Infernal: Hell's Vengeance Review

By Nelson on September 1, 2009

Infernal: Hell's Vengeance is a game from Polish developer, Metropolis Software, and is a port from the original PC game, Infernal, that was released back in 2007. The game is a third person shooter based around the constant struggle between Heaven and Hell, except with a more "human" approach to the conflict. Heaven and Hell are both at each other's throats, using agents of the Abyss and an agency known as Etherlight to carry out their deeds.

Players take control of Ryan Lennox, a fallen angel. During a brief meeting with one of Etherlights agents, he receives a mysterious phone call telling him he's due to be "dealt" with. A gun battle ensues and despite his female companion aiding his escape from Etherlight, he soon finds himself meeting the man whom he spoke on the phone with. This man is Lucius Black, the head of Abyss.

The story is really vague as essentially the only reason Ryan changes sides, is to give himself the power to protect himself. There's ultimately no real reason for anything that Ryan is doing or why Etherlight are portrayed quite so malevolently. This so called Abyss faction, want to get rid of Etherlight but the only discernable reason is that they just don't like each other. Some loose ends are tied up later in the story, but it all seems very questionable.

The game is a third person shooter and in this genre there are gameplay elements that have become standard. The ability to take cover is one of these elements, but it's extremely difficult to use in Infernal. Most of the time, it's often more of a hinderance than an actual help and coupling this with crouching makes Ryan more of an open target than dodging normally. Most of this is down to the fact the controls are extremely insensitive; doing anything with any degree of precision is near impossible. Some of this can be blamed on the severe frame rate issues though.

There are some very innovative ideas in place throughout the game though, which revolve around the powers that Ryan acquires, and how they are implemented. Infernal vision allows players to see codes on walls to unlock doors, and to see health and mana pickups that are invisible to the normal eye. Ryan can also charge up all his weapons with mana to do extra damage and the effect and feel of that is rather fun to play with. It's arguably one of the most entertaining aspects of the game.

The other power which is intriguing is Teleportation. This is acquired later and is quite a nice game mechanic, but it's just a shame that the game doesn't utilise its full potential. The controls for it are awkward and due to its large mana cost it's only really used to solve puzzles. It would have been cool if it could have been used in combat for stealthy kills. That said, players get to move objects around using a similar teleportation method and some more volatile ones can be exploded wherever Ryan pleases. This allows players to set up some much needed traps when ammo is at a low.Speaking of ammo, this is something that really needed addressing, as weapons and ammo are not left by enemies as such. When an enemy has been killed, Ryan must drain them with his hand by walking up to them, looking directly at them and holding the button for 3 seconds. This wouldn't be so bad if the bodies didn't disappear after 10 seconds, so it's all too easy to run out of everything very fast and when things are far more chaotic. it becomes a real poblem. Running out of ammo at crucial times happens far too often, and given the game's lack of any real checkpoint system, this can become an extemely annoying issue.

There is no auto-save feature, no checkpoints and no end of mission continuation. If Ryan dies, and he will later on, when asked if a player wishes to retry, the game will load from the last moment the player saved. So without keeping multiple saves and saving frequently, players can easily find that they have screwed themselves. There's also no initial indiciation that this is the case, so it's possible to play for a few hours then get dumped right back at the start of the game. Also, if a player saves in a bad spot and can't progress, they essentially have to start the game again anyway. Most other games supply players with the bare essentials they need to complete it, and this is something that Infernal doesn't do. If a player runs out of ammo during a boss fight, it's essentially game over.

The game is littered with annoyances and bugs and the frame rate drop is probably the most aggravating of these issues. Sometimes it actually causes the game to completely lock up. There are clipping problems, teleportation is also extremely buggy and when the game gives players the ability to teleport more than once in succession, it's rather confusing. It's possible to teleport accidently too far off a ledge and fall to your death, which can be quite annoying as a 2ft drop involves Ryan dying.

There are some nice qualities to the game, when looking closely, but the game isn't graphically impressive and a lot of detail is only visible on textures when literally right next to the object. The overall design and feel to the levels is very different throughout and players won't get the feeling of deja vu. Puzzles are often quite inventive, but while some are quite logical, others involve scouring the area several times to actually figure out what players are expected to be doing. Boss fights also involve the same kind of approach, and sometimes what might seem obvious does absolutely nothing. This also applies to the level layout. They are often a bit complicated and while they retain a linear path, there are quite a lot of unused dead ends and turns.

Visual effects, such as explosions, are very lacklustre compared to some of the games around nowadays and Infernal's age starts to show. Sounds also cut out on weapons fire or come in rather earlier, and the lip-syncing is also very off putting. The voice work while not awful, is very cheesy. This could possibly because of the script as well, but it's something that makes the characters difficult to care about. The music isn't too bad, but the way it's implemented is awful. It reacts to enemy presence, but often lingers on long after the enemies have all been defeated. It also doesn't have enough variation throughout the game and becomes somewhat repetitive.

Final Thoughts

It's extremely hard to recommend Infernal: Hell's Vengeance to anyone as it's a challenging game for all the wrong reasons. Some of the ideas are clever and inventive, but are poorly executed and what could have been made fun hasn't been given the time to shine. There are too many downfalls and even though it will take more than a day to complete, this will only be due to being forced to redo the game in order to actually complete it.

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