it proper to attract on.
Hellbound Wastes No Time
Like the nice 90s FPS titles that got here earlier than it, Hellbound wastes no time in its setup. You might be Hellgore and you might be indignant. A military of demons has descended and killed everybody Hellgore knew and liked, so now it is time for vengeance. Because the Steam web page for Hellbound rightly says, when you’re searching for a deep story, you have come to the unsuitable place. Hellbound is refreshingly easy. It would not have any of the unnecessary textual content screeds or backstory that Doom Everlasting indulges in. It is simply you, some weapons, some demons, and determining a method to make these two issues work together.
Hellgore himself is likable sufficient, however there’s one thing barely off about his efficiency. It is meant to echo the dry, “witty” one-liners of protagonists like Caleb from Blood: Contemporary Provide or Duke Nukem. Voice actor Artie Widgery would not fairly pull it off, although. He sounds extra like a involved father studying out unsavory texts his son has acquired in school than a vengeful demon slayer. Hellbound goes for a kind of gleeful 90s-style “badass” tone, however the extreme swearing can come throughout as a contact determined. A gentleman is somebody who may play the bagpipes however would not. The identical philosophy extends to swearing. It is not cool when it is this frequent.
Hellbound‘s Core Gameplay Is A Hellishly Good Time
Fortunately, you will be too busy gleefully shotgunning demons within the face to care about Hellgore’s shortcomings. To place it merely, the core gameplay loop of Hellbound is superb. Developer Saibot Studios clearly understands what makes 90s shooters so cathartic and satisfying. For a sport like this to work, the weapons should really feel nearly illegally good. There must be a kick delivered by a measurement 30 boot with each shotgun blast, and each rocket fired ought to really feel like 100 atomic bombs. That is one thing Hellbound pulls off with aplomb.
Hellbound takes its visible and auditory cues from Doom 2016 and Doom Everlasting, nevertheless it would not actually resemble these video games. The complexity is far decrease right here, and that is no unhealthy factor. There aren’t any weapon upgrades in Hellbound, no ability bushes, and no hidden means collectibles. Hellbound is content material to execute its concepts effectively as a substitute of innovating. Every degree of the marketing campaign offers you a semi-open atmosphere to discover, and whilst you will not discover greater than armor, well being, or weapons as secrets and techniques, it nonetheless feels nice to stumble throughout one thing hidden. The degrees are successfully simply environments to facilitate the core gameplay, however when that gameplay is that this fulfilling, that is no unhealthy factor.
There’s Simply Not Sufficient Of Hellbound
Sadly, Hellbound‘s wonderful core gameplay is majorly hamstrung by one problem: there’s simply not sufficient of it. Emulating 90s shooters is all effectively and good, however 90s shooters normally got here with pretty prolonged campaigns spanning a number of episodes. In contrast, Hellbound‘s is pathetically quick, spanning 7 ranges and fewer than 2 hours of gameplay total. You possibly can replay ranges and search for secrets and techniques or attempt to enhance your time, after all, however that does not excuse Hellbound‘s surprising brevity. As I drew close to the tip of Hellbound‘s marketing campaign, I assumed to myself “oh, good, I am close to the tip of the primary world”. Little did I do know the sport was nearly over.
There’s a survival mode that tries to bolster Hellbound‘s meager exhibiting, nevertheless it feels at odds with the core gameplay. First-person shooters like this ought to be energy fantasies. Placing absurdly overpowered weaponry within the participant’s arms and tasking them with slaying the armies of Hell doesn’t gel effectively with survival. On the one hand, Hellgore looks like an unstoppable warrior; on the opposite, like he is scrambling to flee insurmountable hordes of demons. The survival mode is ok when it comes to enabling the core gameplay, nevertheless it would not function the sense of momentum and progress that one of these sport actually wants. As such, you are left with a 2-hour marketing campaign that’s nominally replayable, however shallow and all too transient.
Exploration In Hellbound Is Enjoyable However Flawed
Exploring Hellbound‘s 7 ranges does handle to interact, regardless of the marketing campaign’s brevity. The maps are satisfyingly open-ended and stuffed with secrets and techniques, with a number of alternatives to leap over degree geometry and facilitate natural-feeling exploration. There is a pleasing sense of momentum in every degree; switches open doorways for simply lengthy sufficient so that you can scrabble via them, so you will have to be in your toes as you progress. The open-ended degree design additionally helps to make encounters really feel truthful, too. Encounters are thoughtfully designed round open area, providing you with loads of alternatives to outmaneuver and outpace your enemies.
Hellbound does convey throughout one of many largest bugbears of 90s FPS video games, although: key searching. Doorways and gadgets in Hellbound‘s ranges typically want crimson, inexperienced, or yellow keys to function. These keys may be discovered by exploring the extent completely. That is wonderful, however the structure and visible fashion of Hellbound‘s ranges is kind of samey. This results in key hunts typically taking a very long time as you navigate labyrinthine and complicated degree design. At one level, Hellgore makes a joke about attempting to find keys, questioning why he cannot simply blow up a door as a substitute. I discovered myself questioning the identical factor quite a few occasions throughout Hellbound‘s marketing campaign.
Hellbound Is Brimming With Potential
It is a disgrace Hellbound is so transient and insubstantial, as a result of what’s right here is massively encouraging. Saibot Studios is aware of its means round a shooter, and its love of Doom, Quake, and each different 90s shooter is etched on its tattered sleeve right here. If the gameplay wasn’t enjoyable, Hellbound would not really feel prefer it ended simply because it was getting began. Sadly, it is onerous to suggest it in its present state. With a view to justify Hellbound‘s existence, Saibot wants so as to add a minimum of one other world of marketing campaign ranges and maybe a problem mode or some form of supplementary story mode. As it’s, Hellbound is just not sufficient sport.
Saibot’s sport feels extra like a proof-of-concept than an precise title. 90s FPS video games weren’t simply nice due to their core loops. In addition they innovated on their mechanics as ranges went on, introducing new weapons and new methods to struggle outdated enemies. Hellbound‘s enemy selection is paltry, identical to its weapon selection and marketing campaign size. I counted eight enemy varieties, and that is being beneficiant; 5 of these are merely “demon that makes use of considered one of Hellgore’s weapons”. In the long run, Hellbound‘s marketing campaign is brief, nevertheless it begins to grow to be repetitive in the direction of its finish because of the sheer lack of enemy selection.
Hellbound | Remaining Ideas
Hellbound manages to efficiently enter the pantheon of retro FPS greats by its core gameplay loop alone. The capturing is a devilishly good time, and it by no means will get tiring separating a demon’s prime half from its backside half with the triple shotgun. Sadly, the enjoyable is over earlier than it begins, and devoted shooter followers shall be left questioning the place Hellbound went and when it was supposed to truly begin. A handful of marketing campaign ranges and a small variety of survival maps merely is not sufficient, regardless of how brutally wonderful the core gunplay is.
TechRaptor reviewed Hellbound on PC via Steam utilizing a replica offered by the writer.