It seems like everyone is after a little bit of that Overwatch pie these days. Hero shooters, or at least the characteristics of them, are popping up all over the place. Holfraine, from five man indie studio Fluxart Studios, is the latest in a long line of games attempting to emulate Blizzard’s shooter and unfortunately, it falls well short.
“Declining energy has forced corporations to turn to private armies in search of the galaxy’s most precious mineral, Holfraine. Teams of mercenaries battle against each other in varying game modes, all to aid the corporations in gaining access to this valuable mineral.”
This whole description is copied from the description on the YouTube launch trailer because this isn’t mentioned in the game once. There’s no narrative in Holfraine – if you want context, you’ll have to go looking elsewhere.
Being a Hero Shooter, Holfraine has heroes. There’s six of them at launch, each of which has different characteristics, abilities, weaponry, stats and super move. Roadblock, the tank character who has a portable shield, Countdown, a cross between Tracer and Shamus from Metroid who wields a grenade launcher, Sentinel, a guy who does that Narruto run which sprinting, Sonar, basically Terry Crews, Huntress, a sniper character and Psycho who looks like Octane just stumbled in out of Apex Legends. Aesthetically, this group of misfits have all the personality of your balding Dad dressed up as a Matrix character on Halloween night. Sure, there’s an attempt but it still makes you want to cringe so hard your face implodes.
The game is played in a 3v3 mode called All In 1 which is the only mode available at launch. Fire it up and you join your teammates on the 1 and only map in the game which is a long straight map with obstacles to use as cover down the middle third. In this mode the idea is to earn 50 points before the opposing team does the same. Points are earned by completing objectives like occupying target zones for a short time or capturing the oppositions drone and returning it to your base (basically capture the flag). These objectives rotate and change every so often to keep you on your toes.
The game is played in a third person perspective with an over the shoulder view point and has all the staples of the genre. There’s health bars above friendly and opposition heads, pink and orange variants of each character to represent their team and a sci-fi setting to get your teeth into. It’s what’s missing that lets Holfraine down…
There’s no in-game voice chat in Holfraine. A tactical shooter that relies on team play that doesn’t have voice chat or even emotes? This feels like the game’s biggest drawback. Playing with strangers and having no way to talk strategy means every match just devolves into a crapshoot. The way the characters are balanced means that they’ve all got a weakness. Hunteress does the most damage with her Sniper but if you pick a fast moving character like Sentinel, you can get in close and personal. Having to manage these weaknesses without chat, like you might in other hero shooters, is difficult.
Still, there are moments when Holfraine can be fun. The gun play is fluid (although, the flat and repetitive sound effects mean a long gun fight can be enough to give you a headache) and accurate. The moment to moment gameplay isn’t a patch on the big hitters in this genre but when things are clicking with your teammates, there are moments of fun to be had.
Progress in Holfraine is measured in levels and by earning money. The levelling system doesn’t appear to do anything while the money, called Betacoins, can be spent on new skins for your character. There’s no weapon unlocks or new abilities for customisation.
Holfraine is a bare bones Hero shooter that’s launching with as little content as possible. With one game mode, one map to play on and six heroes, it just about justifies its £3.99 asking price. It’s obvious what the aim of Fluxart Studios was to emulate the best in the Hero shooter genre on a budget and you can see why it was recognised as the “Best Online Multiplayer Game” in the PlayStation Talents Awards 2017 competition. It has potential.
At launch though, it’s not fulfilling it.
Holfraine is available now on PS4.
Developer: Fluxart Studios
Publisher: Gammera Nest
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here.
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