Treasure Of The Deadliest Depths
HIGH Finally figuring out the final boss’ pattern and weakness.
LOW Those zombie sorcerers are way too fast.
WTF So… no hints at all about the secrets?
With the release of Dying Light 2 inching closer all the time, Techland has made the decision to amp up excitement by releasing the (presumably) final piece of Dying Light DLC — Hellraid.
There are a number of stories about Hellraid‘s troubled development floating around — some say it started life as a Dead Island 2 mode, which wouldn’t be shocking as it features basically zero parkour. Others say it was being developed as its own game, which seems doubtful given what a tiny amount of content the DLC offers. Whatever the story behind Hellraid’s release may be, it’s here now and it doesn’t live up to the standard set by Dying Light‘s main mode.
Hellraid exists as a game-with-a-game, appearing in the form of an arcade cabinet in the ground floor of the Tower which acts as Dying Light‘s main mission hub. Players start it and find themselves transported into an inverted tower — a series of linked rooms and hallways that spiral downwards until they reach a pit where a boss guards a treasure horde. Up to four players can take on the challenge, scavenging for medieval weaponry and explosive flasks to help them deal with zombies that come charging out of the demonic portals that spawn in each new location.
Hellraid‘s visuals have been given an attractive overhaul — the concrete towers and corrugated steel shanty towns of the Dying Light campaign have replaced by stone walls, wooden bookcases, and wrought-iron cages as far as the eye can see.
Enemies have also been reskinned, with zombies turned glowing and inhuman, raiders replaced by sword-wielding skeletons, and the charger boss has been replaced with a delightfully appropriate mythical creature I won’t spoil here. The only untouched enemy seems to be the goon — a hulking, seven-foot-tall zombie that can knock the player off their feet with ease. He seems dressed almost exactly in his default DL costume, although I will confess the lighting is so dim that it’s difficult to make out many of the finer details on enemy models. Hellraid flubs how it uses those enemies, though, and spoils the flow of play.
The goal of the DLC is simple — fight through a mob of the undead and get some treasure at the bottom of the tower. That treasure? Coins that can be used to purchase Hellraid’s awesome melee weapons for use in Dying Light‘s campaign.
These coins also appear on enemy corpses, which is where the trouble comes in — instead of giving the players coins for killing foes, they’re forced to search each zombie’s body. However, zombies come in rapid waves and they’re so strong that the player will spend most of their time racing around the map to find the best place to ambush them from. As a consequence, the end of each encounter is a slog of manually picking up tiny, hard-to-spot coin purses littered around the floor.
Hellraid should be about boldly cleaving through enemies and showering in the riches left behind. Instead, it winds up being about tapping the ‘find items’ button over and over again and following onscreen markers to grab coins. I understand why enemy weapons or health kits don’t get picked up automatically, but the currency that is this mode’s main draw? Making players track down each individual piece is waste of their time.
Hellraid is obviously meant to be replayed — a single trip through the dungeon won’t unlock any of the truly impressive weapons or give the player enough coins to buy even one of the mid-range ones. It’s not a roguelike, though, as the dungeon plays the same way each time. The same enemies appear in the same rooms in the same order, so farming for coins quickly becomes a question of optimizing routes and practicing combat techniques.
This time isn’t wasted, though — all combat experience earned counts in the main campaign as well. Unfortunately, there’s no way to build up agility experience because the developers neglected to flag magic attacks as something that the player should be rewarded for evading. Sliding under a slowly-arcing skeleton’s axe? That’s 20 agility points. Perform a daredevil weave between fireballs hurled across the map by sorcerous zombies? No exp at all. It’s a bizarre oversight.
As a way to quickly level up a new character’s combat abilities while working towards weapons to help them with the main campaign, Hellraid is successful enough. Unfortunately, there’s no real depth to it, and after a few times through I felt like I’d seen everything it had to offer. There are worse ways to spend a few hours, but this content is probably best enjoyed by die-hards looking for an excuse to boot up Dying Light one more time before the sequel drops.
Disclosures: This DLC is and developed and published by Techland. It is currently available on PC, XBO and PS4. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the PS4. Approximately 3 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. 1 hour was spent in Multiplayer modes.
Parents: This game was rated M by the ESRB, and contains Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language. Just like the main game, this is an experience built around tearing zombies to pieces in brutally graphic fashion. I didn’t notice any strong language though – there are no NPCs and the enemies don’t talk. Maybe that’s a holdover from the main game?
Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available in the options.
Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: Sound cues let the player know when a new enemy portal has spawned in offscreen – luckily enemies will appear on the minimap a little later, but you will be missing out on an early warning. This content is not fully accessible.
Remappable Controls: No, the game’s controls cannot be remapped.