The Haunted: Hell’s Reach Review
Maps are expansive, so chasing down a minion is no easy feat, but level design is fantastic. Maps are “circular” — not literally, but they are designed in such a way that you’ll rarely run into a dead end, something you’ll be thankful for when you realize just how many demons are chasing you. There’s a ton of Z-axis gameplay to be had — ladders, ramps, stairs, and elevators will ensure you have plenty of options when deciding how best to get to your buddy’s Soul Stone.
All these elements come together to create a visceral, action-packed experience that borders on being exhausting. From start to finish in a game of Inferno, which can take 45 minutes, the only time you get a breather is when you’re dead, or during the few seconds between rounds. On one hand, you never get a chance to become bored — on the other, you may be so stressed out that you’ll swear to never touch the game again, like myself at the end of this playthrough:
Of course, I didn’t mean what I said — I’ve been playing this game since it was a mod, and I’ll continue playing it. However, because I’m familiar with the mod version, I have to mention the signs of consolization I’ve seen in the retail — namely, a huge loss of customization. The mod offered seven difficulty settings versus the retail’s three; the mod allowed you to set score limits, time limits, and overall provided a UI more familiar to PC users. I’m chagrined that a step backward was taken in this regard when the game took a step forward in almost every other aspect, and hope the developers will issue a patch to re-introduce these features.
On the topic of patches, the developers were quick to respond to complaints of The Haunted’s initial overwhelming difficulty. I found “Easy” difficult, and I’ve been playing the mod for years. Couple the difficulty with a lack of proper instruction about game mechanics, and the only way people could learn to play the game was while the minions of hell were ripping out their intestines. That’s another feature the mod had that the retail seems to lack — a .pdf instruction manual. However, the difficulty issue has been addressed in a patch, and more patches are apparently planned to further refine the difficulty.
Ultimately, The Haunted is an action-packed, run ‘n’ gun thrill ride, best enjoyed with three buddies. For $20, you can get hours of entertainment out of this game, and if you buy a four-pack, it’s only $15 per person.
- Seamless blend of melee and ranged combat
- Deliciously deadly arsenal of weapons
- Wide variety of gruesome enemies
- Engaging co-op gameplay
- Exceptional map design
- Lack of proper instructions or guidance for new players
- Player-versus-player modes feel unbalanced
- Networking issues can make it difficult to play with others
- Lack of certain expected menu options
Final Score: 80/100