[dropcap size=big]I[/dropcap] bet you would have never guessed – though if you’ve had the chance to download the alpha demo then chances are you’re accustomed to the sense of humor in this particular game world – but Happy Hell is easily one of the most imaginative platformers currently on the indie scene. After a successful Kickstarter raising $14,161 over a goal of $13,666, the full product is well under way to completion. Even though the campaign is over, I’m taking a look at what made Happy Hell appealing enough to win over its audience. Hopefully you’ve gathered the ingredients below; and with these divine elements of the powers in and around us, we dive in to a world of deception, peril, and pure evil!
It might be a bit frustrating starting off with no attacks or techniques, but that’s part of the initial challenge in Happy Hell. The Soul Suckers are the source of power, and touching one will grant our hero Spooky Poo a new technique. The ability to pick up objects and throw them must be earned, which will be useful if we are to make the booger, eyeball and fart stew. Similar to Super Mario 64, the triple jump technique can be unlocked for Spooky to reach new heights. A double jump will get us to platforms that are much more difficult to leap to (the double jump is accomplished by passing gas in mid-air). The rest of the techniques are obtained through the rest of the demo, and a couple of them allow Spooky to stay floating in the air for a very long time. A platformer that gives players that kind of power allows more exploration. Back in the Nintendo 64 era, we struggled with and manipulated the gameplay mechanics to reach places in the game that you technically weren’t supposed to be able to get to. The ability to fart in mid air, land on said fart cloud, and perform another jump from there consecutively gives players the ability to jump as far as they want in a vertical path, and then use the gliding powers to soar anywhere. This however causes us to stray from our main quest, making that stew.
By now, we’ll assume you’ve created the stew, and reached the next zone. With this new level, we see another array of strange and interesting enemies to avoid. The amount of uniquely scripted enemy behavior is impressive, and provides a very diverse experience across the entire Happy Hell demo. Reaching the last few Soul Suckers is the goal, but the joy of Happy Hell isn’t centered around the objective at hand. For those who are familiar with popular platformer titles such as Super Mario 64, Banjo-Kazooie, and others, that slight tendril of nostalgia will find it’s way through the original and unique world Happy Hell exhibits. The witch in the above screen was slightly reminiscent of Gruntilda, the antagonist from Banjo-Kazooie, and some of the environment props with faces can be compared to the experiences Rareware created in their legacy. Happy Hell is a unique and refreshing title that brings back something many of us cherished from decades passed while putting its own twist on it.
With Happy Hell’s Kickstarter success, and the project funded, we can expect an imaginative and exciting world to explore that will challenge, inspire, and make us laugh. Some of the bugs need to be worked out, however some of these things are to be expected in an early alpha. One thing I encountered was that I could walk in the lava after launching Spooky into a corner under a bridge on his broom, taking damage, then falling in. I then sought refuge from the immanent booger bombing from the flying noses above. Hiding under the see-saw, I watched booger after booger rain down, titling the see-saw to and fro in an excellent display of simulated physics made possible by Nvidia’s PhysX. The other feat I managed was to rip the eyeball out of the face in the wall. I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to be able to do that, given that the camera shook violently and made a horrid screeching noise, but it made me feel better since the wall stared at me so long. Though the Kickstarter campaign is over, the Happy Hell Steam Greenlight page needs votes, so if you’ve played the demo (which can be downloaded here) and enjoyed it, don’t forget to vote!