Review: Jupiter Hell Manages Kinetic Action in a Turn-Based Format

Screenshot: Jupiter Hell I grew up playing all sorts of first person shooters because of Doom—so I’m obviously happy that the Doom franchise is alive and well, and still inspiring games outside of its genre. There have been multiple games that mix Doom style with turn-based mechanics, so Jupiter Hell wouldn’t be the first. In fact, Jupiter Hell is a commercial successor to developer ChaosForge’s DRL, formerly DoomRL, which is short for “Doom roguelike.”  So these developers had a little experience with the concept of putting Doom into a roguelike, which makes it exciting to finally get a chance to play the full release of Jupiter Hell. Jupiter Hell is a top down turn-based roguelike that takes inspiration from Doom, as well as many other 90’s and early 00’s shooters. In it, you play as one of three classes: Scout, Marine, or Technician, each with their own list of abilities. No matter what class you choose, your character finds themselves stranded in a facility that is overrun with zombies and monsters—so you grab your nearest gun and get to work. Screenshot: Jupiter Hell While Jupiter Hell is a strategy game, it’s an extremely “simple” one to learn. I only put simple in quotes because despite its easy barrier to entry, it has a surprising amount of tactical depth. You don’t have to juggle end turn buttons and action points, however, making the action feel more kinetic than other turn-based games. If you make a move or perform an action, everything else moves. Think SuperHot, but with a little bit more tactical consideration. Enemies can hide behind cover to reduce their chance to get hit, but so can you. Some guns require you to reload frequently, and there isn’t an auto reload, which is one of the things that got me killed the most. The other being unexpected combat—but that’s really just my fault, since your movements determine if enemy gets a chance to move. But my deaths due to my own negligence made me realize how much I wanted more of a traditional turn-based experience, at least when you encounter an enemy. On the other side of the coin, Jupiter Hell still has the kinetic feeling that a good action game should have, while retaining some tactical nature. As a roguelike, death in Jupiter Hell means the end of a run, making you start from the beginning. There is progression during each run, but there is no overarching meta or core progression. Further, and probably the most damning aspect, is the fact that each character has static abilities. Once you make all of a character’s builds, there is no potential for anything new. That means if you beat the game with the three characters, there really isn’t much more to do after that. So it’s a fun game, but lacks a little in replayability.  It also removes the ability to have ridiculously overpowered synergy. Screenshot: Jupiter Hell I wish I could whole heartedly recommend Jupiter Hell, but despite my initial love for the game, I started to get frustrated. Not only because of its prolific difficulty, but because of how same-y encounters started to feel. There are a good number of enemy types, however, and some levels will even have an extra hazard, like low power or respawning enemies, but by the time I was a couple dozen hours in, I found myself “done” with my time with it. As action packed and fun as the initial experience was, its lack of synergy and progression makes Jupiter Hell more of a novelty than something I want to spend serious time with.   Jupiter Hell is available now for PC via Steam.       If you like the video game, tabletop, or other technology content that Third Coast Review has to offer, consider donating to our Patreon. We are the only publication in Chicago that regularly reviews video games, and we cover lots of local Chicago-based events and more. If you want to contribute to our coverage of Chicago’s video game scene (and more) please consider becoming a patron. Your support enables us to continue to provide this type of content. You can also catch us streaming games we’re reviewing and staff favorites on our Twitch channel.
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Antal Bokor

Antal is video game advocate, retro game collector, and video game historian. He is also a small streamer, occasional podcast guest, and writer.