Journey to Hell, a third-person shooter developed by Dogbox Studio and published by Bulkypix, is now available from the app store. Featuring terrific visuals, a fully-stocked armory, and multiple game modes, Journey to Hell sadly comes unraveled by its dull and drudging gameplay.
Journey to Hell Pros:
- Terrific detailed environments and great variety of enemies and weaponry
- Heavy metal soundtrack is fantastic
- Controls are familiar
- Survival and Treasure Hunt modes for added replay value
- GameCenter achievements
Journey to Hell Cons:
- Gameplay lacks polish and excitement
- Dodge button placement is unfortunate; reload is wonky
- Weapons are costly and teeth aren’t earned fast enough to justify costs
- Gets repetitive quickly
In a world where demons seek human interaction of a culinary nature, you must take control of either of two uniquely skilled Holy Shield fighters (Gabriel or Rachel) to banish the demons back to the fiery pits from whence they came and protect the sanctity of life on Earth. Adventure mode contains a 10-level campaign that sees you traversing multiple dusty environments. Levels are broken into sections that don’t allow you to advance until you’ve cleared the area of all spawning demons. Enemies come in a variety of shapes and sizes, with some able to spit venom or move at faster speeds than their counterparts. Boss battles pit you against some particularly hulking beasts in order to close out a location. Vanquished foes occasionally drop teeth, which can be collected and used in the armory to purchase additional weapons and ammo. Artifacts found throughout the game are used to upgrade your weapon attributes, offering improved accuracy and faster reloads. While the armory contains a pretty substantial number of weapons, the pace at which teeth are collected and the prices of better firearms feels a bit out of whack. After snagging a couple of handguns and a shotgun, the next gun in line costs 500 teeth. Most runthroughs of a section seem to net only a handful of teeth, while completing a level seems to offer a decent bonus. It feels like you’ll be grinding forever in order to get some weapons that can do some real damage.
Your low-end pistols take a couple of body shots to dispose of early foes, while a single headshot will take many out immediately. Reload times become a pain, especially when you don’t automatically reload after your last bullet is fired. Auto-reload only kicks in when you try to fire your weapon without a bullet, which wastes more time and leaves you open to a painful demise. You can earn new abilities which help you to avoid a quick end, like the rechargeable dodge ability. However, its button size and placement makes it easy to mis-hit and can inadvertently put you into harm’s way. There are a number of minor annoyances like this that build upon each other and speak to the “not fully baked” nature of the game. For instance, there is a section in the hangar where a venom-spitting demon gets a shot off at you a split-second after the transition finishes and you can freely move again. It’s a frustrating way to start a round. Additionally, when in the armory and checking out the different characters, the screen overlays stack upon each other and allow the previous screen to be seen under the current screen, turning the text into Russian gobbledygook. The overall experience just lacks a sense of speed and excitement.
The game’s graphics are its strongest aspect, with detailed 3D environments and consistent quality. Stiff hero animations and movements are reminiscent of the Resident Evil series, and the ability to have dozens of enemies on-screen at once is impressive. A mini-radar in the upper left corner alerts you to the presence of nearby baddies. Your remaining health is indicated by glowing blue bars on your character’s back, similar to Dead Space. The sound effects are crisp and well-executed, with howling winds, dripping water, echoing footfalls, and the like providing nice ambience. The heavy metal soundtrack is also fantastic. The controls utilize a joypad in the left corner for movement, while the attack and dodge buttons reside in the right corner. Your weapon/ammo indicator is in the upper right corner, next to your reload button. Tapping the weapon icon brings up your 3 equipped weapons, allowing you to quickly swap out for another gun. Other than the aforementioned issues and a slight tendency to get hung up on an environmental object in a hairy situation, the controls were passable.
Replay value is pretty good, as any completed level can be played in Survival or Treasure mode, with the latter offering a first-person experience. GameCenter integration brings plenty of achievements to earn, as well. A universal app for $3.99, Journey to Hell is an average shooter that racks up a 3-Dimple score.
Journey to Hell Review,