One badass vs. a million demons from Hell – no mercy. Sound familiar? Well, don’t jump the gun juuuust yet. This is Hellbound, a legitimate DOOM-inspired first-person shooter which was successfully funded via Kickstarter some time ago. Initially, the developers at Saibot Studios released a simple and fairly underwhelming survival mode for the game back in mid-2018. Recently, however, the team dropped a demo of the campaign mode, featuring a single, well-crafted level. It’s a tasty piece of monster-mashing goodness should have plenty of old-school shooter fans drooling for more.
The goal here isn’t anything too complex or fanciful, as expected from a title inspired by nineties shooters. All you need to do is hunt for the key and find the exit, perforating anything in your way. The level design will require you to backtrack a little bit, plus there’s a few secret areas to find as well. It’s not a maze-y sort of level, so you shouldn’t get lost too easily, but there’s p[lenty of hazards to look out for: explosive spores, monster closets, and huge pools of lava that’ll fry you like bacon if you’re not careful. Strafing around and splattering ugly mofos into chunky pieces of red never gets old, even during the sixth replay.
It should be said that the environments look brilliantly detailed. You’ll make your way through some rocky tunnels in order to explore ruined temples and other outdoor areas. The graphics looks great as well. Plus, it’s optimised well enough, and runs without any major issues. Well, aside from the fact that, after dying, the screen fades to black and stays like that for about ten seconds before the loading bar appears.
The weapons, items and enemy roster are par-for-the-course, so there aren’t many unexpected inclusions to be found here. Aside from your surprisingly underpowered fists and a semi-automatic rifle, there’s a club for gibbin’, a triple-barreled shotgun, a machine gun, and a rocket launcher. The grunts tend to have similar weapons as yours, while the scrawny-looking freaks you’ll also bump into will toss fireballs from a distance. Again, nothing mind-blowing here, but most of the weapons feel satisfying to use, and the enemies certainly put up a good fight. The club and shotgun have alternate fire modes for added damage, but the other guns only let you peer down the iron sights. Hopefully they can get a similar treatment in the full release.
Speaking of ‘putting up a good fight’… hoo boy, the devs weren’t messing around with their in-game warning. It’s bloomin’ tough, so it’ll take a few attempts to beat it on your first try. No checkpoints or save states will save you here. Honestly, the difficulty feels a bit artificial. It’s not that enemies are particularly clever; health pickups are just pitifully small. You’ll either be given 1% to 5% health from these. We all know it’s supposed to be heavily inspired by DOOM and its pitiful health potions, but at least they were plentiful in quantity, and had additional items that would top you up further.
Retro FPS fans will feel right at home with the Hellbound demo. It’s a canape of potentially delicious things to come, and while it could do with some extra health drops and new alternate fire modes for some of the weapons, this is still a pretty damn swanky throwback shooter that was worth trying out, regardless of the death toll.