Starting out, I had my reservations about Hellmut: The Badass from Hell; a fast-paced bullet-storm dungeon crawler that’s about as outlandish as they come. Though, after a few hours of play, it rapidly started to grow on me. I wont go so far as to say that it’s flawless, but it’s most definitely a good experience, and it’s certainly got a lot of pull. This is one of those games, like any dungeon crawler worth its salt, that will keep you coming back for more, and despite its few drawbacks, I can wholeheartedly say that I’ve had an absolute blast.
There’s a story present, and although quite light by structure, it fits as expected for a game that operates with a hellish theme. In short, you take on the role of a scientist that opens a doorway to hell, only to be decimated by a demon as a result. Now, reanimated and left with nothing more than skull and spine, it falls to you to hunt down your body, killing anything that stands in your way. Outside of that, there’s little else of note, but in truth, the game shines the most elsewhere and leaves the plot to serve as a mere framework.
First and foremost, let me point out that this game is hell in itself if you’ve a thing about uneven Gamerscore. The game is chock-full of achievements worth a single point, and others that provide bulks of two hundred points per-whack. Of course, that’s not a deal breaker by any stretch of the imagination, but something to be mindful of nonetheless. That being said, most of the game’s achievements are certainly attainable, with only a few of them proving tedious; spend twenty consecutive minutes in the shop? Yeah, okay…
That to the side, Hellmut offers a surprisingly gratifying experience. It’s also quite accessible too, which is always a nice trait for a dungeon crawler to house. I’ll also point out that those of you that enjoy score-tracking will find a lot of value here, being that the game’s stats book is full of noteworthy statistics to bulk up; completion times, enemies killed, streaks, leaderboards, and so forth. Safe to say that if you play these for that aspect alone, Hellmut has your back. Elsewhere, Hellmut provides plenty of ways to soak up some gory fun.
It helps that, despite its tough difficulty, the game remains fluid and easy to keep on top of as far as its handling goes. You’ll move the left stick to traverse your surroundings, whilst aiming via the right stick. You’ll shoot your primary weapon with the right trigger, and utilize a secondary attack (with a cool-down in place) via the left trigger. Outside of that, you’ll select your transformations through tapping the X button; a means that sees you taking on the form of a range of different beasts – each providing a slightly varying style of play.
The game offers a short yet informative tutorial to feed you into the basics of play, giving you a firm insight as to how the game functions. Once you’re done there, there’s a few modes to dive on into; campaign, and gauntlet. There’s also a tournament modifier accessible from the main menu, a tool that allows you to use the same generation seed so that you and your buddies can compare runs on equal ground. It’s a very neat feature, and something I have no doubt will go down particularly well with many fans of the concept.
Gauntlet isn’t anything new. This mode allows you and another (local) player to take to endless waves of carnage, set within tightly confined arenas that make a habit of throwing pretty much every form of nasty that you can imagine. I found this a good starting place once I had bested the tutorial, if for anything to give me some insight as to how the gameplay unfolds. Whilst far from original, there’s hours of fun to be had here, and perhaps a few hours more if you’ve got a friend or a sibling that enjoys these games as much as you.
Moving to the meat of the matter, the campaign. Each campaign begins in the same fashion; you’re spawned into a hub area and are asked to select what mutation (transformation) you’ll be playing with. The game only affords you two to begin with, but you will indeed bulk up and gain more options as you put more time into the game. Each mutation offers some varying traits; health capacity fluctuates, as does weaponry and special abilities. Essentially, there’s a mutation for many styles of play, and I would recommend trying them all out.
Regardless as to who you play as, the crux of play remains the same. Kill, kill, and kill. Believe me, you’ll be doing a lot of that in Hellmut, and it, for me at least, rarely got old. The feedback in handling is great. Far too often do we see games donning the same framework, but coming with feedback issues that tend to lead to unfair, unnecessary, and cheap deaths. Here, however, everything is refined and precise. Once you’ve selected your mutation, you’ll dive into the portal at the center of the hub, and start your journey to find your lost body.
Each time you play, the game will randomly generate its levels, meaning that no two playthroughs are the same. Levels are usually quite confined, and consist of an interconnected web of rooms. Overall, the game’s levels are broken up by boss encounters, meaning that for every few levels you best, you’ll have a towering foe to overcome before moving on. Stepping back to look at the game’s structure will show you a fairly simple concept, but that’s the beauty of Hellmut. It’s not trying to be anything other than what it is.
