Ballistic Interactive's supernatural investigation RPG HellSign is a game that, regrettably, had completely slipped under my radar until it spirited into my inbox earlier today. Which is a shame because it sounds wonderful - and also happens to be heading to Steam Early Access on November 7th.
HellSign, formally known as Hellhunter until trademark issues arose earlier this year, first emerged in 2016 in the form of a Kickstarter campaign. Despite its immediately intriguing sleuthing-and-ghost-busting premise, it sadly only attracted around half of its £27,000 target - but Ballistic eventually raised the funds to continue development.
In HellSign, you take on the role of a freelance ghost hunter, set loose in a small but suspiciously well-haunted Australian town. From there, you can scan the map in search of spooky locations to explore, each one (it sounds like these are uniquely generated with each attempt) offering a contract to deal with a particular paranormal manifestation.
The neat bit is that you won't know precisely what you're dealing with until you get there and start investigating. Upon arrival, you'll want to scour the environment for clues, including the likes of unusual footprints, bloodstains, and ectoplasmic puddles. Each new discovery helps you whittle down the possible spirit types you're dealing with, so that you can plan the most appropriate course of action in order to shoo it from this mortal realm.
At first, your tools of the trade apparently don't get much more sophisticated than a flickering torch and a rusty gun, but each successfully completed contract enables you to increase your monetary reserves, develop your skills, and expand your arsenal of exotic spirit-banishing tools.
And it sounds like tailoring your tool kit for optimal hunting efficiency is paramount. There's fancy investigative tech available for those with the cash to spare, ranging from thermal and night-vision goggles, to movement detectors and EMF scanners. Additionally, the creatures you encounter - poltergeists and their various ghostly brethren, right through to giant spiders and demons - all have specific weaknesses that you can uncover through careful research.
Knowing the enemy is key too; not only can your arsenal be expanded with the likes of shotguns and booby traps, more exotic items, such as silver nitrate rounds and UV bullets, can be acquired too - each designed to counter specific enemy weaknesses once banishment time commences. Flashbang grenades, for instance (as detailed on the 2016 Kickstarter page, at least), are ideal for tackling vampires, but next to useless when you're up against blind wraiths.
It all sounds great on paper, and we'll know how close Ballistic Interactive is to realising HellSign's appealing premise when it enters Steam Early Access on November 7th.
This Early Access version, incidentally, is said to be feature complete, and will include the first of three planned story chapters, three bosses, and 13 creatures to hunt - equating to around 10-12 hours of paranormal hijinks. The full game promises three story chapters, 12+ bosses and 25+ creatures, three or more job locations to explore, refined mechanics, and over 40 hours of play.