Hellfront: Honeymoon is an intense strategy-based twin-sticks shooter, it’s the kind of cocktail that on paper sounds great but then you drink it and realize that you skipped the tequila and now you regret your decision heartily.
Okay, that’s a little harsh, but only a little. Twin stick shooters hold a special place in my heart, they’re arcadey and fun, but challenging enough to keep you coming back for some more friendly self-torture. Like that extra marshmallow on your hot chocolate that you know you shouldn’t but fuck it, life is too short. Hellfront: Honeymoon is not that marshmallow. It’s a cinnamon Jelly Bean masquerading as cherry and ruining everyone’s day.
Hellfront: Honeymoon is simple, it’s basic and it’s easy to learn, but almost impossible to master. From the ground up it’s obvious it’s a title designed to be played with a partner. I mean it’s in the freaking title, but it does provide the option for you to fly solo. Don’t would be my advice. For the first handful of levels, it’s all fun and games. You shoot some bugs, blow up some buildings and have a good time. Then you’re surrounded, outnumbered and woefully under-skilled and ill-equipped to cope. Or so it would seem.
Did I get stuck on a level? Yes, multiple actually. Did one of them break me? Yes… yes it did. I did what every self-respecting gamer who grew up before YouTube tutorials existed should do: Attack the problem a hundred and one times, driving yourself a little closer to that cackling madness we all feel bubbling away in the prefrontal cortex.
An hour later I turned to YouTube. I still failed.
There isn’t so much a difficulty curve, but a spike so steep it’s a wall. Bullheaded-ness failed me, employing strategy failed me and then step-by-step tutorials failed me. Maybe I’m just bad, or maybe that’s some grade A unbalanced bullshit designed to destroy controllers and reduce grown men to tears.
Hellfront: Honeymoon features the re-spawn mechanic that gives you infinite lives so long as you have at least 1 structure on the map. There’s no penalty for death aside from lost time (and time is important if you want those glorious three-star ratings and leader-board times) and wounded pride, but as soon as you’re left without a building you have one life and it’s a decidedly delicate one at that.
It’s this that makes Hellfront: Honeymoon feel hilariously unbalanced, technically all the cards are in your favor, but your own minions are absolute lemmings and don’t do anything without express orders to do anything. Once done, they’ll mill about with their thumbs up their asses and pretend to be useful.
You get to move around and dictate where your dudes go, and you have an infinite ammo assault rifle that never needs to be reloaded, so feel free to just hold the trigger. However, the range is terrible and the AI is far more accurate than you could ever hope to be. Hellfront: Honeymoon just doesn’t gel, or at least didn’t gel with me. I have no doubt when playing with a partner it’s a far better and way more pleasant experience. Mind out of the gutter people, this is serious. As it is though, solo-play just isn’t all that rewarding or fun.
Your trooper has a couple of functions; Move, Aim, Shoot, Build (Turret), Build (Barracks) and Order Troops. That’s it. Simple, but you’re left with so many unused buttons that could have side-weapons and stuff tacked onto them. Grenades, rockets, special powers, all of these things are staples of the genre and Hellfront: Honeymoon has none of them. It’s disappointing to say the least.
Aesthetically the game is nothing to shout about either, it’s a top-down twin-stick shooter, occasionally things explode and enemies become mulch but otherwise, it’s a little uninspired. Some of the particle and blast effects look more impressive than they are, they feel as though they should have more of an impact than they actually do. I’d love to say the character models are great, but you’re top-down and so zoomed out you can’t really see much of them.
I have to give credit where it’s due though, Hellfront: Honeymoon‘s soundtrack does a brilliant job of laying out a good beat and getting your pulse racing, making you want to blaze a trail through a level and obliterate your enemies. But really, it’s the only great thing about the game.
As I’ve said, I’m sure with a partner it’s a totally different experience and may actually be far more fun, but as a solo player, it’s very underwhelming. Hellfront: Honeymoon relies on overwhelming the player at the start in order to enforce difficulty, once you manage to get a decent foothold on whatever stage you’re playing it’s fairly easy to steamroll the opposition.
Hellfront: Honeymoon desperately needs some form of auto-advance order or a follow-me command to make the minions that little less useless. To be honest most of the time they just distract and get in the way without seeming to add much of any substance. You need a handful of squads before they can be considered useful.
All in all, Hellfront: Honeymoon‘s single-player experience is not all that great. It’s a party game designed for people with friends and would probably do well after a couple of beers and everyone wants to mess around. But in fairness, we have the glorious Nidhogg for that – Praise be unto him!
Of course I attempted the online mode but whether it was server side or my side (likely my side) there were some crippling latency issues which made it unplayable. I would love to comment on it, but alas the Internet Gods deemed me, or the game, unworthy.
If you like twin-stick shooters with party elements then maybe Hellfront: Honeymoon is the title for you, as long as you have the co-op/party to play with/against. Do not pick this game up if you’re looking for a good solo-player experience. Go pick up Beat Hazard Ultra.