The Haunted: Hell’s Reach Review
Given that there’s no story to follow and little objective other than to kill the crap out of everything, The Haunted relies on its combat to keep players engaged — and it succeeds. It blends an arsenal of guns with vicious melee weapons, martial arts maneuvers, and explosive devices into a panoply of demon-murdering savagery. In what other game can you chainsaw one foe’s head off, blast another with akimbo shotguns, Chuck Norris roundhouse kick another off a cliff, and blast a dozen others into oblivion with dynamite — all in a matter of seconds?
You begin play with four weapons: a knife, a pistol, a shotgun, and a sub-machine gun. As you accrue kills, you earn points toward weapon upgrades, which you can apply to any of your weapons to swap them out for more powerful versions: the knife becomes a scythe, the pistol becomes a burst pistol, the shotgun becomes a sawed-off double-barrel shotgun, and the sub-machine gun becomes an assault rifle. Each weapon can be upgraded several times, so that your final arsenal will have you giggling with glee at the unprecedented amount of mayhem you can bring down on the minions of Hell.
But as awesome as The Haunted’s weapons are, you can’t ignore its martial arts system if you want to survive. Combat rolls, slides, drop kicks, uppercuts, spinning knuckles, roundhouse kicks, ground slams, and fatality maneuvers are all executed through various key combinations, and will be necessary to get you out of tight spots.
Explosives, including dynamite, land mines, and cluster bombs, are scattered throughout every map, as well as six secret weapons, which bring the mayhem to a whole new level: rocket launchers, flamethrowers, nitrogen launchers… and three others that I’ll let you discover on your own.
Your implements of death are as varied as the minions you’ll face: some throw their own guts at you, some vomit on you, some pounce, some hurl sickles, some breathe fire, some stun you with massive clubs, and some decapitate you with Freddy Krueger claws. Most monsters have two main attack modes, as well as a special “rage” mode, and can spawn with or without armor enhancements, which forces you to change tactics to deal with different foes.
As you take a beating from these demons, you’ll need to restore your health by performing melee executions and by destroying Health Stones (in single player) or Soul Stones (in co-op). When a health stone spawns, you have thirty seconds to locate and destroy it to regain health; when a companion dies, you need to destroy their soul stone to bring them back into the game and regain health.
A third type of stone, called a Chrono Stone, needs to be destroyed within thirty seconds of spawning or a map-specific environmental effect will trigger: a dense fog that reduces visibility to five feet; acid rain that injures anyone outdoors; swarms of locusts that follow paths throughout the map and will wound anyone unfortunate enough to be caught in them… To complicate matters, if you do not destroy a stone within ten seconds or so, a demon will pick it up and run around the map with it — which is particularly stressful when it’s a Chrono Stone counting down to a meteor shower.