Duochromatic nightmare FPS HellScreen seeks funding


The nature of some games just can’t be conveyed by a single screenshot. HellScreen above is a perfect example. Unless you know that you’re looking at a Doom-style FPS using an imposing and intense two-colour palette and providing the player with a rear-view window for situational awareness, you’d probably just think your were looking at a wall of mechanical noise, instead of a man battling a robo-squid.

This makes HellScreen a bit of a hard sell, but I do hope that you’ll all take a look at the Kickstarter trailer for the game within.

What we’ve got here is an old-school FPS where you strafe around at an improbable speed and battle swarms of enemies that attempt to hem you into making a mistake with salvos of chunky, avoidable projectiles. All this portrayed in a palette of sickly bio-mechanical metallic blues and dark, bloody reds, wrapped in architecture inspired by nightmare-channeling artists like Giger and Beksinski.

While Devil Daggers seems an immediate point of reference given the grungy, low-fi aesthetic, HellScreen is a little less likely to burst through your monitor in the guise of a shrieking, horned skull to tear your soul out through your kneecaps. This is a more traditional level-based shooter. Explore the area, fight the baddies, collect new guns – Doom-ish, albeit with a little Metroidy edge of returning to past levels with new abilities (such as double-jumping) to access new routes.

Going in nearly the direct opposite direction to Devil Daggers, HellScreen even promises progression through death. Pick up soul orbs over the course of a playthrough, and you can invest them in upgrading your base stats for the next time you play. It’s an unusual blend of elements, and the aesthetic and genre inspirations definitely have my attention.

HellScreen is a very small-scale project too, developed single-handedly by Jamie Degan, a man with his name in the credits of many games, but headlining none to date. He’s backed up by composer Matthew Pasternakiewicz, who’s providing the accompanying electro-metal wall of noise that they’re calling HellScreen’s soundtrack.

At the moment my main concern is that most of the enemies shown so far are weird, abstract floating things. The squid-like enemies do look rather impressive, and there is some appeal in an cyber-cephalopod that projects shields of ‘blood energy’, I’ll admit. Still, there’s something to be said for enemies at least vaguely man-sized and visibly angry, even if that does play against the completely alien environment the art-style is shooting for.

Sadly, as much as I love the look of HellScreen, it isn’t exactly raking in the cash on Kickstarter at present. I hope that whatever happens with this crowdfunding drive, development will continue in some capacity and hopefully one of the better indie publishers might turn their attention to the game.

HellScreen is 26 days from the end of its Kickstarter, and has raised £2,780 out of a required £25,000 so far.


  1. Don Reba says:

    Stretch goal: third colour!

  2. satan says:

    Not at all my cup of tea, but I wish them well I guess.

  3. Catterbatter says:

    I love the way it looks. Skirting so close to CGA palette 1 pokes my nostalgia buttons, then subbing in blood red for magenta gives it more of a horror feel. The rearview mirror is straight from System Shock, but the Kickstarter says there will be enemies you can only see in rearview. Can you shoot backwards? If not, that sounds absolutely infuriating. But on the whole this is right up my alley.

  4. DefinitelyNotHans says:

    Interesting look, but the enemies are pretty bland looking and that rear view looks like it would be more distracting and obscuring than helpful.

  5. dethtoll says:

    I was hoping this would get posted on RPS. The creator showed it off on Doomworld a few days ago and while it was /really/ cool looking, after what happened with the System Shock remake I’m not putting my trust in a Kickstarter again for a while.

    • Darloth says:

      but that kickstarter is in no way related.

      They all have a similar chance of that sort of thing happening, related primarily to the person doing them.

  6. poliovaccine says:

    Looks cool, but also like it would give me a headache after about five minutes of gameplay. I suspect the sort of nauseating effect I’m getting, in spite of liking it aesthetically in screenshots, is maybe a big part of why the Kickstarter isn’t doing better.

  7. MajorLag says:

    I don’t kickstart anything, heard too many horror stories, still waiting on the only game I ever “kickstarted” (actually Fig, not kickstarter), etc.

    But I’m really digging this aesthetic. Like, a lot. We could use more games with less “realistic” cover-based shooter nonsense and more fast-paced movement-based combat that goes well with some NiN. Also more cyan. Like, a lot more cyan.

    • Don Reba says:

      The only games I backed that met their goals and then failed to deliver are Last Life and Star Command. But you go in knowing there is a risk. It’s a small price to pay for helping bring Republique, TToN, Knock-Knock, Dreamfall, and other great games into being.

      • poliovaccine says:

        Well hey, thanks for helping Knock Knock! Not that I crowdfunded it or anything, I just like it a lot.

  8. Hunchback says:

    I am a bit worried about how some games try to be “performance art” nowadays.

