Folks paying attention to the PC scene may have heard of a soon-to-be-released game called Hellraid. From the makers of Techland, it’s a dark fantasy co-op action title placing players in the role of repelling a demonic invasion. However, in its iOS debut, Hellraid: The Escape [$2.99] doesn’t share the action-oriented approach as its PC and console cousin. In fact, the action is eschewed pretty much in its entirety for a first person puzzler. While this change in genre may disappoint some hoping for something with a bad more action, Hellraid: The Escape offers a pretty impressive experience on iOS.

Trapped in a sorcerer’s prison, Hellraid: The Escape puts you in the role of a prisoner devoid of any personal knowledge of himself. Through a series of missives placed throughout the prison, you learn of a prisoner that has been trapped for a long time and is willing to free you if you can find him. Of course, finding him will require you to traverse through the hellish prison and all it has to offer. While there aren’t any in-game cutscenes or anything other than textual narrative, I loved the way the story was presented with its tendency to offer additional nuggets of information with just enough ambiguity to keep you going.

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When we first checked out The Escape, its Unreal-driven visuals were one of the first things we noticed and is still one of its best elements. Each level is impressively detailed with a solid framerate (at least on current generation devices), although the color palettes are a bit monotonous (reds and browns seem to dominate most hellish prisons). Sure, the visuals and enemy models are pretty great, but I think does an excellent job in using all the visual flair to create an environment with personality. Each chamber just looks spooky and while good graphics contribute to that, it’s the presentation and level design and effort that really contributes to that feeling.

Meanwhile, The Escape’s gameplay does a great job supplementing those visual elements. The game takes place in ‘Chambers,’ which typically encompass a few rooms and challenge players with solving a variety of puzzles in order to move between rooms and eventually reach the exit. Most chambers are a combination of locating items, opening doors and avoiding (or dispatching) enemies. A simple side-quest system of locating crystals offers some reward for exploring the nooks and crannies, but for the most part the core puzzles take center stage.

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I was pretty pleased with the variety and increasingly complex nature of the puzzles the further you got into The Escape. The first chambers teach you how to look around and break pots for clues while later ones charge you with outsmarting enemies (as a prisoner you don’t really have much in terms of weapons to go toe-to-toe) and utilizing a variety of tools to bypass superficially impossible areas. An in-game hint system similar to The Room offers some respite should a particular chamber become too frustrating. I never really found that to be the case, however, which goes to the quality of puzzle design within The Escape.

The platforming portions, however, aren’t Hellraid’s strong suit. While I felt rewarded when completing a puzzle, success in platforming feels more like getting lucky than necessarily being skillful. Patience and caution are still the best elements in your control to succeed but temperamental trap detection is more frustrating than not. Thankfully, there aren’t too many of these sections to worry about and checkpoints are available once you pass them.

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Despite the complaint above, Hellraid: The Escape is a great experience on iOS and a rather successful combination of first-person exploration and puzzle elements. In fact, my biggest complaint lies in its length - with any eight total chambers, it’s a bit shorter than I’d like. Thankfully, support in additional levels in some form or fashion appears to be in the cards. Still, even in its current state it’s a complete adventure with an intriguing story coupled with impressive visuals in a world that I’d like to explore more. It may be be acting as a prelude to the bigger Hellraid game but The Escape holds its own very well and is highly recommended.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • DuckyShot

    Downloading right now :D

    • roxannegbryant

      my Aunty
      Allison recently got a nice 6 month old Jaguar by working from a macbook.this website C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

      • greatnoob

        I can get a Jaguar from working with a MacBook?! That's insane! Wow I better start using my MacBook for work from now on then. Can you thank Aunty Allison for me? I owe her big time for my future success due to me working with my MacBook!

      • Corky McButterpants

        I had 6 month old jaguar once...

        it tore up all my throw cushions! :(

      • DotComCTO

        But wait!! What happened to Thelma?! Inquiring minds want to know.

      • PresidentZer0

        Please go kill yourself

  • worldcitizen1919

    Bought and downloaded as soon as I watched the trailer. Just finished downloading and up pops your review!! I got a definite very good feel from the video that I'll be enjoying this a lot. Now to the game.

