Some games just sound fun as soon as you see the name. Hellmut: The Badass from Hell is one such game. I suppose the best way to describe it is a retro inspired dungeon maze shooter. Not something you come across every day. Think of it as The Legend Of Zelda for NES, if the dungeons were full of hordes of hellish monsters trying to tear you into pieces.
There are a couple of game modes you can play, which I will come back to, and you can also undertake a quick tutorial if you wish before diving into the action proper. It’s short, simple and to the point so probably worth doing as a starter for ten. As well as this you can view your playthrough stats, such as coins you’ve collected and bosses you’ve killed amongst other things. You’ll also be able to see all the information linked to your “best playthrough”, giving those competitive players something to chase.
Once you’ve bested the tutorial, you can play the main game or tackle the Gauntlet. The latter mode has a single or multiplayer option, where you and a friend can pit yourselves against endless waves of demon hordes. You have to defend the mighty Eye of Ka-Ra, who lies defenseless in the middle of the battleground as you are attacked from all sides. Between each wave you can visit the shop to upgrade your equipment, spending coins left behind by vanquished demons. You’ll also have several mutations (different playable characters) at your disposal which have their own unique style, which can come in very handy indeed.
You can play the main game with or without the tournament mode enabled (this is where you post your score online for the leaderboards). When you start, you select your mutation and unlock more every time you complete the game. You will also be able to enter codes into the nearby vending machine for unlocks once you acquire them.
The levels, or mazes, are randomly generated, and you’ll discover the map (displayed in the top right hand corner) as you go. You’ll need to battle your way through mazes to proceed, and after every few levels face a boss, also chosen at random. Each playthrough will consist of more than ten randomly generated mazes, including boss battles. If you collect enough gemstones to summon Ka-Ra, you’ll enter a challenge level to unlock a new mutation which in effect grants you an extra life. This is because it will stack as an extra choice on top of the mutations you have already unlocked, so you can play as each in turn.
You’ll find weapons and loot on your adventure, and you may think you have a decent health bar, but the tides can soon turn when you are surrounded by enemies. Some weapons are better than others and you can switch between them with the D-Pad using A to select your preference. The right thumbstick is used to aim while ZR fires your regular weapons, and ZL uses your more powerful but limited secondary weapon. Beware that there is a cool-down period for your secondary weapon, so timing when you use it is key.
The enemies in Hellmut: The Badass from Hell are pleasingly varied, each with different attacks and abilities, making it really challenging to keep out of harm’s way when things kick off. If you lose all your health, you revert back into your original, weaker form. Then if you die, it’s game over. Your stats will be recorded and you’ll have to start again.
When you find it, you’ll also be able to visit the shop to buy supplies such as better weapons and armour. As well as this, you can play on the arcade machine to earn further loot such as coins and soul stones. The arcade machine is akin to Space Invaders, however it instead features enemies from the main game. You’ll most likely need health from the shop, and if your bar is full, you can thankfully carry a further three medi packs for use as you navigate the mazes.
The gameplay in Hellmut: The Badass From Hell is simple, linear and fun for a time. The problem is it all starts to feel like a bit of a grind, despite the different game modes. There’s nothing fundamentally new to discover after the first 30 minutes of gameplay that will keep you hooked, and unlocking new characters doesn’t feel worth the effort needed. The randomised nature of the levels goes some way to mitigating this, but in the end it’s the same slog structured slightly differently.
The game is challenging, mostly at the start as you build up coins and weapons. Once you have enough, you can buy all sorts of items from the shop to make life much easier as you play. These include resurrection orbs, so if a mutation dies it will be immediately revived, and stronger weapons amongst plenty of other things.
There are also some issues with the control mapping. As you are using both thumbs to move around and aim your weapons, and your fingers to continually fire, picking up important items by pressing A, which always seem to appear in the middle of the enemy masses, is difficult and cumbersome. It doesn’t make for a comfortable layout when you are circling the room fending off demons. Changing mutation is a right faff too, and rather than using a single button to cycle through them, you have to press X, then use the right thumbstick to choose, then press A to confirm. If you somehow don’t take damage from enemies whilst doing this, you’re a better player than I am.
Hellmut: The Badass From Hell has a cool retro style, attitude and decent soundtrack with some good, if not wholly original, ideas. However, on balance £26.99 for a game that gets repetitive, and dare I say tiresome, is quite frankly too much to fork out.
Release date: May 2019
Formats: Nintendo Switch (Review)
Massive thanks to: Grindstone