Techland, of Dead Island and Call of Juarez fame, presented their new first person hack and slash game, Hellraid, at Gamescom. Playing as a soldier named Aidan in some faux-medieval fantasy world, you’re on the quest to vanquish evil while being guided by the ethereal voice of your (dead?) sister. That sounds like typical dark fantasy fare and, judging from the cheesy voiceover and the rather generic introduction I got to see, there are probably few narrative suprises waiting for the player. However, I reckon that folks are going to be playing Hellraid first and foremost for the hacking and the slashing, anyway.
Said parts certainly looked like fun. There is a huge variety of different weaponry to be found in the game. Loot drops are random, so you never know what you’re going to be fighting with next. Every melee weapon has a fast light attack and a more powerful, but slow attack. Parrying is possible, if only with careful timing. Dodging or using a shield looks like the safer way of avoiding damage. There is no stamina bar hindering your ability to hack away at your foes, but melee combat still didn’t seem all that fast paced. From the looks of it, Hellraid probably won’t deliver frantic action, but something more deliberate, but I might be mistaken there. After all, these kind of short hands-off demonstrations tend to be hardly representative of the whole finished game.
There is also ranged combat of sorts, using magical staves which can occasionally be found. This reminded me a lot of ancient dark fantasy FPS classics Heretic and Hexen, which is a good thing in my book. A classless progression system with a truly impressive skill tree allows for seemingly diverse character customization. There is also a crafting system that lets you further refine your favorite weapons.
Hellraid runs on the Chrome Engine 6, which makes bigger areas possible, but otherwise looks a lot like the same engine that was used in Call of Juarez: The Gunslinger to the untrained eye. It wasn’t entirely apparent from the demo, but those larger areas might actually be employed to open up the level design some more and not make the game feel like you’re being herded down some corridor. That’s just speculation on my part for now. In any case, environments and art direction look pretty atmospheric and certainly put the “dark” in dark fantasy.
All of this was neither super-impressive nor especially innovative, but it looked like a solid foundation for some silly, gory fantasy fun. The story mode will take you around 10 hours to beat, and there’s a 2-4 player co-op variant as well. Additionally, there is a wealth of post-game content, such as a mission mode and a combat arena. If CoJ: The Gunslinger is anything to go by, those extra gameplay modes might deliver almost as much as fun and entertainment as the main campaign. Hellraid will be unleashed on Steam Early Access this fall.