Hellsinker

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HellsinkerLogoTransparent.png

Hellsinker. (ヘルシンカー) is a doujin bullet-hell shoot-em-up developed by Ruminant's Whimper for PC in 2006 and re-released on Steam in 2019. Its defining gameplay features are the varied and unconventional abilities of its playable characters, obscure and obfuscated mechanics, and its three different tracked scores. The game is also often noted for its unique, sometimes inscrutable, lore and aesthetic. The story follows 4 members of the mysterious organization GRAVEYARD as they attempt to reach and infiltrate the Cardinal Shaft, a giant tower responsible for the end of the world.

AN AWESOME PRAYER
IS
CONFLICT WITH US

KEEP YOUR DIGNITY
General StrategySegment StrategyVideo Index


Gameplay Overview

Title screen 1 of 4. Title screens are unlocked as you progress through the game.

Hellsinker. is a four-button game with 4 playable characters (one of which has 4 different load-outs, for an overall total of 7) and 9 stages (referred to as Segments) in the main game. There are also unlockable harder versions of the first 3 Segments and 2 standalone Extra Segments. The game's three scoring systems are Spirits, Kills, and Tokens.

Controls


  • C (Press): Main shot. Tapping 5 times per second is optimal. Tapping faster will drain LUNA while providing no benefit.
  • C (Hold): Charge attack. Some shots have autofire ability as well.
  • X (Press or hold): Subweapon. The mechanics of this attack vary whether the button was pressed or held, and whether the subweapon gauge is filled to level 1 or 2.
  • Z: Discharge attack (bomb). Discharge attacks clear the screen of bullets and make the player character invincible for some time.
  • V: Activate slow movement. The exact behavior of this button is dependent on the Speed Control setting. Fossilmaiden uses this button to control her aiming direction instead.

There are some additional controls that apply only to some characters:

  • C (Tap rapidly): Additional shot weapon.
  • C (Hold) + X: Additional subweapon.
  • Z (Hold): Delay Discharge detonation. Invincibility is still applied immediately.

HUD


HellsinkerHUD left.png

The lefthand side of the HUD focuses on gameplay features and contains vital information for any player.

  1. Rank and Speed settings. Set before a run starts. Rank settings do not work outside Practice mode.
  2. Lives. Lives are indicated by the heart containers. Max denotes the maximum number you can stock at once, set before the run. The NECESSARY counter tracks Extend progress; when it falls below 0 you earn an Extend.
  3. SOL gauge. SOL determines the strength of your main shot and bombs. Levels are from 1 to 5. The number will flash red when a bomb is available.
  4. LUNA gauge. LUNA determines your main shot's rate of fire. Has 3 levels, LO/MI/HI. Text will flash blue when HI, indicating maximum fire rate.
  5. Subweapon gauge. Indicates the status of your subweapon. The bar indicates subweapon charge, while the rectangles indicate the level of attack available. For option type subweapons, MOUNT indicates the weapon is mounted to your character while INDEPEND indicates that it has been launched.
  6. STELLA gauge. Also called rank. Levels go from 1 to 9 to A. The number will flash red when the gauge is filling and blue when it is emptying.
  7. Target name. Indicates the name of the last target hit. Can be ignored.
  8. TERRA gauge. After being depleted, you will detour to a bonus Segment called the Shrine of Farewell after the end of the current Segment.
HellsinkerHUD right.png

The righthand side of the HUD is mostly reserved for scoring info. Players playing for survival may ignore most of this.

  1. Autobomb status. If an autobomb is available, it will say so here and state how many you have remaining for the current Segment. Otherwise it will tell you why an autobomb is not available.
  2. Spirit counter and gauges. The top counter represents Spirits earned from all previous segments and the bottom shows the amount earned on the current Segment. These numbers are summed at the end of the Segment. The gauges represent decimal values of Spirit gains. A full gauge from top to bottom represents 1, 10, and 100 Spirits. This allows players to easily track Spirit changes of any size, no matter how large their score becomes. If a Spirit BREAKTHROUGH is achieved, the word BREAK will appear next to the word Spirit.
  3. Kill counter. This tracks the total number of kills made in a run. Like the Spirit counter, the top number tracks previous segments and the bottom number tracks the current Segment. BREAK will also appear next to Kills for a Kill BREAKTHROUGH.
  4. LUNA gem. The value inside the gem tracks the current LUNA Crystal level, which determines their Token value. The number outside tracks how many more crystals need to be collected or lost to change the level.
  5. Token counter. Works similarly to the other two scores aside from lacking a BREAKTHROUGH.
  6. Timer. Counts the time (in seconds) since the start of the current Segment.
  7. FPS counter. Tracks your FPS, to 2 decimal places (ie 6000 is 60.00). At one time it was possible to configure this to also show VRAM usage and Object Count. It is unknown if this is still possible.

