I was impressed with the trailers for it Hell screen (opens in new tab), a boomer shooter with a striking teal and red color palette and a unique twist: a “rearview mirror” in your screen at the top center that shows what’s happening behind you at any given moment. But at the same time I thought “oh, that’s a cool trick, but it’s probably just a gimmick, right?” I decided to give the Hellscreen free demo of Realms Deep 2022 a try, see if there was anything else going on.
Hell screen not need something else going on. The rearview mirror is what is going on.
It’s not just a situational awareness tool – right-click and you’ll shoot back, with a small gun and crosshair popping up in the mini screen (which can be blown out and toggled back down with the shift key). To boost the use of the feature, Hellscreen gives you double damage as you move forward and shoot as you get quad damage when you move forward and shoot backwards. I felt like I was wrestling with a whole new realm of 3D motion on the order of They came from dimension X (opens in new tab)‘s gravity-defying firefights, and it’s immensely satisfying for ailing Annie Oakley, Buster Scruggs (opens in new tab) mirror shots.
Hellscreen further leans towards its main mechanic with enemies and hazards that can only be dealt with in rear view. Some enemies are only visible and vulnerable on the second screen, while an area in the demo completely blocks your main view, forcing you to navigate in reverse. Mentally, it reminds me of the best Nintendo Wii and DS games that have squeezed every bit of innovation and fun out of those weird control inputs, and indeed Hellscreen would probably be right at home on an alternate Nintendo 4DS universe.
My only warning is that you should probably stay away from Hellscreen if you get motion sickness. I’ve never had any problems with VR before, and yet sometimes my stomach felt like I was on a rollercoaster. A selling point for me, but something to be aware of.
Hellscreen has been in the works for several years – we reported on it for the first time its trailers (opens in new tab) and Kickstarter (opens in new tab) campaign in 2017 and ’18, but it really looks like the extra time in the oven has helped it come together. Hellscreen will be released in early access sometime before April (Q1, 2023), while you can check out the demo for yourself and wishlist Hellscreen Steam (opens in new tab) page.
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