Calum Petrie reviews Hell Architect…
Hell Architect is a wonderfully horrible and twisted game from developer Woodland Games. Take control of your own circle of hell and punish and torcher your sinners as they also expand and develop your new realm. The dark fantasy architect game you have wanted to play for a long time, this is certainly an adventure you should take a look at.
The thrill of this game comes from the challenges set in the scenarios mode of the game; I found the objective based gameplay to be more compelling than the open opportunity mode that was offered. The simple objectives to build this or that followed by some strange rewards makes for a very focused style of gameplay that I was not expecting.
The closest thing I have played to this in recent years would be Fallout Shelter, and while it is not exactly the same type of game it is certainly what I was using as a comparison point. The way you create space to expand your dominion, only to find more space to torture and farm resources is a repetitive and comforting cycle.
The game starts player off in a level where they will be given some smaller first objective, and from there you will have to take care of your sinners. This is not in a hitman/mafia style “taking care of” – you very much need these people to complete the levels.
Even in death it is an interesting take on things to see that we need to still sleep, eat and relieve ourselves, and these are all things you must take care of when building your levels. The player will receive new “sinners” into your level at regular intervals to help you expand and develop your hellscape. Each sinner is added to a “population tab” where you can keep an eye on the needs of your sinners, a familiar concept that will be familiar to anyone who has played The Sims.
The largest issue I do have with this style of game is that when you complete a level and move onto the next level, it involves starting all over from scratch. Not just an expansion on your existing level, it usually means moving from a level I have spent 2/3 hours working and putting me back to step one. It is very much an issue I have had with titles like Planet Coaster, Two Point Hospital or any RTS with levels such as Command & Conquer. The idea I understand but it very much kills the pacing for me and I find it difficult to keep playing for more than 2 levels at a time as the anger and frustration really sets in.
A slightly odd feature I found while browsing the settings menu was the option to “Eman;e Nudity”, which then has all your sinners and devils with their private parts on show. This was a feature I was not expecting to find, never mind check or uncheck the box. It certainly adds to the comical value of the title, but I imagine that the shock/comedy value wears off after 5 minutes. It certainly does seem like a hell of a lot of effort for a little extra laugh, but it is in there so it must have been decided by a developer at some point.
The settings menu also allows you to toggle blood on and off, for those players who are a little bit more squeamish than the rest of us. These options do allow players who would more easily offended to stay on board a little longer before turning the game off.
The game’s art style is very minimalist and reminds me of the Cyanide & Happiness web comics, where bit round heads feature on the stick figure-like bodies of your sinners. The levels are all underground cave systems with skulls, fire and usually a large set of wooden doors with a pentagram scrawled in blood to signify your sinners spawn points. All of this definitely adds to the world building elements of the game and certainly give me a definite setting for where this game should be. I also believe that if you lock yourself in a small room with the heating cranked up then you are only going to add to the immersion of this title.
The music production in the game is actually surprisingly well done, the game has some very enjoyable ambient back ground music. The most annoying thing I have found is when torturing sinners, their screams become extremely irritating, which made me turn the volume down overall. This might not seem like too be an issue, apart from players need to torture sinners to gain a specific type of currency.
This makes sense and also comes across as a very stupid part of design at the same time, meaning that us as the player are subjected to torture very much the same way we inflict it on the in-game sinners.
Overall, this is an enjoyable game, a certainly different take on the Underworld than seen in other recent titles such as “Hades”. Hell Architect is a stand alone fun title, which mashes together familiar concepts from other titles and places them into a complete and fulfilling package. The gamer can indulge in their eviller side while still being able to sleep at night with a clear conscious… we hope.
Rating – 6/10
- Great Art Style
- Good Humour
- Good Learning Curve
- Repetitive Sound Effects
- Constant Starting from Scratch
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