Review – Hellmut: The Badass From Hell
Hellmut: The Badass From Hell is an interesting entry into the shoot ’em up roguelike genre. It’s got a wonderful premise with some cool unique takes on how you use extra lives when you die. Plus, it has a super badass name. It obviously takes heavy inspiration from other titles in the genre, but can it make its own imprint? Let’s take a trip to hell and find out.
The story is a loose one and really has no impact other than setting up the gameplay mechanics. You play as a doctor who ends up opening a gate to hell, and as the demons flood in, you get munched on. Well, most of you get munched on. Before the rest of your body can be consumed, an entity empowers you with immortality. The problem is, you are now only a brain and spinal cord and you’ll need to take over the bodies of the monsters you were creating, aptly called Transformations. Using these Transformations is how you will go through hell killing bosses and saving the world, but most importantly, yourself.
You’ll only need to go through twelve levels, with each third level being a boss fight, which is only an arena and not really a full level per se. The game isn’t very long at all, but it’s understanding the mechanics that will take a bit of trial and error. You also need to find out which starting Transformation is the best for you, and hope you’ll find the ones you like as you play.
When you first start the game, you’ll only have two Transformations you can play as. One is a tank that moves slowly, has high health, can use a shoulder dash and its main attack can only be thrown one at a time. However, once the main attack hits a target it throws another one, making him very deadly up close because you can rapid fire them. Your other option is quicker, has less health, can shoot a tri-shot from its main gun and the main gun has a higher rate of fire and can bounce off walls.
Each of the non-boss levels all include a store to buy weapons, upgrades, health kits, and other items. The only item you can buy that will continue to your other playthroughs is the pouch to increase the amount of purple gems you can hold. There are multiple currencies in the game (none of them are premium, don’t worry): Gold to spend at the stores, blue gems to use to gain access to a timed trial to unlock more transformations, and purple gems that can supplement blue gems. The purple gems are the only currency that you don’t lose if you get a game over.
I always ended up with an abundance of purple gems, because if you play through most of the level you’ll typically acquire all the necessary blue gems to unlock a new Transformation. Since that’s the only currency available to transfer, it seems unnecessary to upgrade your pouch more than maybe once. At the most, you’ll supplement a small handful of blue gems. The way the game handles the roguelike elements doesn’t seem well fleshed out. At first, this method seems very strict since you can’t use the blue gems for upgrades, and besides the pouch, there is no ability upgrade that transfers over. However, once you get used to the gameplay mechanics, you can run through this game in just a couple of hours, and the only award you’ll get is to keep one of your Transformations as a starter option.
At this point, however, you’re so good at the game and you’ve already experienced the short game that playing through it all again just to unlock another Transformation isn’t much of a motivation. In one full playthrough you’ll likely unlock all of the available Transformations, since they act as your extra lives. You can acquire four total Transformations at a time, and if one dies you can either replace it with a new one or revive it with an item.
The Transformations are definitely the coolest and most unique thing about Hellmut. Each one has its own unique stats, power, weapons, and funny bio. They range from a badass like Ragnar, who uses dual machine guns and can rain lighting down, to silly ones like Orc Fairy, that floats around shooting rainbows out of a cat’s butt. You’ll end up liking some more than others, but they are all at least well done and different so finding new ones for the first time is exciting.
Each section of three levels has it’s own theme and design, the layout of the levels and bosses are randomly generated to try and keep things fresh. Unfortunately, the level designs leave a lot to be desired. They all feel very similar even between the other themes recycling similar boxed sections with little changing in between them. Randomly there may be a section that will have some floor spike traps or rolling boulders to change it up, but these are easily navigated. There area couple new enemy variants that come with a new world theme, but it all unfortunately feels like the same thing with a color swap.
Besides the unfortunate lack of interesting level design, the rest of the visuals are appealing. The pixel-art is well done with distinct enemy, boss, Transformation, and item design. Also the gore and particle effects are well done. When you’re decimating an entire room of demons and everything is exploding, it can be visually appealing.
The sound design was a bit surprising for me, as I was expecting a very hard-hitting metal soundtrack. There are some decent songs in here, but the audio mixing for the music was too low, and there wasn’t a lot of variety. There isn’t any voice acting, other than grunts and such from some characters, but the guns, explosions, and general sound effects of destruction and death are well-done.
Hellmut: The Badass from Hell is a bit of a mixed bag that deserved a little extra development time to flesh out more of its ideas. It has all the fundamentals of a great twin-stick roguelike shoot ’em up, but falls short in some of its systems. If the game was longer, perhaps a bit harder, and had better level and world design, Hellmut could be a top contender in the genre. It is worth mentioning that there is a tournament mode that encourages playing with friends, but it’s essentially just a time-based playthrough to see who can go further and faster. If you love the genre, you’ll still find things to love here, but if you’re already a shoot ’em up pro, then it won’t have the legs to keep you entertained for long.
The pixel art is a bit of a mixed bag, with good gore effects and some interesting character designs, but repetitive world and level design gets repetitive.
Fairly simple twin-stick shooting with roguelike game design. Each character has a unique gameplay, but some are more fun and useful than others.
No voice acting, but the general sound bits and weapon sounds are well crafted. The soundtrack could have been a bit more upbeat/metal for a game set in Hell.
While the general gameplay is fine, the roguelike elements leave a lot to be desired. Unfortunately, there isn’t much replay value in here.
Final Verdict: 6.0
Hellmut: The Badass From Hell is available now on Xbox One, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and PC.
Reviewed on Xbox One X.
A copy of Hellmut: The Badass From Hell was provided by the publisher.