Helheim Hassle is a puzzle/platform game originally released in late 2020. It was developed and published by Perfectly Paranormal, the team behind Manual Samuel. You play as Bjørn, a Viking who shies away from violence and confrontation. After a freak accident and a botched resurrection, Bjørn joins Pesto, a being from human hell, on a quest to collect Satan’s new sword from Hel. In return for his assistance, Bjørn gets Pesto to agree to try and help him stay in Helheim.
To Helheim and back again. Pleasure or hassle?
We’re only in January, sure, but Helheim Hassle is my favourite game of the year so far. What have you played so far in 2021? Are you planning to add this to your list? Let us know in the comments.
The main mechanic in Helheim Hassle centres around Bjørn and his ability to detach, reattach, combine and throw his limbs. Using this set of abilities Bjørn will be required to solve puzzles that have been constructed, or are under construction, on the road to Helheim. Things start off pretty simple, with just your head available to be flung from pillar to post but as you progress towards Helheim City you gain access to more of your limbs. Eventually, you are able to detach everything and combine them in weird and wonderful ways.
Your detached limbs are still fully controllable. You can roll your head around and even achieve a small jump with it. Your arms can scuttle around like the hand in the Addams Family. Your legs get some serious air time when exploring on their own. Different combinations of limbs can achieve different feats e.g. both legs together will wheel around at speed and both arms combined can fling themselves up from ladders with great effect. You’ll need to try all sorts of configurations as you go through the game.
Puzzles consist of pressure pads, levers and microphones set up in difficult to reach locations. You’ll need to throw limbs, combine them in weird ways and plan ahead to solve every challenge you face. I loved trying to figure out what combination of arms and legs would get me through each section. Specific body parts mark some pads, meaning you need to leave the correct limbs behind to solve the puzzle. Other pads are weight-activated, so you’ll just need the correct mass to pass. There are some great eureka moments to be had as you figure things out.
Alongside the body puzzles, there are also elements of item-based and dialogue puzzles. You may need to find a certain person to speak to in order to advance a quest, or collect specific items and bring them to someone. There’s also plenty of exploration challenges too. Your main collectables are berries, soul coins and gold. I won’t spoil their uses, but it’s worth tracking down these items. There’s also a great part in the first main town you come to that pays homage to some of the best indie games of the last 15 or so years.
The character design and dialogue throughout Helheim Hassle are fantastic. It’s a cast of weird and wonderful beings who all have their own quirks and distinct characteristics. Your choices made at certain stages do come back to benefit or haunt you in some ways and can make your journey easier or harder as a result.
Graphics & Audio
The cartoon art style of Helheim Hassle suits the game perfectly. Perfectly Paranormal used the same style in Manual Samuel, though refined a little more given the technological advancements since that game’s release. It’s a fun, colourful style that somewhat reminds me of South Park. The cartoony-ness serves the premise of the story well as a more realistic depiction of removing limbs and stitching them together might be slightly less charming!
The standout audio element for me is the voice acting. It’s superb work and each voice really lends itself to the characters personalities. This is something that is necessary for a game with so much dialogue and could easily be the difference between the game doing well and it not. Thankfully, the actors and actresses really nailed it. Pesto is a particularly colourful performance and her catchphrases will definitely stick with you.
If you’re ignoring collectables and side quests, the main game is probably about 8-10 hours, depending on your puzzle-solving and platforming abilities. Doing a 100% run without any guide will probably take around 20+. I highly recommend taking your time on your first playthrough and soaking up the story and exploring all you can. As I said earlier, choices you make can alter the game later on so to see everything you need to go through at least twice. There is however only one ending, so unless you are trying for 100% achievement completion don’t worry too much about these choices.
Helheim Hassle was on my radar prior to launch, but I didn’t know that I would enjoy it so much. I genuinely couldn’t wait to finish work so I could pick it up for a couple of hours and see what was going to happen. It’s hard to find faults with it. The game defines it’s core mechanics really well and sticks to them, ramping up the challenge gently as it progresses. I will be seeking out Manual Samuel next.
I’m giving Helheim Hassle the Thumb Culture Platinum Award. Can I get a
Hell Home yeah!?
Disclaimer: A code was received in order to write this review.