We may earn a commission when you buy through links in our articles. Learn more.

Tony Hawk meets Hades in new action roguelike with a free Steam demo

A free demo for upcoming Steam early access skateboarding roguelike Helskate gives you a chance to check out its trick system and combat.

The rise of Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater will always feel like a magical moment to me. The beloved skateboarding series helped a cool but niche sport break into the mainstream, making its cover star a true household name. While it seems unlikely we’ll see another THPS game soon following its excellent remake in 2020, and EA is busy at work on the next Skate game, developer Phantom Coast combines the beloved arcade action of the series with the slash-and-dash combat of Hades to create exciting new roguelike Helskate, and you can try it right now thanks to a free Steam demo.

Helskate is about as direct a mash-up as that premise promises, but after playing through the demo I’m happy to report that it definitely blends its two concepts in a simple but intuitive fashion. The result is a stylish, colorful action roguelike game that launches via Steam Early Access next month, and one I’m definitely keeping my eye on.

The skateboarding is handled by the face buttons (Helskate highly recommends the use of a controller upon startup) for all your ollie, flip, grab, and grind needs, and will immediately feel completely familiar to anyone who’s built up the kind of internal Tony Hawk’s muscle memory that I have. The combat side of things – dashes, light and heavy attacks – are set to your shoulder buttons, and the pair sync up well together.

YouTube Thumbnail

Much like Hades, runs consist of making a choice between several rooms to enter, each promising a different currency or upgrade reward. In Helskate, each of these rooms is a little standalone skate park filled with dangerous monsters that you’ll need to take down to progress. To complement your abilities, you’ll get a choice of upgrades upon clearing rooms. Some of these are simple stat boosts or one-time bonuses, while others more closely tie your skate tricks into the combat.

One such offering causes flip tricks to fire off a damaging projectile ahead of you, for example. Another boosts the damage of your next attack to five times its usual amount after you pull off a successful tailgrab. I was able to boost this particular skill to give me a whopping nine times boost, allowing me to wallplant over an incoming projectile, bust a tailgrab in midair, and then tear my opponents to shreds with a huge heavy attack.

Perhaps the biggest struggle is managing your camera in the heat of the action. In my initial time with Helskate, I often found it a little awkward to keep track of what was around me, although the colorful damage and targeting indicators of enemies do at least make it easy to tell when you’re in immediate danger.

Helskate - The player chooses from three different upgrades to boost their run.

Despite the early wobbles, it’s got plenty of appeal, and I’m already eager to play more. Helskate is one of those games that, when you actually see it in action, seems like such an obvious and perfect idea that you can’t believe it hadn’t already been done.

Helskate launches Thursday February 15, 2024 via Steam Early Access, but you can try it now courtesy of a free Steam demo. If you have any affinity for classic THPS games, or Hades, or roguelikes in general, I’d definitely recommend trying it out, and I’m eager to see how Phantom Coast continues to build on it once it arrives.

If you’re looking to keep your skateboarding a little less violent, head over to the best sports games instead. Alternatively, see what else we’re excited for in 2024 with our pick of the biggest and best upcoming PC games right now.

You can also follow us on Google News for daily PC games news, reviews, and guides, or grab our PCGN deals tracker to net yourself some bargains.