IndieSpotlight: To Hell With Hell Hands-On Impressions

Hell has a new ruler, but he’ll have to deal with the daughter of its last ruler first. Up against impossible odds, Natasia puts her fire red spirit, red hair, red shoes, and red bikini to the test. Using a variety of weapon types, super powers that change depending on which mask is being worn, and good ‘ol fashioned fire power, players will control Natasia through her quest in To Hell With Hell developed by Lazurite Games and published by Deck13. Currently in Steam’s Early Access program, this roguelike shooter has an 80% positive user score at the time of this posting and 40 hours left on a 20% discount promo. Citing inspirations from Gungeon and Nuclear Throne, To Hell With Hell is planned to release in full around Summer 2019 with a lot of updates planned along the way.

Despite its Early Access status, To Hell With Hell’s level of performance, quality, and art / game design polish is what actually separates it from other rogue-ish twin stick shooters. Sure, many have tried to make a name for themselves in this genre. But this game really does provide a unique take on the concept. Finding a new mask in procedurally generated levels is an intense moment that changes player’s movement and power-up skills as well as the behavior of their standard weapons.

Another aspect of the game which sets it apart from others like it is the brutal difficulty. With a nasty learning curve and an unforgiving bullet-hell gameplay style, To Hell With Hell pulls no punches on new players. There are traps, many enemies, and everything is on a range varying greatly. This means as you get your upgrades and weapon pick-ups the difficulty will drastically step up. There are many steps along the ladder of challenge which players continuously climb as they make their way through each level looking for essential equipment and the path to their next room of demonic destruction.

The music, sounds, and visuals of To Hell With Hell make it feel like an exciting delve into the underworld via the roguelike genre of randomized and brutal runs. The developers warn from the start, this game is meant to be hard. So buckle up!

Using Steam’s Big Picture Mode, PlayStation 4’s DualShock 4 will work with the game. The deadzones require a slight calibration, but it’s nice that Valve did something right after all their failings in the way that users can create and share custom controller configurations for games now. Out of the box this title supports Xbox and PC controllers but not PS4, so that was a very useful feature. Even still, I found it necessary to also set custom controls for the game, as the ones it starts with are not very intuitive for such a fast-paced twin stick shooter. Sadly, the map function cannot be removed so anything you map to the Left Trigger will also bring up the map center-screen. Hopefully this is changed in future versions.

After a lot of messing with controls though, the actual game itself is quite intriguing for twin-stick roguelike fans. There’s a huge amount of polish here and even though Early Access has become loathed by some, I still find that a lot of incredible titles can be found there. To Hell With Hell appears to have little or no glitching / bugs found in many major releases, even in its early stages.

Masks give total conversion to weapons, special skills, and elemental properties such as fire or ice. Skills include quickly warping around the map, a scorpion-like “get over here” chain move that pulls enemies close so you can use a deadly melee strike on them, and more. The skills have cool-down timers and require rage which is built up by taking enemies out. Enemy Types vary greatly and include an increasing amount of health and attack power for each.

Weapon Types mostly fall into ranged and melee categories. There are different types of spread-shots for the ranged weapons as seen in most bullet hell games. Some perk / abilities seen so far include: Fast Metabolism to regain twice as much health when using a First Aid Kit, Jet Thrust to make your bullets rapid-fire, Lucky Mask to gain a double chance for finding the second mask in a level, Vitality for a higher max health, and more.

The graphics and art direction are so well done in this game that it’s likely player will be willing to master its extremely challenging gameplay. Even though it’s made up purely of pixel art, To Hell With Hell has visuals that are so charming and detailed that you can always understand exactly what you’re looking at. Elemental attacks, evading enemy attacks, and looting for crucial supplies are all smooth and enjoyable thanks to the talent of the artists involved with this project.

Design appears to thankfully be on the same level as aesthetics. Bullet collisions feel pixel perfect, and even though it’s very hard to get an initial start that doesn’t feel like a quick death, that just adds to the feeling of accomplishment when you stay alive and start gaining amazing equipment. All in all, fans of this genre should definitely check it out – and if you haven’t yet you won’t be disappointed. We look forward to seeing the additions that Lazurite Games makes to this game over time as they take in feedback and head towards full release. The one minor complaint we had about controls should be ironed out by then, we can hope!


Available Now On: Steam Early Access

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