E3 2014: Hellraid Makes Fighting Demons Seem Really Dull

Blandelzebub.

Hellraid is all about combat. It's about bashing huge monsters with axes, smashing skeletons with swords, and shedding the blood of the creepiest creeps who ever did creep. Such a game sounds like a lot of bloody fun. A dark medieval atmosphere. Gruesome creatures ready to crush your skull. Giant hammers that you wield as if you are made only of muscle. These are the ingredients of a successful melee action game.

But boy does Hellraid look boring.

I spent 20 minutes or so at E3 2014 watching developer Techland demo the game to a room filled with increasingly impatient members of the press. The demonstration focused on story mode in which you try to stop an infernal invasion. The level in question was a gothic monastery--the sort you would find in a number of classic video games, and in fact, Techland has hired the services of an architect versed in the kind of structures Hellraid has you exploring. There's a bit of Diablo at work in Hellraid; you pick up loot and gold, and level up your abilities as you progress. But the focus is on the combat, which looked to have some initial appeal in the way you could hear the clash of steel on steel, and in the way you need to dodge about to avoid taking damage, as well as to maximize damage by stabbing meanies in their hindquarters.

You aren't limited to melee weapons, though they were the focus of the presentation. Occasionally, however, the player would switch to a magical staff that spewed forth lightning, which came in handy when dealing with skeletal archers. Techland says that weapons provide a lot of variety and that you can customize your loadout to best suit your play style. Additionally, you can enchant your weapons to make them more effective in combat. There was a lot of groaning during the demo as hellish creatures moaned and growled, particularly during the few boss fights I saw, which feature grotesque demons filling the screen.

There are other ways to deal with foes, such as smashing a chain and causing a hanging light fixture to fall on the fiend beneath. And Techland promises a variety of locations, including outdoor arenas and labyrinthine castles. But what I saw during the demo was wholly uninspired, a string of one smashing encounter after another until my eyes were tired of the bland gothicness of the setting, and my brain was aggravated by the tedium of seeing and hearing the same combat moves used again and again against the usual suspects. There just wasn't a lot to it, to the point where one mission objective simply stated "defeat evil." Hellraid felt tired, and the promise of visiting hell in the final levels of the game isn't enough to spark my enthusiasm.

Some better narrative context, some imaginative settings, and more interesting enemies could help bring some life to Hellraid, however, and the combat system looks like a solid foundation upon which to build a game. It's up to Techland, then, to put that combat to use in a game that inspires the fear and awe a game called Hellraid deserves. Here's hoping the developer does just that.

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Discussion

26 comments
FoleyX90
FoleyX90

 Out of context, you could say the same thing about Dark Souls. It's a game of movement and of swordplay. Hopefully HellRaid will be challenging with good AI.

djpetitte
djpetitte

2 to 4 player co op . sweet. I love all the newer games are finally all starting to have co op. 

headbanger1186
headbanger1186

I mean what do you expect Kevin? It's Techland...Dead Island was a pretty boring game as well. 

majere613
majere613

I think the problem here starts with the first-person perspective. It means a lot of your attacks are always going to look the same, since you can't really do spinning attacks and if your character does any kind of flourish, you can't see it. Without using VR, which would allow you to glance around quickly and move your head independent to the body, first person doesn't give you the situational awareness or flexibility you need for compelling melee combat.


It might have been a better idea to go with Kinect, because a good melee combat game with Kinect (or Move) has yet to be done. As it is, this looks like an also-ran to me.

g1rldraco7
g1rldraco7

no comment except Hellraid looks fun to me :P

bloody-hell
bloody-hell

Good material to pick up in a sale.

Nice first person combat mechanics and the player character actually has a body and casts a shadow which helps the immersion. (unlike the upcoming Alien Isolation where the player character is like a ghost without body or shadow with an occasional QTE / lengthy pickup animation that shows a hand)

Will be waiting for reviews and how the co-op turns out to be (had lots of fun playing Dead Island with friends) and then perhaps pick it up in a sale.

Not going to spend more than about 15 EUR on this though from what I've seen so far.

isshiah
isshiah

I thought as much after seeing the trailer. Shame. 

tonytones21
tonytones21

Waaaaaaaaaaaaayyyyy too skyrim-ish, and looks boring.

DefconRave
DefconRave

It's Techland, what were you expecting?

Hurvl
Hurvl

It's no great loss if this hack and slash game doesn't "cut it", so to speak, although it would a bit sad. The premise seemed promising, it sounded like a smashing good time. I also don't know of a lot of other games like this, with a heavy focus on melee combat. I've always got Dark Messiah if I want to play a fantasy themed slasher.

Brakkyn
Brakkyn

"Coming on XBOX ONE"...and four other systems.

Lets not be misleading.

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

Most games are repetitive in nature.  Looks pretty sweet, though now I'll keep a closer eye on the reviews.

Gallowhand
Gallowhand

This is rather disappointing to hear, because the game looked as if it was shaping up nicely, with a bit of a Hexen vibe.  I hope Techland takes on any feedback like this and works hard to make the game fun to play.

On a side note, I wish Raven Software was given the opportunity to remake Hexen in a modern engine.

inebriantia
inebriantia

I'll prolly pre-order this, even if it's just a reskinned Dead Island. Doesn't look fun for SP but like DI the fun came w/my friends laughing at glitches, and mowing down tons of enemies w/impossible moves, and teasing the stupid enemies. 

DrKill09
DrKill09

I'd rather go play Hexen.

Foppe
Foppe

Might pick it up for cheap and play when I got nothing else to play.

williamquah
williamquah

Saw the trailer myself and the skeletons are nothing more than reskinned versions of the zombies from Dead Island. Looks like some kind of arcade game, simple and repetitive.

adders99
adders99

Yep... Looks and sounds boring. Not much more to really say.

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

@DrKill09  "Fine, you do that!  Waaah huh huh!!!"  (runs a way crying, slams a door).

gamingfriendly
gamingfriendly

@DrKill09 I was hoping this would be the new Hexen.

inebriantia
inebriantia

@Kevin-V It very much looks like a reskinned one, even some of the enemies moves like zombies. Just like Dying Light it looks like they used the core of DI and built on it. Some of the animations are the same even.

spacecadet25
spacecadet25

@Kevin-V @inebriantia  How was Dead Island not monotonous?  That's a game that definitely wears out its welcome by the end of the game.
And talk about not having variety of environments...

inebriantia
inebriantia

@spacecadet25 It is awful to play solo, but I've had 7 friends who've bought them, and we have a blast. One night we prolly spent 2hrs trying to toss those heavy crates and having them bounce off 3 zombie's heads in a row. Some games are just fun w/others. Plus, the home run bat was hilarious.