Review: Hellbound (Steam)
The ‘90’s were of time of technological progress and perfection, giving us some of the greatest shooters of all time. They were lightning fast, hard as hell, and in-your-face. Saibot Games from Argentina wants to bring back that ‘90’s glory with their release of Hellbound. Hellbound isn’t a simple ‘90’s inspired shooter that takes inspiration from the decade. It is a ‘90s shooter made for 2020, with all of its glory and difficulty, making for a remarkable and action-packed gaming experience.
You are the appropriately named Hellgore Humans are extinct. The monsters and forces of Hell ruined that for you. Hellgore was created specifically to slaughter demons. Now, the day has come to slaughter demons viciously with impunity with every manner of violence imaginable. Across several stages, players kick, yell, and shoot the demonspawn to try and silence Hell for good.
Hellbound warns players that as an FPS game released in 2020, it will be just as fast and hard as the shooters from the good old days. Hellbound is a first-person shooter with a reliance on health packs, speed, and aggression. Throughout seven campaign levels, players explore levels, search for keys, and voyage towards the end of the game, slaughtering various monsters along the way. Players equip themselves with demonized miniguns, devastating shotguns, and even their own fists.
Hellbound from a visual and gameplay perspective, is clearly made with passion and polish. It runs at a silky smooth 60 frames per second and features visceral shooting, where players explode in a ball of blood and guts. The feedback and sensation of pulling the trigger and eviscerating the enemy is sensational, with loud, dynamic effects, and animation. With the number of enemies and the way the weapons are handled, Hellbound gives you the sensation of being an unstoppable killing machine with an attitude. Players will likely be shouting obscenities at the number of enemies that come their way, but enjoy every moment of combat.
The overall look is done well in Hellbound. Players truly feel like they are in a hellscape of death and torment, though it could use more life and scope. Some moments are quite breathtaking, particularly level 5 with a ruined colosseum. In addition to the fiery planet in the sky, this particular level encourages players to search every last corner of the level to obtain keys and proceed. The enemies are numerous and destroying the cabal of monsters with violent intent is entertaining, with demonic-looking weapons that look and sound fantastic. All of this is greatly uplifted thanks to a rocking soundtrack that includes the works of Federico Ágreda "Zardonic."
Hellbound certainly has enthusiasm behind it, with its weapons and action. However, what it does well in gameplay, it lacks in content. There are only seven campaign levels, culminating in a boss fight that has its challenge but is not anything you haven’t seen before. The lack of enemy variety also hurt the overall challenge of the game, and the levels, while challenging, lack the labyrinthian designs of the games it draws inspiration from. Games such as Doom, Quake, Wolfenstein, Disruptor, Duke Nukem, and even Star Wars: Dark Forces were incredible not just for their shooting, weapons, and enemy variety, but also for their level design. Searching for keys, secrets, and weapons was a journey in and of itself, and it was easy for the player to get lost in these mammoth mazes. For most of the levels of Hellbound it’s a more linear adventure, following a path. Elements of the game encourage some exploration to find items and ammunition, but they do not have that sophisticated feel of design that its predecessors do. Additionally, after the 7 levels, the only replay value that exists is to replay levels on various difficulties and the wave arena demo, but regrettably, that is it. It feels as if Hellbound needs at least 20 additional levels for it to be a more worthwhile experience for the price. For what is it, it is a sound game, but as the campaign takes 5 hours to complete, there isn’t much else to return to afterward.
Hellbound is a solid FPS that is certainly crafted with love and pure enjoyment in video games, which are emotions that are sorely missing in games today. However, it’s light content may not worth the price admission, unless you crave form something ferociously polished, but quick. Still, Hellbound is a big deal for the small indie team and that is to be commended. Hellbound certainly demonstrates the talent of the studio, and I look forward to what they create next.
Hellbound was reviewed on PC via a Steam key generously supplied by Homerun PR