HellSign – Preview
Follow Genre: Horror action RPG
Developer: Ballistic Interactive
Publisher: Ballistic Interactive
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

HellSign – Preview

Good: Great and original combination of genres, investigation mechanic is fun
Bad: Combat is hard due to tricky aiming, unforgiving at the beginning of the game
User Score
8.5
(4 votes)
Click to vote
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.5/10 (4 votes cast)

In HellSign you play as a mysterious hunter of supernatural creatures, who happened to have woken up one day with a mysterious tattoo on this back. In this action RPG you will not just shoot whatever moves threateningly towards you, but also collect clues and investigate the creature(s) you’ll be up against during any mission. This game has been developed and published by Ballistic Interactive.

There is a cool comic-style introduction in the game, which tells the story of your character waking up with a mysterious tattoo on his back. You simply don’t know much about it, and you just start your day like any other. You are a paranormal investigator, and you take jobs for money. At first you’ll start the tutorial, where you get thrown in the deep, story-wise: you don’t know much about your character yet, but you do need to answer a few questions of the person who hired you. Your answers don’t seem to be too important, but they do set the tone of the game. During one of the first missions you’ll quickly discover the sign on your back complicates things: it seems to attract evil creatures, and might have been the cause of a very sudden teleport to an extremely deadly shadowy dimension…

The graphics are very nice, they convey a fitting dark and gritty atmosphere. The game is set in modern times, which is properly reflected in the look of items, the UI, and the environments. The houses you’ll explore really look spooky, which is further reinforced by the utter darkness you walk around in, which you can only lift with your flashlight. This means you will only see enemies when they are very close, which makes combat pretty intense. During missions you see your character from a isometric view, and it looks like you are watching from a security camera or night vision goggles. Everything is in tones of greenish gray. You’ll see many graphical glitches as well, which fit the electromagnetic interference you’d expect from the supernatural creatures you’ll encounter, and adds to the whole ‘feel’ of the game. Some other places your character will frequently visit, are his home, the bar, and a weapons shop. These locations are represented by an image with people or objects you can click to interact with. All look gritty and glum, fitting to the atmosphere of the game.

The soundtrack of this game is pretty awesome, it’s a sort of dark retro wave music. Sound effects are fitting to the style of the game. There’s an EMF-scanner you’ll use a lot, and it makes a scanning sound like a radio which you are trying to tune, which changes when you get closer to a clue you’ll need to collect.

HellSign is an action RPG horror shooter, with a isometric top-down perspective during the missions. The missions in which you’ll investigate a haunted house, collect clues and kill spooky creatures are the main part of the game, but surrounding the missions is a whole lot of RPG-like gameplay where you’ll talk to NPCs, get missions, craft and shop. Outside of the missions you can select on a map of the city where you want to go: the bar, to get or complete missions and sell clues, your house so you can craft, or the shop to buy new equipment. You can also choose from a variety of missions, which differ in difficulty and reward.

Investigation plays a big role in this game. You’ll need to search for clues at any location you enter, which can be found using your EMF-detector, which indicates a disturbance when you are getting close to a clue, or by following a blood-splattered trail using your black-light. The investigation aspect of this has been executed brilliantly. All clues you find you can analyze using the book you have. These clues will lead you to the type of creature you’ll have to deal with, which you can read up on, and subsequently choose the best equipment for that type of enemy. As you continue through the game, you’ll collect more ghost-hunting equipment which will produce clues, such as a microphone which you can use to record ghostly sounds. After the mission, clues can be sold to generate a good source of income.

Of course, you’ll see lots of combat during the missions. Combat is not at all easy in this game, especially in the beginning, when you only have basic equipment. The enemies are moving pretty quickly, and stay out of sight most of the time. This works brilliantly to build tension and to make fights super exciting, but the aiming in this game is pretty tricky, so it also adds a bunch of frustration. You die pretty quickly and you’ll need to hit enemies quite some times before they are dead, so you need to prepare to fail a lot of the missions early on in the game; either by dying, or by needing to run away with the last bits of you HP bar. Later on, you’ve collected enough money by endlessly repeating missions to buy some decent equipment, which makes the whole game a lot easier to get through. But new players will be easily discouraged by the difficulty at the beginning of the game.

HellSign has many different RPG aspects to it. There are several classes to choose from, which differ from each other in starting equipment or skills. All classes have a rather hilarious description, fitting to the tone of the game. You’ll also be able to choose the portrait of your character. During conversations you’ll have different options to choose from, yielding different reactions from the characters you talk to. However, choosing rather clumsy conversation lines does not seem to have any negative effect. There are many different items you can equip your character with, like armor, weapons, but also investigative equipment. You can upgrade this equipment by crafting or shopping for items. The game also features a quite extensive skill tree, with a great amount of possibilities for character builds.

Conclusion

HellSign is pretty unique! The setting is great, the atmosphere is covered very well through the graphics, and through the interaction with the other characters. The investigation aspect is executed brilliantly, and works really well within the theme of this action RPG. However, combat is very tricky with the aiming controls, and the difficulty right at the start of the game is rather high. This game would be great if combat was a bit easier and more forgiving at the start.

 

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.5/10 (4 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 0 (from 0 votes)
HellSign - Preview, 8.5 out of 10 based on 4 ratings
Anmaja
Anmaja


I'm a LARP writer, freelance teacher and everlasting PhD student, and an avid gamer. Nowadays I game mostly on PC, but I love my retro playstation 1 & 2 as well :) I like watching anime, movies and series, and read books & comics whenever I have time!

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