In a world where you can watch people play games on YouTube, read countless reviews and streamers opinions on a game, play the game yourself and still end up disappointed, it’s hard to know where to go to get an honest, balanced review of a game. Well, I’m here to give you that. I’m a gamer just like you, someone who plays, watches and reviews video games and am going to give you the straight goods on Rising Hell, a twin stick space shooter.
We are currently experiencing a true renaissance of the Roguelite genre. It seems like every recent release has an annoying element. To be fair, recent games like Loop Hero, Hades, Dandy Ace, etc. have been excellent, so the genre doesn’t feel tired. We even had a recent AAA roguelite (Returnal) to bring the genre to the masses. Does Rising Hell have what it takes to take on these current representatives of the genre? Let’s go upstairs and find out.
In Rising Hell, you find yourself in the clutches of Aroc, a sinner with the mysterious gift of killing demons. After chaining yourself up in a giant, high prison, you fight the Belial horde and escape from hell. Rely on your willpower, your natural abilities to defeat demons and a rousing metal soundtrack to conquer the ever-changing levels of hell.
Rising Hell is a roguelite vertical action game. This means that the level design is mostly linear and, as you guessed, moves vertically. The levels are generally quite short, and at the end you can choose between two paths. Each path has a name and, for the most part, it doesn’t change that often. This allows you to plan your routes based on the paths you prefer. All levels have different themes, which keeps it fresh. In one of the levels there is a platform that constantly rises with spikes that you have to dodge. The other sets several traps and some enemies.
In most levels, there are portals that lead you to a secondary path where you are rewarded with various items or materials to upgrade. Other portals lead you to a merchant (Mephisto, Trickster) to use your souls and buy upgrades, artifact weapons or health. Everything is pretty standard for Roguelite, and with the limitations of the level structure, it can feel a bit repetitive. The levels are procedurally generated and there are different paths you can take, but after a few plays it all starts to look the same. So if you’re not into roguelikes and get stuck in levels, you’ll run into the same areas pretty often.
Fortunately, Rising Hell’s gameplay is pretty solid and engaging. The controls of the game are actually quite simple, as there are not many inputs. They have a jump, an attack and a sprint. Of course there are more complex elements, but for the most part the combat is very simple. You have to jump over walls, use a Dash to get through openings and dodge attacks, and use artifact weapons to customize your attack. I even like that some of the actions are automated, which makes combat smoother and can be used strategically. If you jump on an opponent, an uppercut is automatically performed, and if you fall on the opponent, a butterfly attack is performed. Some levels are designed so that you can give your opponents an uppercut without landing.
In addition to general combat, you collect souls that you can spend to buy gifts that give various bonuses. Each buff is linked to a specific trait, and you can only improve that trait a certain number of times. With proper planning, you can assign buffs that work together to give you big bonuses. In addition to upgrades, some enemies drop items in the levels that are of limited use, from Cerberus Claws that electrify nearby enemies to the Chronosphere that slows down time. There are a number of them, and you will encounter them often.
It is clearly a roguelite game, death will come often, and after each death you will be sent back to your cell to start climbing again. The only currency you retain after death is blight. Blight unlocks three new characters, including the base character Arok. Each character has their own basic stats and attack style. In addition to unlocking characters, you can also spend Blight to unlock relics that you can equip before the start of the game and that give you permanent bonuses. For example: The Archfiend tank protects you from peak damage, and the Incubus egg summons a creature to fight alongside you.
My biggest problem with Rising Hell, I think, is the limited design. While the gameplay is immersive and destroying demons exciting, the level design is a hindrance. The courses are starting to look the same, and there’s not enough progression and unique relics to rest on to make a difference. Each character only has one basic weapon and nothing else unique, so even the new characters don’t help when things get boring.
I love intricate and detailed pixel art, and Rising Hell does it at a high level. Everything in the levels is well delineated, and even the hidden spiky traps have visual cues to help you avoid them. For the most part, the design of the enemies is well done and fits the aesthetic of Hell, and the main bosses have the coolest design. Since the level design is rather linear, frustration can set in as there are many unique areas. However, each main world has its own theme and look, and for the most part, that’s well done. Unfortunately, things can be too similar. The mini forests also lack the visual power to offer something impressive to fight against. Unlike the main bosses, they’re not as threatening.
The sound design is one of my favorite parts, as it features an awesome heavy metal soundtrack. In fact, everything about him drips with metal. Right down to the announcer when you choose the game type. On that note, everything looks very arcade, and I like that. The generic musical compositions of the levels and end bosses will keep you on your toes in no time. However, some of the sound effects for enemies and battles seem to be underwhelming. Thankfully these are small things, as I really liked the sound design as a whole.
Rising Hell is a surprisingly good game that applies a simple level design idea to the roguelite genre. If you like killing demons on heavy metal and you like roguelights, then you should pick up this game. However, I feel like there could be issues with the length of the game due to the design and lack of variety in the core gameplay. I never encountered a wall of stagnation though, but I can see it for those who struggle or spend a lot of time in the villain genre.
|The overall design of the pixel art is well done with nice details. However, the small level design and some of the mini forests leave a lot to be desired.||The combat in general is easy, but it takes some time to master. I do like the fluidity with which some of the actions are executed. Unfortunately, the gameplay is starting to get a little repetitive.|
|The metal soundtrack is fantastic, I love the music in the levels and bosses. The sound design is generally good, but some of the sound effects in the battles could use some work.||The linear vertical progression through the levels is well done, and there are some unique gameplay ideas that make clever use of this design. It can feel a bit repetitive though, and the Roguelite progression doesn’t feel useful enough.|
|Final decision: 8.0|
Rising Hell is already available on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch and PC.
The test was conducted on the Xbox Series X.
A copy of Hellraiser was provided by the publisher.
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