Characters / Executors

Hellsinker. features four playable Executor characters, each with vastly different playstyles. Three of the characters are available by default, while the fourth, Kagura, is unlocked by clearing Segment 4 on a single credit.

Executor Background Description
Deadliar A mysterious veteran of GRAVEYARD who has a history with Cardinal. Fights alongside the Mistletoe Tobari-Maru. Focuses on strong but narrow attacks. Relies on his subweapon for coverage who can be freely placed to attack enemies with a small area-of-effect. His huge, high-power Discharge is his only tool for mass destruction, which can be manually delayed while still providing invincibility.
Fossilmaiden A particularly sickly member of GRAVEYARD who has formed a symbiotic bond with her Mistletoe, Saraba-Maru. Has a wide variety of specialized attacks, from melee range to covering extremely large areas of the screen. Can aim in 8 directions. Challenging to use haphazardly. Two Discharges: a powerful bomb that flies up the screen, and an invincibility cloak with no offensive component.
Minogame A hermaphroditic artificial sokushinbutsu confiscated by GRAVEYARD. Powerful enough to fight without a Mistletoe or equipment. Unusual toolset focusing on strong area-of-effect attacks, invincibility, and auras. Very good at getting out of tight spots. Discharge is a more genre-typical all-range, long-duration, high-commitment attack.
Kagura /
Kagura-Maru
A Mistletoe used as a living weapons platform after being crippled by feedback from Minogame. Four distinct load-outs. While very varied, these are generally more "familiar" to other shmups than the other Executors, sharing a greater emphasis on the main shot weapon and less (ab)use of invulnerability.
散神無 Chirijinmu
Moon Cradle (Multi-Trajectory Shell)
All-rounder whose every weapon features some kind of lingering hurtbox. The best at continuous reckless shooting. Has two manually aimable subweapons, and weak Discharges that only cost 2 SOL rather than emptying the gauge. Resembles ESP Ra.De.
劫殺 Gousetsu
Ecliptic Chariot (External Gunner)
Wields an external, three-pronged turret that can be launched and retrieved freely. Resembles Dragon Blaze.
緋輪 Himawari
Infernal Sabbath (Variable Gun)
High power main shot and no distinct subweapon; instead, the subweapon button controls the spread of the main shot. Discharge is a traditional circular "nuke" bomb. The only character with no way to attack backwards. Resembles the shot weapon from V-V.
神弥 Omiwatari
Xanthez (Anti-Bacillus Saber)
Experimental type with extremely high destruction potential limited by conditional gimmicks. Powerful, auto-aiming main shot that requires periodic reloading. Short-ranged blade weapons deal more damage with each physics object collided with; this includes some enemy bullet types, potentially stacking up to massive counterattacks. Has the most damaging and least defensive Discharge attack, a narrow laser beam.

Resources

Lives


The player starts with four lives. The Way of Life setting can change the maximum life cap to 6 (Moderately), 7 (Prudently), or 5 (Drastic). Please note that the game ends when you are hit with only one life icon left, not when you have zero; as such, it is better to think of your life icons as "hit points" rather than "spare lives" or "shields".

Extend progress is displayed by the NECESSARY counter, with an Extend being earned when NECESSARY falls below 0.

Item / Trigger Effect on NECESSARY
Life Chip -1
Ingot -0.05
LUNA Crystal -0.004
Reliquia -0.05
Per frame, before boss warning -0.0008, or -0.0016 if on last life
Per frame, Segment 8 boss -0.001
Starting a new Segment -4
Losing a life -2
Losing a life after a recent death Additional -2
Per frame REGEN ASSIST is active -0.0064?
Blue crystallized spirit sh. -0.5
Red crystallized spirit sh. -2

sh. Shrine of Farewell exclusive items.

Upon gaining an Extend or respawning after a death, the player is invincible for 120 frames.

Gaining an extend when at the life cap grants an Immortality bonus, awarding increasing quantities of Spirits with each bonus. Playing with a reduced life cap gives the player the opportunity to earn one or two extra Immortality bonuses at the cost of safety.

How quickly individual Executors gain Extends is determined by their Life Scale and Expand attributes. Life Scale is the starting value of NECESSARY. Every time an Extend is earned, the base value increases by the Expand value. Characters with high Expand values will find their Extends becoming comparatively rare in the late game. The base value is reset when either type of BREAKTHROUGH is achieved.

