Review: Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit
It’s easy to picture Hell as being a rather dark and grim place. A place that you’d likely rather not find yourself in. So when games like Shadows of the Damned or Disgaea paint a picture of Hell or the “Underworld” that, while still keeping certain trappings of the land of the dead, feels wacky, cartoony or even fun I just find myself left with a big smile. Granted these aren’t worlds I’d want to find myself in either but it’s games like those as well as Hell Yeah! that make me appreciate depictions of Hell that refuse to take themselves all that seriously. It’s something that Hell Yeah! embraces every step of the way without ever being shy of what it’s trying to be: A totally crazy and over-the-top action platformer that takes place in a Hell that is nothing more than just absolutely silly.
Hell Yeah! kicks things off with a short cut-scene in which we spot Ash, the prince of Hell, taking a bubble bath with his rubber ducky. Naturally pictures of this event find themselves spreading on the Hell-ternet and once Ash finds out it’s already too late. There’s been 100 hits and he’s pissed. Naturally the only way to fix this issue is for Ash to go out and violently murder all 100 monsters that have seen this images. The premise is insane and the game never lets up from there. Hell Yeah! is always moving at a fast pace, the action and methods of murder are always being cranked up and the general feel of the game just seems to get crazier and crazier as things progress.
From the most basic standpoint of its gameplay Hell Yeah! hearkens back to old school 2D platformers as well as, at risk of repeating a phrase that feels rather overdone at this point, sprinkling in some light Metroidvania mechanics. As Ash you’ll navigate each level on an axe-wheel of sorts that can be used to drill through walls as well as the skulls of your enemies. This also acts as a jetpack allowing you to boost high into the air for a few seconds before falling back down. Ash also has an array of weapons equipped such as a machine gun, rocket launcher, grenade launcher, shotgun and more. Each of these will be upgraded throughout the game allowing for more powerful weapons and the ability to drill through harder surfaces. You’ll navigate through each level searching for each new boss to kill which will in turn unlock the next gate to a new area in each level before ultimately leaving for the next zone. For instance at the start of the game you’ll need to kill three monsters to open up the first gate, five for the next, and so on and so forth. This continues through each zone until ultimately you walk through the final gate calling for one hundred monsters killed. A small amount of back tracking comes into play later into the game but for the most part Hell Yeah! is a pretty linear experience. The most important thing to note however is that control wise, with the only exception being that it feels a little clunky when trying to jump and shoot at the same time, the controls feel perfect. Hell Yeah! is one of those games that I always feel like I’m perfectly in control of everything that I’m doing within the game.
There are a couple segments where you lose all of your weapons and Hell Yeah! turns into more of a platformer. In these sections you’ll rely mostly on puzzle solving to deal with each monster and sometimes even pilot a submarine. This offers a nice change of pace for the game but I do wish it would have happened a little more often.
Hell Yeah! also allows for tons of customization between hats and drill types that you can buy. At one point my Ash had a doughnut for the drill and a werewolf mask on. These are purchased through a shop that is filled to the brim with style, loads of attention to detail within the background and shopkeeper as well as containing some fantastic shop music.
Where Hell Yeah! really gets crazy is how it handles each encounter with all one hundred monsters within the game. With only a few of these encounters truly counting as a boss fight that leaves each monster not entirely difficult to kill. In fact some will take just a couple seconds to dispose of. The fun comes in that Hell Yeah! for the most part does a really good job of keeping each encounter feeling a little different. Yes, a lot of the monsters will killed by firing your weapons at them. Yes, you’ll be able to easily drill through quite a few enemies. It’s however in the moments where each encounter becomes almost a puzzle where Hell Yeah! is at its best…and then the game completely flips its lid and turns into something not unlike Wario Ware. As you deliver the finishing blow to each monster the game quickly switches to a Wario Ware style minigame asking you to mash buttons, follow a QTE, catch all of the stars falling into a magic hat as well as a load of other unique mini-games. Successfully completing each mini-game results in a rather gruesome death sequence and brings Ash one step closer to revenge. With the exception of one mini-game I loved this mechanic and thought it worked very well. Each mini-game is simple enough that it doesn’t really require explanation and, by only lasting a few seconds, never really interrupt the flow of the game in any meaningful way. They do however act as a great way of just upping the ante and continuing to raise the level of insanity that the game is running at.
