Reviews - Updated on June 5, 2022

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Sometimes you have to fight evil in its own ways, knocking out a wedge with a wedge. A prime example is the Punisher from Marvel comics. The protagonist of the gloomy RPG Hellslave, who made a deal with the devil, does the same thing.

Lost heaven

The authors of Hellslave say they were inspired by the work of artists and poets, in particular John Milton, who wrote the poem Paradise Lost. And it is felt – the game has a very dark, gothic atmosphere, and comic inserts illustrating the plot, as if drawn by Frank Miller himself (Frank Miller) or someone close in style. And in general, Hellslave looks like an interactive comic.

There is no confrontation between hell and heaven – there is only hell and a nightmare that have put humanity on the brink of extinction. Tough times, tough decisions. And our hero specifically joined the cult of demon worshipers, made a deal with the devil and began to worship the higher demons. Having received their power, he betrayed and fled, starting to use it against them.

Naturally, from time to time he hears demonic laughter and a voice reminding him that sooner or later you have to pay for everything – such power is not given for free. And then we save the demon hunter, who directly says that sooner or later, apparently, they will have to fight against each other – he perfectly understands what kind of deal and with whom we made. This, of course, gives the plot an additional impetus and intrigue. Although, in principle, it is initially clear that flirting with demons will not end in anything good.

Fight fire with fire

We receive main and side quests in rare surviving cities, from where we are sent to clear ruins, mines and dungeons, kill cult leaders there, rescue prisoners, look for important scrolls, and so on. And when you return to the city, you can not only receive a reward, but also restore health / mana in the tavern, buy consumables, weapons and equipment. The blacksmith also has the ability to make equipment according to recipes that no one just lays out – you will have to study the entries in the codex yourself to understand what needs to be combined with what.

While moving around the map, we do not spend anything.  And there are no random encounters either.  And I would like to.

While moving around the map, we do not spend anything. And there are no random encounters either. And I would like to.

In the dungeons, we look at what is happening from above and move the character figure along the corridors. In the process, you can stumble upon a random battle – the game itself shows the likelihood of this and suggests using invisibility. True, this can only be done once, after the battle has been won. We also stumble upon chests, sarcophagi, vases and other places where you can get hold of loot – well, or run into another fight.

We periodically solve riddles (we often find hints on where, what and in what sequence to activate in the codex entries), avoid traps using QTE and very often look for keys to closed doors, or rather, we look for those who carry them with them, and then pick up the key from a cooling corpse.

And the turn-based battles themselves take place in a first-person perspective in a format reminiscent of Wizardry and other classic dungeon crawler games. Only seconds are used here instead of moves – there are tricks and skills that can knock enemies back on this timeline.

The fights here are pretty brutal.

The fights here are pretty brutal.

Tell me who you serve and I’ll tell you who you are

But before we dive into these dark adventures, the first thing we do is choose which of the six higher demons to worship. Beelzebub, Leviathan, Lucifer, Satan, Baal and Asmodeus are available to choose from. In fact, this means choosing a class and fighting style. If you choose Beelzebub, then the character will rely on close combat and the accumulation of rage, Baal will turn him into an analogue of an assassin with poisoned daggers, and, for example, with Leviathan we will become a powerful sorcerer.

But this does not mean that one demon is one love for life. In the dungeons and catacombs where we go down on quests, you can always stumble upon altars where we are offered to pray to any of the above six and even other demons, including Mammon and Moloch – this gives temporary bonuses (or money, as in the case of Mammon) , which are valid only in this location. Sometimes you have to first defeat the minions of the non-Christ in order to get his strength.

Many of the demons we have worshiped will have to be fought.

Many of the demons we have worshiped will have to be fought.

Also, after several victories in a row, we are offered to choose other benefits – health regeneration, increased melee damage or accumulated experience, the ability to start a battle with a certain amount of rage points (it is spent on some tricks), and so on.

In general, in Hellslave we have many options for receiving bonuses and benefits. Reaching new levels automatically increases health reserves and gives an increase to class specialization (for example, to melee if the character worships Beelzebub), but most importantly, it gives skill points separately for active and passive skills. In addition, there is the Momentum skill system, which triggers every 20 seconds in combat and prompts you to choose something from a list that you have pre-selected to, for example, instantly hit all opponents, double your rage, or dodge the next attack.

There are also modifiers (although only one of them can be active) that provide various benefits – for example, they accumulate a bonus to rage, evasion or defense as the health of the protagonist decreases, they allow you to reflect part of the damage, increase the effectiveness of potions, and stuff like that . New modifiers and Momentum skills are unlocked as you level up your character. Finally, right in the battles, we accumulate points for which you can activate demonic spells with similar effects, such as instant restoration of part of mana.

And all this – in addition to a bunch of active skills. In addition, many types of equipment have useful properties – for example, they cause periodic poison damage or restore health / mana / rage right in the battle or after it.

There is a lot of equipment - you have to tinker, picking up new clothes.

There is a lot of equipment – you have to tinker, picking up new clothes.

I want hardcore

As a result, even on “hard” in the first half of the game, you rarely meet decent resistance, although our lone protagonist is attacked, as a rule, by three monsters at once, and sometimes they also call for reinforcements. Therefore, I simply did not pay attention to the crafting system – as well as the ability to buy equipment in the city, because you always find good equipment in the catacombs anyway. That is, the money lay dead weight.

But in the last third of the campaign, the situation has changed – the game has become noticeably more difficult. It’s especially hot in the demonic dimension, where we go through portals to find rare crafting materials. In the first half of the passage, I didn’t really go there, because there was no urgent need. But the second time I started thinking about it. In any case, you can always grind here and pump up before descending into high-level dungeons – monsters respawn after leaving the catacombs.

And yet what great artists worked on the game!

And yet what great artists worked on the game!

The dungeon crawler format is pretty conservative. But the authors of Hellslave managed to look at it in their own way. Therefore, despite the fact that the gameplay in this RPG cannot be called smooth and perfectly balanced, the game still leaves a good impression – it also attracts with a story, a dark atmosphere and a gothic style. Yes, and you can get a worthy challenge (but only on “hard”).

Pluses: an intriguing story about a deal with the devil and the inevitable consequences; an extensive system of pumping and bonuses to strengthen the character; many types of equipment with unique properties; at the highest level of difficulty, battles become interesting; demonically beautiful picture; music that really fits the mood.

Cons: at low and normal difficulty levels, the game is inadequately easy – money and craft are not needed there; I would like more variety in quests and random encounters on the global map.

Screenshots of the game

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