    • clockworkrat says:

      Why? I think it’s awesome that people are experimenting with the medium and that there are more avenues for their work to be discovered and supported.

      It’s not as if meat and potato games are not being made as a result.

    • mike69 says:

      I can’t for a moment imagine why. You’re not obliged to buy all games and there is no yearly game quota they’re wasting by existing.

      More importantly I think it’s fantastic. Some of the best gaming experiences I’ve had over the past few years have been due to games-as-art. I’m excited to see what the next few years bring us.

      If I’m ‘worried’ about anything it’s the status quo insisting that all games must be the same.

  9. faircall says:

    I have a possibly similar concern, which is that since it is so hard to stand out these days, some games seem designed to look as cool as possible for 10 second gifs, with lots of screen shake and post-processing, when such visual bombast may not be suited for actually playing the game.

    • poliovaccine says:

      I totally get that, and I see exactly where you’re coming from, it sure seems true enough in some examples I can think of… but I think shifting tastes always breed cheap reactionaries, and just as reliably those fall by the wayside. Good stuff is self-evident, across all kinds of time and limitations. In a way, too, those cheap reactions to big trends are sort of the collective, iterative, experimental process by which public taste in general advances along its natural course. Gaming is especially cumulative that way, being so reliant on tech, but I’d argue that other creative tasks, like writing and visual art, are equally “derivative” in terms of iterative inspirations collectively defining the broad scope of what we like and don’t like in any given moment, as well as what *works* or what doesn’t in any given craft. It took a lot of static-framed, jerky-limbed silent Buster Keaton slapstick comedies to reach the first talkie, which in turn was a far cry from Taxi Driver. But they’re all extending along the same telescoping process.

      So I mean, I think even if that trend-chasing you talk about is lame as hell, it’s also kind of natural, and in addition it sort of shows us what we *don’t* want going forward, which is almost as important as what we *do.* I mean it’s all just pinging off the walls until it sticks.

      That is to say, I don’t defend that phenomenon you point out, but I am afraid it’s basically natural, haha.

    • mike69 says:

      I don’t think that’s a real problem that exists because those games would be refunded and attract universally bad reviews.

      It isn’t 1992 anymore, you can’t get away with box-art marketing.

    • faircall says:

      @poliovaccine: That was well put, and you make a nice point about that “telescoping process”.

      @mike69: Perhaps, but I don’t think it’s so bad that it ruins an otherwise good game. I just think that sometimes a decision is made to opt for a visual style that is more striking, rather than a more restrained option that might (for instance) allow the player to parse the on-screen information easier. Anyway thanks for the response.

  10. Vodka, Crisps, Plutonium says:

    >>While Devil Daggers seems an immediate point of reference…
    Actually, judging by repeating textures, limited color palette, pseudo-translusent (via the magic of dithering effect) sprites and perfectly centered sticks for gun models, bouncing left and right, I’d say it looks more like Zero Tolerance sequel, developed for alternate universe SEGA Megadrive with fullHD support.

    Also, please don’t tell me it’s gonna be like Devil Daggers! I want to have more than one arena to run about in my retro FPS (preferably a labyrinth or dozen to explore for secret ammo stashes and cowardly hiding enemies)

  11. NuclearSword says:

    Kinda interesting, but not for me – it literally kinda hurts my eyes to look at it for too long. Monochromatic visuals have a real Virtual Boy thing going on, just in a different color here. Which is a shame ‘cuz I love the bio-mechanical designs – very H.R. Giger-y, and feels like it could be an action-based cousin to Dark Seed

    And in terms of gameplay, apparently it’ll have real levels and a hub world judging by the Kickstarter page? If that’s the case, this is a poor showing for their trailer. I value good level designs, and I want to see that you can do that, dangit :P It’s stuff with authored, thought-out, intricate levels like Ion Maiden, Witchfire and Amid Evil that are REALLY exciting looking to me in 2018. This doesn’t even show interesting procedural stuff, like with STRAFE: Millenium Edition, Immortal Redneck or Gunhead, which can all be pretty fun in an arcadey “I’m never gonna get close to beating this, but I’ll turn my brain off and have fun for awhile”-kinda way. They’re literally just showing a single room here – that’s not a lot to go on at all :/

    Still, Hellscreen here is very striking, and I support them for experimenting with visuals. At the very least, that’s the only way you know something does or doesn’t work, right? Good luck to them, for the devs’ sake and anyone who is really digging this – hope you get your game. But I’m definitely passing on this.

  12. haldolium says:

    This looks really bad as a game. Nice style and all, but wow do I not want to play this at all, let a lone drop a single cent for its development.

    There is really nothing that looks like fun in the gameplay, it does look quite boring. They should get rid of that muzzleflash asap too. Super annoying and bad looking.

    Great style however. That I do like.