Executor Life Scale Expand
Deadliar 20 +2
Fossilmaiden 18 +3
Minogame 23 +1
Kagura (Moon Cradle) 22 +1
Kagura (Ecliptic Chariot) 19 +2
Kagura (Infernal Sabbath) 28 0
Kagura (Xanthez) 16 +3

SOL and LUNA


SOL

Discharges and main shot power are governed by the SOL gauge. SOL is measured in levels 1 to 5. A minimum of 3 SOL is required to use a Discharge, with higher levels producing a more powerful and longer-lasting bomb. For all shots except Moon Cradle, performing a Discharge sets SOL to level 1; for Moon Cradle, Discharge lowers SOL by 2 levels. The SOL gauge refills over time, or by gathering SOL Pieces. For several characters, the recharge rate is improved very slightly if LUNA is low, but this has little practical use.

Executor Time to charge a full SOL level at...
Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5
Deadliar 257 frames
Fossilmaiden 731 frames
Minogame 325 frames
Kagura
(Moon Cradle)
325 frames
Kagura
(Ecliptic Chariot)
150 frames 520 frames 212 frames 173 frames 130 frames
Kagura
(Infernal Sabbath)
231 frames 231 frames 325 frames 1300 frames 104 frames
Kagura
(Xanthez)
162 frames 236 frames 433 frames 1040 frames 26 frames

Whenever the "discharge available" sound plays, the player character becomes invincible very briefly (12 frames).

LUNA

The LUNA gauge affects the rate of fire of your main shot. It drains by a fixed value when the shot button is pressed, drains per bullet fired, and recovers continuously. Different characters have different rates of LUNA efficiency on their shots, with alternate shot modes such as NARROW PIERCING or OVER FIRING draining LUNA at further different rates. The LUNA refill rate is affected by several factors:

  • The lower SOL is, the faster the refill rate.
  • The refill rate accelerates over time as long as LUNA is not spent.
  • Staying close to enemies enhances the refill rate.

Because LUNA recovers continuously, the above factors also influence how long the player's LUNA lasts while shooting. Pressing the shot button more than 5 times per second will continue to apply the flat LUNA drain but will not fire more bullets.
LUNA can also be refilled by collecting the various LUNA-related items.

Character-specific alterations

Fossilmaiden has only LO and HI levels of both SOL and LUNA. She can shoot indefinitely and only expends LUNA to use her Breaking Chain attack. In exchange, her recovery of either resource from items is reduced (typically halved).

Xanthez's LUNA is measured in one level, from 0 to 240. The refill rate is very slow immediately after firing and is not improved by enemy proximity or low SOL. If LUNA reaches 0, it recovers much faster but cannot be spent until it fully refills.

Subweapon Gauge


The subweapon gauge determines the power (and in some cases, the type of attack) of your subweapon. It has 2 levels, is expended when you fire your subweapon, and fills when you are not using your subweapon. How the gauge behaves is character-dependent:

Executor Charge time Supercharge time Supercharge behavior
Deadliar n/a 75 frames Firing main shot gradually depletes it to level 1
Fossilmaiden n/a 90 frames Fills while subweapon button is held, may not have a purpose?
Minogame 134 frames? 120 frames Firing main shot gradually depletes it to level 1
Kagura (Moon Cradle) 120 frames Level 2: 60 frames
Level 3: +120 frames
Manually charged during grenade subweapon
Kagura (Ecliptic Chariot) 18 frames 180 frames Firing main shot instantly sets it to level 1, may not have a purpose?
Kagura (Infernal Sabbath) n/a n/a n/a
Kagura (Xanthez) 45 frames 80 frames Firing main shot instantly sets it to level 1

STELLA (Rank)


The Hellsinker. rank system is termed STELLA, ranging through 10 levels from 1 to A. The beginning of a run always sets the STELLA gauge to 1 (adjustable for practice mode only in the options) and a proportion of your ending STELLA is lost at the beginning of a new Segment. Maximizing STELLA is extremely important for Spirit scoring as it scales all sources of incoming Spirits and also enhances Spirit-relevant enemy attacks, such as the number of destructible bullets and the length of grazable needle bullets. Most Segments feature a specific trick early on for reaching maximum STELLA quickly.

The practical consequences of STELLA on the game's difficulty are small, mostly affecting bullet speed. In rare cases, differing STELLA levels will trigger different boss patterns.

