If Australia wasn’t already dangerous enough….
Indie Games are a mixed bag. For me, HellSign is definitely one of those rough gems. Released into Early Access on Steam almost six months ago by Ballistic Interactive, the two-person studio of Ariel Chai and Pete Skyking have made their dream: A “hardcore single player hunting game centralized around investigating and hunting supernatural enemies.”
You should be dead. That’s where 99.99% of hunters wind up. Instead, you wake up, with a tattoo on your back, with an even bigger target painted on your back as well. It’s up to you to figure out who you are, what went wrong, and what the Big Bad ultimate terror is really up to, and most distressing of all, why the hell you are still alive.
Early Access done right
The game spent three years in development before it hit Steam’s Early Access in November of 2018. They hope to launch in early 2020 – assuming all hell doesn’t break loose. This Early Access build shows only the first chapter. It is a great vertical slice that shows everything the full game will offer players.
Visually and audio in HellSign “almost in the final quality.” It is scary enough to get players engaged. The game features non-linear dialogue, over a dozen unique enemies and bosses, 100 plus different items, 90 different skills, and the crafting of cursed (but useful) artifacts. The investigation, deduction, and combat have only some fine-tuning left to do. Each procedural generated haunted, possessed and hellspawn infested locations, that give even the Early Access version high replay value.
The Gameplay and Mechanics
Quite a few titles have been trying the whole procedural level generation thing. Some have missed, some have come close but my experiences hunting for hell in Australia have delivered. Every Scout, Sweep, Forensic and Hunting contract is unique. You won’t find the same clues in the same place twice. Even the little minions of hell have successfully scared me countless times as I explore the dark haunted locations. Kicking down doors is scary in Supernatural infested Australia.
It’s not a series of running gunfights. Every job is a mix of contrasting gameplay. Uncover clues using a mixed bag that range from the humble Blacklight to high tech EMF, IR, and other tools. Clues are logically scattered across each level and have to be deciphered before ending with an epic showdown. Just remember that the hellspawn are will strike when you least expect it – like that bedroom door.
Here’s hoping that you chose the right skills, and customized your load-out with the right hardware and ammunition to finish the job. Of course, you could always blow something up with a rocket launcher.
The Art and the Sound
Numerous titles have tried the dark and scary but many of those build anticipation and unleash a jump scare. HellSign uses lighting, shadows, and lines of sight to build an atmosphere that makes your trigger finger itch. Custom tailored animations include suddenly shaking furniture, flaring lights and other visuals to create an aura of mystery and fear. The feeling of hells’ denizens watching you will make you paranoidly watch the corners and jump at every shadow.
Ten hours into this game and the Early Access version shows a diamond in the rough. The blend of lightning, visual distortions, and audio come together beautifully. You get the feel of a modern Witcher. Investigations are atmospherically charged and rewarding before getting down to the killing in fast-paced intense combat of an epic showdown. HellSign can be found on Steam and is currently only available for the PC. You can interact directly with the developers via Steam Community forums, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.