Developer: Shortbreak Studios
App Reviewed on: iPad Mini Retina
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In Hellraid: The Escape, you will find yourself awoken from a stone tomb and trapped in a violent prison, patrolled by disfigured, demonic guards and decorated with all of kinds of vicious traps. Sounds fun, right? You must then find your way out by solving puzzles, dispatching enemies and collecting items to help pass through each area unscathed. Along the way you'll find notes with some background information, hints and harrowing tales on them, further fleshing out the gameworld one piece at a time.
Controls are simple, with a floating joystick for movement, a swipe to survey the surroundings and a tap to pick up objects or interact with mechanisms. However, these interactions are often more intricate than a mere tap, usually involving multiple gestures, proving how much attention to detail was paid to the environment. Powered by the Unreal 3 engine, the game looks undeniably excellent. From flickering lighting effects to the incredible level of detail throughout, Hellraid: The Escape is one of the best-looking iOS titles to date, and succeeds in creating a real sense of foreboding.
Fortunately, the gameplay is just as enticing. With members of the console hit Dead Island team on board, Hellraid is a game that forces you to think. Enemies are too powerful to be taken down head on, so you must use your wits if you want to overcome the deadly foes. For example, the skeleton archer - the first enemy you'll encounter - can hear the rattling of chains as you pass them by, swiftly turning and putting an arrow in you as a punishment. To avoid this fate, you must push a lever to drop a particularly spiky trap on top of the skeleton, without touching any of the chains in the process. It might not be the most obvious course of action, but it's certainly satisfying.
However, the majority of the gameplay involves combing over each torture chamber for keys, secret areas and collectibles, in the hope of progressing to the next area. In this sense, Hellraid is quite formulaic. Yes, the puzzles might be more intricate, but breaking numerous pots in search of keys and gems can get old quickly. It's lucky then, that Hellraid: The Escape makes efforts to constantly introduce new features to the gameplay, expanding and evolving as it goes on. One interesting feature is that players often need to die to see things more clearly, once they've been revived and retraced their steps back to their identical corpse, that is. It keeps things fresh, alleviating the monotony of scrupulously searching each and every chamber, elevating it above a simple point and click adventure or standard puzzle game, and turning it into something that feels new.