Instead, it just wants you to have short bouts of action-packed fun, and it does indeed succeed on this front. The aim of play is to make it from your starting point to the exit point, blasting away at just about anything that stands between you and that. In each level, you’ll find a tome and a shop portal. The former will take you to a bonus area should you have the necessary amount of shards (picked up from chests and dead enemies), in which you’ll find a time limit, and an enemy count. You’ll need to kill this amount of enemies in the given time.
Should you do that, you’ll be rewarded with something notable, such as a temporary transformation to use throughout the rest of your run-through. The shop is a useful area to take a trip to too, allowing you to buy various upgrades, buffs, medical kits, and much more besides; handy kicks that will give you some aid in one way or another. You’ll buy these wares with the coins that you pick up throughout play, many of which are scavenged through killing countless enemies, or, via destroying several environmental objects.
When you’re not bouncing from tome area to shop, you’ll be slaughtering demons by the bucket-load. Demons tend to spawn into each room that you step in, with no shortage of variety present across the board. The game’s enemies can be deceptively fierce; ranging projectile firing skeletons and monstrous bats, right through to tank-like undead knights that will charge at you sooner than look at you. The depth on this front is rather commendable, and although you’ll usually see the same enemy types on each run, they’re mixed well.
This ensures that you’ll always need to be mindful as to how to tackle each room, with several randomly spawned enemy types gunning for you in diverse ways. Your stats are tracked in the upper left corner of the screen, and should you lose all of your HP, your mutation will die and you’ll be returned to your former state. You can still attack in this state, mind, but you’re more frail and less powerful. This is why it pays off to ensure that you kill as much as you can, and smash anything that can be broken to yield some aid.
Temporary buffs and weaponry can be obtained through these means, including the likes of momentary invincibility, and weapons that would put DOOM’s BFG to shame. That being said, ammo is never endless, so spend it wisely. That in mind, you can resurrect your mutation through items or through the aforementioned tome areas, so there’s always something to help you against the hordes of evil, regardless as to how hard you have to work for it. Sadly, whilst truly energetic, the game doesn’t come with the occasional fault.
I found that on several occasions, enemies would spawn in in such a way that I couldn’t possibly outmaneuver their attacks. This leads to some cheap health depletion, which never really feels all that fair. On top of that, I stumbled upon the occasional drop in framerate when a lot of action and effects are present on-screen. Collectively, these issues do little to pull the experience short of greatness, but, I would be remiss if I didn’t at least point out these annoyances. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the crux of what you’ll be getting up to.
You’ll spawn in, take on countless foes, and slowly and gradually work towards the endgame. The game makes good use of its random generation throughout, which when grouped with the various mutations and opportunities, bolsters its already impressive replay value. You’ll even come across random mini-bosses throughout, all of which enjoy locking you in a confined space and then barraging you with attacks and enemy spawns. If Hellmut gets anything perfect in its execution, it’s its ability to keep its players on edge at all times.
The game is remarkably fast-paced, and sees you zooming around its environments and unleashing diverse and varying attacks in rapid succession. What I appreciated the most is that the enemies here are never simple fodder, they’re all deadly and they’re all more than capable of ending your run. I also appreciated the game for its lack of repetition. Despite the that you’re always doing the same thing, each area brings new tricks, hidden secrets, and more besides to the fold. There’s well over several hours of fun to be had across play.
Speaking of the game’s visual and audio design, Hellmut gets a thumbs up for the former, and a safe pass for the latter. Whilst Hellmut looks amazing with its pixel-esque presentation and packs a great deal of detail, it doesn’t really come with a solid audio design. Sure, it’s passable for the most part, but after so long, everything starts sounding generic and somewhat dull. Whatever the case, for its cost, this is an absolute steal for those that seek nothing more than nonstop, action-packed, blood-drenched carnage.
Despite some spawning issues and the occasional technical hiccup, Hellmut: The Badass from Hell is a damn fine bullet-storm dungeon crawler. The game’s consistently fast pace, together with its non-stop action and its diverse content variety, collectively ensure that adrenaline is kept high, whilst repetition is kept at bay. Granted, this may not be the deepest game of its kind, functionally speaking, but it’s certainly one of the funnest.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.