Things are going bump in the night and blood has been splattered all over the walls in Ballistic Interactives game Hellsign. An investigative action RPG, the game seeks to tap into the supernatural genre by making you a hunter of the dark things. This is our Hellsign Early Access review.
Hellsign starts you off into the deep end of things by having you witness what seems to be your own death as demons tear your soul asunder. From there your character wakes from one nightmare only to live in another. You rise from your slumber as a phone rings, only realizing as you answer, that you don’t know who or where you are. The caller needs you to scout a location for him and from there the journey truly begins. The story in Hellsign is a good mix of various occult myths set in Austraila, with brutal language and oftentimes brutal action. Your character is a scout for hunters, seeking out the haunted places and trying to decipher what kind of nasty things makes the place it’s home. If you’re a fan of the TV show Supernatural some of the things brought up may seem familiar, but these hunters and scouts are nothing like the brothers Winchester. The more you play, the more the story unravels revealing what may have happened to you and why your very soul may be damned. The story itself isn’t currently finished as the game is still in Early Access on steam.
The gameplay itself can be divided into parts; investigation and combat. The investigation part plays out as you scour the dark houses seeking clues as to how bad things got and what you may be facing. You do this with an EMF detector to find clues or an audio recorder that picks up the screams of the dead or even a blacklight allowing you to track down blood trails to find damning clues. You can purchase upgrades to the various gear that offer bonuses as well as put points into a skill tree that allow you to use the equipment with better effectiveness. The investigative side of the game can be slow and methodical at times, but it pays off in allowing to insert clues into your Cryptonomicon to decipher what you may be facing and get the leg up on whatever it may be.
But it’s not just the nasty things like ghouls and poltergeists you have to worry about, there are other creepy crawlies that stalk the shadows. Fast and deadly spiders and centipedes await you as you dig into the dark. The meat of the combat is here as you try to dodge attacks while dishing out damage of your own through various methods. You can lay down traps, throw out a grenade, try to aim carefully with your rusted pistol or just spray and pray with a submachine gun. While the investigative side of the game feels very fulfilling for the genre and setting it is in, the combat at times falls short. The aiming at times seems off, making for missed shots at spiders and the like allowing them to wound you deeply. While you are cursed and can’t truly die; every time you do, you lose all the clues you have gathered which helps you earn money. Without the earned money you can’t upgrade your items or progress. While it’s understandable for the truly nasty things to be hard to fit, the riff-raff that are spiders and such shouldn’t be such a hard and damning fight (especially if you happen to be giving them hot lead server from a shotgun).