It’s the new title from Volcanicc and published by Grindstone, but don’t feel bad if you haven’t heard too much about Volcanicc before, as this is their first ever game.
The opening scene sets the tone entirely: Pixel art-style reminiscent of early Doom/Wolfenstein, mad scientist, demons, supernatural beasts and a beholder; this is going to be a fun little romp!
What is Hellmut?
You are Hellmut, a mad scientist who was out to become immortal because that never ever goes wrong! When betrayed and killed by the demon he summoned, he was turned into the form you will sometimes play as — a pulsating mess of brains, spinal cord, and half a skull. I know, it sounds gruesome but is actually oddly cute and endearing. The main skill of this form is that they can transform into different characters with different strengths and weaknesses, starting with a grenade launcher totting giant rat or a hammer throwing flesh golem, and unlocking more through the game as they go. Hellmut is a lot of fun, very self-aware with little comments from the tutorial and NPCs in the shop that can’t help, but do make you grin a little bit. Especially if you remember a time when games were a lot less serious. The controls are easy and simple enough, with top-down movement, two attacks, interaction and transform, with the mouse for aiming. It would easily suit those who prefer a controller, though unfortunately, the option doesn’t exist in the build we have (but might be added later). The music is enjoyable and actually adds to the game (speaking as someone who will often turn off in-game music for their own music choices). With the options being “Modern Crap” the expected more nuanced style of audio we’ve come to expect, “Oldschool” that suits the art perfectly with a pseudo 8-bit style, or “Gimme Both” a peculiar and strangely enjoyable mashup of the two.
Hellmut has a lot of hallmarks of the quintessential rogue-like adventure. You run around the maps, killing the waves of enemies, and picking up the two forms of currency they might drop. Coins to use in the shop for buying better gear and health packs, and Soulstones to enable you to attempt to unlock another transformation by completing a time trial type mini level for the beholder that brought you back to (semi-)life. It’s hard, unforgiving, simple, and infuriating, but every time you die you get a little stat sheet in the form of a grimoire styled book — telling you exactly how badly you did. All this, of course, does exactly what every other rogue-like before it has done; it makes you want to play it just one more time to see if you can get a little bit further than you did before. Oh, did I mention that the tutorial was mockingly easy? Of course, it was. Lulling me into a false sense of security like that. Hold on, just going to have another go.
4 minutes that time… Okay, hold on, I got this.
I suppose I should also make clear what my actual opinion of this game is, and I have to say I do thoroughly enjoy it. I’ve played a lot of pure and semi-roguelike games in the past, like FTL and Rogue Legacy (being the OG Rogue-like as it is literally Rogue), and it has that certain… blast! 7 minutes this time, but I did get to the second level. I’m getting the hang of it now!
Sorry, like I was saying said it has that certain sense of real accomplishment when you get to the next checkpoint, next level, or defeat that boss that was troubling. DAMMIT! 2 minutes, ok, screw those guys who summon wasps in particular… *sigh*
It’s brilliant. The low poly graphics are great, as Hellmut wouldn’t suit being high poly graphics. It’s difficult because it has to be and that’s part of its charm. It’s the sort of game you can play whether you’ve got 15 minutes to spare or a free evening. So I’ll be over in the corner playing this more, I’m not going to be defeated…
Notes: A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for this review. Credit to Deekay originally wrote this piece and gave us permission to post here.
- Easy To Use Controls
- Infuriating but Satisfying
- Retro Feeling Graphics
- Retro Feeling Audio
- Missing Information In Tutorial
- Unique Attacks Identifier Unclear