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Codex Review RPG Codex Review: Jupiter Hell

Infinitron

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Tags: ChaosForge; Jupiter Hell

Roguelikes have never been a primary focus of this website, nor of our chief content officer Darth Roxor, who in fact has very little experience with the genre. As a fan of Doom, one roguelike he has played extensively is DoomRL, the venerable Doom-based roguelike by Kornel Kisielewicz. So it's no surprise that Kisielewicz's DoomRL successor Jupiter Hell was of great interest to him when it appeared on Kickstarter back in 2016. Having played it extensively even before it left Early Access last August, Roxor has now turned in his review of this title, and his verdict is uniformly positive. Here's his appraisal of the game's core combat mechanics:

At a basic level, combat is very similar to DoomRL. Everything is turn-based, you get one action a turn, and the rest of the world moves together with you. Actions take time to perform, the baseline being ‘1 second’, but some are obviously faster than others. If you have a 50% movement speed boost, you’ll be able to take two steps over the same time as it’ll take most other enemies to take one. Managing the time taken to do things is extremely important, as quickness will often allow you to avoid getting whacked.

Guns have accuracy thresholds for distance, with all having optimal and max ranges, and some having minimum range. You will take an accuracy penalty for being at a distance lower than minimum or greater than optimal, while exceeding max range will down your accuracy to zero. One thing I don’t entirely get here is the purpose of optimal/max ranges greater than 6, because 6 tiles is the limit of your view, and you can’t shoot beyond that, even with blind fire. The only exception are shotguns, which aren’t subject to accuracy, and distance only influences their damage, while spraying blindly into the fog of war can actually hurt enemies beyond the 6-tile limit. It can also be extremely effective if you manage to lay your hands on a long-range shotgun.

Where Jupiter Hell strays from its predecessor is in its inclusion of cover mechanics. Anything between you and your opponent will act as cover – this includes props, walls and other enemies. Shooting something behind cover significantly influences accuracy, which makes positioning in combat a vital factor, especially since a number of perks also have an impact on cover, either by reducing it for your targets, or increasing its effectiveness for you. Thus, hunkering down behind some walls, spinning up your chaingun and using an extra action or two to aim can help you withstand even the most unfavourable odds. Similarly, a stupid zombie grunt with a handgun can become a much bigger nuisance when behind cover.

The maps in Jupiter Hell are generally rather tight as well, with big open rooms being a rarity, so cover is something to always keep in mind as you plan your approach. Plus, even in the bigger rooms you’ll find plenty of props, such as chairs or crates, to provide cover, though these are all destructible.

But that’s not to say that (ab)using cover is the ultimate way to go. It’s obviously going to be much less useful if you’re playing a running man. And even if you’re focused on entrenchment, there’s still plenty of things that can smoke you out, particularly acid pools and poison clouds that can be thrown by various enemies. Plus, no matter how much of a living bunker you are, some attacks will still go through and keep chipping away at your health – cover may be important, but it’s still just an individual mechanic, and not god mode, and Jupiter Hell is fortunately not a cover shooter.

Another thing to keep in mind is pain. As you get damaged, you’ll accumulate pain – some enemies even have special abilities that leave you in pain just by looking at you. Pain is a percentage that reduces your accuracy, so the more you get whacked, the worse your performance becomes. In my experience, this mechanic is primarily there to punish your mistakes – if you’re standing in the open like a dumbass, or you keep shooting at a fiend that’s in your face and slashing you, your pain will ramp up, and well, it’s exactly something you deserve. As mentioned before, the marine can cleanse pain and convert it into healing with his special ability, while other classes will have to either wait it out or use a medkit to remove all pain. Oftentimes, waiting it out in the middle of a slaughterfest is not an option.

One thing that I’ve come to realise is a bit of a bummer is that pain applies only to you. The game is generally fair and symmetrical when it comes to its mechanics, but pain is an exception that can sometimes be annoying when facing enemies with high health pools. With more straight-forward builds, the best thing you can do is take cover behind a corner, keep shooting and pray that none of their attacks go through – it feels a little arbitrary, especially when you reach a ceiling where your damage won’t be getting higher, but you’ll still encounter tougher enemies, which leaves you without some additional way to mitigate the risks.