Actions which will increase STELLA:

  • Not getting hit for at least 20 seconds (effect scales upward until 90 seconds?)
  • Picking up green STELLA items, LUNA Chaff, Comets or Reliquiae
  • Picking up large quantities of other items
  • Collecting 10+ Spirits in a short time
  • SEALing enemies (more effective on bosses, scales with the quantity of enemies on screen?)
  • Hitting things rapidly
  • Grazing
  • Staying at the top of the screen

Actions which will decrease STELLA:

  • Getting hit
  • Getting hit more than once within 30 seconds
  • Picking up pink STELLA items
  • Cancelling bullets with Discharge
  • Cancelling bullets with the Suppression Radius
  • Staying at the bottom of the screen

The minimum amount of STELLA preserved after completing a Segment increases over the course of the game dependent on your end-of-stage SURVIVABILITY award and your number of lives at that time.
The amount of STELLA lost after completing a Segment also increases dependent on your overall survival performance, number of Extends gained, and a stage-specific value. Notably, autobombing can reduce the amount of lost STELLA without penalizing the minimum preservation level.
A detailed analysis of STELLA preservation mechanics can be found in this post.

TERRA


The TERRA gauge determines the timing of the player's visit to the Shrine of Farewell, a special bonus Segment. TERRA begins at its maximum of 240; the player is sent to the Shrine after it reaches 0. TERRA will not fall on Segments 1B and 2B. As the Shrine has massive Spirit scoring ramifications, when Spirit scoring it is vital to avoid taking unnecessary hits in order to delay the Shrine's appearance for as long as possible.

Event Effect on TERRA?
Autobomb -6
Losing a life -10~20, see below
Losing a life after a recent death -20~40, see below
Losing a Life Chip -1
Losing a Revive item -25
Losing other items except LUNA Droplets -0.01
Exiting a Segment ( 60 - number of cleared stages^2 ) * -0.5 - 10
Exiting a Segment in Solidstate Additional -8
Exiting Segment 5 Additional -15
Exiting Segment 6 Additional -30
Exiting Segment 7 Additional -380
Gaining an Extend +7
Collecting a Reliquia +0.05 on Segment 3L, else +0.2
Destroying KAREIDOSCOPE once (FATE CONTROL) +3

The TERRA loss from dying is increased by:

  • The number of deaths on the current Segment
  • The number of misses in total, including autobombs
  • Each STELLA level below A before the death

The TERRA loss from dying is mitigated by:

Items

Hellsinker. features 14 items (termed Relics). There is a hard limit of 512 simultaneous items; items spawned past this limit will not appear.

Item Appearance conditions Token value LUNA value NECESSARY value Description/other effects
Sol piece.png
SOL Piece
Dropped by many enemies. 0 0 0 Increases SOL. Horizontal trajectory is slightly magnetized to the player.
Luna Crystals.png
LUNA Crystal
Dropped by many enemies.

0.05 to 0.32533
(Gem level)

800

0.004

Flies upwards instead of falling down. Contributes to the gem level. Decays the gem level if lost (level will no longer drop after reaching level 6).
Can be collected in a small radius if the main shot button is not being held down, and can be auto-collected from the entire screen by using Discharge.
Luna droplet.png
LUNA Droplet
Generated when a target is destroyed with enemy bullets nearby to it (range based on enemy hitbox size). During stage:

0.16225
During boss:
0.0405

160

0 Contributes to the gem level but does not cause it to degrade if lost.
Hs-frozen-crystal.png
Frozen Crystal
Generated from bullet cancels after killing specific enemies.

1.5

400

0 Automatically collected.
Luna chaff.png
LUNA Chaff
Generated when destroying bullets with the Suppression Radius. 0

1200

0 Increases STELLA.
Life chip.png
Life Chip
Dropped by specific enemies. 0 0 1 Horizontal trajectory is slightly magnetized to the player.
Ingot.png
Ingot
Generated from bullet cancels, typically after killing a boss.

0.06666 to 0.17916
(STELLA level)

0

0.05

Worth 0.2 Spirits.
Hs-crystalspirit-merged.png
Crystallized Spirits
Appear at the end of the Shrine of Farewell dependent on player performance. 0 0 Blue:

0.5
Red:
2

Either type is worth 0.5% of total Spirits earned before entering the Shrine (ACHIEVEMENT). Magnetized to a spot below the player with a randomized offset.?
Terra relic.png
Reliquia
Dropped by multi-part enemies.

