One of the most bizarre things about video games that is often not noticed (possibly because its so common place) is the utter insanity that makes up its story or setting. I am not just talking about the pure nonsense that goes on in Saints Row or Metal Gear Solid. But the more consistent madness that would make you go “Wait, WHAT?” if it were any other medium but video games.
Take Hell Yeah for example. You play as a Rabbit who is the overlord of hell who rides around on a chainsaw. He has a penchant for rubber ducks and gets caught by a paparazzi bathing with them in his tub. Then he sets out on an “epic” quest to kill the 100 or so monsters that have seen those embarrassing pictures. If this was a film or a book you would be questioning the writers sanity. But tell people its a video game and the inevitable reaction is “Sounds fun, lets do this.”.
And it is fun. Quite a lot of fun actually. Equal parts 2D platformer and a twin stick shooter the game is never short on variety. Its main show case are the boss fights, which the game brings out in droves. From mini bosses to big ones there are more boss fights here than probably every other game I have played in 2012 put together. And once you start hitting those kind of numbers you would think things would get repetitive. But Hell Yeah manages to constantly surprise you.
Each boss fight feels unique and different enough and while most of them will hardly last a couple of minutes (the game isn’t exactly hard) the pay off in the form of a mini game will always have you chomping at the bits for another fight. And there will be plenty of fights to go around. Hell Yeah is incredibly long for a downloadable game. Granted a large part of that gameplay comes from retreading familiar ground but thats almost a gameplay element in a game like this. The map/level design is heavily inspired by the Metroidvania school of design.
Its not all smooth sailing though. The most consistent issue that you will run across will be the struggle with the game’s control system. Like mentioned earlier it plays like a mixture of a 2D platformer and a twin stick shooter but it never quite manages to gel those two gameplay types together to be ever considered fluid or free flowing. Quite often you will be required to move with the left stick, aim with the right stick, jump with A and shoot with the Right trigger, all at once.
So when you run across a boss that requires you to do that with some kind of finesse or smoothness you end up feeling like you are a few thumbs short. The problem would be easily fixed if the game would let you remap buttons to your liking but I never ran across an option to do that. Instead you are left trying to perform acrobatics without tying your fingers up in a knot.
There are some other minor annoyances. Quite often the enemies you fight will be able to shoot you through walls while your shots will bounce off the very same obstacles. And while the game is fairly generous with check points, it doesn’t restore your health if you die. So when you restart at a checkpoint you start with however much health you had when you hit that checkpoint.
All of that is (kind of) counterbalanced by the fact that the game is relatively easy 90% of the times. Especially if you chose to take the option to upgrade your weapons and health. You can even purchase cosmetic upgrades for your character through the ingame currency you collect. So you won’t ever be short of stuff to buy or find. And the large levels lend themselves well to exploration.
Also worth mentioning is the game’s art style. There is a ton of variety and every level has a unique theme and looks quite fantastic. At times it almost feels eclectic but there is always an underlying theme to tie up the design. The art style also plays wonderfully with the game’s quirky theme and sense of humor. Its actually one of those rare games that will make you laugh out loud with some regularity.
Its still not a game I would recommend for everyone but if you are the sort of person that can put up with some minor niggles here and there, it is well worth looking into. It can be absurd and funny and charming and infuriating and exhilarating, sometimes all at once. Its almost everything a videogame can be. And it can only be a videogame.