I do want to note that there are not one hundred unique mini-games. These mini-games do repeat but you won’t be playing the same mini-game any more than three times at most. It at least felt like the majority of monsters ended up in a unique death sequence and I think that’s as much as we can ask for. Each sequence with the mini-game included can go on for a good five to ten seconds and considering that these require all new animations (some of which are only used a couple times) I don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing that there aren’t one hundred unique mini-games. In a way I feel like that would be asking too much on a small developer. What’s important is that I never got tired of one specific mini-game. Going through the same one two or three times wasn’t a big deal but, that said, it does cause the final ten-twenty monsters to lose the initial insanity that you feel towards the beginning of the game. But of course at that point I was having too much fun to really care.
Hell Yeah! is very self aware and a lot of the humor seems custom fit towards people who play a lot of video games. With references to games like Mortal Kombat among many others it’s pretty clear what this game is going for. In addition to that the descriptions given to each monster that you kill are legitimately hilarious. That said the humor can be a little hit or miss and it’s likely there will be people that just aren’t into it. I don’t personally think that Hell Yeah! ever over does any of its referential humor but I’d understand if someone said that they didn’t care for it. But I have to be honest when a piece of toast appeared in the corner of the screen and yelled “toasty!” after I killed one boss I absolutely lost it.
Hell Yeah! boasts some beautiful 2D art and lots of it. Throughout the game you’ll visit numerous zones that ALL share a variety of different styles and color palettes. Each zone is heavily detailed and feels like a totally different part of Hell. Among the numerous little details that were put into the art work within the game something I really appreciated was an effect that is seen in the lava level in the game. That specific area is given a bit of a glow that actually makes that particular zone feel hot. It’s a small detail that works and the art in Hell Yeah! is full of it. If nothing else it’s a fantastic looking game with tons of variety to the look of it.
Unfortunately I ran into a few issues with Hell Yeah! that are really tough to ignore. In the first ninety minutes of play Hell Yeah! caused my PS3 to hard lock twice. While this never happened more than twice I have read of the same thing happening to others who are playing through the game as well. Luckily each time this happened I never lost much progress. The game autosaves often and after each monster defeated. Even in death you usually won’t lose much progress.
Another issue however lies within the handling of The Island portion of the game. After you kill ten monsters The Island opens up allowing you to assign work to the monsters you’ve defeated. These monsters will mine for more money, food, etc for you and deliver anything found to you in your game. So sometimes you might receive a package with a lot of money in it. This is a cool mechanic but I don’t feel like it’s ever taken advantage of within the game. There’s never really a good enough reason to return to The Island after the first visit and to my knowledge the only way to actually access this part of the game is by exiting to the main menu which essentially meant I rarely went to The Island.
I loved nearly every moment that I spent with Hell Yeah! and among many of the things I mentioned above from the artwork to the controls Hell Yeah! also features a fantastic soundtrack. It’s a great package that is only set back by some issues with the game locking up, a small supply of pure platforming sections to mix things up and an Island that was never fully utilized. Other than that Hell Yeah! is a fantastic game and one that people should absolutely check out if you liked the demo.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation 3 version of the game.
What I Like:
- Controls feel great
- Each zone are distinct and look fantastic
- Most jokes are funny
- The use of wario ware style mini-games
- Soundtrack is great
- Monster descriptions are legitimately funny
- Shop Music
- Lots of customization options
What I Dislike:
- Locked up twice on me
- The Island feels like an after thought