0.08333

0

0.05

Worth 0.05 TERRA on Segment 3L, otherwise worth 0.2 TERRA. Raises STELLA. Moves very quickly but is significantly magnetized to the player.
Young stella.png
Young STELLA
Appear in fixed places. Can appear in groups when fulfilling stage-specific conditions. 0 0 0 Raises STELLA level by 1 immediately, and then a further ~1/2 level over time.
Old stella.png
Old STELLA
Appear in fixed places or when activating SELF ECLIPSE. 0 0 0 Lowers STELLA over time.
Comet.png
Comet
On player death, 1 is dropped per STELLA level lost. 0 0 0 Raises STELLA by 0.75 levels.
Revive.png
Revive
Appear very rarely under special conditions. 0 0 0 Instantly grants an extra life if the player is below max lives. Does not grant an Immortality bonus or affect the Extend count.

Common Mechanics

Speed & Speed Control


Player movement speed is determined by character and the subweapon status they are in. Additionally, most characters have a slow movement mode which can be configured with the Speed Control setting.

Executor Status Distance per frame
Deadliar

560 units
————————————————→

While aiming subweapon

140 units
———→

Fossilmaiden

448 units
————————————→

During Anchor Device

373 units
——————————→

During Lance Device

672 units
———————————————————→

Minogame

520 units
——————————————→

Kagura (Moon Cradle)

530 units
———————————————→

While aiming subweapon

132 units
———→

Kagura (Ecliptic Chariot) Docked

560 units
————————————————→

Undocked

400 units
———————————→

Kagura (Infernal Sabbath)

480 units
—————————————→

Kagura (Xanthez)

600 units
—————————————————→

Speed Control is set before a run. It determines how the player accesses slow movement. This setting has no effect on Fossilmaiden.

  • Automatic: Move at 50% speed while the shot button is held (20 frame delay)
  • Momentary: Move at 50% speed while the slow button is held (immediate)
  • Alternative: Toggle 50% speed when the slow button is pressed
  • Triphase: Cycle though full speed, 82% speed and 64% speed when slow button is pressed

Slow movement modifiers stack with any other speed modifiers.

Bootleg Ghost


Set before a run. Determines Auto-Rejection (autobomb) behavior. Autobombs can triggered up to three times per Segment. After an autobomb, the player is invincible for 120 frames.

  • Aspirant
    • Autobombs will activate if the SOL gauge is at maximum level and the player has less than 4 lives.
    • When activated, nearly all SOL is lost. (Internal SOL value is divided by 7)
  • Solidstate
    • Autobombs will activate any time Discharge is available.
    • When activated, all SOL is lost.
    • More TERRA is lost when exiting a Segment.
  • Adept

Suppression Radius


All characters have a Suppression Radius which is activated by not firing the main shot for 60 frames, or by holding the shot button for 20 frames in Adept.

The Suppression Radius takes the form of a light blue circle around the character. Its effective radius is about 60 pixels.? It slows down many types of bullets and, for a smaller number of them, will eventually destroy them entirely. Destroying bullets with the Suppression Radius causes STELLA to fall, and produces small LUNA Chaff items which will more than recover the lost rank if collected. It also deals a very small amount of contact damage.

Fossilmaiden's Suppression Radius works differently as it is only active while her subweapons are active. It is much smaller than the other characters', and does not change with Bootleg Ghost setting. During the Anchor Device subweapon, it has a ~40 pixel radius.? During the Lance Device subweapon, it has a ~20 pixel radius around Fossilmaiden and a ~35 pixel radius around Saraba-Maru; in this case, the radius around Fossilmaiden is also less effective at destroying bullets.?

APPEASEMENT and SELF ECLIPSE

Continuously touching bullets with the Suppression Radius causes a number labeled APPEASEMENT to appear, counting down from 80 for as long as bullets continue to be inside the Radius. When the counter reaches 0, SELF ECLIPSE occurs:

  • Two pink STELLA items appear at the top of the screen.
  • The player becomes invulnerable very briefly (10 frames).
  • APPEASEMENT is disabled for 60 frames.

The base fall rate of the APPEASEMENT counter is 0.135 per frame. Additional suppressed bullets gradually accelerate the fall rate, with each added bullet having a greater effect than the previous one. If no bullets are being suppressed, the counter instead recovers by 0.2 per frame.

SELF ECLIPSE is often a nuisance when playing for Spirits as the items it creates are undesirable and become hazards.

Discharge


Discharges are Hellsinker.'s bomb mechanic. They expend SOL to use, requiring at least SOL level 3 (or HI), with higher levels making the Discharge more effective. Discharges that can be delayed will grant invincibility over the entire delayed period in addition to the normal invincibility time. Unless otherwise noted, enemy bullets are cancelled into stars for the duration of a Discharge, but not for any delay period.

