Pits of bone and lakes of blood enclose the small island you stand ready upon. The faint ticking of an ominous clock creeps rhythmically to doom. Whether or not it is the end for you or your foe will be up to you. The weapons you hold are strange; foreign tools of war, and yet you know immediately how to use them to eviscerate and destroy. The time has come, the demons begin to enter the field of battle one by one, but you know soon they will approach in greater and greater numbers. Good, you think, perhaps it will be a worthy challenge.
Hellbound is an upcoming FPS survival game from SaibotStudios (Doorways: Holy Mountains of Flesh). In its current form, Hellbound is a 90s-inspired survival FPS, but the studio is hoping that, with enough interest and funding from pre-orders, they can add in a single player story campaign. Hellbound is currently in a closed beta.
Given the nature of Hellbound in its current form, there’s no writing that can really be discussed. No story, no voiced lines, just the game and its user. For some, that’s plenty, however. From minute one you are thrown onto the blood-soaked island of Hell where you will see just how long you can survive against ever increasing waves of demonic fiends.
Weapons drop for enemies, though the game staggers which weapons you get by waves. The first rifle you get is sufficient to carry you deep into the game, however. The usual gambit of weapon types can be found within Hellbound. The assault rifle, the shotgun, the rocket launcher, etc. It’s important to make smart use of all weapons in order to survive through each wave, as the difficulty starts low but builds quickly.
Gameplay is fast and frantic, each enemy dying quickly to your assault but causing two more to spawn in its place. There’s no time to linger and stand valiantly over your fresh kill, because the next one is on the way. This is exactly how a 90s-inspired shooter should pace itself. Aim, shoot, kill, repeat.
As stated before, the developers hope to give Hellbound a single player campaign treatment, but as of yet there’s no clues as to what that will look like. With just the survival mode on its own, it can be hard to justify paying any amount of money, but Hellbound is incredibly satisfying to play, so devout FPS fans may be willing to fork over a couple Lincoln’s to support this bloody gorefest.
As with any hell-based FPS, both Hellbound’s visuals and audio are inspired by heavy metal. A hard, guttural, track plays to the chorus of your bloodshed, with plenty of camera blood splatter and giblets flying left and right of the impact point. The soundtrack is hard and satisfying, while the visuals are visceral and bloody; a true hellscape worth visiting.
If there’s one complaint to be lobbied at what Hellbound currently has it’s at the enemy variety. In a fast-paced game like this, it’s difficult to stop and smell the roses, or in the case admire the grotesque visages of hell’s army. There needs to be more variety in the enemy silhouettes, so that it’s easy to discern one type from another. In its current form, Hellbound has the lanky, tall, demons and the rest. Granted, there’s not going to be much variance in your approach based on what’s looking at you, but it can help to decide which gun is best suited and which creeper needs to die first.
There are plenty of love-letters to the 90s and 80s of video games in our modern gaming scene, whether they adopt the visual style or not. Hellbound doesn’t do anything to the formula to help it stand out, but what it does do it does very well. If this kind of quality can be kept up for future features, Hellbound will scratch the itch that DOOM has scratched for decades.