mon 08/08/2022

Hellraid: The Escape | reviews, news & interviews

Hellraid: The Escape

Hellraid: The Escape

Hellish puzzles with lashings of gore

Hellraid: The Escape

Sartre said that hell is other people but most gamers know that hell is actually a gloomily lit dungeon filled with central-casting undead moaners and decorated as if Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen had ordered a job lot of gibbets, spikes and miscellaneous human remains.

Infernal business as usual then in Hellraid: The Escape. You are a lost soul, trapped in the torture pits of hell by an evil sorceror. What to do? The clue is in the title.

Hellraid: The Escape is a spinoff from the upcoming PC & console title, Hellraid and the game is set in the same universe as its big brother. Whereas that game is a co-op slash 'em up, here there is no fighting as such. You must dispatch any enemies by cunning manipulation of your environment and obstacles must be overcome by ingenuity rather than brute force. Mostly.

Hellraid: The EscapeTo escape, you must solve puzzles. Each level of the game sees you emerge from a stone sarcophagus (flinging the lid aside with a flick of your finger on the touchscreen) into a sealed room or series of connected rooms. You need to open a door to escape from the level but your way is barred. Sometime a simple lock stands in your way, Sometimes a demonic creature stands between you and freedom and sometimes things are a bit more complicated.

The puzzles are fairly simple compared to a game like The Room - arguably the finest example of this genre of tactile puzzler. The most taxing requires you to learn how to measure different weights using combinations of objects and the simplest is just a question of throwing a lump of stone at a very obvious-looking lever.

Simplistic puzzles are one thing but too many of the challenges in Hellraid: The Escape demand fast reaction times or physical skill in a way that seems somewhat against the spirit of the enterprise. There's nothing wrong with including an element of skill in a game like this and done properly it could add an interesting twist to the genre. Unfortunately here adding a shaky-hand game, a tilting marble maze and a sort of whack-a-mole game with demonic skulls seems to be a cheap way of making things more difficult when adding more depth to the puzzles would be more effective and enjoyable.

A wrong choice or careless move in Hellraid: The Escape will usually mean death. Luckily, you are technically dead already so kicking the bucket just means you get sucked back through the level at high speed and deposited back in your coffin to try again. On some levels you will have to make use of this ability in order to progress at all but mostly it just adds to the frustration. You can generally only save your progress at the start of a new level and although usually the game will leave a door opened between lives you will often complete a lengthy puzzle only to die and then be forced to complete the same rigmarole again.

Hellraid: The EscapeThe game looks and sounds great and the Unreal 3D engine runs smoothly and gives you a lot of freedom to explore your surroundings. Sadly, well rendered as they are, the prison cells are all but identical in feel thanks to the limited palette and clichéd props. There are only so many dangling corpses you can look at before they start to seem mundane and boring.

Puzzle games stand or fall on the quality of their conundrums and Hellraid: The Escape is a mixed bag in this respect. Again, compared to something like The Room everything feels a bit broad-brush and clumsily executed but there is still a decent challenge to be had if you persevere through the odd dull section. The environment may be a bit run-of-the-mill but the sense of threat from several of the dungeon's inhabitants is palpable and does add a bit of spice to the routine puzzling.

Hellraid: The Escape is no classic but there is fun to be had here providing you don't mind a bit of gore and are willing to overlook the more obvious aspects of the gameplay.

Obstacles must be overcome by ingenuity rather than brute force. Mostly.


Editor Rating: 
Average: 2 (1 vote)

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