Nevertheless, playing carefully and managing the risks is an important part of Jupiter Hell, since just like most other roguelikes, it’s extremely unforgiving when it comes to dumb mistakes. I’d say that most of my runs are interrupted by a sudden bout of dying due to losing focus. You keep tapping those movement keys like stupid, you run into an armoured ravager, you get blasted with rockets and die. You can’t be bothered to take a step aside and duck behind cover – that former CRI sergeant will be more than glad to spray you with lead. Even worse if you forget about the stuff you’re carrying, and realise only after dying that you could have teleported to safety with a phase kit or run away in a smokescreen. But you were actually too much of a cheapskate to use them, so quit whining.​

Read the full article: RPG Codex Review: Jupiter Hell
 

Saduj

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Nevertheless, playing carefully and managing the risks is an important part of Jupiter Hell, since just like most other roguelikes, it’s extremely unforgiving when it comes to dumb mistakes. I’d say that most of my runs are interrupted by a sudden bout of dying due to losing focus. You keep tapping those movement keys like stupid, you run into an armoured ravager, you get blasted with rockets and die. You can’t be bothered to take a step aside and duck behind cover – that former CRI sergeant will be more than glad to spray you with lead. Even worse if you forget about the stuff you’re carrying, and realise only after dying that you could have teleported to safety with a phase kit or run away in a smokescreen. But you were actually too much of a cheapskate to use them, so quit whining.

This. I haven't played this game much and one of the reasons I stopped playing (for now) is that as I was getting more used to it, I became worse at it. I play like I can just breeze past the early game that I've beaten before and end up dying shamefully early. Also guilty of being the guy who would rather die than use consumables or even special abilities like stealth. My best run, by far, was my 4th one and since then there has been a big drop off. Knowing what I'm doing wrong doesn't seem to stop me from eventually banging on the keys one time too many.
 

Saint_Proverbius

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Jupiter Hell is actually a good game.

It's been on my Wishlist on Steam for quite a while. I've been waiting for a sale discount around 40% or higher, but it seems to only hit 25% sales. I loved Doom, loved the roguelike, too. So, I have high hopes for Jupiter Hell. I've watched several "Let's Plays" of it, and it looks pretty nice.
 

Arthandas

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I don't like it, seems too simplified for a roguelike. No wonder Huegpenis likes it if he has no roguelike experience...
 

Darkozric

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Never expect anything from experts.
The expert's advice was to not grind battles, it's bad for your brain, there is a better and healthier suggestion, grind your death for 358 times until you finish any roguelike.
 

Fowyr

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I don't like it, seems too simplified for a roguelike. No wonder Huegpenis likes it if he has no roguelike experience...
It's simplified DoomRL, which was already relatively simple coffee-break roguelike. No wonder.
I played DoomRL since first versions, from 2003 or 2004, but don't like a lot of decisions in Jupiter Hell.
Great review, Darth Roxor :salute:
 

vortex

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Didn't know Darth Roxor is chief content officer, CCO. Updated my journal.
 

Reality

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Jupiter hell has more variation than doom RL shotguns not being the 100% go to for first 7 floors
 

sser

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Jupiter Hell is the best combat roguelike by far. Tons of builds, tons of side-content, cool enemies, cool uniques, engaging firefights and melee brawls, difficulty never truly wanes yet you can achieve that sweet feeling of powercurving when a build lands just right. I can't help but admire its purity.

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thesheeep

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Played through the game as well and also liked it, but....

I really feel that the game offers maybe 10-20 hours. That's it.
You don't unlock anything with playthroughs, the formula never changes, the different builds are really not that different to play - truly minor stuff compared to how different classes e.g. in ToME or others play.
I don't mean the kind of "you get stronger with each run" unlocks, that would ruin this particular game.
But something more would have been nice.

After I finished it a few times with as different builds as I could come up with, I had no urge at all to come back to it.
The game is very focused, very "pure" as sser said, but I really wish it had more meat on its bones.

Bonus: No. 1 reason for dying for me? Blowing myself up with barrels :lol:
 

Sacibengala

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Used my refund from Unexplored 2 to buy this on gog summer sale. Not disappointed. Very good roguelike. Pleasing to the eye as well. And the devs seems to update the game from time to time as mentioned in the roadmap.
 

Sacibengala

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Used my refund from Unexplored 2 to buy this on gog summer sale.
unexplored2 is dissapointing or due to gog timely updates?
My main frustration was the lack of timely updates on gog, but the game was very buggy and I didn’t specially liked the size of the areas. They were very short for an exploration game. The shitty combat didnt bothered me as it bothered others, though.
 
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