Long-anticipated and finally released, Hellsweeper VR is here, and it welcomes you to hell. But you’re not scared of hell, are you? And demons don’t faze you, do they? So, is Hellsweeper going to win you over or will it bolster your disdain for VR Rogue-likes?
Are you still there? Or was “Rogue-like” all you needed to hear to make up your mind? “Judge not,” the book says, “lest ye be judged!” But who are we kidding? This is a review, and if anything, we’re here to judge.
[Quick Note: We’re holding a giveaway competition and have 5 Hellsweeper VR keys to give away, to enter, visit our video review on YouTube and read the instructions in the description!]
We know a lot of VR gamers are sick of Rogue-likes, even though some of the best games in VR fall under that genre: In Death: Unchained, Synapse, and The Light Brigade, just to mention a few. The main gripe seems to be that some gamers feel Rogue-likes are an excuse to recycle environments and assets, artificially elongating the longevity of a game without actually providing much in return, that they are, in a sense, lazy.
Well, let me reassure you, Hellsweeper VR, coming to you from Mixed Realms, who previously gave us the action-packed Sairento VR: Untethered, is anything but lazy. There are some things Mixed Realms does really well: giving you lots of ways to murder, maim, and destroy your enemies, offering gut-wrenching VR traversal that’s not for the faint of heart, and putting VR in their game titles even when there are no pancake versions of those games.
“Enough already,” I can hear you say, “tell us about the damn game!”
Dispensing with needless narrative, your guide is a flying insect, happy to plunge into your ears if you refuse to place it there yourself. Hellsweeper, well-suited for an impatient crowd, doesn’t oblige you to learn all its mechanics straight away. It gives you a rudimentary tutorial and then lets you get down and dirty, plunging you into the hellscapes that form the backdrop of its action.
The is a game that likes to mix it up. You have a pistol, a sword, fire magic, force powers, frost magic, and laser magic. You can double jump and float in the air like Neo while twisting around, reloading your guns, and unleashing your might on the wide range of monsters and demons bent on your destruction. Hell, you even have a hellhound; we’ll call him Dexter, because… why not?
The game gives you 18 levels, divided into three acts, with a boss at the end of each act. There’s some variety in the level missions, but they are mostly predictable for the genre: survive the clock, defeat a certain number of baddies, destroy the baddie-generating totems, find the McGuffins before the timer runs out, etc. You’ll find chests that you can unlock for extra perks, blessings, or gold, and you’re awarded powers or enhancements to choose between at the end of every level.
Where Hellsweeper VR really excels, and I cannot stress this enough, is in the systems-based approach to game mechanics. Like something out of a Nintendo flagship, you can come up with all kinds of crazy combinations and things to try out. Got a pistol and a fireball power? Slam the fireball into the pistol to get scorching fire-boosted bullets. Hell, summon fireballs in each hand, slam them together, and create a fire vortex around you. Dropped your gun? Pick it up with your telekinesis and shoot it while you hold it meters away from you. Basically, if you can think of something that might be cool to try, chances are, it’ll work. Hell, you can even fire-charge your hellhound, making his attacks even more devastating while the flames last.
Hellsweeper VR provides unparalleled freedom when it comes to the different ways you can go about your killing spree. You can somersault, and you can do wall runs. I have no idea what else you can do, because it takes a long, long time to unlock absolutely everything, and I’m not quite there yet, but I’m glad the game got delayed because clearly, the extra development time has been well spent.
50 Shades of Red
Graphically, the PCVR version is clearly superior to the Quest 2 release, but that’s hardly a surprise. The fact is, the game looks good on PCVR and decent by standalone standards on Quest. The environments are rich, although some of the textures can be a bit muddy on Quest. The weapon designs are good, and the magic effects are much fancier on PC than on Quest, but overall, it showcases good level design, great enemy design, decent bosses, and excellent art direction. The only real complaint is that the hell theme kind of corners the color palette, making me wish for some interludes or even flashback levels in other, less hellish, less RED environments.
The game does a good job with sound. Like underappreciated bass in rock music, you tend not to notice the sound in games as long as it’s good, and there’s nothing here that feels off or weak. Spatial audio helps you locate enemies, the sounds of your weapons are satisfying without being overbearing, and different enemies have different sound signatures. All good.
So what’s not to like?
Well, as mentioned before, some people just don’t like Rogue-likes, and for them, this game never really stood a chance. Although the sheer joy of its mechanics and the freedom of its movement and combat should appeal to all but the most cynical of VR gamers. That said, the sheer intensity of its movement and combat might render it unplayable for those new to VR movement. It does have a teleport option, but using it would be like clipping its wings. The only other caveat, albeit one some might consider a bonus, is that it’ll take you a long, long time to unlock all that it has to offer. If you want to unlock everything, be prepared to grind your way through runs.
I also don’t like the fact that I can’t blow up explosive barrels by shooting at them, not even with glowing hot, fire-infused bullets. Nothing seems to work, except grabbing them with telekinesis and slamming them at something. Mixed Realms, if you’re watching this, let me shoot the damn barrels!
Another gripe, as the game currently stands at launch, is that the co-op multiplayer only allows for one act, through four or five levels, followed by one boss battle. Sure, it’s randomized, so you’re not always playing the same act every time, but you cannot team up with a friend and complete a whole run through the 18 levels and three bosses. Pete and I found this out the hard way. Sad faces ensued.
Hellsweeper VR is a no-holds bar VR action game, made by developers who relish quick traversal, mad weapon combos, ambidextrous warriors, and relentless combat. It’s easy to recommend for gamers with solid VR legs, and a thirst for adrenaline, and if you’ve been anticipating it since it was first announced, are familiar with Sairento, and who knew what kind of game to expect, I can assure you that, yes – this is indeed the droid you’re looking for.
TLDR : Summary
Hellsweeper VR is a no-holds bar VR action game, made by developers who relish quick traversal, mad weapon combos, ambidextrous warriors, and relentless combat. It's easy to recommend!
User Rating0 Votes
Great combat and movement mechanics
Lots of cool power combinations to explore
18 levels with three boss battles provide a decent variety