The Haunted: Hells Reach is…Fine

Image: Screenshot from the game.
Written by: Elijah Moon Blackwell

It’s always cool to see a mod of a game get an official release. Counter-Strike started out as a mod of Half-Life. Now it’s a two decade old franchise.

Haunted: Hells Reach started out as a entry for Epic Games’ Make Something Unreal contest. The competition was only held four times. The goal was to create the best mod of Unreal Tournament 3.

In 2008 Michael Hegemann and Team submitted The Haunted and won first place. The prize was $50,000 and an Unreal Engine 3 license.

The mod became an official product under the name The Haunted: Hells Reach in 2011. It got a release on Steam, which is where I’ve played it in the past. I also have the physical version. Which, to be honest, I had no idea it got physical distribution till it was in my hands.

A Familiar Premise

Unreal Engine looking good as always.

The Haunted: Hells Reach is a wave based third person shooter. Each level is an arena. There’s no transitioning levels mid game or going through a door to a whole new area. There’s a certain number of enemies you need to kill before starting the next wave.

There’s a mode where after so many levels you fight a boss to beat the game. Then there’s the endless mode which is mostly just a test of endurance.

You run around, dodging attacks and killing hundreds of monsters. Sound familiar?

It’s a game type that’s been around for a long time. From the Mercenaries mini game in the Resident Evil games to Call of Duty’s zombies game mode, this style of gameplay can be found in a lot of franchises.

There’s nothing wrong with it. I love it when a game includes a survival mode where you just take on endless amounts of bad guys. Tom Clancy’s Ghost Recon: Future Soldier had one that was insanely fun in co-op.

It’s simple yet challenging. Don’t get caught napping and die late in the game. Learn the levels and plan your routes. Discover ways to clear large clusters of enemies. Don’t die!

For some it may be boring, as it is rather repetitive. But for me it makes a good time killer.

Still feels like a mod

Even though this is a retail release I still feel like I am playing a mod. There’s only a few characters to choose from that have no effect on gameplay.

There’s no additional weapons besides the starting three. These weapons can be upgraded but unless you’ve played the game before you have no idea what’s next. One minute it’s an assault rifle and after upgrading it turns into dual wielding Uzis.

There’s no leveling system, no secret areas to find and almost no plot. The levels don’t have any special gimmicks or hazards. They are mere backdrops to the action.

It feels like a game mode that would accompany a larger product.

This could be personal bias. I know the game was a mod so going into it I expect something more since it is a standalone release. However, I’m not saying this is a bad game.

There’s stuff the game does right

Darkness makes the game much more intense.

The enemies, referred to as minions, come in a wide variety. Some minions are armored, meaning you have to aim for weak spots. Some fly around and can be hard to hit. Others release weird explosive spike ball things.

On a first play through the cast of minions will come as a surprise. Once you know them all, you begin to dread having to see them again. The fire breathing minion? Yeah, thanks for depleting my health in a matter of seconds!

To keep the player from running in a constant circle the whole time, the game will force the player to divert the path.

A Chronostone will spawn which needs to be destroyed in a certain amount of time. If not grabbed soon a minion will grab the stone and begin to run away from the player. Failure to destroy the stone within the given time limit results in a storm. It gets dark and lightning may strike the player rendering them motionless. It’s a good way to die. Destroy the stone.

This is how health, weapon upgrades and ammo is. You can’t just kill minions the whole time.

Probably the best part about The Haunted: Hells Reach is that it works in Windows 10 just fine. On top of that it’s really cheap. It’s currently $8.99 on Steam.

It’s great if you have some time to kill and need something pick-up-and-play.

In the end, The Haunted is just fine

Everything feels like a subpar version of a bigger game. It’s good for what it is but definitely not a replacement. Great for those with a budget and looking for a cheap wave shooter. However, if you can wait for a Steam sale, Killing Floor may go for about the same price and is a much more content filled game.

The Haunted: Hells Reach is not a bad game. Check it out but go in with the same expectations you’d have with a mod.

Got any games you’d like to see covered? Let me know at cdromfossil@gmail.com!

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