New Game Review

Review – Road to Ballhalla (Switch)

Overcoming rage-inducing difficulty never felt so addicting.

There are going to be instances in which you lose track of the time. Instances where your mind is so dead-set fixated that when you actually take a break, a few hours have passed. Whether it be an art project or a captivating novel, your commitment is more often than not a result of a product that exceeds expectations with very positive results. You tell yourself, “just a couple more pages and I’ll rest my eyes” or “next save point and I’ll take a break”, but we’ve all heard those excuses before. Those lines come from someone experiencing a really fascinating moment and doesn’t want to put it down. Road to Ballhalla definitely provides those moments, as long as you don’t let your gamer’s emotions hinder your opinion on something just doing its job.

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This game will push your buttons, but you’ll just want to keep going anyway.

Road to Ballhalla is a ball-rolling puzzle game with a simple objective: get from point A to point B. The controls are as simple as a ball-roller can get. You use the joystick to maneuver the ball through the course while occasionally using one other button to speed boost through necessary obstacles. On the way, you can pick up orange bits (no real name for them) and checkpoints. In your way are red tiles, wall-less areas, lasers, and much more. Some obstacles decrease your health while others straight up kill you. Depending on the percentage of bits you collect in the level and how many times you died in the process of completion is how many tokens you’ll collect, out of a possible 8. While you can simply skip collecting bits and focus on reaching the end, you’ll eventually need to reach further worlds that require a certain amount of tokens to advance. It feels more natural collecting everything on the way; it’s pretty linear and doesn’t make you stray too far from the original path. If you view the rewards simply as a completionist bragging rights, you’ll be more motivated to attempt to do so, as the actual rewards are, well, ball cosmetics. You can change your ball’s color and the color of the path that trails it. How riveting.

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Hesitation and impatience. Both punished.

The graphics are what you would expect in this type of game. You’re a ball and you are rolling on tiles. You can’t really do much more with that, and it’s hard to mess it up. Great graphics aren’t everything, and in puzzle games like this, it’s the least of your worries. The same applies with the sound effects; it doesn’t over complicate itself and distract the player from the real focus. In fact, with most puzzle games, the smart thing to do with the soundtrack is loop a type of track that allows the gamer to focus on solving the puzzle or completing the objective, and it is no exception here.

You’re probably thinking to yourself, “simple controls, standard graphics and passable sound, why should I be interested?” Well, while all that seems boring and vanilla, I can assure you that the game’s difficulty is at extreme levels that will start with you determined to overcome and end up begging for mercy. You’ll want as simple controls as possible and the quality of the graphics and sound are irrelevant when you are so submerged in concentration. While there are checkpoints that regenerate your health and save your progress, you are going to die, a lot. But it is never unfair, the purpose is for you to learn from your mistakes, kind of like Dark Souls (is that comparison still a thing?). Acts of hesitation and impatience are punished as equals. As I mentioned at the very beginning, the game sucks you in and before you know it, hours have passed by. I plowed through as much as I could mentally tolerate before tapping out. No matter how hard I tried, the game simply got too difficult to the point of rage. But that’s not meant to sound like resentment towards the game; I’m simply stating the game bested me, for now. You can bet I will come back to attempt this feat for sure.

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Cheeky.

Road to Ballhalla seems like one of those trendy games that everyone is going to play and spam on social media, but I say that with the best intentions. If you’re into Let’s Plays, this feels like the perfect game to experience someone’s rage vicariously. I can only imagine the comedy that would be produced with such gamer frustration. Speaking of comedy, I forgot to mention that along the journey, there are text narratives that give you hints, give you sass, and make you feel bad you went against their advice. Not as sassy and snarky as Glados in Portal, but enough to get a chuckle out of you. If you like simple ball rolling puzzles with extreme difficulty and you revel in completionist bragging rights, then Road to Ballhalla is the perfect game for you.

 

Graphics: 7.0

For a ball-rolling puzzle platformer, it does it’s job.

Gameplay: 8.5

With no needs to be over complicated, it’s simple and approachable.

Sound: 7.0

Simple sounds and pleasant thinking music.

Fun Factor: 10.0

Determination to overcome extreme moments of difficulty will result in addiction.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Road to Ballhalla is available now on Switch, PS4, and PC.

A copy of Road to Ballhalla was provided by the publisher.

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