When everywhere I looked there was fan art of this game, I just had to play it myself to see what’s all the hubbub about. Clearly, the waifus must have been top tier if it warranted having hundreds of drawings of them all over Pixiv and similar sites. It was a short sojourn in Hell, the game being around 1-2 hours, maybe less (depending on how good you are at puzzles), but I found it to have been a delightful experience for how little time it took out of my day to finish it. And so, here is my review on Helltaker.
Top-notch character design
Alright, so I’ll just get this out of the way because I know most of you aren’t here to listen to me talk about gameplay. The premise of the game is that you wake up as the Helltaker, a not-so-normal guy who decides he wants a harem full of demon girls. And so, he ventures forth into Hell with his bare hands and a dream. The demons you encounter on your harem-building expedition are all great characters, both in looks and in personality. They’re quirky, not as in “14-year-old white girl with a ukulele” quirky, but as in having an exaggerated personality focused on a particular trait. Pandemonica’s personality is a hardworking lady with a proclivity for being tired (although this isn’t the only side to her); Modeus personifies lust and would have no issues with clawing you to death in the name of love. Yeah, none of these girls are angels, after all (sorry Azazel). These quirks work because in a short game like this, you got to make the waifus as memorable as possible in the scant few lines of dialogue you can afford them. Plus it’s an anime-style game: anime characters are never normal.
What really knocks the socks off of me and plenty of fan artists’ out there is the color palette. Black and red is such a great color combination and it fits the setting in that these are all demons in Hell. Combined with the fact that their outfits are all modest and formal (except for Judgement, dear Lord), every girl gives off a clean and dapper look that’s great to look at without feeling like you’re being judged. I also love the color scheme because one of the reasons the developer gave for keeping it simple is that he has partial color blindness, and a limited color palette saves him from taking trips to his ibuprofen storage. I wholeheartedly empathize with him.
The actual game
Right, now I can go on to talk about what I do worst at: puzzles. In each puzzle, the Helltaker must find their way around the level to reach the promised demon girl waiting at the end. Your limiting factor is the amount of will you have in each puzzle. Will is essentially action points. Every action you take expends will: taking a step, moving a block, and punching the lights out of a skeleton all takes a point of will out of you. The notable exception are spikes which, if stepped on, will cost you two points of will. Once you run out of will, you’re dead. No buts about it. Every puzzle will end with you finishing with no will to spare, meaning you must figure out the exact sequence you must take in order to successfully expand your harem. The initial chapters are easy enough, but they will become progressively harder as they add in new obstacles, requiring an even more complex solution than the last puzzle you faced. I personally struggled toward the end with the puzzles, and it didn’t help that most of my concentration was broken as a result of me jamming out to the soundtrack. If you’re not very big-brained just like me, you can opt to just skip the current puzzle in the menu. It wouldn’t be a much of a game if you did that though, eh? Good luck skipping the final level, though.
Don’t forget that if you ever need help, you can call upon your harem for life advice. They don’t actually tell you anything helpful most of the time. But it provides additional banter from your demonic party that’s sure to give you a chuckle, one way or another. Unless, of course, you have no soul, and you can be fairly certain none of the girls stole that just yet.
So yeah, that’s that. Short game, short review. It was honestly really fun to play since the puzzles required a bit (read: a lot) of thinking on my part and felt satisfying to have solved all on my own. I get why this game has quite the following: the girls are cute and so is the game. It’s sprinkled with a bunch of little wholesome interactions especially at the end of the game, where you get to see the fruits of your labor invading your daily life. As a final note, if you also digged the music for this game, check out the soundtrack on Bandcamp. It’s done by a fellow named Mittsies. Never heard of him before now, but I bet his other works are just as superb. And with that, thanks for reading and don’t forget to start your day off with a steaming batch of chocolate pancakes.
This game can be found on Steam here.