The management sim genre is one that has been around for as long as I can remember. I can’t say I’ve ever played one set in the realms of Hell that tasks you with making hell a better version of itself (is that even possible?)
That’s the idea behind Hell Architect, a management sim from Polish developer Woodland Games where you’re tasked as Hell Manager who is in charge of, well, developing the nine rings of Hell and making it a place Lucifer himself would be proud of.
Woodland seems to have a pedigree of sim-management games with a quick search garnering upcoming Autopsy Simulator and out now Taxi Simulator and Hell Architect secured funding through crowd-funding platform Kickstarter. Woodland says it’s inspired by games like Dungeon Keeper, Oxygen Not Included & Prison Architect.
From the ground, down
You gather resources (when in dig mode you can see the grid pattern of where the resources are) which you’ll use to build contraptions, devices and other structures (like power stations, canteens and food production facilities) to make Hell more and more impressive. If you don’t have time for long play sessions, there are also a number of quick play scenarios that will let you complete specific tasks like building a statue of the boss or
Doing all the hard yards work are Sinners: Naked minions (with pixelated genitalia). Sinnners use pick axes to chip away at squares of dirt, metal and coal, extracting the elements that will be used to make more and more elaborate devices. This will generate suffering, which is Hell’s currency, the more currency, the faster things will progress.
Building objects is simple, enough: Find a suitable spot, select the item you want in the upgrade menu then order a sinner to build it. Buildings and objects are upgradable.
The first torture device you’ll build, for example, is an iron maiden, in which you’ll then plonk a sinner and watch them suffer as it gets to work. You can research better devices and do things like extract essence from a sinner (in rather gruesome ways), mine crystals and summon devils.
Does Hell Architect suffer ambition over ability?
Hell Architect is an intriguing idea and it’s a welcome pivot on the traditional management sim where you build houses and your characters mirror your normal daily grind. It’s also got a rather cartoonish cartoonish charm in its visual look & an at times black humour that did bring a smile to my face.
Technically, I found at times the sinner pathfinding a little hit-and-miss. At one point I had to quit and restart the game because my sinners wouldn’t move to where I wanted them to, after I had laid down blueprints for a food production facility.
Sadly, for me there’s there’s just too much grind to get to the end goal, especially when it comes to resource gathering. I just wasn’t engaged enough to keep me interested.
Hell Architect is a fun idea that’s shows promise of the things to come but just isn’t quite there yet.