In December of 2016, Photoplay Games launched a Kickstarter campaign for their classic RPG puzzle adventure, Back From Hell. When we initially covered the campaign, Josh was a little put off by the project’s unique character digitization. This time around the funding goal has decreased, but the dated looking photo-realistic graphics are just as bizarre as ever.
Back From Hell digitally captures costumed actors and animates them into their abstract 2.5D gameworld. It’s similar to the process used by the Mortal Kombat games of the 90s. Unlike Mortal Kombat however, Back from Hell tries to tell a serious story. Something the graphics constantly struggle to achieve.
The story begins in 15th century Spain during the Inquisition. After his untimely demise a local farmer finds himself confronting Lucifer in Hell. Players are then set upon a series of tasks in an attempt to curb favor with the devil. Their goal is to return to the world and avenge their family. This is accomplished through hack and slash style combat with standard adventure puzzles thrown in. It’s not the strongest or most unique premise. The digitized sprites do little to get players to take it seriously.
Which Came First, And Which Should Go?
It’s hard to say if the graphic style doesn’t fit the story or if the story doesn’t fit with the graphic style, but the lack of cohesion between the two is palatable. Even at the reduced $38,701 goal, the developers have an uphill battle ahead to secure funding. Back From Hell feels like a developer’s passion project that has no market appeal.
To be fair, old-school graphics can do very well on Kickstarter. Backers have a nostalgia itch that they can never quite satisfy, but Photoplay doesn’t seem interested in tapping into that. Or maybe they are just unsure how to go about it.
When we compared the graphics from the first campaign to the Full Motion Video that was all the rage in the early 90s the devs immediately lashed out. They went so far in the original campaign as to insist that the game didn’t feature “any nasty 90’s FMV.” While accurate, this statement showed a level of contempt for old-school graphics and their fans. A backer demographic the developers would have been wise to cater towards.
Despite mostly reusing the same assets, the new campaign calls the game “a love letter to 90s FMV.” This admission doesn’t hold much merit considering how little Back From Hell has changed this time around.