Nov 7, 2014
The hopelessness is palpable.
It’s a huge, shadowy bipod, looking quite otherworldly, in fear inducing garb that is helped in its drive to invoke fear by the hellish light it is bathed in. There is a weapon of sorts in its right hand, which is equally as evil looking as its bearer.
And it is coming at me, slowly but surely. The weapon is raised up to strike me…
Such is the intro to Hellraid: The Escape.
Graphically, the visual part of the game ties in overwhelmingly with the theme of despair. The sets look hauntingly medieval, with torches and pain-inducing tools and machinery making up most of the decor. The artwork has purposefully dark feel to it, and the first person perspective is the perfect mode to drink the horrors within. Gestures and a virtual joystick help control movements and views, and the developer did a good job of creating an environment that conveys fear while encouraging exploration at the same time.
The backstory involves the requisite evil sorcerer. The player’s soul is trapped in a dark prison, and the player has to use his or her brain to outwit demon guards and figure out his/her identity, and the reason he/she is locked up in the first place.
The game is leveled, and yes, exploration is a big part of it. It starts in some sort of casket; the cover has to be moved out of the way, and this is where the aforementioned first perspective works so well. The game encourages players to really explore the local areas, and one needs to do this to find the clues and cryptic notes that are meant to help one long. At the base level, interaction is the name of the game; there are visual cues which help with finding pieces, and tapping objects can reveal collectibles. Further to that, there are also mini-puzzles that appear from time to time, like figuring out how to get out of a seemingly secured room.
So, finding a way to move on through the dungeon-like dwelling gets things done. Missteps are costly though, as that means getting caught and being taken back to the starting crypt.
The biggest plus in this game is probably its intuitive nature; a lot of the gameplay elements just make sense. The controls are simple, and it’s clear I like the first person view. Per dislikes, allow me to be a wuss: it’s almost as if the developer does too good of a job in creating such a desolate atmosphere.
It’s a crafty game, priced well with no other hidden gimmicks, and spooky enough to keep folks intrigued enough to potentially keep with the storyline.