Harryhausen’s Hexen: Hellraid

If your skeletons remind me of Harryhausen, we’re halfway to a happy place. Hellraid has seen some ch-ch-ch-changes over the last few months, as detailed in our interview with producer Marcin Kruczkiewicz. Whatever else might have been rejigged, I’m convinced that the handsomeness of the skellingtons has increased tenfold. The whole world looks attractive in fact, despite being full of claw-like trees, creaking windmills and ruined hovels. To be fair, windmills are usually attractive, although perhaps moreso when they’re on the cover of Ico than when they’re harassing Don Quixote or providing renewable energy from a location just outside your front door. The twenty minute video below shows combat, levelling and wandering, with developer commentary.

First-person melee is a tricky thing. Often, the weight and momentum of attacks isn’t communicated effectively. There’s a reason that Dark Messiah is often cited at times like these – it’s one of the few games to sell fist-person fisticuffs (and swordicuffs etc.) convincingly. Trying to think of a more recent example, I figured Shadow Warrior’s rapid fire katana action qualified. The first-person slashing and slicing is certainly entertaining and efficient, but it’s about a sense of destructive surgical precision rather than lumbering great hacks and smashes.

Hellraid is due to enter Early Access before the end of the year. If it manages to live up to my fond memories of Hexen and Heretic, I’ll happily slay all of its skeletons.


  1. Dr_Barnowl says:

    Is that… Sean Bean narrating the main character?

    Does he …. die?

    • Slouch says:

      There’s two options with Sean Bean:
      1. He dies
      2. This game turns into a multi-decade series that nobody outside the UK knows exists

  2. gruia says:

    looks better than expected. It shows more depth, more.. purpose.

    I’m pleased

  3. b0rsuk says:

    You’d need to make the action 2-3x faster and add a bunch of non-humanoid enemies to make it feel like Hexen. Combat in this game looks barely more thrilling than Morrowind or Skyrim.

    • Spacewalk says:

      You also need a lightning column spell that makes monsters yowl like a wolf with its leg caught in a trap, a wand that shoots ghosts and a magic hammer that shoots hammers that explode. Also a stupid boss that’s a super annoying dick who’s invincible for half the time you fight it.

      • Niko says:

        Hexen’s weapons power scaling was quite awesome. Especially that cross that shoots ghosts.

        • gabrielonuris says:

          That cross (Wraithverge) was awesome indeed, which makes me remember that I’m still to finish Hexen with the others characters besides the Cleric. For the thousandth time. Maybe with Brutal Hexen mod.

    • dethtoll says:

      It also needs obtuse level design with a major flaw 4/5ths of the way in where you could get stuck forever if you triggered something too soon.

  4. Reapy says:

    Some nice showing off of their new engine, though it was pretty corridor still despite the better views. When the guy got the staff I felt like I was watching a lichdom. But at least they are still searching around for some more purpose with their game, I hope they continue to do so because it still seems to lack something in the moment to moment combat.

    Needs, more, weight!

  5. FurryLippedSquid says:

    Skellingtons don’t make silly groaning noises, due to a complete lack of vocal chord. As with all skellingtons.

    Harryhausen understood this, with naught but the click and clack of hot bone on bone action.

    • Spacewalk says:

      I’ve always wanted skeletons that play their own ribs like a xylophone but looks like we aren’t getting that either.

    • Niko says:

      Skellingtons also don’t move, as a rule, but I guess magically reanimated ones can do anything, including making sounds.

  6. LTK says:

    Wow, the quality of that video is abysmal. If they have the original recording they should just put it up for download. Game looks quite interesting though.

  7. Text_Fish says:

    Looks like excruciatingly boring level design.

    • John Richardson says:

      It’s essentially the tutorial stage. Also, still in Alpha.
      I’m not sure what more you want from a village in the mountains, that’s obviously calling on a time period before electronic technology (possible electrically charged elementals non-withstanding).

  8. bosseye says:

    They’re not called Skellingtons, they’re Skellywobblers.

    Looks quite entertaining. Magic looks a bit limp at the moment though.

  9. marano says:

    I’m not very impressed myself. Looks more like a Skyrim mod, than an actual new, stand-alone game.

  10. Shooop says:

    Combat looks as limp and bland as Skyrim’s.

    Techland hasn’t changed a bit from Dead Island. They churn out some less-than mediocre slag spawned from a focus group and try to convince people it’s good.

    • WiggumEsquilax says:

      Unmodded Skyrim meets Dead Island.

      Rarely has a promise for so much anti-fun been made, on RPS or anywhere else. Pass.

  11. derbefrier says:

    looks pretty fun to me, lets just hope those spell effects are still a WIP.

  12. Max Planck says:

    How can you talk about swordicuffs that work without mentioning Mount&Blade? Dark Messiah had good fighting, but a Mount&Blade it isn’t..
    I am very mountandblade disappointed mountandblade.

    • Walsh says:

      Dark Messiah had better melee combat than Mount & Blade. In Mount & Blade, your enemies would do this weird flinch thing when getting hit, pole axes would pass through enemies, etc while in Dark Messiah they would stagger like the hit had some weight behind it and they at least made an effort so that weapons didn’t weirdly pass through enemies.

      • DelrueOfDetroit says:

        I just played Dark Messiah for the first time a couple months ago. Pimp-slapping goblins with a giant fire sword off of a cliff is one of the best things to happen in a long time.

  13. Carra says:

    Attacking skellies with an axe? Surely you need blunt weapons.

  14. HumpX says:

    just re-installed Severance: Blade of Darkness in anticipation of playing Hellraid.

    I’d forgotten just how satisfying and fun a well made mellee game can be.

  15. EkoAzarak says:

    sooo many great games coming out soon. Hellraid is near the top of my list. looking awesome.

    and i love the dev teams candid and transparent manner in their videos. really hope Hellraid becomes a franchise title.