As a big fan of the Orcs Must Die! series, I was really looking forward to checking out Hell Warders. It seemed to blend the gameplay that makes the former work with a much darker and less cartoony aesthetic, similar to one you’d get from Bloodborne or the other Souls games. Given this combination, what could go wrong? Well, everything it turns out.

I’ll get right to the heart of the issue, that being that the game’s combat is simply not satisfying. Sure, placing traps and coming up with the best strategy to slow down the onslaught of monsters can be fun, but most of your time is going to be spent killing said monsters manually.

Unfortunately, this is where the game falls flat. Not only does the combat lack any sort of impact (making it feel like you’re cutting through paper), but the abilities aren’t all that great, the animation is stiff, and even the enemies are very basic in their design. It just feels so incredibly barebones, so much so that the friend I was playing with asked to switch to another game after just 30 minutes, a sentiment that I shared.

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So given that the gameplay was a mess, I had at least hoped that the game’s aesthetic could carry it, but unfortunately it falters there as well. While the idea is nice, it just doesn’t feel up to par with what one should expect from a 2019 release. Really, the graphics look like something I would expect from a PS3 game, not a full-fledged PC release. I usually forgive graphics to an extent if the gameplay is really good, but that was not the case here, hence my disappointment.

That’s pretty much all I have to say about Hell Warders. While I did like some elements (the bosses and the theme behind the aesthetic in particular), the game as a whole is pretty much the embodiment of “great idea, poor execution”. It definitely should have stayed in Early Access until it was polished up a bit more. However, given that its problems lie at the core of its gameplay, this would likely take more than just a bit of polish to fix up. As such, I cannot give the game my recommendation.

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You can buy Hell Warders on Steam here.

I was provided a review copy of this game. Read more about how I do my game reviews/impressions here.