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The Haunted: Hell’s Reach Review

With the rise of independent developers, more and more mods are being turned into full fledged games. Titles like Red Orchestra, Killing Floor and the very recent Dungeon Defenders are all great examples of how a mod can make a successful transition to a full game. Others like Damnation have turned out less successful. The Haunted: Hell's Reach was originally the winning mod of the 2010 Make Something Unreal competition and the full version of the cooperative demon slaying third person shooter has finally been released. It will be interesting to see which category The Haunted: Hells' Reach falls into.

In The Haunted: Hell's Reach, up to four players take control of four playable characters who must fight off a demonic invasion using a variety of weapons. There isn't much story to it and this is clearly one of the game's biggest shortcomings, another being the lack of any sort of single player campaign. The closest thing the game has to single player is a solo play mode across the game's two modes. 

The first mode of the game is called Inferno, in which players must fight off increasingly difficult waves of demons and then defeat a gigantic demon known as Abbadon. The second major game mode is Survival, and in it you fight off endless waves of demons all in the name of a leaderboard position. At regular intervals, healthstones will spawn, giving the player a chance to regain any health they may have lost. There's a certain risk/reward mechanic with the healthstones as you often expose yourself to being overwhelmed by demons from all sides when you go after them.

Part of the reason that the mod version of The Haunted won the Make Something Unreal competition was because of its kick-ass demon slaying gameplay and this has been perfectly preserved in the full version of the game. The gameplay itself is an absolute blast and it combines solid gunplay with visceral melee combat. While some games settle for a simple melee attack, The Haunted utilizes an entire combo system and it's up to players to combine the varying ways to tear through the numerous demonic foes the game offers. 

The weapon system that The Haunted utilizes gives players access to three upgradeable weapons - pistol, machine gun and shotgun. As you kill enemies, you fill up an upgrade bar and once this is full, players are able to upgrade a weapon of their choice. While these weapons start out somewhat boring, through upgrades they quickly become ridiculously over-the-top and effective. For example: the shotgun can be upgraded to the Arsonator, a shotgun which incinerates everything in its path. Every weapon in the game is satisfying, easy to use and appeals to a different style of player.

One of the most thrilling parts of The Haunted is when you reach low health. Once this happens, you enter a state where your character goes berserk and is able to tear through enemies in a single melee strike. Since you spend most of your time keeping distance between you and the demons, this flips the game on its head and turns The Haunted into a bloodbath of vicious and highly enjoyable melee combat.

The Haunted features roughly ten different maps that can be played across each of the game's two game modes for both single and multiplayer. There is a ton of variety in the game's maps and they each explore the dark, western-inspired setting in which the game is set. Each of the maps in The Haunted also have unique characteristics and random events that occur mid-round, such as acid rain storm and earthquakes. 

The Haunted: Hell's Reach runs on the Unreal Engine and it shows. The game looks great and runs fluidly. It also boasts a solid soundtrack that helps bring you into the dark and visceral world of The Haunted. Technically, the game runs fine and I encountered nothing but polish in the technical department, an achievement considering the reputation that the Unreal Engine has for technical performance. The Steam version of the game also offers almost twenty achievements that add a bit of replayability.

The biggest issue with the full version of The Haunted is that it doesn't offer that much over the currently free mod version. The only major advantage that the full version offers is that players don't require a copy of Unreal Tournament 3 to play The Haunted and even so, the pricetag of $20 doesn't equate to the lack of any real single player and if you don't have friends who own the game, there's no way that the game would be worth the money.

While The Haunted: Hell's Reach features thrilling gunplay and visceral combat mechanics which are an absolute blast, the lack of content the game offers in comparison to other games for its relatively steep price of $20 makes it a hard game to recommend at its current price. So, unless you have enough mates willing to drop the $20 to play the game multiplayer, I'm much more inclined to recommend you try and grab the current version of the mod, which is available for free.

The Haunted: Hells Reach is available now on Steam for $20.


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