[Review] Helium – A “Hardcore-Shooter”?
Platform: PC (Steam)
Release: 10th March 2017
Review Key provided by Rocketship
Helium promises to be a Hardcore Sci-Fi Shooter mixed with a captivating story. Can it hold up to its high promises or is it just another trashy indie game for 5 bucks?
We play as the last survivor of spaceship Vega 237, crashed on the planet Gliese 86b. Stranded on this unknown planet it´s our job to uncover the truth behind the mysterious signal that led us to this planet and why the rest of the crew died on this planet. During this ~2,5h long “journey” the story will mostly be told through the logs of your dead crew members, as known of many other indie games and the environment, in some way.
This sounds like quite the interesting story Helium wants to tell and without spoiling too much, since the story and artstyle are the only reason to play it, I can say that the story is pretty good. Especially during the first half hour Helium does a pretty good job at setting it up. However the conclusion isn´t very new, I´ve just seen a lot of the things that happen at the end in other games or films, Helium only mixes them up a bit and tries to add deep quotes to it which work in some way but couldn´t really fulfill my rather high expectation of this game´s story.
So, let´s talk about the game´s Shooter mechanic … it´s not good. Well you may have expected it but Helium isn´t a good Shooter, it tries to be Hardcore with the lack of HP regenaration, the pickups and all this but the core mechanics simply don´t work. First of all the weapons just feel unresponsive. Every animation is slow, the weapons behave really weird, like the massive and uncontrollable bullet spreading, the different fire modes that never get explained and just occur kinda random, their low damage etc.
Additionally to your slow movement and animations you have rather fast enemies that move very unpredictable and just simply won´t work with the game´s speed. The worst part however is the feedback, you never know if you hit your enemy, how much health he has, and how much damage you deal, Helium can´t give you any feedback, which is such a crucial part of Shooters.
In short, Helium´s Gameplay is really not good, there isn´t really something that works and the many “Find the Item”-riddles won´t help making it more enjoyable. At the end it´s just frustrating sometimes and by far not a good “Hardcore-Shooter”.
However there´s one thing Helium does really well, its artstyle and presentation. On one hand the alien-like structures you will encounter during your playthrough are all modeled after one theme. Circles and Simplicity are the two main themes of Helium´s artstyle, it knows what it wants to be. The facilities, the objects, everything that has to do with this unknown technology just looks unique and new in some way. Just look at this cool HUD, yes I like the artstyle.
On the other hand you have the planet itself which looks very bland and uninteresting due to its grey/white colour scheme, even if it´s explained in the story it doesn´t change the fact, that it gets boring after a short time.
Combined with the mediocre graphics, which wouldn´t be such a big problem if the game would offer more of it´s really cool alien-like environments instead of this bland planet surface, Helium doesn´t have a very diverse look, with only some highlights in it. There´s just so much wasted potential since everytime you´re in a spaceship, a building etc. the atmosphere is so good but they´re just too rare.
All in all Helium can´t hold up to it´s promises, while it offers a good story and a really amazing artstyle for 5 bucks, the Shooter part is just bad and doesn´t work with the enemies presented to you.
Helium is for sure one of the better games you can get for 5 bucks on steam, if you´re looking for a rather short experience with an unique flair and if you´re interested in the story and artstyle I would recommend it to you, mostly because the price tag fits really well.