Review: Hell Yeah!

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I’m all for games trying to reach lofty goals and explore new styles and messages, but sometimes you just wanna kill shit. For times like this you can turn to Hell Yeah!, an unapologetic cartoon gorefest about finding and dismembering demons. There’s a story to it, but really you’re on the hunt for blood and money, the money there to let you buy more bloodletting implements. It’s about what I expected on the surface, but what I didn’t expect was a surprising amount of variety in how I would be executing my foes.

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You are Ash, the bony, lupine heir to the throne of hell. Some dickhead demon decides to snap some pics of you in a compromising position, and you’re out for revenge. Not just revenge against the photographer, mind you, but against every demon in hell that knows what you look like naked. That comes to a nice, round 100 demons to murder, scattered across ten sprawling districts of hell. Some clever platforming and puzzles will get you within striking distance of your foes, and a quirky minigame will finish them off. The more demons you kill, the more of hell’s doors that will open to you and the more tools you’ll have to traverse levels, ultimately leading to the mastermind behind your embarrassment.

On the surface this is a platformer, one that flirts with being a metroidvania without ever really opening up enough to commit. Ash controls normally when on foot but for most of the game he’ll have some infernal sawblade-jetpack thing that makes his jumps extremely floaty and his touch deadly. Early foes can be dispatched just by grinding on them with your blade but later ones are armored or electrified, prompting the use of a wide range of upgradable firearms. The sawblade can also drill through different types of hellstone, with more added to the list as you progress. Levels are huge but mostly linear aside from alcoves stuffed with cash, though as you gain new powers like dashing you’ll open up access to new parts of previous levels. They start out as brimstone hellpits and prisons but progress to Sonic-esque factories, casinos, and more.

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This doesn’t even touch on what I find engrossing about the game, despite being a solid foundation for a platformer. I mentioned minigames, and I wasn’t kidding; to finish off every one of the 100 demons on your hit list, you have to pass a WarioWare-style game. Examples including timing button taps to rev your sawblade, sniping a demon through a scope, playing red light, green light with a mechanical beehive, and picking a rabbit egg out of a dinosaur nest. The elaborate kills are related to the minigame as well, like the dinosaur nest one conjures a giant egg that hatches a T-rex that bites off the unlucky demon’s head. Every single one of these encounters is different and exciting, and some can even be a little tricky to grasp in the few seconds given.

What gives the game even more variety than that is the fact that every demon is a unique character that calls for a different approach to kill. Early on you can sawblade or shoot most of them but soon you’ll encounter ones with shields, ones you have to drop things on, ones that hide in underwater mazes, ones that man turrets that have to be turned back on them, and more. No matter how far in you get you’ll still be seeing new enemies with new gimmicks to defeat, and they all have their own models and animations and backstories. Even better, dead demons get sent to The Island, which is a side area where you can make them work to provide you bonuses. You ARE the king of hell, after all!

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It’s all wrapped up in an absolutely lush, vibrant art style that borders on garish most of the time. Few platformers are this bold with colors and cartoony designs, but Hell Yeah! leans into it with its wonderfully animated characters. The soundtrack is more than up to the task and includes some fine selections for the shop and boss tunes. Really it’s a big, bright, messy, silly game about demons killing demons, and it revels in every aspect of it. There’s no deep plot to follow here but there are tons of secrets to find and a whole world of kooky characters and hilarious ways for them to die. And when you’re in the mood for some therapeutic slaughter, you really don’t need anything more than that.

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