When you look at the history of the top-down shooter, every successful release has added something to the popular formula. Whether it’s adding a special ability to clear the area in the most explosive, over the top way possible, or simply adding weaponry that you haven’t seen before, that special something is needed to leave the game on the tip of gamer’s tongues. Hellfront: Honeymoon is the newest title to hit the genre, which incorporates strategy elements requiring you to build bases and defenses, all while using your primary character to mow down anything moving within your path. Does it work? Let’s take a look.
The game offers two modes of play, a cut and dried solo/co-operative campaign, and a deathmatch style game, which can only be played locally with up to 3 of your friends. Regardless of which mode you choose, the gameplay stays the same – use your commanding soldier to eliminate any opposing color army’s bases and troops. If the level of choice includes more than one base, you’ll have the option of placing your own base on top of it, resulting in additional troops spawning every few seconds, or to place a turret in place of the base, adding some much needed defensive firepower to your ranks. Adding more chaos to the mix, anytime a base or turret is destroyed, the explosion irritates the Starship Troopers-ish alien bugs from underneath the world, creating a swarm of enemies that seek out the closest living things to eat, be it you, your soldiers, or the enemy teams. Who are these aliens? Why are we fighting the other colored armies? Who is running the show? Is it racism? Class-ism? Donald Trump? No one knows, because there isn’t really a proper narrative in place, but the game doesn’t suffer from it.
It takes place across more than fifty levels spanning three worlds. Each world comes with their own unique aesthetic to stand out among the others. As you progress, the difficulty is the biggest change, and feels a bit uneven. The first world is almost too easy, pitting you against a single army, often with minimal defenses and only a few bases. Once the game finally hits its stride around the beginning of the second planet, the game incorporates multiple armies, as well as barriers that must be destroyed to proceed. This adds some heavy strategic challenges, almost as if you’re playing chess, requiring you to systematically work your way through the level. Adding bases and building your army slowly, essentially playing the long game is the best strategy at this point. Alternatively, you can add a second player to the campaign, allowing you to mow through the levels and barriers with little effort if you focus fire, but sadly, no other power ups or upgrades are available, leading to potential boredom setting in fairly early, especially when playing solo.
The deathmatch mode does not inject much life into the game, outside of being a short diversion if you have a decent group of friends available to play locally. With no online option being present and no modifiers being in place, after a few matches you’ll likely be ready to move on to something with a bit more depth. The game plays out exactly like it does within the co-op or campaign mode, with the enemy teams being made up of your friends, with the last man standing as the lone victor.
The presentation is the type of honeymoon I want to be a part of, offering up a catchy, heavy metal sound track that sets the tone perfectly against the retro meets new school visuals. While you will occasionally struggle to locate a straggling soldier that gets lost in the foliage here and there, it is quite easy to determine what you are looking at, even when the action gets the heaviest. Coming across as Command & Conquer meets Smash TV, fans of either genre will find something to love. The controls stand out as the biggest success, as I’m hard pressed to find a strategy game that makes proper use of the gamepad on consoles. Hellront: Honeymoon is clearly the exception to this, as I rarely found myself lost when trying to send my ground forces to a specific point or when I wanted to establish a base. Regardless of whether you’re forte is the shmup aspect or the strategic elements, you’ll find the controls accessible and precise.
Hellfront: Honeymoon may not offer up much in the form replay value, but its fast paced unique action is something that is worth the price of admission for a weekend in, providing you have at least one friend who will walk down the violent aisles with you.
8 out of 10
- Strategy Controls that Actually Work on a Gamepad
- Blistering Soundtrack
- Unique Blend of the Shmup/Strategy Genres
- Lack of PvP Modes
- Difficulty Spike
Hellfront Honeymoon was developed by SkyGoblin and published by Thunderful. It was released on December 19th, 2018 for PC, PS4, and X1 for $9.99. The game was provided to us for review on X1. If you’d like to see more of Hellfront Honeymoon, check out the official website.
Here at GBG we use a rating method that you are more than likely familiar with – a scale of 1 to 10. For clarification, we intend on using the entire scale: 1-4 is something you should probably avoid paying for; 5-7 is something that is worth playing, but probably not at full price; 8-10 is a great title that you can feel confident about buying. If you have any questions or comments about how we rate a game, please let us know.