Heave Ho Review – A Delightful Return To Simplicity

Heave Ho Review

Video games in this day and age are created to overwhelm our senses, inspire awe, and maximize the amount of content we can play through.  This is great as it allows developers and designers to challenge themselves to insane limits, but sometimes we forget about the simple games.  There is something truly special about a really fun, platform game, where you can just relax your mind and have fun.  Heave Ho really cured that itch for me, and I thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of the game.

While Heave Ho is a Steam game, a game-pad is highly recommended, as the design of the game is suited to a controller much better.  This is a story-free platform style game, but your main controls are actually only one joystick and two triggers, keeping things extremely simple.  Your mission is to control your characters arms, and scale the landscape to reach the finish line without falling to your death.  Think Mount Your Friends, but less gratuitous, and with much more depth and strategy involved.  While El Cartel Studios more than likely intended this title to be played cooperatively with friends, I did enjoy the solo mode, and I actually felt much more challenged than I originally thought I would be going in.  I did not have the chance to play co-op mode yet, but I actually feel excited to try it out in the future as I can imagine this will bring a whole new level of enjoyment to the game.

A Heaving Helping Of Fun

One of the things that really stood out for me was the level design.  All of the visuals have been kept quite simple, but the art style is neat, and each of the levels introduces a completely different environment.  I got a sort of pencil crayon sketched style of art, which was a nice direction, as it fits their level designs quite well.  Each of these levels has a great design and introduces a new mechanic, which keeps things fresh and challenging.  One level specifically introduces invisible walls you need to find to climb on, but you can use your death splatter to help show where the invisible walls are.  A very interesting concept, and you can expect something different like this each time you progress.  While all of the visual concepts were a hit, I was not overly aware or fond of the music in the game, so this was an aspect that left a little bit to be desired.  There is also a “hard mode”, so to speak, so once you complete all of the levels, you can go back around again for a crazy challenge.

Whenever you find a game that does not require storytelling of any kind, you can usually expect the writing effort put towards other areas of the game.  With Heave Ho, I would say they channeled some inner ridiculousness and put extra time into having fun with customizing your character, and focusing on the actual game experience itself.  For example, dying is actually fun in this game.  What do I mean?  I chose the most ridiculous character voice, and it’s actually hilarious to hear your character fall to their death.  Plus, death produces a colorful paint splatter of sorts, which actually stains the level with your character’s cartoon innards.  This is an example of how important the small extras in a game are, and how they can make a difference to the overall experience.  Several other small additions were included, such as a slot machine where you can earn new character skins, and a couple of different game modes to enjoy when playing co-op with friends.

After playing this game, I really had a good “sit and think” moment about the state of games.  I know a lot of gamers (including myself at times) get caught up with the newest and greatest blockbuster titles, which is fine, but sometimes we need to mix things up a bit.  Games like Heave Ho are sometimes passed by without a second thought, but in all honesty, grabbing this title for the low price of $10 is an absolute steal.  It will give you some solid, challenging play time on your own, and then when your buddy comes over you can have a ridiculous time flinging each other across the map.  I would say El Cartel Studio has nailed this simplicity with this one, I would recommend checking it out.

**A Switch code was provided by the publisher**

The Good

  • Great visuals with diverse level design
  • Fun, co-operative game-play
  • Challenging

The Bad

  • Lacklustre music