High Hell Review
High Hell is a neon-soaked, arcade-action first-person shooter from Terri Vellmann (Heavy Bullets) and Doseone (Enter the Gungeon, Gang Beasts).
Terri Vellmann (Heavy Bullets) and Doseone (Enter the Gungeon) have teamed up to create a throwback first-person shooter that's all about moving and shooting fast.
High Hell, published by Devolver Digital, is comparable to one of their more popular games -- Hotline Miami. Each level in High Hell is designed to be beaten fast, and it punishes you for not having precise confident movements and shooting skills as you make your way around each corner. If you're taking longer than five minutes to beat any of High Hells 20 levels, you must be playing the game wrong -- or looking for the secrets, which I'll allow -- or possible kicking enemies bodies around for fun, which I'll also allow.
In High Hell, you play as a highly disgruntled employee of a powerful corporation, and you go on a mission to take down the empire. In truth, the story is complete nonsense as you fight mind-controlled monkeys and killer dogs, and one mission even has you saving virgin goats that were going to be used in a satanic ritual. Nonetheless: kill everything that moves, save the things you need to save, and burn all the cash you see lying around. And burning cash -- outside of finding the secret in each level -- is one of the only optional things you can do, and I couldn't see any reason for it other than because you might want to. But I did it because screw the powerful corporations, am I right?!
Also, on the story -- this description from the game's Steam page: --"MORE SHOOTING LESS READING: Nonsensical interactive cutscenes that only make the barely existing narrative even more confusing." -- enough said really.
It's a neon-looking world and the futuristic aesthetic reminded me of Mirror's Edge, as all the buildings are white. Oddly, for a futuristic setting, all the doors in High Hell are apparently made of simple wood, which is great for you because you want to kick each one of those open as you blast into the room ahead like a bad-ass, and that's exactly how you'll feel when you make your entrance and blast every enemy in one clean sweeping motion. Alternatively, you will feel like a complete failure when you kick open a door, start moving through the room ahead and miss your first two shots, dying very quickly. Either way, you'll be blasting along to another pumping soundtrack from Doseone as you either feel like a gun-wielding pro, or a fool.
You don't have much to worry about in High Hell and that's what makes it easily accessible and ideal for speed-running. You have one gun, you never need to reload; you simply need to shoot with precision and try not to get shot yourself. You won't die in one hit and you do have a health bar, but similar to an old-school FPS like Doom or Wolfenstein, you won't survive more than a couple shots to the face. You regain a slight bar of health each time you kill an enemy, which encourages you to never play too safe when low on HP. There are no checkpoints either, so shoot better, learn the levels, and move faster.
High Hell took me about an hour and a half to beat, but the game is made to be replayed and mastered as you get your time down on each level. I myself have neither the skill nor patience to master a game like this, but I'm really looking forward to watching someone fly through the game after having discovered all the secret pathways, shortcuts and quickest ways to take down enemies in each room.
This is a game designed with a respect and love for those old-school FPS genre, and it's a game designed with PC players in mind, with everything from the menu options, to the fantastic mouse and keyboard controls -- no gamepad support here, sorry. But it controls wonderfully and even has that nice level of floatiness that reminded me of Wolfenstein while jumping around.
High Hell can be either a fun shooter for an hour or two, in the style they used to be made, or it can be something you replay over and over as you master each level to meticulous detail to place on the leaderboards for bragging rights. How you choose to play is up to you.