Dying Light has had a curious journey. Its initial launch in 2015 was a bumpy one, and like so many games this generation, the game suffered from a multitude of issues right out the gate. But Techland stuck with their first person zombie adventure, doggedly improving the game bit by bit over time with admirable determination. All told, Dying Light’s post-launch support has been nothing short of exceptional one, to the point that even now, five years away from the game’s release, and right on the cusp of its sequel coming out, we’ve got a new piece of content to dive into.
In that, the very fact that Hellraid even exists is a pleasantly surprising one- you don’t often see developers adding new content to a game that came out half a decade ago, especially when they’re working on a sequel for it as well. Meanwhile, the fact that Hellraid also gives us a brief look at Techland’s long-in-development fantasy looter slasher with the same name is also a treat for those who’ve been looking forward to that game (and sadly, probably will have to keep waiting for a good while).
"The DLC is all about looting and slashing, and little else."
But beyond these conceptual reasons, when you actually get down to playing Hellraid, there’s a lot that gets in the way of enjoyment. Unlike other ordinary expansions, Hellraid doesn’t have much (if anything) to do with Dying Light. It retains some of the core mechanics, of course, but it’s set in a completely isolated setting, with a different look and style, and different objectives. You enter the world of Hellraid – a medieval, grim castle full of dark fantasy enemies an objects – through the arcade machine in the Tower, and once you do that, you’re in a completely different world.
Hellraid does have a pretty interesting look. Though its grim fantasy aesthetic isn’t necessarily something that you haven’t seen a hundred times before, it is completely different from the world of Dying Light, and so it does manage to carve out a place for itself in the game in interesting ways. But again, actually playing through Hellraid is a very static and dull experience. The DLC is all about looting and slashing, and little else. You progress through the multi-tiered dungeon, looking for pieces of the Clavis Stone to be able that will allow you to progress through each tier, and along the way, all you do is fight enemies, open doors, and loot the occasional treasure chest.
The enemies are, sadly enough, mostly just reskins of the zombies you fight in the base game, with very minor aesthetic changes to make them more aligned with Hellraid’s fantasy setting. Combat can be fun for sure, especially when you slice an enemy’s head clean off its shoulders with a slim blade, or crush a brute’s ribcage with a sturdy mace, but given how repetitive the DLC tends to become in its short duration with the enemies it throws at you, and how many of them it throws at you, combat soon becomes a tiring, mindless affair.
"The enemies are, sadly enough, mostly just reskins of the zombies you fight in the base game, with very minor aesthetic changes to make them more aligned with Hellraid’s fantasy setting."
It doesn’t help that, as I mentioned earlier, combat makes up the bulk of this DLC. Outside of that, there isn’t much else going on. In the time you spend outside of combat, you’ll be walking deeper into the dungeon, searching the corpses of your making, and looting treasure chests, while locked doors might occasionally force you to look for mechanical levers to open up paths to be able to continue progressing forward. None of it is particularly engaging, as you can probably imagine, and only adds to the DLC’s monotonous nature.
Hellraid does on paper have some interesting advantages, such as allowing you to unlock or buy strong weapons that you can use in the base game, but those benefits aren’t nearly enough to lend any mechanical depth to the experience. The weapons themselves don’t feel particularly strong, so you don’t ever feel like you have to get your hands on them, or else you’d be missing out on something exceptional, while they also break really quickly, which means they don’t stick around for long either. I know, of course, that all weapons in Dying Light do have to abide by the durability mechanic, but perhaps a rewarding the DLC’s players with a weapon that takes much longer to break would have made more sense, and incentivized more players to give it a try.
At its current price of $10, I also find it very hard to recommend Hellraid. It’s a fine, unremarkable piece of content, that only lasts less than an hour per each run through the dungeon, and these runs themselves aren’t exceptionally fun, which means you might not want to tackle them too many times- especially since there’s zero narrative here to make you want to invest any time in the exprience. A DLC such as this one should ideally have been free content, but even if the publisher did want to see it for a price, $10 seems a bit steep. If you’re absolutely intent on getting Hellraid, wait for a price drop.
"A DLC such as this one should ideally have been free content, but even if the publisher did want to see it for a price, $10 seems a bit steep. If you’re absolutely intent on getting Hellraid, wait for a price drop."
I was curious to get my hands on the Hellraid DLC, because clearly, the actual Hellraid project is something that Techland have been thinking about for a long time. There’s no telling when we’ll get to see them work on that full game, or if they will even get to it, but one thing’s for sure- this DLC doesn’t seem like a very good way to introduce players to its world. Nor is it a good way to follow up on Dying Light’s otherwise excellent post-launch support. If Techland do ever get around to making Hellraid, I sincerely hope they do a significantly better job than they did with this DLC.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation 4.