If you ask me what my dream job would be it’d be a monster hunter in a heartbeat. I’ve long been fascinated with monsters and cryptozoology. Sadly, I’m often dissatisfied with monster hunting games on the market.
There have been exactly two games that have filled that hole: The fantastic Bloodborne, and Hellsign: an obscure little indie survival horror game that honestly needs more support as its very underrated, even by Indie standards.
It fell into the most depressing spiral fate an indie game can, where the game is pretty good but pulled snake eyes when it came to SEO trafficking. Here’s to hoping this article gets some more traffic to it, before Bloodborne Remastered is announced and sweeps the market again.
Oh the Life of a Typical Australian
You play as a hunter, someone who hunts monsters in the Australian Outback for cash and profit. One day you awaken with a strange symbol across your back called a Hellsign, and get a call to come check out an abandoned haunted house. This sparks your journey from a nobody who doesn’t know how to operate any equipment, to demon slaying legend. Story aint great if i’m honest, characters are interesting and funny enough but there’s major holes in the plot and dialogue. One example is during the beginning your character not knowing how to use basic equipment, or the fancy monster hunting lingo which results in other characters who have paid you to be there make fun of you before explaining in depth how everything works.
Yeah, not the best but that’s not what you’re here for. You’re here for high octane werewolf fights baby, and that’s what you’ll absolutely kinda sorta get… maybe.
So, you remember when I put Bloodborne and Hellsign in the same category as a monster hunter game. Well, that’s where things diverge a little bit. Bloodborne is a more horror-based experience, with Lovecraftian imagery, and gothic weapons and clothing. It’s also a fast-paced melee focused experience that can be brutally difficult at times. Hellsign is kind of on the opposite side of the spectrum, in most ways as a matter of fact, as “horror” is the only real connection between the two (Well that and dodge rolling).
Hellsign is a much slower type of survival horror game, that has big spikes of action followed by minutes of careful investigation. Think of it more like a Lovecraftian detective noir sort of way, with very little Lovecraft elements, if that makes sense. You’ll mostly be using EMF meters, paranormal microphones, and thermal scanners to find clues to what demon is haunting the current location, and then choosing whether to run or load up the shotgun and duke it out for higher pay. The game runs on a rogue-lite system where rooms, hallways, and forest areas are randomly generated, but always have a set number of targets.
Missions can be a bit of a grind honestly, especially during the early game. Every clue you find can earn you a bit of money, provided you don’t die. So it actually becomes a bit of a gambling game as you wonder whether to high tail it out of there with what you’ve earned, or go for the 100% completion bonus. This greatly increases the survival horror aspect of it, as the deeper you venture into an investigation, the greater chance you have of losing it all.
Overall though the gameplay is pretty fantastic, as the progression system is pretty rewarding, a bit slow but rewarding be it experience, or buying new weapons etc. The only thing I don’t like personally are the limits of the skill tree, as it’s small with not a lot of variety, though what you do get is pretty useful. The equipment you use are different and interesting enough, and if you’re the type of person who loves traps, (insert Scooby Doo here) you’ll probably really love this game, because it has an extensive variety of tripwires, floodlights, and explosives.
So, the progression and gameplay are nice, if a bit frustrating and repetitive at times but how, you may ask, do the monsters hold up?
Well, it depends, honestly. If you’re looking to fight magic wielding vampires, or something out of a John Carpenter movie then I’d recommend looking elsewhere. This game is rooted in Cryptozoology, which is the study of undocumented species (cryptids as they’re called). So think less of a fantasy boss, and more along the lines of Dover Demon and the Mothman. There is some sort of dark dimension thing, with poltergeists and demons. The majority, however are going to be huge bugs and these werewolf-like things called ghouls. It’s a more “realistic” monster hunting game in that way, and the enemy variety does pick up a bit from time to time.
Art style/ Sound: Look There’s a Demon Cloud! *frantic violin playing
While I do like Hellsign I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the biggest gripe I have with this game: Hellsign was trying to be a scary horror game, but I never got scared, once. Pretty big issue when you’re playing a game about hunting demons for cash.
This is due to two things: the look of the game, and the way tension is built up. First off, the look of the game can be a bit ugly depending on your taste. It has this greenish color filter over it which I personally dislike, as the colors come across as muted and dull. The monster themselves are either straight up black, invisible, or have some sort of red effect. There are no real monsters that scared me, or even stood out to me. In addition, this game is a pretty big jumpscare factory, as you kick in doors monsters jump out at you and you gun them down, rinse and repeat. No real buildup or tension, things just kinda happen. It ends up feeling like some “scary” Netflix movie rather than a tense, planned out thriller.
The level design is bland, as apparently every Australian has hired the exact same architect that believes the importance of designing quality homes is to get blindingly drunk and throw together rooms that have no coherence nor logic around the design. Each house has the same doors, same garage, even the same pool tables as each other, so it gets real dull real fast.
There is some cool cutscenes in the game, as they have decent comic book styled cutscenes every once in a while, and the clip art for the equipment and weapons are pretty good. The only other issue I have with the game is the sound. The game reuses the voices a lot, and im 99% sure they’re stock sounds too. Screams are the exact same when listening on microphones, same jumping noise from the ghouls, and a comically ridiculous splat noise when getting attacked by tentacles. Also the boss music is pretty generic, as when you summon a demon, they play what sounds like Kevin Macleod music and generic violin track #247.
Despite the issues I’ve listed above, I actually do really like the game, it has its flaws but has an engaging gameplay loop, and satisfying progression. I just wish it had been scarier, and had more visual appeal. I do recommend it, but more for the realistic take on monster hunting and its fun factor. Hopefully the devs either keep updating it, or work on a sequel where they can iron out some of the kinks.
This game’s story has been confirmed as a cliffhanger, and the devs have stated they will not be providing anymore story based updates.
3 responses to “Hellsign: Come Hell or High Water”
I’m with you all the way on Bloodborne. Did an article on it stopping me from quitting gaming. Revived me after that experience. Truly a masterpiece, no doubt.
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Its a truly amazing experience, easily in competiton for my fav game ever. And with Demons souls being remade it makes me psyched cause that possibility for BB2 is a pretty real possibility
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That is makes me smile and I shouldn’t get my hopes up after CP2077