Executor Discharge Invincibility time at... Effects of SOL level Notes
SOL 5 SOL 4 SOL 3
Deadliar Carnage Raid 120 frames 90 frames 60 frames Increased size and duration Can be delayed for up to 40 frames.
Near the center is effective for Spirit scoring.
Fossilmaiden Curtain Raiser 144 frames n/a Can be delayed for up to 90 frames.
Near the center is effective for Spirit scoring.
Bacillus' Cloak 180 frames n/a No damaging component.
Doesn't cause a bullet cancel.
Minogame Azure Lotus 190 frames 140 frames 100 frames Increased duration Near the center is effective for Spirit scoring.
Kagura
(Moon Cradle)
Knows Only Blazing 90 frames 60 frames 30 frames No change Reduces SOL level by 2 instead of emptying the gauge.
Kagura
(Ecliptic Chariot)
370 frames 310 frames 250 frames Increased duration Invincibility wears off if the player leaves the area-of-effect.
Kagura
(Infernal Sabbath)
200 frames 140 frames 80 frames Increased duration Can be delayed for up to 70 frames.
Continuous bullet cancels while delayed.
Kagura
(Xanthez)
90 frames 60 frames 30 frames Increased power Becomes dramatically stronger with more SOL levels.

There is a 1 frame gap between pressing the Discharge button and the activation of the Discharge, during which the player's SOL has been spent but they are not yet invulnerable.

Invincibility Overwrite Bug

Hs-discharge.gif
Curtain Raiser displaying the 1 frame start delay, then state-based invincibility during the hold period, then countdown invincibility during the active period.

Sources of invincibility are implemented in one of two ways. They can be "set-and-forget", where the invincibility timer is set once and runs down, or "state-based", where the timer is repeatedly set as long as a condition is true. Most invincibility sources do not check the timer's current value before being applied, causing them to overwrite the current set time. Practical cases where this can occur include:

  • Activating SELF ECLIPSE, replacing current time with 10 frames
  • Bombing after dying, or gaining an extend, or scripted event invincibility, etc., replacing it with Discharge time
  • Bombing twice in a row with Moon Cradle, replacing 90 frames with 30 frames

The following characters' Discharges use state-based invincibility and are safe from being overwritten.

  • Fossilmaiden Curtain Raiser, during delayed period only
  • Fossilmaiden Bacillus' Cloak
  • Minogame
  • Ecliptic Chariot, while inside radius
  • Infernal Sabbath

State-based invincibility can be identified by the Executor turning solid white instead of flickering. An exception to this is Minogame's Discharge which uses a slightly different implementation.

Collision


In a departure from the genre, colliding with walls or enemies in Hellsinker. does not kill the player. Instead, they will be knocked away from the object collided with. If you are in a position to get knocked back several times (for example, wedged between two objects) your movement can become quite erratic. This encourages aggressive gameplay, as getting too close won't kill you, unless you get knocked back into a bullet. Collision-enabled enemies can also collide with each other and get shoved around which can create some odd situations if they are left alive.

Any time the player character is invulnerable, they are also unaffected by collision. Using invincibility to clip through enemies and obstacles is a regular part of play.

Many small enemies, parts etc do not have any physics collision and can be moved into safely. Some enemies will still cause death on collision; this is accomplished by such enemies having invisible bullets constantly inside them.

Presumably due to the limited precision of the physics, there are occasional circumstances where replays can desync if the player gets stuck inside objects. This is most likely to occur in practice mode. In the rare case that it happens in a full run, it can often be fixed by restarting the game. Similar freak interactions can occur with the enemy-to-enemy collision such as the "bouncy knight glitch" on Segment 6.

Sealing Enemies


When the player approaches certain enemies, a box featuring the word SEAL will appear on them. Enemies sealed in this manner cannot fire as long as you remain close to them as well as for a few moments after you move away. This also encourages aggressive play rather than waiting for enemies to fly down to you. Some enemies' Spirit kill value is increased while they are sealed.

The sealing range for a given enemy is determined by a base value + the player character's graze range, updating dynamically if the graze range changes.

A visualization of seal ranges can be enabled by setting Emphasize:Seal Zone under Info Augmentation before starting the game, which will draw a teal-shaded hint zone with the radius base seal range + 50px around all sealable enemies. Note that these hints are fixed size and do not respect the differences between characters. They will also not function during the tutorial/practice chamber or if the background visibility is set to 0.

