Review: Hell Is Other Demons

What do you do when you are stuck in Hell and need to get out? Well, you pick up a weapon and shoot your way through. Hell Is Other Demons is an action shooter from Cuddle Monster Games and Kongregate where players fight the hordes of Hell itself to reach their final destination. Over the course of the campaign, players plot their course through the domains of the underworld, encountering foul and vile beasts, including massive boss fights. The gameplay combines elements of platforming and shooting all set within a bullet-hell style arena where you use a combination of primary weapons and special abilities to fight and win. Players can complete levels in however which way they want, but in order to progress, they will have to slay the game’s many bosses.

In each level, players fight several waves of enemies, earning currency to buy upgrades and skills. Before each level, players can tailor their weapons and abilities, which include what type of shot they may use, their special attack power, and even their abilities. The customizable weapon setups include rapid-fire, shotgun spreads, and a cool mod that extends the range of the bullet before it dissipates. Some of the abilities in the game include being able to dash, double-jump, or use an extra life bar. Players acquire more options over time as they play, and choosing the right combination is important, especially for the boss fights.

In each level, the player eliminates other demons, some of which are more dangerous than others. The enemies fly, shoot, grab, and even sacrifice themselves to hinder your progress. In some levels, players will also have to be weary of the environment itself as it too will try and harm you. As players shoot their way through the hordes, enemies drop either health pick-ups or crystals to power the special attack. The special attack can be customized later in the game, but players will begin with a raging beam that incinerates enemies. One special note is that players cannot shoot upwards at the start of the game, only left or right. The ability to shoot upwards can be purchased, though, later on. It seems barbaric but Hell is not an easy place to fight against, so why make it any easier?

Hell Is Other Demons is dark and hauntingly enjoyable with a strong emphasis on incredibly smooth animation and dark, lo-fi visuals. The sound of Hell has a heavy synthwave soundtrack composed by Remi Galligo which is gloriously nightmarish. Using heavy synthetic sound, he helps compound a soundscape that is hard to resist and send chills down the players’ spine. Using sound effects from sound designer Magnus Pallson, Hell Is Other Demons has the hybrid sound environment of both a retro game and a modern experience.

Between the pumping music and the chaotic shooting, the combat and action in Hell Is Other Demons is profoundly unsettling in all of the best ways. This isn’t a matter of saving the world or protecting a nation. In Hell Is Other Demons, it is a battle for your life and your salvation against truly unnerving and macabre monsters.  With every level and every fight, players truly feel a sense of desperation.  With limited health and various ways to get hurt, by enemies and environment, they are overwhelmed by the feeling of seemingly inevitable destruction.  It’s in these moments when the player is overwhelmed but achieves victory by the smallest of margins, that Hell Is Other Demons truly opens into an action spectacle that encourages players to be fast, fierce and shoot demons in the face.

My only real complaint about Hell is Other Demons is the lack of any kind of cutscenes or story. This is a story of a demon blasting out of Hell for salvation, and there could have been a unique narrative created. Was the demon formerly human or how long has he been there? A story would have been intriguing, as the sounds and visual presentation certainly evoke a strong sense of dread and doom. Another critique would be to implement the ability to shoot vertically as a standard, rather than having to unlock it later as an option. Other than those setbacks, Hell is Other Demons  is a solid game,

Ultimately, Hell Is Other Demons is a game that focuses on one vision and sticks to it. Hell Is Other Demons is a simple yet highly effective action run-and-gun arena shooter with a visual perspective that is refreshing, a presentation that is hauntingly inviting, and a gameplay experience that is charged and gripping, with white-knuckle gameplay mechanics.

Hell Is Other Demons is a hell of a great time, and a bullet-hell shooter that lives up to the term, bullet-hell. Hell Is Other Demons is available on the Nintendo Switch eShop and PC for the price of $9.99.

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