The road to hell might be paved with good intentions, but in vanripper’s Helltaker, it’s also filled with demon girls. Setting off on a quest to catch them all, should players enter its depths to find true love?
Things kick off with the protagonist of this title, a well dressed chap, having a strange dream of a harem of demon girls at his side. Though this dream might cost him his life, he sets out to make it a reality, and ventures down into the bowels of hell to romance whatever demonesses may come his way.
It’s a wildly original tale, one that has the gameplay to match. Players must make it from one side of a stage to another in a set amount of moves, dubbed will. Run out of will, and you are banished…or at least back to the beginning of the level. However, they don’t make things easy – spike traps that take double will, locked gates, tons of stones, and skeleton warriors all stand in the way of your cuties. Timing also plays a factor in certain parts of the title, with traps opening and closing at select times.
There’s no guarantee that these ladies will like what they hear. After all, with titles like “the sour demon,” “the bitch demon,” and even “the CEO of hell,” it can be tricky to figure out exactly what to say. In these cases, players are given a dialog choice – however, choosing the wrong one can get you killed in no time flat. Thankfully, the humorous and witty writing makes even failure (somewhat) tolerable. There is a way to get some “Life Advice” from your demon girl posse while in its puzzle mode, but these exchanges are more silly than strategic.
Most of the game follows this puzzle format, but (spoiler alert) there is a section of the game that requires fast reflexes. Some may decry this change of pace, but we found it a refreshing way to break things up. Just be warned that those who typically like to take their time with their puzzle games will have to be on their A game and pick up the pace a considerable amount if they’re looking to beat the game with their skill set.
Just be warned that this title is a bit on the short side. There are some alternate ways to solve puzzles, Ancient Inscriptions to collect, and a handful of achievements to be collected, but we were able to finish our first go-around in around 40 minutes with a lot of trial and error (and deaths). More content would have been nice, but what is here is designed with absolutely no fat to speak of.
Helltaker features good puzzle mechanics, great aesthetics, and amazing storytelling. Though it is a bit on the short side, this venture into hell is worth a go for anybody looking for a little love.