Hellraid's producer discusses the game's flexible fantasy combat system

Hellraid is a co-op fantasy first-person slasher game that is currently slated for release on PC and new-gen consoles some time in 2015, with a Steam Early Access period coming in the Fall of 2014. After seeing the game's recent trailer, I was interested in knowing more about what to expect from Hellraid. I was lucky enough to have a few of my most pressing questions answered by Marcin Kruczkiewicz, the game's producer, in this exclusive interview. 

Hellraid_logoGameCrate: What are the major inspirations for Hellraid?

Marcin:  Looking back at our gaming history, we put countless hours into classics like Heretic and Hexen, got enthralled by the gloomy atmosphere of the original Diablo, and we had some really good times with the combat of Dark Messiah of Might and Magic. Hellraid draws on that nostalgia and dark fantasy vibe, sure, but in the end is its own game. Our goal for Hellraid is to meet expectations of the much more demanding modern gamers.

GC: How does the melee combat in Hellraid compare to games like Skyrim and Chivalry?

M: Well, Skyrim and Chivalry have melee combat systems vastly different from each other, and Hellraid is something unlike any of them. While Skyrim is a beautiful, massive game, combat isn’t its strongest point. Chivalry, on the other hand, features a complex and deep combat system but is in essence a PvP game. Because of that, many of its mechanics just wouldn’t work in Hellraid.

The combat in our game has this ‘meaty’ feeling to it; when you swing your weapon, you will feel the force behind the blow. You also get all these advanced moves, like parrying, dodging, shield blocking and bashing, without ever being distracted from fast-paced, immersive combat.

GC: What are the differences between types of weapons in terms of gameplay and strategy? How does a sword compare to an axe, for example?

M: The most obvious differences would be in their speed, damage, and inertia. Whether they are one-handed or two-handed is another factor. Weapons also differ in their hit pattern. For example, a heavy attack with a sword uses a vertical hit pattern, perfect for dealing heavy damage to the head, while a heavy attack with an axe is a wide, horizontal swing, capable of hitting several enemies at once.

hellraid portal

GC: How much of a role will magic used by players have in combat?

M: You will have to make the decision to what extent you want to use spells. You are free to create a character focusing solely on magic, or combining spells with melee and ranged weapons. You can go all out and obliterate every enemy slinging lightning bolts and fireballs, or use magic to weaken enemies and strengthen yourself before going in and unleashing a whirlwind of steel. Our goal is to create a plethora of options, thanks to available spells and unlockable skills, for players to mix and match to their personal playstyle.

GC: In the non story modes, how large and involved are the maps?

M: The Mission Mode brings all-new gameplay to levels you already know from the Story Mode, while the Arena Mode has its own, specifically designed maps.

hellraid chandelier

GC: One of the screenshots shows a player attacking a chandelier chain, presumably to make it fall – is that sort of thing going to be common in Hellraid?

M: Yeah, exploiting the environment in combat gives a nice twist to the combat in Hellraid. Chandeliers, classic exploding barrels, or the ability to kick enemies off ledges are all a part of the freedom given to the player in terms of combat.

GC: What can you tell us about the story of Hellraid?

M: Hellraid takes the player to a world where the barriers between dimensions have started to weaken. Now the forces of Hell are pouring into the human realm, trying to tear those weakened boundaries apart with bloody sacrifices and evil rituals. Ultimately, they want to pave the way for the lord of Hell himself. The player’s character, the last of his cursed kin, tries to stop it from happening.

We will discuss the plot in detail at a later date.

hellraid charge

GC: Are there boss fights?

M: No game about stopping the forces of Hell should go without boss battles. However, it’s a bit too early to talk about them in detail.

GC: Can you share any details on the health and/or fatigue system in the game?

M: We’ve decided to get rid of health and mana regeneration over time, so you will drink potions in the old-school way. We want to achieve three things with that. Firstly, we want players to think strategically about how they use their resources, especially when it comes to magic. Secondly, we don’t want players to wait for health and mana to naturally regenerate. Lastly, it creates an incentive for players to go exploring, not just rush through the levels.

hellraid looking for food

GC: What makes Hellraid special, and different from other games on the market?

M: The feature we’re really proud of is combat, and the freedom we give players in how they approach it. We really can’t stress enough how diverse the options are to create your own fighting style, especially when you add magic, items, and the class-free skill tree. Another thing is, there really aren’t that many games that would fill the niche of a dark fantasy FPP co-op slasher, particularly on the next-gen consoles.

Many thanks to Marcin for answering my questions. We'll be checking out Hellraid in person for the first time at E3 next week, so we'll make sure to bring you our impressions here on GameCrate. Additionally, the official Hellraid forums went live just a few days ago, so now you have a chance to let the developers know exactly what you are hoping for from the game.