Hellhounds ($1.00) is less Rendercode Games’ second attempt at a Slender-like (see The Monastery for that) and more their first outing attempting to pair Slender’s slow-moving scares with your average first-person shooter. The resulting birth is about what you’d think it’d be, a mashed-together schizophrenia that puts it foot in the door of both genres, but is unsure which room it ultimately wants to reside in.
Returning is the same idea of collecting a set number of objects, though the tension of being ‘chased’ and unarmed while doing so is no longer a factor, replaced with some disturbing-looking hellhounds and a sampling of your typical FPS guns (handgun, automatics, shotgun). Your exact loadout changes at the start of each new stage (total of 10), as does the amount of skulls you need to acquire before that level ends.
Darkness naturally plays a big role in setting up the mood (you’re lugging around that flashlight for a reason, you know), but don’t expect much variety in your scampering, as the same few room layouts are reused throughout. Visually, large parts of the game seem to be re-purposed from The Monastery, and there’s even a statue of that game’s villain on display if you look carefully enough.
All of this doesn’t necessarily equate to scary. Even with those horror staples in full effect, you can see the enemy dogs coming. They typically hide around corners or come at you straight on in narrow hallways, which turns the game into a predictable shooting gallery once you‘ve ‘baited’ them into attacking. So long as you keep your preferred weapon (the handgun works consistently on its own) fully loaded, you won’t need to switch up your tactics at all.
To dilute the fun further, you walk incredibly slow, to the point that backtracking (rooms and hallways containing skulls often branch off of the main path) is made all the more painful when you’re missing one lousy collectible. If you do happen to be caught off guard by a pack of enemies and die late in the round, the molasses-like drudgery to get back to that point can be incredibly frustrating.
Outside of a global leaderboard and your own persistence, though, there’s no reason to bother with it. You have to appreciate developers trying to continually evolve an existing idea or concept, but Hellhounds takes far too many steps backwards to consider it anything other than a mash-up that just doesn’t work.