Developer Red Dev Studio, co-publishing with Ultimate Games, presents Down to Hell for review. Down to Hell focuses on an angst-ridden knight that kills demons in a hack ‘n slash platformer.
Platform: Nintendo Switch
Limited platforming and lots of button presses are the order of the day for Down to Hell. Angst knight is capable of learning different attacks and magical maneuvers to vary up which buttons to press. How much good that will do is debatable since the angst knight’s most powerful combo, jumping and pressing the light swing attack consistently, is available from the start of the game. There is no multiplayer, which suits angst knight just fine as they’d rather not be roped into any rescue missions with sidekicks anyway.
If Down to Hell is notable for anything, it’s the awful text design of the title screen. Take a gander at the opening screenshot at the top of this review and, assuming you’re able to make out the words, it could stand for just about anything. The possibility of at least something interestingly terrible from the bad font is washed away from the experience of playing Down to Hell. At that point, it’s just plain old bad.
It looks and animates terribly. The art design is akin to taking the hand-drawn despair of Darkest Dungeon, tossing in a bit of Dark Souls‘ armor designs, then blending on “Chunk” setting. It’s a bad aping of others’ distinct visual style not helped by the sickly yellow backgrounds. Though instead of working through the ugliness to find beauty even in the dirtiest of surroundings, I’m treated to stilted marionette-esque jerky limbs from everything.
Jerky is also the only acceptable descriptor for how angst knight controls. He takes off at hilariously high speeds with the barest tilt to the left or right. The hilarity ends when the time comes to engage in the most rudimentary of platforming while hoping that the stick isn’t the slightest bit off-center so angst knight will not go careening off. Even angst knight’s dodge is a gamble, just as likely to go off into an unexpected direction as it is to collide with the enemy for more damage. This doesn’t matter much since the most effective combat maneuver is to stand, jump, and slash, but that also means seeing the same animation for several hours (or whenever you get tired of the urine coloring of the backgrounds to take your own biological break).
Those hoping for an interesting character or good story should note that angst knight has no time for interest. Angst knight only stands for angst. He kills by jumping, slashing, and hopefully not careening off into a pit when dodging. That’s enough of a reason for most people to be grumpy, if not out and out angsty, but that’s usually a facet of someone’s character and not their whole character. Angst knight does not go for dimensions.
Down to Hell
Down to Hell starts by daring me to care about it and continues on to dissatisfy in every facet of its existence. The primary solace I can take from the unpleasant time playing it is that I'll forget about almost every second by the time this review is published. That's also a tragedy, because mortality is precious. So I should at least cling to angst knight, the knight who is angsty, Down to Hell's sole redeeming feature.
- Landscapes are almost pretty for the first couple of minutes.
- Awful, jerky, barely calibrated controls are sure to send angst knight flying.
- Angst knight is angsty and a knight. That's the sum total of character development.
- Hacked together visual inspiration from better games.
Do Not Resuscitate