Hellpoint is the latest Soulsborne game on the block and as much as I enjoy certain aspects of the game I can’t actually recommend it to anyone to buy right now. Here’s what I thought of it.
Disclaimer: I received a review copy of Hellpoint from Cradle Games.
Hellpoint proves that games like Dark Souls could work and actually be good with local co-op. To start co-op is very simple. You can either plug in another controller and press start or drop a summon sign and someone will join your game. The big difference between this and a game like Dark Souls is that your summoned ally does not disappear after you complete an area. I played through a good portion of this game with my wife on both local split-screen and online.
Hellpoint is a mix of Dark Souls and The Surge. You can sprinkle a little bit of Warhammer 40,000 in there too if you want. This game doesn’t play nearly as well as any of those that I named though, but it is very playable when it works. Some weapons were rendered completely useless because only the first hit would register on the enemy that I was fighting so I would have to run away from them while trying to switch back to my trusty longsword.
Hellpoint introduced a new feature that I haven’t seen in this genre of games before. The more you use your weapon the better it becomes. There’s an xp bar under every weapon in the game. Some of them are sectioned off by blue bars. Each bar represents a level your weapon can gain. It can be anything from a new ability to a passive perk. This is also how you unlock new spells in the game. If you’re using a staff you’ll start off with a generic fireball (it’s freaking huge by the way) and eventually, you’ll have access to some AOE attacks as well. I wouldn’t mind seeing some other games borrow this mechanic because it’s really, really neat. I ended up using every new weapon I found because I wanted to see what new abilities they unlocked. Leveling up staffs, or any ranged weapon, is harder than melee weapons since ranged weapons use up your SP (the blue bar under health).
Crafting new gear also plays a role in Hellpoint. As you fight your way through the horrors of the gigantic space station that you’re trapped on you’ll come across various different crafting materials and even some old weapons and armor that can be upgraded into better working versions of it. You can even slot augments into your weapons to give them new properties or to simply increase their attack power, which honestly worked the best. Adding elemental damage to my weapon had it doing little to no damage while simply increasing the amount of raw damage it did made it perform better.
A big part of Hellpoint is exploring your surroundings. Soulsborne games are basically 3D Metroidvanias. You’ll find yourself getting lost, wandering around for about 30 minutes while trying to figure out what to do next while finding some sweet loot along the way. Once you do figure out what to do you’ll probably backtrack to a location you previously visited to open up a new location. That’s how this game works and it honestly works really well in this game.
Hellpoint is not an ugly game at all. It actually looks quite nice, but this is a PC game that I’m reviewing, and the way a game looks is only a tiny part of the graphics section in my PC reviews. How did this game perform for me while playing it? How many graphical options does it have?
The answer to the performance question is, to be frank, horrible. I’ve experienced random crashes, I’ve had my character wiped, not every weapon will register a hit, I’ve clearly dodged attacks that hit me anyway even though I wasn’t anywhere near the enemy that hit me, and the list goes on, and on, and on. This game felt like an early access title.
There are about 12 graphical options and they’re your usual stuff like antialiasing, depth of field, motion blur, etc. There’s nothing to the level of Ubisoft games or Gears 5. There is a dirt option that doesn’t seem to work though.
Nothing in this game works as it should. Sound effects, especially in local co-op, would disappear for long stretches of time. The music would fade out periodically, I would have no footsteps, no weapon sounds… nothing. Then it would come back and my game would dip to about 2 FPS. The soundtrack is nice though so there’s that…
All of the dialogue in this game you have to read through. There’s also a made-up language that’s basically gibberish being spoken by select NPCs. The voice acting is poor, but this is a small team so I’ll cut them some slack here. There’s no excuse for the vast amount of bugs that this game has though.
In Hellpoint, you play as some form of AI and your goal is to explore and collect data. The story here plays out in the background kind of like other games in this genre do, but it’s nothing as masterfully told as Dark Souls. The written dialogue is poor and I never really cared about what was going on. The gameplay is really what kept me going and that’s all I’ll write because I don’t want to spoil anything for anyone.
It’s Really Buggy
Hellpoint is probably the buggiest game I’ve played this year. I’ve experienced random crashes, fps drops (especially in multiplayer), I’ve had my progress wiped (three times!), and before I fought the boss of the game my strongest weapon disappeared from my inventory and I had to use something I wasn’t familiar with. This game is BUGGY.
No 2-handed Weapons:
My favorite thing to do in Soulsborne games is using a big two-handed weapon and destroying everything around me. You can’t do that here. You wield two-handed weapons with one hand. If you don’t have anything in your off-hand you can perform a special maneuver with the weapon you’re currently using. Most of these maneuvers aren’t very good though so I stuck with using a staff in my off-hand and longsword in the main hand. At least I did until the game took my sword away…
The problem with the bigger weapons in this game is that the damage they do doesn’t justify the slow attack speed. You’re much better off using a small, quick weapon over any of the big ones that you find because your damage output would be significantly higher.
Hellpoint’s boss fights are very disappointing and incredibly easy. Especially on multiplayer. You can easily cheese every boss you encounter because their AI can’t handle more than one player at a time. So if you want to play this game on easy mode. Grab another person (either locally or online) and you’ll never have to worry about dying to a boss again. I finished the game solo because I wanted to have a little challenge in the bosses, but even alone they’re very easy to beat. The worst part is most of the bosses aren’t even unique. They’re super-sized versions of regular enemies that you fight throughout the game. There are a few unique ones and those are actually my favorite ones to fight, but the lack of a real challenge made them all forgettable.
Hellpoint is a good game that feels like it launched into early access instead of a full release. I experienced so many bugs that I lost count and the fact that most of the bosses are simply larger reskins of enemies really bothered me. The aesthetic is amazing and I really liked the customization and different armor sets that I found, but I can't recommend this game to anyone right now. It's too buggy and that's a shame because I did enjoy the game despite all of the issues that I had with it. If you want this game I recommend waiting for a few months and getting it on sale instead of dropping $30 on it. When the issues in this game are fixed though it's absolutely worth the asking price.