Friday, May 3

Review: Hellmut - The Badass From Hell [Nintendo Switch eShop]


If you’ve read a fair number of my reviews you’ll know that I’m a huge fan of shooters, specifically those of the twin-stick variety, and that I also generally love roguelikes. That makes the Switch a really terrific system because there are simply a ton of great titles that mix these two genres together. That said, with so much density in this specific area new games continue to have a tougher time breaking in and making an impression. Now we have Hellmut - The Badass From Hell, and there’s no doubt it makes a big and dramatic splash… but it’s also hard not to note it simply has some issues that make it a bit perplexing as well, especially given the polish of some of its competition.


Hellmut is all about big, bloody, and explosive shooting action. Your mutated heroes are chunky and pretty powerful, you’ll deal serious damage even with your base weapons and pretty quickly recharging special, and in general you can expect your enemies to do the same. For every run you’ll start by choosing your base mutation to start with and then in each level you’ll have a choice to collect enough soul gems to let you take on a timed challenge which will give you a new mutation to work with.


Sometimes this may work against you but if you’ve really gotten your mutant beaten up it may be your saving grace. When your mutant form runs out of health you’ll be left as your vulnerable true form, nothing much more than a floating skull with a little spinal cord tail attached. If, however, you’re able to gut out this challenge you’ll typically not just get a new form to work with but possibly also resurrect the previous one you lost. In particular as you’re looking to face down progressively tougher bosses you’ll need these essentially extra lives to work with if you want to try to survive.


What holds the game back is that it’s a bit on the sloppy side across the board. Your hulking characters have pretty big hit boxes and dodging attacks can be tricky since they tend to be cumbersome. Switching between characters and even weapons on the fly is possible but not terrible convenient or efficient, something that can easily get you killed when things are getting tense. Healing is unnecessarily complicated with you trying to manually decide when to use packs rather than them just replenishing your health as necessary, a silly distraction when you’re busy mowing through enemies and a terrible reason to die. Finally, for the most part you’ll need to struggle initially to get a handle on it all as the tutorial may take some time but it feels like it leaves some key advice about how to be effective in managing your mutations and all out, and this problem compounds with the less-than-ideal controls.


What’s odd is that even as frustrated as Hellmut could make me as I was trying to get a handle on it all, and even with its obvious flaws, there’s no denying it can be a ton of fun to play. Once you get the rhythm of things you’ll at least get better at dealing damage more efficiently, which is a big help, though with the amount of damage you can take very quickly that isn’t to say it necessarily gets much easier. Some value adds are included, like the ability to play the gauntlet mode either solo or co-op, though for the most part I found this mode to be too slow in getting rolling compared to the intense main game so it’s a bit of a wash. The thing is, with some refinement, streamlining, and better explanations I think this could compete for a place closer to the top. As it is, it’s just a good time but one that has some real issues.


Score: 7.5

Pros:
  • Big, bold, and bloody action
  • Each of the mutations you can work with have powerful primary and secondary abilities that differ quite a bit
  • Despite its flaws I continued to play it, so it’s doing some things right without a doubt

Cons:
  • Too many of the controls are needlessly cumbersome and could use some streamlining to let the focus be on the fun and not stumbling to swap forms or weapons
  • The tutorial gives a decent overview but mechanically how to do some key things like change forms and manage them effectively aren’t explained at all
  • Your hulking mutated characters feel like they have generous hitboxes at times and can take a lot of damage in a hurry
  • The Gauntlet mode is a nice value add but a bit too slow and dull when compared to the main mode