Hellion is a multiplayer survival space simulator, full of contextual information, on-object tutorials and figuring out for yourself. In a style similar to the beginning of Minecraft, Hellion has you wake up in a pod, with the galaxy in the palm of your hand. Flashing lights around and red text filling your screens, what will you do in the vastness of space?
Hellion puts you and a friend into a broken down life support pod, with the inside components breaking down, your ship floating near you and red text glaring on your pods control screens. The first task is to repair the damaged sections, turn on oxygen and reattach to your main ship and airlocks. Meant as a colonization crew, you awaken in a derelict part of space, plenty of stations abandoned and planets to explore. How will you survive?
In its early access state, Hellion has little to offer in terms of progress or story, more you have to scavenge and survive as long as you can. Thankfully there is a road-map of sorts, detailing in-progress mechanics, completed ones and systems that currently do not work. Sadly, a lot of the game is in-progress, which is to be expected of an early access game, but it feels like too much is not completed.
Loading up the game you must select a server to join, and spawn within either your own life pod or a random station. Spawning in your life pod you will be given 2 information pads on the ground, with very very basic commands, fix ship, connect ship, power ship. Bumbling around for a few hours is commonplace for gamers, YouTubers and on-lookers alike. I have yet to see someone playing this game for the first time and not messing around for 1-3 hours trying to find what to do.
Hellion is horrible at first impressions, taking out components from your life system, replacing them with green ones to improve their overall performance is an easy task. Move onto the next task, to either reconnect your pod with an airlock or ship, you will see some of the worst controls ever, based on Newtonian physics and velocity you will be swerving left, right… wait there are no directions in space… port and starboard?
From connecting up your modules you can continue to replace broken parts of your ship, replacing dead warp cells with new ones allowing for your first FTL jump away from spawn. Heading to an asteroid to mine for resources or to attack other players and steal their resources and components.
Overall thoughts and feelings
Space is empty and silent, and that is how Hellion is. Loading up the game you will notice a distinct lack of sound effects and quality music, rather the steps of your boots on the metal flooring or kicking about items. You get the basic feel for the sounds, but nothing really pushes you forward.
This extremely early look at Hellion is very hit and miss with gamers, from many condemning it for its non-existent tutorial, lack of objective and mechanics to others praising its physics and work needed to get things working. It is very easy to get immersed into the atmosphere (Space jokes, woo!), spending an hour just to hook up ships feels realistic, if a bit floaty at times. A lot of information that the player needs is found on the objects themselves, or is received through trial and error.
The game does suffer from lag, glitches and crashes a lot, at least from my time playing it. The worst experience I had was loading into a server for the first time, as stepping out of the life pod itself requires a minute of loading. Connecting to a server resulted in a crash, loading in the life pod crashed, stepping outside crashed and respawning crashed, 5 crashes in a row was not a fun time. Setting aside what seems like a memory leak at times, using up to 8GB of RAM or just overheating, Hellion has you falling through objects, asteroids going inside your ship and plenty of annoyances strewn around.
Dead Space did some great contextual information, with some on-character meters for health and ammo. Hellion tries to replicate some of that with all the text laid on the screens in your ship, data pads on the floor and signs around the ship itself. However, without a dedicated tutorial or single player option, the first load will be incredibly painful. Getting past the first few hours does reward you with some exploration, but as of right now there isn’t much to do in Hellion.
I would suggest waiting for Hellion to develop some more before going ahead and purchasing it, or at least asking around for a friend to play with as that is where a lot of the fun will be had.