Jupiter Hell – Doomed From The Start
Love the thought of ripping the denizens of hell a new one but put off by the frantic pace of the Doom series? What if you could take your time and consider your attack, surveying the battlefield in front of you, spotting the big red barrel hidden amongst your enemies, just waiting to be blown up and taking the time to shoot it first. Jupiter Hell, from ChaosForge allows you to feel like a badass soldier, shredding your way through every enemy in front of you, but on your timeline and to an awesome metal soundtrack.
Jupiter Hell is a top-down turn-based tactical Roguelike with RPG elements, where your lone survivor clears out levels trying to figure out just what happened to the crew of the various stations. Along the way, you will find weapons and armour that will, hopefully, keep your guy alive just that much longer. As you kill swathes of enemies you will gain experience and level up, granting you skill points to spend on buffs like increased health, better ammo drops or inventory slots.
The problem is that there is no randomness to the buffs.
In every playthrough the buffs on offer are the same, allowing the player to pick the same ones as before. Once you find a build you like you can just keep picking the same buffs over and over. Unlike other Roguelikes, which have that element of randomness that always has you wondering just what each run will bring, being able to choose the same buffs every time removed the adaptation that is what makes the Roguelike genre so appealing. Without that hook, Jupiter Hell left me feeling like I was just running through random maps killing everything that I could find.
While Jupiter Hell does fall short in its Roguelike aspirations, the core gameplay loop is solid. Despite the game being turn-based, there are no long wait times for enemies to make their move. Instead, the enemies make their moves in real-time as you make yours. The greatest benefit of the turn-based system is the fact that you can stop and take a breather, survey the battlefield and be proactive rather than reactive. Whether it is utilising an exploding barrel to take out a group, or using a grenade to destroy the cover that is protecting your enemies, being able to take the time to figure out what moves are best for you is refreshing.
For the most part, there does not seem to be a lot of difference between the enemies you will encounter early on, with a mix of grunt and imp analogues making up the most of your body count. Eventually, you will be facing drones, mechs, creatures with rocket launchers and some really strong Exalted sum-bitches that wiped me out quick smart in a random encounter with three of them at the same time. You can either just let the game auto-target the nearest enemy or, in the case of grenades/exploding barrels, you can manually target where you want your attack to go.
There is a story present in Jupiter Hell, but good luck trying to follow it. After the opening cinematic you have to piece together what has happened through emails you find on consoles. Mostly it is just killing everything and moving to the next level. These emails will also give you hints that can help you further in the game. For a while, I didn’t bother to pay attention to them as there was no way that I was going to remember the details. It wasn’t until a much later run that I found that I was able to access these messages within my inventory tab. They still were not much use if I did not frequently check them against the levels I was fighting through, but at least there wasn’t a need for me to remember it all.
While Jupiter Hell didn’t grab me in the same way that other notable Roguelikes did, it provides a solid tactical shooter experience that has that replay value that will keep you pushing to get just that bit further and kill everything you find. Lock and load.