With the holiday season in full force (anyone reading this while lounging around the house on a day off?!), and wintry weather all around, friends and families may be looking for something to play. Developer Skygoblin has presented to us an early holiday present in the form of their intense, fast-paced and explosion-filled top-down shooter, Hellfront: Honeymoon. Is such a mashup of genres one to make the grayer days of the year a bit more fun? Time to jump in and find out in our Hellfront: Honeymoon review.
Small But Mighty
Hellfront: Honeymoon comes to us from a three-man team. Prior to working on this twin-stick shooter, this team worked for eight years on laid-back narrative titles. But man can only be tamed for so long—eventually everyone needs a release. Thus, the Skygoblin team felt compelled to make an intense game that mixes real-time strategy with twin-stick shooting. The result is mostly satisfying, though perhaps a bit too limited in scope.
Each player only has one weapon, a generic automatic rifle with an incredibly short range. Bullets disappear within a very small radius, which appears to be a deliberate design decision which forces players to get up close and personal to one another in order to do any serious damage. Given the developer’s aim of creating a furious-paced, tight shooter, this makes sense. But allowing players the option to play with slower, varied weapons would have been welcomed by most.
Quick and Simple
There are two game modes in Hellfront: Honeymoon. Deathmatch supports up to four players on one system and screen. Levels only consist of a single screen, to ensure matches are quick and focused. They’re usually over in just a few minutes at most, and by default matches consist of a best-of-seven rounds. All levels are grid-based, where each tile is a hexagon. Certain tiles have special orange pads, where players can build either barracks or turrets. Barracks spawn four troops every ten seconds, while turrets shoot any enemy that comes within its range. Before either building type finishes being constructed, they can be shot at and destroyed. If a player is killed without possessing any buildings, they are eliminated from the round.
Those barracks buildings always spawn the same group of four generic soldiers for whichever players created their barracks. Individually, each soldier is weak. As their numbers increase over time, however, they can eventually take down almost any combination of buildings and enemies that stand in their way. Troops are controlled by pressing the L2 button, which shows a highlight of where each squad of four will end up. There is no splitting units up into smaller groups and micromanaging here, as the real-time strategy aspects to Hellfront: Honeymoon are purposely light to, you guessed it, keep the action quick.
The Unity Engine, ever a stalwart game engine for indie groups, powers Hellfront: Honeymoon. The visuals aren’t particularly high-fidelity, though they don’t look too terrible either. The lower-end graphics help to maintain a high frame rate, however this can dip quite noticeably when there are a ton of enemies and/or explosions on-screen, which can be frequent in later stages.
Solo or Together
The campaign mode can be played either solo or with a buddy, and consists of 75 maps spread across three worlds. This is where most of the content of Hellfront: Honeymoon lives. Each level takes a couple of minutes at best to complete, with the first world featuring extremely easy time goals to beat. Stars are awarded based on how quickly you and/or a friend wipe out all computer-controlled characters, with global leaderboards to boot. The second and third worlds ramp up the difficulty by a large margin, with some levels becoming almost puzzle-like as players must work out the best course of action when surrounded by pods that spew hostile alien creatures when destroyed, with a crafting pad nowhere nearby. Indeed, sometimes the best course of action is to let some of the computer-controlled enemies kill each other before making a move.
Hellfront: Honeymoon is fun for those who have friends to play with. Deathmatch is where most of the action is, while co-op missions give some sense of progression. Beyond two worlds to open up, there isn’t much in the way of unlockables here. This is a party game that doesn’t take long to get set up, but also doesn’t offer much variety for those looking for more. The campaign is a saving grace here, providing 75 levels of mostly challenging fights to conquer, and a leaderboard will keep some coming back to defend their speedruns. Hellfront: Honeymoon is a good budget title ($/£9.99 at launch) to kill some time with friends who want to do more than just smash buttons in a random fighter.