by Preston Dozsa
previewed on PC
While there has been a great deal of buzz and excitement surrounding Techlands’s Dying Light, few have been paying much attention to the other game the studio is working on. Hellraid is a first person fantasy RPG, originally designed to be released as a weapon mod titled Project Hell for Dead Island. At some point, a decision was made to convert and develop it into a full-fledged game in its own right. The folks at Techland presented an extended demo of the game for the first time at Gamescom.
The lead character is Ayden, a military officer who deserts in order to see his family again as the world starts to get worse and worse with each passing day. As he nears his home village however, things are looking grim and has to attend to a variety of undead monsters that are attacking it. It is here that we get the first true taste of combat, which can best be compared with Skyrim in how you fight.
Melee combat is pretty simple at first, only allowing for more powerful strikes to be used if you hold the attack button for long enough. Then there is also a kick that can be used at any time to create an opening to attack an enemy, or to simply reenact your favourite moment from 300 by kicking things off cliffs. One interesting feature is that enemies buckle or shift in the same direction in which you swing your weapon, creating a real sense of power behind your attacks.
We also got to see some the magic side of combat. Instead of casting fireballs from your bare hands, all magic was performed through the use of staves which manifest their power - through - your hand. For example, a frost staff caused a slow beam of ice to emerge, slowly freezing enemies. All magic staves however contain two different forms of attack, in the case of the frost staff a sharp icicle emerged which was fired as a projectile able to shatter previously frozen enemies or hit still animated ones at a greater range.
Despite still being in development, Hellraid looks absolutely great, with the lighting and ambient objects being of particular note. The engine is the same engine that is being used for Dying Light, allowing for grand vistas and detailed landscapes to be created beautifully. Animations were a little bit on the stiff side, and a lot of the vegetation seemed to need better textures to fit in with the rest of the surroundings but hopefully those issues will be worked on as development continues.
As Ayden arrived at his village, Techland took the opportunity to showcase how character progression will work. You level up by killing countless things and completing quests and then get to pick your own upgrades and abilities without being restrained to one particular class or build. If you want to focus on shield blocking and magic at the same time, you can do that without having to start a new game.
While Hellraid contains some rather stunning vistas, the developers made it clear that the game is not open world like Skyrim or The Witcher 3. There are paths that you can choose from to uncover hidden side areas or another entrance to an area, but for the most part the game is fairly linear in how you go about the plot and explore each area.
While attention will surely be focused in the coming months on Dying Light, Techland is working hard on their brand new fantasy RPG. With some issues left to be worked on, there is still plenty of time for the team to smooth things up before its release somewhere next year.