Hellpoint – What To Expect
Arriving on Nintendo Switch on February 25th, Hellpoint, from Quebec-based Action RPG developer Cradle Games, takes soulslike in a new direction: sci-fi/occult horror. There is something grotesquely beautiful about the setting, characters, and story in Hellpoint. More than that – there is an authentic macabre weirdness that is hard to find in the soulslike genre outside the work of Miyazaki himself. You awake, the creation and emissary of some strange “Author” on a mission to the space station Irid Novo to investigate how things went so massively sideways. As soon as you arrive, you’ll see flesh and metal twistedly married together in a way that I’m sure every Cenobite since Pinhead finds enviable. Evidently, something went very wrong here and it’s up to the player to find out and/or die trying.
Hellpoint, in many ways, follows the script laid down by Demon’s Souls extremely closely. This means your stats and leveling are instantly familiar to veterans of the genre. It also means your homebase is the closest thing to “The Nexus in Space” you’ve ever seen. It also means that combat, exploration, and co-op/pvp functionality will also work as you expect (for the most part). However, the team at Cradle Games definitely added to the formula in two significant ways: jumping and the omni cube.
Jumping in Hellpoint
You will quickly come to learn that the jumping mechanics take some…patience. I’ve already died more times than I want to reveal on jumping puzzles, but most of those deaths were early in the game. Now I’m making running jumps onto turbo lifts (must be grabbed when no floor is below or yes, you die) like it is nothing. So while jumping can be both difficult and intimidating, it adds more positive changes to the formula than frustation. I want to reassure anyone turned off by 3D platforming, you will get comfortable with it because exploration now centers around verticality.
Over and again you’ll find something hidden that requires jumping across a gap, or climbing a series of spaced out stairs, or activating a switch and jumping down two-three floors to get an item behind a gate before it closes again (Sohn District *cough, cough*). And the more you stop to look around in Hellpoint, the more you’ll notice out of the way places with an item and you’ll be scratching your head thinking “Now how am I supposed to reach that?
Bottom line: some platforming skills required and patience will serve you well in the long haul.
The Omni Cube
One of my favorite little wrinkles to the Dark Souls formula was the addition of a navi-like (yet silent, thankfully) companion that can be fitted with upgrades you find as you explore. This little bad boy can warp you back to the bonfire, I mean breach, serve as your (hands free) torch, and reveal secrets.
One of the most fun parts of exploring and discovering in the game is discovering a new upgrade for yourself and your omni cube. Both your character and the cube can be upgraded with things you discover as you explore. The game has a dedicated button to let you activate which ever Omni-Cube upgrade chip you want to use on the fly, but if you hold that button down (up on the D-pad), three preselected upgrades can be swapped without going to a menu, letting you really have a variety of options with how your best bud in space can help you as he’s going to be about the only help you get.
There is a lot more that I have to say about the game, but this needs to stay spoiler free for now. The team and I here at SwitchRPG will be creating more content to celebrate the Switch release of Hellpoint, including an article with some Tips for Beginners. If you are not a fan of skill-based action RPGs or particularly dark/grotesque games, this is probably not going to be at the top of your list. However, if you’ve been aching for more 3D soulslike games on Switch (more please!), this one is very much worth your time.
- Spectacular labyrinthine level design up there with the best the soulslike genre has to offer. A+ Exploration experience.
- A large variety of weapons that unlock passive bonuses and new moves the more you use them. This includes melee weapons, shields, and guns (yes you can have both a shield and a gun equipped in your off hand and swap between them).
- Full Crafting, leveling, equipment, Co-op, PvP, and Gear (some) Upgrade Systems + a new clock/time system that is as cool as it is confusing.
- The controls take some getting used to and jumping can be problematic for quite a while until you get it down.
- Platforming Puzzles are often times more difficult than combat.
- Hellpoint isn’t the prettiest game. Additionally, most areas look and feel more similar than I would prefer. I would love greater variety so I wasn’t so often confused about which part of the space station I was in.
Stay tuned for more Hellpoint coverage!