Hell Yeah, do it again and suffer for it!
Generally, I do not like platformers. I don’t like the often-pretentious puzzle platformers that rely on ‘quirky’ set-dressing to disguise a rather simplistic, unenjoyable, overly punitive core mechanic. Then again, I also tend to dislike pretentious reviews, and here I am doing something dangerously similar to just that. ANYWAY. Some days ago, I bought a humour-driven 2d platformer called “Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit”. It generally has had a good reception. It has an objectively decent sense of humour. It has a gorgeous, vibrant art style. It has very satisfying and responsive controls, meaty attacks and plenty of unique interjections of over-the-top ‘executions’. It relies a lot on check-pointing. There: that’s the general description and what-you-need-to-know basis upon which to create a lacklustre, advert-like, meaningless and impersonal “review”.
Now, onto the actual thing I want to talk about. This game confirmed my opinion that no matter the appearance, if the core gameplay of the game is not enjoyable, then the game as such is not enjoyable. Hell Yeah! manages to be unenjoyable because of a composition of two things: deceptively finicky platforming, and poor check-pointing.
The platforming itself… I suppose that for fans of the genre, it would be just fine – after all, it is precise(ish) and responsive. The problem I have with it is that it is, quite simply, a bit convoluted. You as the player have the option (in non-jetpack mode) to jump, double-jump and walljump. All tied to the same button. Those of you who have played a wee little game called “Mass Effect 3” know where this is going. Yeah, there’s a lot of situations where the jumping just misfires, making you wall-jump instead of the intended double-jump. And in a normal modern AAA game that would be tolerable, because games these days are forgiving and don’t normally have insta-kill thingies. Well. Yeah. This game, unfortunately, is just the kind of öld-schööl hardcöre no-nonsense platformer from the “good old days when games were for MEN”. Or some stupid stuff like that. The point is, this game has plenty of insta-kill places and objects. It has plenty of cases where you get stun-locked by bumping into the wrong kind of monster, and die. It has no allowance for player error, and subsequently, no allowance for mis-jumping. Which in turn means that you as a player will get penalized a lot for the jump button malfunctioning. … Old school FU gaming for the win, I guess.
The other issue, one which is aggravated by the previous one, is the game’s reliance and placement of checkpoints. And, in general, the death mechanic. To make it explicitly clear, there is no manual save at all – you are entirely at the mercy of checkpoints. And, fair enough, they are fairly frequent. One issue, though, is that it doesn’t really work well with the layout of the levels. There are cases when you want it to save after getting to a health-refill station, but the actual checkpoints are nowhere near any. Or, if you jump to a boss-fight and back onto the checkpoint area, it could easily write a “save point” where you have very little health. Because there is no such thing as multiple saves, you can end up seriously hampering your own chances.
The by-far biggest problem, though, is that sometimes, checkpoints are placed before nonskippable character dialogue. The general set-up is this: there is a checkpoint, and right after it is a sort-of boss zone. In that boss zone, you enter, and a dialogue starts, introducing you to that boss and what it does. You cannot skip it. You have to wait for every line to fully display, then you can click on “show next line”. So and so, until everyone’s done. Then, you get to do a mad run-and-jump-and-panic sequence, because your enemy has a super-cannon that does a lot of damage to you and locks on if you stay still for a second or so. You have to use that lock-on to actually open up passages, so you can get to the physics object, which will destroy that boss. In other words, you are playing as the bait. A very easily killable bait, with no weapons or other means of resisting, aside from the often-malfunctioning jump ability. So you die a lot. And you spawn back at the checkpoint. And you enter the boss area. And you get the unskippable dialogue. And then you die. And again. And again. And again.
Here is that process, shown in neat picture form.
Myeah. Definite old-school design vibe, here, where the game actively punishes and aggravates players for failing. I am sure that there are people who enjoy that sort of thing – after all, there are people into the whole BDSM scene, and it works for them, so why not go into videogames that go by the same mentality, right? Unfortunately, I dislike that sort of stuff… A lot. I bought the game because the dressing – meaning, the humour, the art style, the story – seemed to be amazing. And it was. And I liked it a lot. But the gameplay was something I could not enjoy at all, and specific mechanics were superbly irritating – so much so that I’ve stopped playing. In a sense, because of certain bullshit mechanics the game has, I can’t even get to experience the bits of it that I would like. I suppose, all in all this would serve as a reminder for me that no matter what, if a game plays badly, then there is no way to enjoy it (short of a let’s play, I suppose, but I have ranted about them before). Some games just are made on the principle that Losing Is Fun. And, hey, newsflash: It Really Isn’t.
~X2Eliah wishes that steam had some sort of game re-sale mechanic, to get rid of impulse-bought junk.