UNCHAIN


Enemies marked with MASTER can be seen connected to multiple other enemies with red lines (SLAVEs). Destroying the MASTER will UNCHAIN the SLAVEs, causing them to self-destruct.

UNCHAINing is important to Spirit scoring. In addition to granting increasing numbers of Spirits for each self-destructed SLAVE, some SLAVEs will drop Life Chips or fire revenge needles to be grazed, which can contribute very large quantities of Spirits. The total number of UNCHAINed enemies also improves the Spirit Pooling rate. Occasionally the reverse is true and killing the SLAVEs individually is more profitable.

UNCHAINed enemies do not contribute to the player's Kills, so when playing for Kills one must instead avoid most UNCHAINs and kill the SLAVEs individually.

BREAKTHROUGH


When reaching a certain threshold of Spirits or Kills a BREAKTHROUGH will occur. The first BREAKTHROUGH occurs at 5200 Spirits or 2500 Kills (whichever comes first), and the second at 6200 Spirits or 5000 Kills (whichever wasn’t the first breakthrough). Achieving a BREAKTHROUGH has several effects:

  • Grants an Extend. If the player is at maximum lives, grants an Immortality bonus plus 200 or 160 extra Spirits.
  • Causes a bullet cancel immediately and an Ingot cancel 65 frames later.
  • Resets the NECESSARY value for Extends to its starting value, accelerating further Extends.

Carefully timing BREAKTHROUGHs for maximum Extend efficiency is worth considering in advanced scoring.

Cancellation Stars / Phantom Bullets


Mundanely cancelled enemy bullets (e.g. during a Discharge) turn into harmless white stars which persist for 30 frames, serving as a way to inform the player of bullet trajectories while enemy attacks are being negated. If an item cancel occurs during this situation, the stars convert into items just like active bullets do. This can enable more greedy Ingot cancels when finishing off bosses or Freeze cancels when Token scoring. Unlike real bullets, killing enemies near stars will not create LUNA Droplets.

Shrine of Farewell


One of the doors in the waiting room of Shrine of Farewell. The boss order shown here is Temperament Nil, Million Lives, Al4th, and finally Nine Lives.

After TERRA is depleted, the player will detour to the Shrine of Farewell on the next Segment transition. The Shrine is a boss rush stage, featuring 4 bosses and 4 interstitial enemies. The order of appearance of the bosses is determined by which of the 24 doors the player selects at the beginning.

Once the player has selected a boss order and entered the Shrine proper, some special rules apply for the duration of the boss rush:

  • All Spirits from prior stages are Dozed Out and taken away.
  • Irrespective of performance, the boss rush lasts for 260 seconds.
  • The player has infinite lives. NECESSARY is frozen. Autobombs do not function.
  • Each boss has 3 patterns, and each interstitial Kaname Stone enemy has one.
  • Each pattern defeated awards a CRYSTALLIZE value depending on the STELLA level at the time and the number of misses.
  • Bombing a Kaname Stone voids its CRYSTALLIZE entirely.
  • Defeating all 16 patterns before the time runs out awards a final, bigger CRYSTALLIZE, and begins an extra sequence of many SCARY-STUPA enemies until the time depletes.

When All Rerics Are Sunk, Ozzed Spirits Return in the form of Crystallized Spirits, one for each CRYSTALLIZE achieved, to a maximum of 424. Each crystal is worth 0.5% of the total Spirits prior to entering the Shrine, for a maximum return of 212% Spirits. The crystals are also worth a large amount of NECESSARY, resulting in lots of Extends that will refill any missing lives and further improve Spirit scores with Immortality bonuses.

Because of the huge implications of the Crystallized Spirits multiplier, Spirit scoreplayers need to ensure the Shrine appears at its latest opportunity (after Segment 7) and avoid dying or carelessly bombing to maximize crystal count. Players aiming for Kills or Tokens will value speeding past the bosses to reach the SCARY-STUPA area as soon as possible.

Continuing


Hellsinker. offers one Continue upon running out of lives. Using the Continue will skip some following Segments and send the player into a fake Segment 8, kicking them back to the title screen before the last boss. Additionally, completing the Shrine of Farewell will disable the Continue system. In effect, it's functionally impossible to clear the game via Continue, and the option only exists to give a struggling player more practice.

Scoring

Hellsinker. tracks 3 different, very distinct, scores: Spirits, Kills, and Tokens.

Spirits


Familiar but convolutedly multi-faceted scoring.

