I wont lie. When it comes to action strategy games, I’m not what you would consider to be the brightest bulb in the packet. Oftentimes, these games are either slow, dull or far too complex for my liking. Due to that, I had some reservations about how much I was going to enjoy Hellfront: Honeymoon. Though after several hours of play, I can safely say that, thanks to both its accessibility and its simplicity, I’ve had an absolute blast. There’s some issues, for sure, but by and large, this is easily one of the better games to release in the lead to Xmas.
Hellfront: Honeymoon is served as a twin-stick action strategy game, one in which competition is fierce and, for the most part, bitter-sweet. I’ll start with my first gripe. There really isn’t that much depth to the game whatsoever. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that I’ve say complex games of this type tend to overwhelm me, but puddle deep gameplay will only go so far. Starting up Hellfront: Honeymoon, you’re greeted with a total of three options; deathmatch, missions and settings – the latter allowing for sound alteration.
Starting with missions, you and another player can dive into some co-op fun via a healthy portion of distinct levels. The game’s missions are spread across a handful of locations, and includes that of a tutorial section that feeds you into the basics of play. The core objective here is to wipe out any foe that stands in your way through eliminating them, and their structures. The missions do well at encouraging the player to experiment with different tactics, which in effect, will help with the strategies that are deployed over in deathmatch.
Despite the fact that the overarching objective remains the same throughout, the mission levels are uniquely laid out, oftentimes forcing you to think carefully about your approach. There’s not much in the way of actual gameplay. Players control a single character that has an extremely weak-ranged assault rifle; enticing close-up carnage. You’ll move with the left stick, aim with the right stick, and fire your weapon with RT. Outside of that, players can summon turrets and barracks via Y and X buttons respectively, and deploy units with LT.
The kicker here is that you cant just place a structure anywhere, you’ll need to call them in on pre-set honeypots. These are small yellow-glowing hexagons that signify you can build. The process takes roughly a few seconds to complete from the call-in, though this can countered if the structure takes damage during its brief building phase. Essentially, this means that you can destroy an enemy structure or considerably slow it down if you’re close enough to wreak havoc. Once your selected structure is setup, you’re ready to move out.
That said, it pays off to move from the moment you summon a structure, seeing as though they’ll destroy anything nearby via a brief one-off protective blast. Nevertheless, each of the game’s two structures serve the player in different ways. The turrets, as expected, will blast any nearby hostiles, whereas the barracks will consistently summon units to aid you to success. You can indeed order your units to go wherever you tell them to, to which they’ll automatically open fire on any nearby hostiles. That’s really about as deep as the game gets.
Each and every level within is made up of clusters of hexagons; much of which can be destroyed through the use of your firepower. The game’s missions become progressively difficult as more progress is made. Starting out, the odds tend to be in your favor. You’ll find no shortage of honeypots to build upon, with a relatively weak opposition to dominate. However, before too long, the game’s difficulty takes it up a notch and sees you working for your victories as the odds are suddenly stacked against you. It’s a very fun, engaging affair.
What I appreciated the most is that each mission has a puzzle-like sense about it. There’s usually more than one way to succeed within, but some trial and error is certainly needed to overcome some of the harder levels. I became particularly stuck on one level that had me gunning through thick barriers before I could access any honeypots. The problem here was that the enemy had already started the level with several barracks, meaning that they had a small army of units advancing on me by the time I had built merely one single turret.
It took quite a bit of perseverance to overcome, but once I did, it felt supremely rewarding. The game’s missions tend to become more dramatic later in, making for a journey that will regularly put you to the test. It would have been nice to see some more depth here, perhaps some better weaponry or a class selection to utilize. Instead, you’re expected to make do with minor range, meager damage, and slow-ish movement. I guess that’s the point to some degree, given the game’s concept, but it’s a thought that hit me quite often.
The missions do indeed support leaderboards, giving players something extra to chase as they seek out those all important bragging rights. Rounding that off is the addition of a star-ranking system, being that you can earn up to three stars per-mission depending on your time. When all is said and done, there’s roughly two to three hours worth of playtime here. I’ve had quite a blast throughout, particularly working out the best spots to place my builds to then defend them from incoming attacks. When you’re done here, there’s deathmatch.
In deathmatch, up to four players can dive into the fray across a small collection of isolated rounds. The maps here are well structured and seamlessly suit the carnage that will ensue. Much like in missions, the aim of the game is to wipe out your opposition and their structures. You’ll have an infinite amount of lives to pull from providing you have a structure in place to spawn from. Should you lose all of your structures and die before building another, it’s game over. By and large, Hellfront: Honeymoon is like action-packed tug of war.
Players will constantly battle to gain as much ground as possible, building as many structures as they can along the way. This is where it becomes important to strike a balance between the structures that you build. More barracks means more units, and although a single cluster of units can go down in the blink of an eye, amassing a small army makes you an unstoppable force. Turrets are great for protecting your barracks due to heavier damage output, but their isolated positioning leaves them wide open to attack from all sides.
One interesting twist is that when you destroy a structure, it will spew deadly aliens that will attack anything in their sights. These are easy to kill from a fair distance, but their swift movement and deadly melee attacks make them a worthy foe nonetheless. Despite the game’s simplicity, there’s a nice tactical edge thrown into the mix that a seasoned player can capitalize on the most. Do you unleash hell on some nearby structures to overrun a proceeding enemy with aliens? Or, do you wait them out and kill them with a fresh build?
Several times I found myself burrowing into the destructible environments in an attempt to entice my enemy to hunt for me on foot, only to quickly construct a build that would one-off blast them all to smithereens. On this front, Hellfront: Honeymoon plays at its best. It’s a shame, then, that the game’s simplicity opens the door to repetition later on. As alluded to above, some more variety wouldn’t have gone amiss, and would certainly have helped with the game’s longevity in the long-run. Still, one has to appreciate its accessible approach.
This is a game that anyone can play, making it a neat addition for the festive break ahead, more so if you have friends and family nearby to join in. The game’s visuals, although lacking in refinement, do well to uphold the action-packed character within. There’s some nice detail on show here – especially when the constant explosions cover the screen, but much like the gameplay, it soon becomes pretty boring after a few hours. The heavy soundtrack, on the other hand, goes wonderfully hand-in-glove with the constant chaos from the get-go.
Hellfront: Honeymoon trades depth for gameplay simplicity, and in doing so, will likely turn away those that prefer deeper action strategy games. If you can overlook that, there’s a lot to like about the experience at hand. The game’s constant action sits remarkably well with its quick-fire matches. Though, as with any game that’s relatively bare, repetition sinks in soon enough. Still, this is one PvPvPvP that’s fit for those party nights.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.