With soul stealing gun in hand you are on a one person rampage. The evil, corrupt cartel is going down, and you are the psycho to do it. No minion, brainwashed chimp, dog-headed abomination or crazed robot will stop you getting to that big corporate headquarters in the sky. And blowing the big boss back to the fiery depths of hell.
High Hell is a first person shooter with a mission. That mission? To get you through a level as quickly as possible. To facilitate this, players are presented with an uncomplicated set of rules; shoot and kick your way to the objective before leaping from the building to make your escape. Nothing could be simpler than that, right?
Game play is quite straight forward. Players only ever have the one gun, and possess a kick attack which is used to hit enemies or break doors open in equal measures. Killing enemies results in the player stealing their soul, and gaining a little bit of life back. Occasionally, too, the player will come across health pickups.
There are 20 levels to conquer, and most follow a basic theme or idea. They will be littered with enemies; from various human grunts, to demonic entities and savage robots. Players have the choice to follow the most obvious paths, or create their own by leaping over, around and through obstacles.
After each level the player is provided with some statistics. These include accuracy, speed and overall score and are a great little incentive to replay levels. And with the longer levels being two or three minutes at most, it hardly seems like much of an imposition attempting to improve your score a couple of times.
The graphics and sounds appear simple, but are actually used to great effect to create a sense of scale, speed and intensity. The first few minutes of experiencing the world can be disorienting, but players will quickly learn the visual cues of the game. In no time they will be hurtling though levels leaving trails of awkwardly flung corpses behind them.
It is obvious that the developers had a very strong sense of what they wanted High Hell to be. The game is succinct, levels seem to be just the right length, and the challenge ramps up at an acceptable pace. A couple of the boss battles are more challenging, but are hardly insurmountable and are in keeping with the rest of the game.
Given the single-minded game play, and the bombastic way in which it is delivered, you would be forgiven for thinking that narrative has no place here. But this is not the case. While not overt, observant players will uncover details within the environments which point to a complex and slightly sad story which pre-empts the resulting dance of carnage.
Knowledge of this story doesn’t impact the game in any way; someone could play High Hell a hundred times over and never even think about the underlying narrative. But within this ultra violent world, where demons are real, it is interesting to note that the developers have thought about the ‘whys’ as much as the ‘hows’.
High Hell doesn’t appear to have any flaws. It chooses a few core elements, and does them really, really well. Players can rush through to complete the game, or take their time and do a couple of levels a day. The one caveat would be that, if you aren’t into first person shooters in any way, High Hell definitely isn’t going to provide a source of enjoyment. However, for everyone else the game will likely be a quick, intense run and gun experience which delivers a lot of soul.
Just keep an eye out for the naked grunts, and their steamy digital genitalia. Yes, that is a thing.
High Hell is developed by Terri Vellmann and Doseone, and published by Devolver Digital. It is available right now on Steam.
Reviewed On: PC
Review System: nVidiaN9600C, G1 Sniper M7 S1151, 16GB RAM
Playtime: 2.5 hours