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Hands-on with Hellraid: The Escape - a troubled teaser for Techland's PS4 and Xbox One game
By Mark Brown 07 May 2014
Game Name: Hellraid: The Escape | Developer: Shortbreak Studios | Publisher: Techland | Format: iPhone, iPad | Genre: Action, Adventure, Puzzle
Hellraid: The Escape is a dark game.

And I don't mean that it's morbidly obsessed with death. Then again, you do start the game by having your head caved in by a demon's axe, and you're often speared on spikes or punctured by spiny death traps.

No, I mean it's literally a dark game. Everything more than two feet in front of you is pitch black, and unless you play it in a dark room or with the brightness on max, you'll be squinting at your iPad like Mr Magoo trying to play Candy Crush.

It does make the scary bits - like when you're being chased by a lumbering brain-dead goon and accidentally stumble onto a pit of spikes - all the more frightening. But it also makes finding keys and coins and levers unbearably annoying.

Hellraid The Escape The game uses Unreal Engine, like Infinity Blade

And finding stuff is something you'll be doing a lot in Hellraid: The Escape, which acts as a teaser for Techland's (*Dead Island*, Call of Juarez) upcoming PS4, Xbox One, and PC dungeon crawler, Hellraid.

While the console game will be a co-op loot-mongering melee combat game, this iOS prologue is an adventure game, like The Room - but with full control over your movements. So you'll wander about dank crypts, solving puzzles and filling your pockets with shiny loot.

The puzzles I played were pretty simple, and very familiar. Open a cell door by wiggling a loose brick? Check. Toss a rock at a lever behind a gate? Check. Find the answer to a combination lock that was painted in invisible ink by floating around in spectral form? Check.

There's even an operational piano in one corner of this grim dungeon, just so you get the requisite musical puzzle that's been in everything sinceā€¦ The Goonies, I guess.

Hellraid The Escape Whoops

It's also terribly frustrating to be sent all the way back to the start of the level - and inside a coffin - when you die, forcing you to trudge back through the dull corridors, dodging the odd trap, or twisting your device to balance on a thin bar. Especially when the trigger points for the booby traps are so well hidden.

Hellraid for iOS certainly has moments of intrigue.

It's genuinely quite scary to see the deranged monsters loom out of the darkness, and the fact that your corpse remains in the level when you die and respawn suggests there may be some unique puzzles that use your own dead body later in the game.

But unless Techland makes some sizeable changes before the game lands on the App Store next week, we'll have a hard time giving this pitch black puzzler any sort of hearty recommendation.

Hellraid The Escape This is a regular sight in Hellraid: The Escape

And this glitchy, troubled teaser app hasn't exactly whet our appetite for the home console game, which is presumably the point. In fact, I reckon I'll stay far away from Hellraid proper if it's anything like this.

Hellraid: The Escape hits iPhone and iPad next week on May 15th.
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