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Hell Galaxy Demo Impressions – Promising Space Sim

Hell Galaxy is a sci-fi space combat game that has a mix of action, horror, and space exploration. Developed by Italian Games Factory, this game looks the same as the NFT game Haunted Space that has been in development for several years. I don’t know the full background of both games aside coming from the same developer, but I have gone into these demo impressions looking for a space flight sim experience and I liked what I played, albeit with some caveats and suggestions.

Hell Galaxy combines the excitement of space combat, the intensity of a scary theme, and the complexity of an RPG into one action-packed demo so far. The games story starts where you, as a human, are being held captive and tortured, where your consciousness is extracted and intertwined into the mechanics of small combat spaceship. An AI being called Homerus guides you through a tutorial sequence that teaches you controls of movement, boosting and combat. You can play the game in the cockpit view or press V to snap to third person behind the ship. Switching views was very smooth which I appreciated.

You find yourself in an area of space that is bordered by what looks to be an energy shield in a giant cube form. There are asteroids, mining stations and rails that act as a fast-travelling system. You can hold shift to boost the spaceship and hold down F to traverse much faster. If you fly down to the rails and through gate, you’ll be boosted forward along the rail. At such high speeds I found it difficult to keep on course but some gates I flew right through without getting a scratch, as if the objects are just visual placeholders, while the gate mechanisms will stop you and damage the ship.

I started playing the Hell Galaxy demo in the cockpit view, and the first mission had us collecting items from these drones. They zip around the screen quite fast and initially I couldn’t find a button to select the nearest target, so I was trying to lead the targets. Thankfully their return fire wasn’t too strong and eventually I took them out. However, at the next mission they moved around much faster, and I could barely hit them so ended up getting shot to pieces. I watched the developer’s playthrough on the game’s Steam page and he was playing in third person but had selected the enemy craft somehow which gave him a lead target icon to hit, and his missiles became homing to the target.

The game’s performance is great at times but awful for most of the time. Changing the graphics from epic down to hgh and even medium didn’t seem to improve the performance. It’s usually when I’m fast travelling to a new area of the cube or just as enemies spawn in that it jolts heavily. There are also moments in cutscenes where the vision goes super blurry, and there are currently no options to adjust motion blur settings. Thankfully the developer has acknowledged complaints made on the Steam forums and promises they have added adjustments and improvements to motion blur to their development road map.

I jumped back into Hell Galaxy and found that pressing T while a target is in your reticle will select it, making your missiles home to them, and gives you a leading target to shoot. I was much more accurate with my shots and was able to progress to the next mission. On the way to the next mission, I stopped at the main base station where I landed, and this automatically restocks your supply of missiles. I went to the next mission and found that if I kept my distance at around 800m to target, quickly targeting an enemy and firing a missile at it, it meant I could then finish it with the primary weapon much faster.

You can scan with the R button which sends out a pulse and highlights any mission objects or points of interest you haven’t visited yet. I spotted a mining station so flew over and blasted some of the blinking rocky structures, allowing me to look crafting items like Zinc. When back at the base, you can choose to sell the items you find for credits to save up for new weapons or use the materials for crafting. Being a demo I didn’t have enough credits or crafting materials to get anything else, but it was a good way to see potential in these areas.

The next cutscene reveals a large monster-like ship that breaks through the energy shield and threatens the base before leaving the system. In its wake were some fast-moving drones that threatened to take us out, so I had to hurry along the rail lines to activate a station that would send out an EMP pulse to take them out. One of the final missions gives you a secondary laser gun which helps to chew down enemy shields, then you can switch to the primary weapon with the middle mouse button to take down its hull.

There is some great potential for Hell Galaxy on both a story front but also the space flight sim mechanics. Visually the game looks stunning most of the time when it’s not blurred during movement. The weapon sounds are great and similar to previous space flight sims, and the voice acting is decent. If the developers can improve the graphics performance to reduce visual jarring/hitching in heavy areas, fix or remove the motion blur and perhaps brighten up some UI elements, I can see this becoming a great game. Sometimes the icons for the enemy units blocked my sight of the actual enemy ships as most were small drones, adding to my difficulty in hitting them. Otherwise, it’s a short gameplay demo but it has definitely piqued my interest enough to want to see more as the game develops.

These demo impressions utilised a key provided by Renaissance PR. The Hell Galaxy demo is currently available as part of Steam Next Fest, and you can wishlist the main game on Steam.


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