There are three important buttons in High Hell, the new and rambunctious Devolver Digital first person shooter: shoot, interact, and jump. No elaborate items, no branching story paths, no moral questions (or obligations), and no reloading. Well, unless you count reloading the level, in which case: there’s a lot of reloading.
But it’s all part of the plan. Developer Terri Vellmann—whose earlier FPS rogue-lite, the brilliantly challenging Heavy Bullets, is a great companion piece to this game—deliberately crafted a very digestible, trigger-happy action game, bursting with colorful characters, a pop art design aesthetic, and a zany hell-infused sense of humor. You play a combatant on the hunt to dismantle Pitchcorp, blasting away demonic horned hitmen, mind-controlled chimps, and big colorful robots. The game sports 20 levels, some of which can be completed rather quickly, with a boss showing up on every 5th level.
Similar to Hotline Miami, there is a frantic sense of pace, exemplified by the way you enter a room: lacking an “open door” command, you violently kick your way in through every entrance. A few shots and it’s all over, although defeated enemies always return a sliver of health to you. You’re also usually given some absurd task to complete—rescue the chimps, kill the “Career Goats,” destroy a statue, etc—but you’ve seen most of the game’s flavors of content in the first few minutes.
High Hell works exceedingly well, though, and the challenge ramps up quickly. You can slow the pace down with a snipe-feature, burn piles of money for points, or go off on a search for little secret pickups which are squirreled away in easy-to-miss places. And, of course, you can also just blast the shit out of everything in the environment, scattering hot dogs, umbrellas, barbecue grills, and kilos of meth off into the city skyline. The theme of the game is demonic bureaucracy, and there is something oddly satisfying about being the agent of chaos gleefully rendering it asunder. That being said, I should mention: if any reader is disturbed by satanic imagery, however cartoonish, you’ll be immediately put off by this game’s humor.
There are some interesting bonuses too—you can even attach a photo of yourself or your preferred cat to plaster over the main character, who is essentially non-gender-specific—but the whole thing can be completed in under two hours. Keep in mind that there is more to squeeze out of the game, and you can try to beat community high scores and best times, search for those pickups, mess around with the loading screens, send ragdoll corpses careening all over the map, and listen to the excellent squelchy soundtrack, courtesy of rapper/musician Doseone, who is also prominently listed as a co-developer.
Even better? Until November 2nd, not only is the game discounted (10% off of the standard price of $9.99), but it comes with a free copy of Heavy Bullets. If you enjoy old-school FPSs, that’s two excellent games for under ten bucks (the Doseone soundtrack is an extra $5.99, also recommended).
Check out High Hell, and I’ll see you in the scoreboards.