Platform(s): PC
Genre: First-Person Shooter
Publisher: Nimble Giant
Developer: Saibot Studios
Release Date: Aug. 4, 2020


PC Preview - 'Hellbound'

by Cody Medellin on March 12, 2020 @ 1:00 a.m. PDT

Hellbound is a first-person shooter game in the vein of the classics like DOOM, Quake, Duke Nukem 3D, Blood and many others.

There has been a trickle of classically inspired shooters, but the release of the 2016 iteration of Doom kicked open the floodgates for first-person shooters that abandoned cut scenes and realism in favor of pure, fast-shooting action. There's no sign of this letting up, this seems to be a perfect time for indie game developers to capitalize on the newfound love for the classic gameplay style. We checked out Hellbound by Saibot Studios, an Argentinian development company.

Interestingly, we checked out two different demos of the game. The first is a publicly available, free survival mode that puts you in a small arena against wave after wave of increasingly difficult enemies. The enemy types are heavily inspired by Doom, as you'll face demons wielding machine guns, rifles and shotguns. Large imps also chuck fireballs at you. There is a new foe in the form of demons that rush you and try to club you to death. Your arsenal is filled with the standards like machine guns, rifles and your own fists, but you also have new things, like clubs and a triple-barreled shotgun.

At the beginning, Hellbound warns you that the difficulty level is tuned with an old 1990s mentality, and they aren't kidding; even the lowly grunts with clubs and single-shot rifles can hit very hard if you let them gang up on you. More importantly, the demo shows off how much of the good stuff the team has picked up from '90s shooters. Only the triple-barreled shotgun seems to have an alternate firing mode, but every weapon feels good when you're firing from the hip. The classic mentality of no reloading and hoarding every weapon is still here, as is a relative scarcity in ammo, so you're always paying attention to ammo drops and changing out weapons. The game also values fast movement, so you're never walking slowly in the arena. You can play this with a controller, but the speed needed to turn and react means this is really built for keyboard and mouse play.

The demo's survival mode setting is fine for those wanting to check out the mechanics and chase high scores with the online leaderboards, but the game needs a full campaign demo to show off how it will keep players interested in the long term. Luckily, Steam has such a campaign demo available, and it does a good job of displaying old-school level design. The stage seems sprawling at first, and while you have no map at all to guide you, it doesn't take long before the environment guides you to where you should go and reveals areas that you'll want to return to later. Enemies either warp in when you least expect them or appear just as you open a door, and quick reflexes are needed to ensure you don't die. To further increase the difficulty, the game has no auto-saving and no health regeneration.

Both demos give a small hint of Hellbound, but what we see is hopeful. From the speed and the brutal difficulty, everything feels right. About the only modern trapping is in the graphics, which look stunning; the high frame rates accompany hordes of monsters, and plenty of special effects make everything picturesque. There's no solid release date yet, but with both demos freely available now, players can check out Hellbound and see if it's worth adding to the wish list.

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