The successor to a popular Unreal Tournament 3 mod called The Haunted, The Haunted: Hell's Reach is a third person shooter with a focus on hyper violent action and brutal melee kills. Primarily a co-op game, The Haunted focuses on teams of 4 players taking out waves and waves of nasty demons with a variety of guns and melee attacks. Unfortunately, there aren't a ton of people playing and the technical issues may contaminate your experience. Read on for a full look at The Haunted: Hell's Reach.
Right off the bat you are given zero story or context as to what the hell is going on. Instead you can start a single player or multiplayer game and have at it. At the very least the game describes what each mode is and doesn't make the player figure that out on their own. There are four main modes though in reality it's just two very similar options. Either you're going up against waves of demons solo or co-op or you're fighting demons that are player spawned. Either way the game is very similar and it boils down to a group of four players taking down many many demons at a time.
The "Battle" mode, the mode that allows players to spawn demons against the team of humans, is a bit confusing. Instead of instructing the player in any way the game just drops you in and says go. Many players might be expecting a Left 4 Dead type of experience here but it's a bit different. Instead the players on the demon side can spawn demons on the map in a RTS fashion. As fun as it is to spawn enemies ad nauseam until they kill another player it can get very boring very quickly.
The Haunted plays as a waved based horde-like shooter with tons of enemies being thrown at the players in progressively more difficult ways. At first it's simple melee demons but it soon amps up to puke spewing demons, flame thrower demons, giant brutes, flying fireball throwing demons, and so on. All in all the waves can get pretty insane and the difficulty seems to be a tad too difficult on the normal setting. Demons seem to come at the players in a relentless fashion, which is fitting since they're demons, that can get truly overwhelming at times. The problem doesn't arise in the number of enemies but in trying to kill the number of enemies in an efficient manor.
Guns take a back seat in The Haunted as melee attacks seem to be all the rage. The guns and melee weapons upgrade throughout the game which is a nice incentive to keep killing and killing until the timer is done ticking. However, the melee attacks and combos can be a bit tricky to pull off. They usually require a few keys to be hit in succession which can require players to look away from the screen, resulting in immediate death usually. Why's that you ask? Because demons corner you off so often that running and fighting is a necessity, stopping for even a moment can mean immediate death.
The combat feels like a very diluted version of more polished third person action games. It focuses a lot on the blood splatter and hyper violence but it never feels quite right, instead it comes off feeling a bit broken and flimsy.
For a $20 game The Haunted doesn't look half bad. From the four human characters that the game never explains the stories of to the countless demons you'll be slaying everything is rendered quite nicely. Demons are very disgusting looking and have a very unsettling art style to them all and the game as a whole feels very stylized, much like Shadows of the Damned in a way. Explosions look good and demons burst apart real nice when you boot their heads in just right. The gore and craziness can get overwhelming at times but it looks good none the less and the game does a good job of not slowing down when things get hectic.
The Haunted is very repetitive and that makes it hard to enjoy past the first few hours or so. After a while you realize you're doing the same things over and over again without any reward other than seeing if you can best your score or your buddies. Speaking of buddies if you don't play this game multiplayer I can not see the point in playing it. Single player is very boring and without the help of friends it can get extremely stale. If you have a few friends and a few hours to kill it's not a bad way to go so long as you're not looking to play a top tier game that will set the standard for multiplayer madness.
The Haunted: Hell's Reach is a decent game for $20; it looks good and plays well enough that it isn't too difficult to pick up and play. While the single player has little to no value and the game does absolutely nothing to make players care about the plight of the game it can be a nice way to spend a few mindless hours with friends. If you have three friends who don't mind rustling through some awkward mechanics and just want to kill massive quantities of demons with no consequences then pick it up. Otherwise, if you're into deeper multiplayer experiences, there are countless other games that will be more suitable to your cravings.