Journey to Hell, the new game from BulkyPix, is the gaming equivalent of a 2X4 to the back of the head, and we mean that in a good way. It’s a game that wears its influences on its sleeves, that doesn’t have any pretensions about being anything other than what it is, and just wants to get you into the action as quickly and as brutally as possible. It’s kissing-cousins with the Doom games of yore and shares a certain kinship with the more recent Serious Sam series of games. Quick and dirty is the name of this game.
Journey to Hell has you playing as one of two holy warriors, tasked with saving the world from the forces of evil. Each one has their own special abilities: Rachel is proficient at weaving and dodging while Gabriel is more about being a human tank, but they each share one goal: kicking Hell’s butt. Throughout their very singular mission, and vision, they have an expansive and explosive array of weapons to use against the bizarre cast of hellish demons they have to wade through. Acid-spitting ghouls, disembodied skulls and giant sea-faring krakens are all just part of an average day in the life of these two soldiers. Heck, you even get to collect the demons’ teeth to use as currency to buy weapons and ammo. How hardcore is that?!
Journey to Hell is an ugly game, and again we mean that in a good way. The world that Rachel and Gabriel travel in is a grimy, nasty, mean one and boy does it look great. The main characters truly look like what you would imagine a couple of grizzled holy warriors would look like and the enemies are rendered to be the stuff of nightmares. The backgrounds have a suitably slimy, dirty polish to them and look awesome. You really do feel like you’re walking through a lonely, desolate Hell on Earth. Adding to the atmosphere is a rocking, though somewhat generic, heavy-metal/industrial soundtrack that constantly gets you pumped and primed for action.
Unfortunately for Rachel and Gabriel, unholy demon spawn are the least of their worries, as the game is virtually crippled by an almost endless stream of problems.
First and foremost are the awful controls. Journey to Hell controls like most other shooters for iOS, but the controls just don’t work that well. The action buttons are massive and block good portions of the screen, and their position on the screen meant we constantly found ourselves accidentally shooting and/or using a special move when all we wanted to do was look around. Aiming with any kind of accuracy is literally hit-or-miss. You’re either too slow or too fast, and although you can change the touch-screen sensitivity, we rarely found a decent middle ground. And your characters move slowly. This isn’t supposed to be a moonlit stroll down the beach, and Rachel and Gabriel move without any kind of urgency at all, making dodging or running away a thing of dreams.
And even though the game looks awesome, there are all kinds of glitches. Killed enemies occasionally don’t disappear, sometimes Rachel and Gabriel do disappear, and other little things will pop in and out depending on how the camera moves. When you complete an objective and are about to start a new one, a sign will come on screen telling you you have a new objective. The problem is that sometimes that sign doesn’t leave, and it floats around in the middle of the screen as you’re playing. Journey to Hell is a game plagued by digital artifacts.
The game also crashes. Doing virtually anything will make this game crash. Starting a new mission or objective? Crash. Pausing to go to the Menu screen? Crash. Too many enemies on screen? Crash. Not enough enemies? Who knows? Crash! We even had the game crash while trying to take screenshots. Many holy warriors died to bring you these pictures.
Journey to Hell is a game that we want to like so much more than we do. During the brief moments when the game works, it’s an amazing amount of bullet-spewing, demon-slaying fun. Unfortunately, those moments are few and far between. Journey to Hell, as it stands right now is something to approach with caution. We really, really hope that this game gets fixed, because we see a lot of potential here.