It’s been some time since developer Perfectly Paranormal released their last game Manual Samuel. I reviewed that game back in 2016 and enjoyed it despite the odd control scheme the developer went with. Since then, the team has been busy on their next game Helheim Hassle which I first played a demo for last summer. After playing it, I was very excited to get my hands on the final version of their puzzle platformer set in a Norse mythology world. The game came out last year on every platform but the PlayStation 4 but now that version is out and my thoughts on the final game are here.
If you ask most people if they are looking forward to their death the answer is probably going to be no. That isn’t the case in the world of Helheim Hassle. You play as a young Viking warrior named Bjorn who early in the game finds his people come under attack by giants. The Vikings in Bjorn’s village welcome their death and actively rush to it so that they can go on to Valhalla. Bjorn on the other hand finds that idea boring and instead of heading to the battle he rushes off like a coward. Only thing is though is that he accidently falls off a cliff and lands on a bear, killing it and himself in the process. Killing a bear is something a hero would do and because of that Bjorn technically died a hero and is sent to Valhalla which is what he didn’t want. Fortunately for Bjorn, the Devil has sent one of the four horsemen named Pesto to Helheim and they just so happen to find and put Bjorn’s body back together. Pesto reminded me a lot of Death from Manual Samuel and that is just one of the many little callbacks to that first game that players of both may spot. Anyway, Bjorn makes an agreement with Pesto to help her with her business in Helheim so long as Pesto helps him stay out of Valhalla.
The overall script and story are humorous and enjoyable from start to finish and all of it is voice acted which I appreciated. Over the roughly 8+ hour run time you’ll meet many different characters with varying personalities. The team went with the same visual style that their last game had which means you get another colorful and beautifully drawn cartoon styled game. In most areas this game was really good but the gameplay is where it stumbles over itself a bit.
You see Bjorn now has the ability to disassemble his body into multiple parts to solve puzzles and traverse the environment. Your arms, legs, and head can all be detached and moved independently and you can combine them in different ways to solve different things. The control pad, analog stick, and shoulder buttons are all used to switch between the different parts. To combine body parts, you’ll need to move them close together and then press a button to merge them. If you need to get your head to a certain place you may need to attach it to one of your arms that can then climb something like a cliff or a ladder to get it there.
None of this may seem like an issue but the problems arise when the game puts you in scenarios where you have to move against a timer. At these times, it’s very easy to mess up moving the parts that you need to or mess up combining the rights parts in time. If you fail to do what you need to in time, you’ll have to start over of which I had happen to me quite a few times. If you have too many body parts close together it’s also very easy to make a mistake getting to the part you require. Again, if this happens during one of these timed sections it will probably result in you failing. I enjoyed the gameplay quite a bit while trying to solve how to use Bjorn’s body in different ways but there are enough of these timed sections throughout that they did hurt the experience a bit. I think the game should’ve scrapped them altogether to make for a more enjoyable experience.
Helheim Hassle is a great time from start to finish despite some issues with the controls and certain gameplay sections. The writing, characters, world, art style, and voice acting are all at a really high level for an independent game and many of the game’s puzzles are enjoyable to figure out and solve. It’s really just the timed sections and the control layout that makes this trip to Helheim a little bit less enjoyable. If you haven’t joined Bjorn and Pesto on their journey yet though I highly recommend doing it in the future as the rest of the game outside of those two things is really good.
*Helheim Hassle is available now on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Nintendo Switch, and PC. PlayStation 4 version reviewed played on a PlayStation 5. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review.
- Well written story that is full of laughs
- Beautiful hand drawn cartoon art style
- Great cast of characters with great voice acting
- Body parts mechanic makes for some enjoyable puzzle solving
- Timed puzzle sections are frustrating
- Controls can be cumbersome especially in those timed sections