Important specifics to Spirit scoreplay include:

  • Maintaining STELLA level A at all times
  • Perfect survival to maximize Immortality bonuses and Crystallized Spirits
  • Grazing
  • Milking enemies for Inner Spirit value or tick points
  • UNCHAINing enemies for extra Life Chips, enhanced Spirit Pooling rate, and direct Spirits
  • Ingot cancels
  • Shooting destructible bullets
  • Crystallized Spirits collection technique (not relevant to all characters)

See the Spirit section on the Strategy subpage for more information.

Kills


Kill things number go up.

Important specifics to Kill scoreplay include:

  • Destroying all parts of every enemy
  • Killing SLAVEs instead of UNCHAINing them
  • Speedkilling to spawn more enemies
  • Waiting to kill things so they create extra things to kill
  • Speedrunning Segment 4 and Shrine for more enemies

See the Kill section on the Strategy subpage for more information.

Tokens


All of the bullets are coming with me.

Important specifics to Token scoreplay include:

  • Collecting LUNA Crystals and Reliquiae
  • Timing enemy kills to create LUNA Droplets
  • Frozen Crystal bullet cancels
  • Manipulating enemy movement and bullets with the Suppression Radius for bigger cancels or more Droplets
  • Strategic bombing or dying for item collection or repositioning
  • Efficiently managing time on bosses to minimize Token decay
  • Speedrunning Segment 4 and Shrine for more cancels and Droplets

See the Token section on the Strategy subpage for more information.

Unlocks & Obscurities

Unlocks

Hellsinker. contains many hidden features that must be unlocked by making progress in the game such as extra game modes, new title screens, and goodies like a cutscene viewer and music room.

Unlocked by clearing Segment 4 without continuing:

  • Title Screen 2.
    Title Screen 2.
  • Kagura, a fourth playable character.
  • Segment Location, a practice mode. In order for a Segment to be unlocked in practice mode, you must reach (but not necessarily defeat) a Segment's boss, without continuing.
  • Segments 1 through 3 Lead. These Lead segments are harder than the default versions (now called Behind) but offer greater scoring opportunities as a result. They can be freely selected in full runs.

Unlocked by clearing Segment 7, continue allowed:

  • Title Screen 3.
    Title Screen 3.
  • Short Mission, an abbreviated run of the game. Short Mission is truncated to 5 segments instead of 8 and allows players to pick them from a series of groupings. Progress made in Short Mission counts for the purposes of unlocks such as Segment Location or beating the game.

Unlocked by defeating the True Last Boss (Lost Property 771):

  • Extra Segment 1, The Great Majority. Extra segments are selected from the title screen and take place after the events of Full Sequence Order in order to expand on the story. The Great Majority is a score attack based Segment.

Unlocked by clearing The Great Majority:

  • Extra Segment 2, The Way of All Flesh.

Unlocked by clearing The Way of All Flesh:

  • Title Screen 4. Additionally, title screens can now be freely changed in options.
    Title screen 4.
  • Strategy Recorder, a cutscene viewer. Strategy Recorder features extra cutscenes not seen during gameplay.

Unlocked by viewing all cutscenes in Strategy Recorder, then closing the game:

  • Sound Memoir, a music room. A final cutscene will play when you close the game, thanking you for your efforts. Congratulations!

Easter Eggs

  • Letting the Segment 4 boss time out with all of its parts intact will cause it to drop 6 Revives before leaving.
  • Letting the Segment 7 boss time out with one life remaining will cause a unique bad ending.
  • In the 1.009 version of the game, the Shrine of Farewell bosses display distorted cut-up dialogue messages at the start of each pattern. This is absent in the Steam version for unknown reasons.

Trivia

  • Much of the game's language and terminology, and some of the enemy designs and music, are derived from the developer's previous game, Radio Zonde.
  • There are some inconsistencies between the information in the game manual and the release version. Presumably these things were true at some point and were later changed.
    • It's claimed that Extends grant only 1 second of invincibility and that normal Extends cause Ingot cancels like BREAKTHROUGHs do.
    • It's implied that acquiring Immortality bonuses will have situational effects on enemy placement.[1]?
    • It's implied that manually delayed Discharges do not provide invincibility until released.
    • Several numbers are incorrect, such as some item values.
    • The images on the "game events" page feature pre-release graphics, including Executor sprites in a more detailed style.

References & Resources

  1. Beetle-Omiwatari's Youtube
  2. Hellsinker. Personal Manual guide (JP and ENG)
  3. Ruminant's Whimper Wiki (JP)
  4. Draft HellSinker ST by Zaarock (ENG)
    1. 「成立させた場合後半一部セグメントの的配置に影響を及ぼします。」