Hedone PC Preview
Eventually, practice catches up to theory. The game is loaded up on a big screen and, despite all the preamble and chat, it’s a shooter. People run around shooting at each other, dying, killing, respawning; any hint of Hedone’s intelligent origin is lost in a haze of violence. It’s just a shooter, and the fact that there are one or two video cameras marking the edges of the map doesn't make it smarter than any other shooter.
Except, as minutes play out, we realise it’s not just a shooter. It’s a bad
The levels are tiny, grey and insipidly generic – an oil rig is the first level we see, then a construction site – while the action looks dully static and tired. Despite claims about tactical depth, there's not even any recoil on the guns.
Mario Rizzi tries to spice up the experience by cycling through a few different weapon loadouts and skills, but it’s all old-hat - shotguns and SMGs we've seen 1,000 times before, this time with customised skulls adorning every vertex. Most of it feels incongruous with the previously so-defined setting too, such as when players power up enough to pull miniguns out of mid air - where's the subtle damnation for which Acony was aiming?
Click to enlarge
Some snippets of information start to slip out. First, Hedone’s action is underpinned by two separate metrics; Fame and Heat. The latter is used within matches to power skills, while the former is used to progress those skills between matches. Both scales feed into each other, with Heat powered by in-match action-based micro-challenges; kill someone with their own weapon, for example - it's an interesting idea, but not enough to buoy Hedone up out of averageness.
Then there's the business model, which is most easily explained by saying that it's fundamentally the same as most Western free-to-play games. You buy guns, which give you an in-game advantage, and customisation options, which improve the speed at which you accrue Fame and Heat. For all Acony's preamble, there's nothing new or clever here.
In fact, the event has somehow undergone a drastic change of tone; Rizzi, who had previously been discussing the disaffection of modern youth, is now shooting boxes to demonstrate Hedone’s physics systems. Unfortunately, watching plastic boxes bounce around when shot with high-powered assault rifles stopped being a feature to boast about almost ten years ago.
Click to enlarge
I try to excite myself, flicking back through the pages of notes I've scribbled about Hedone's thoughtfully put-together concept and looking for...something. But every time I look up I just see a game that utterly bores me; tiny levels, predictable skills and weapons, a lack of cohesion between place and play; Rizzi dying over and over.
In the interest of fairness, it behoves me to say that Hedone is still in an early Alpha stage and is therefore open to massive, rapid change. However, it also behoves me to be utterly honest in my impressions. So: as I watched Rizzi get a few decent kills with some Brink-esque sliding, unsuccessfully trying to taunt after every murder in order to get a Heat bonus, I couldn't help feeling that the damage had already been done.
Hedone doesn't have a release date yet, but will be published by Acony on PC.