    • roxannegbryant

      as Thelma
      explained I cannot believe that a stay at home mom can make $7420 in four weeks
      on the internet . more info here C­a­s­h­f­i­g­.­C­O­M­

      • greatnoob

        There is no Thelma, unless you're implying worldcitizen1919 IS Thelma. :o

  • XzJ450NzX

    Meanwhile.. Still waiting for minecraft to update to its beta.

  • Eseres

    This game is actually quite fun :) Only made it to chamber 3 yet though, but its been very good so far. Worth buying and downloading for sure :) As I've already mentioned, Im only at chamber 3, and so far the game have used swipe, poke and tilt mechanics. For as little gameplay I've been through so far, this game is pretty impressing for what it is. I love puzzle games and horror, so this is great for me :) But if you're looking for a slash and hack and a allround action game, this isn't going to work for you. Other than that, thumbs up from me ;)

  • Sestion

    I made my money by using this "one simple trick" that "all (enter random profession) hate": I got a job, drive there everyday and save what I can.

  • Revolvix

    Oh ok, I see what's happened here. A few of us were reading this review from the website not the app and a "Rebecca" posted that her aunty Thelma made $400 a day with her mac book, you know one of them spam comments people like to leave. Anyhoo the TA app seems to delete any spam comments so I can see how it would look to someone who hasn't read the web version. phew! Sorry for the off topic.

    As you were....Thelmaaaaaaaaaa...........!

  • Ultima12

    Another game that I have to get. I can't keep up lately!!!

  • Eseres

    Well, this is waaay better than Temple Run though :) But I see what you meen :) The puzzles I've come across so far has been more like finding stuff to open gates, using machinery in clever ways and finding solutions to traps and so on. Nothing too complicated... Yet...

    • Eseres

      Correction!!! When you get to the minotaur, things WILL get complicated :P But still better than Temple Run :P

  • Eseres

    Do anyone know what wall to trick that damn minotaur to crush? Its supposed to be a wall that looks damaged, but I can't find it :P Is it me, or is it a bug in the game? Even had to use all three hints, and all I got was about that damaged wall I can't seem to find :P I've tried all the walls, but the minotaur either stops before he reach the wall or the wall can't be smashed... And on top of everything, its too hot, so all I get is PO'ed :P I've even tried that so called "walkthrough" within the games option menu, but even a hardboiled egg is more useful than that...

    • Pheebers

      I'm running into the same situation. Please post if you ever make it through…

      • Eseres

        I've been trying so hard to find that wall, and if I get any more mad than I already am, I think I'll probably brake my iPad in half and lie an egg LOL! Looks like we have to sacrifie a chicken or something to get past that minotaur :D After all my attempts and fails, Im thinking there HAS do be a bug in the game :P I've even tried just standing close to every wall in that room and let the minotaur run straight into me, die and come back to see if he crushed the wall... And yes, you guessed it right :P Didn't work at all. The next time I try it, I'll hug a Bible, close my eyes and go to my "happy place". If that doesn't work, I'll be done with this game for ever :P Such a shame though, because I really liked this game up untill that damn minotaur...

      • Eseres

        DUH!!! Okey, I found the solution to our problem :D I was actually almost done with the minotour all along LOL! Here's what to do (for those who wonder);

        1. When you unlock the door to the room with the minotaur, the wall you need to crush is in the far left corner on the wall to the left. Just drink the potion, run down to the corner and just let the beast kill you :) When you return in the coffin, the wall is destroyed, so just mix and drink another potion and run like hell through the room again and through the opened doorway.

        2. This is where I got stuck :P In this small room there is a tiny portal on the wall to interact with. What I didn't do, was to reverse pinch the portal. That will stretch open the portal and you can go through :D

        3. While going through the portal, tap only on the skulls and not the candles. Keep doing this untill you're through and you are done ;)

        This is the solution for getting past the minotaur chamber, and I hope it will make life a little easier for you who also got stuck with this ;)

        Have a nice summer, folks!!!

  • dekon

    The game crashes on iOS 8. So beta users are warned!

  • Papa Deuce

    This looks like an old PC game from the screenshots, called Sanitarium. Is it somewhat similar?

Hellraid: The Escape Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 4.5