Game review: Death is no stranger in Hellraid: The Escape

Death is no stranger in repetitive Hellraid: The Escape


Death is inevitable as you battle your way through a labyrinth of dungeons in Hellraid: The Escape.

I’ve been trying to slip past demonic guards to escape magical chambers for the past few hours as I fight my way through the horrific world of Hellraid: The Escape. At its best, the game is gruesome, bloody and full of suspense, but it can also be painful and highly frustrating.

Because in this iOS game, death is no stranger: Die you will, over and over — that’s bloody guaranteed.

This is partly where Hellraid lost me. Exciting it may be, and I rather enjoyed the initial chain of well-designed and clever puzzles that can be found throughout each murderous chamber, but none of these challenges are particularly difficult. Most of them are fairly straightforward and painless, and will leave you feeling slightly empty — especially the third time around.

You’ll interact with objects you can push, pull or twist, throw stones at levers to open doors and iron gates, or insert and turn keys to unlock chests. Though the traps can be fairly enjoyable when you first discover them, having to traipse through the same settings time and time again can get repetitive.

If you get yourself killed just after figuring out a rather frustrating puzzle, it can be enough to make you rage-quit entirely. In one example, I – after the third attempt – managed to cross a very narrow wooden beam, only to find myself impaled on spikes at the other end by an inconspicuous trap. This meant retracing my steps from the previous dungeon and repeating the same actions, this time being extra-careful not to make the same mistake again. Hellraid seems hell-bent on making sure you grow into a more adept player, with each downfall leading to eventual victory.

The in-game enemies are the one part of the game where Hellraid: The Escape truly excels. Instead of your typical, run-of-the-mill approach involving weaponry or melees, in Hellraid you must figure out various manners in which to kill these foes, such as triggering a lever to crush and maim a malevolent skeleton. This allows players to use their brains and wits to overcome the dangers of the game, rather than forcing them into a swordplay scenario. Each enemy is brutal, badass and bloodthirsty – their only aim being to cause immediate, torturous death.

The game has its moments, thankfully, and if you like gory, first-person puzzlers with a bit of personality, you’ll probably enjoy Hellraid: The Escape. The game is best played wearing headphones and sitting in the dark — you’ll probably find yourself greatly immersed for the first few chambers or so.

Just don’t expect Hellraid to hold your attention the whole way through, because the game offers no epic surprises or grippingly original scenarios. Eventually, the clunky thuds of weaponry and the repetition of similar-looking puzzles will begin to grate.

It might be too gory for many, but as thriller games go, Hellraid didn’t deliver the disturbing experience I desired.

hellraidthumbHellraid: The Escape by Shortbreak Studios ($2.99)
The good: Dark, suspenseful atmosphere; great sound effects; mildly enjoyable experience.
The bad: Hugely repetitive; the puzzles get stale rather quickly.
The verdict: A good contender that falls a little flat.
Buy from App Store