For being an Early Access title, HellSign is surprisingly stable and generally well-balanced assuming you do not mind The Grind. One of the concerns I had throughout the game falls onto gear; I seemed to always be under-geared for an area and though ammo is affordable and plentiful, I was still pouring tons of cash into the regularly-depleted ammo reserves that I had. I know too that for the action-RPG genre, due to the popularity of the Souls games, has begun to return to gaming roots in the “figure it out” way while leaving any manner of real in-game assistance (hints, tutorials, etc.) out of the game. That is not to say HellSign does not help, nor that some hints/guidance is yet to be added, it just means that in its current state that a ton of trial and error plus a whole lot of dying will come into play (and you will get cheesed often).
That said, HellSign is more of an investigation game with action-RPG elements tied gracefully into the various areas that you will visit. Each of these areas and investigations are tied together with some of the most stunning comic book-style story panels that are simply gorgeous. Most investigations in areas (that are opened via communicating with the locals in the bar or picking up hints from other dungeons) involve walking around a gruesome scene, generally an abandoned house or building, with your little flashlight and flicking between your EVP (Electronic Voice Phenomenon, aka “spooky voice thing that appears on voice recorders”) and a blacklight. As you use your EVP tools to grab clues and hints, you will be assaulted by a bazillion giant spiders, poltergeists, ghouls (seriously, screw ghouls, they will wreck your face), and other nasty denizens of the afterlife.
What is a really neat concept that you do not find in many other titles is that if an area is too hard (and most will be), you can leave the area, keep the loot, then come back when you are more powerful and the area will stay persistent. In many action-RPG titles when you leave and return to an area, the world respawns or resets itself (to most degrees) and it is back to slogging through an area. Not so with HellSign and I like the idea/concept.
As HellSign is under continuous development things will likely change, including balance between the handful of “classes” that you can choose from at the start of the game. Even with the oddly giant spikes in the difficulty that you will inevitably run into, HellSign is a tensely enjoyable paranormal investigation game with a solid understanding of the use of aural cues to heighten the fear and intensity. It also helps that it is a solid title that though largely grey and seemingly colorless to my goofy eyes; there is something inheritantly terrifying about a colorless world. Add to the mix some solid dash-attack-retreat-attack style gameplay and an interesting leveling system and you have a solidly spooky game on your hands. Fortunately any real kinks in balance will hopefully be addressed by the super active development team. Head on over to Steam to check it out; it is certainly worth it. You can find it here.