I like to consider myself to be a versatile gamer. Sure, RPGs and horror are my staples, but I love a range of genres, particularly those that play a part in why I fell in love with gaming, one of which happens to be platformers. I’m a 90s kid, you see, so the genre is a bit like my bread and butter, as it introduced little Kayleigh to a whole new world. However, they have a tendency to be a little bit childish by nature.
That isn’t a bad thing, I love Crash Bandicoot, Sonic, Klonoa, and the rest, but sometimes I want a game that isn’t afraid to push some boundaries. Admittedly, there are plenty of titles that do this, but when I have a hankering for some platforming goodness, it’s slim pickings if I’m after a more adult sort of game. Though I do appreciate the innuendos in Crash 4, such as the level name Ship Happens – indeed it does, my friend. Indeed it does.
Anyway, a little game known as Hell Pie recently hit Nintendo Switch, and it’s admittedly a title I knew very little about up until last week when my pal and colleague Nathan mentioned it. Funnily enough, it’s a platformer about a little demon known as Nate. Is there a direct correlation between Hell Pie’s Nate and the Nate of Pocket Tactics? I don’t know, but both are snappy dressers with a penchant for bright shirts. The devil wears Prada, indeed.
In Hell Pie, as I’ve already mentioned, you play as Nate, the Demon of a Bad Taste that happens to be from hell. He’s having a lovely day in the office as the lava flows outside, the damned face their torment, and the little guy files his paperwork. That’s until Satan himself makes a personal call, during which he informs Nate that he is now responsible for his birthday pie. No, this isn’t supposed to be Nate’s job, but someone’s dead, and Satan can’t reach the chef.
If lil Nate wants to not only keep his job but his life, he needs to get his little red butt down to the kitchen, and this is where the game truly begins. Once here, the chef goes into a blind panic as the fool hasn’t got any of the ingredients he needs to create the pie. He does, however, have a list of what he needs, which is really a list of what you need to get.
That’s the whole point of the game. You travel to different places on Earth in search of some of the most disgusting ingredients known to mankind (pus eye, anyone?). But you don’t have to do this alone, as you get to pick up a little cherub known as Nugget, a blonde angel as naked as the day god made him and the citizens of hell kidnapped him. He’s awfully cheery, which is a bit surprising since he’s surrounded by his dead brethren when we pick him up.
Anyway, Nugget’s vital to traversing the various levels you must complete as you can use him to swing across huge gaps, all while he gives you his life story. For example, did you know that he used to be in a band where he played the flute, except it isn’t a flute, it’s a kazoo? Yes, it’s the riveting conversation like this that makes the hunt for pie ingredients fun.
Of course, there’s more to the little cherub than using him as a swing. To unlock more skills and abilities, you can feed him some of the most hideous food I’ve ever had the misfortune of seeing. Seriously, I think I might now have pus eye. Still, the fluorescent green gas he burps out afterwards seems to indicate that Nugget loves it. You can also unlock new horns for Nate, as each set grants him a different gift, though doing so requires a sacrifice: you need to tear the horn out of a weird-looking lamb. I’m still confused about it, in all honesty.
Throughout your journey, you encounter all sorts of enemies, which presents another use for Nugget, as you swing him at your foes. It’s all good fun, and there’s something oddly poetic about using what’s essentially a naked baby to defeat hordes of poops with guns and knives. There’s a sentence I never thought I’d say, but yes, the poo is out to get you in this game.
When it comes to traversing the levels themselves, I have to say that the platforming in Hell Pie is solid, though Nate does have a habit of jumping further than you might expect, but this is something you can adapt to. There are a lot of ledges for you to reach, gaps to jump, obstacles to climb over, and of course, enemies to defeat. It’s exactly what you want from the genre.
Better still, you should always pay attention to your surroundings, as you never know what you might see. Trust me. This game is an 18 for a reason. From the scenery to environmental objects, enemy types, and even Nate and Nugget themselves, you can clearly see how it differs from the likes of Crash Bandicoot in the best way possible.
To top it off, the level design is solid, with each hub world being a joy to explore while also managing to offer you versatile levels that provide something different. Within each area, you have numerous tasks to take on that give various rewards, from outfits to questionable food to feed Nugget. Having a good look around the hub is also how you find lambs to sacrifice and alters that offer you new horns for Nate.
Speaking of horns, make sure to pay attention to the tutorial when you reach the first hub world, as it explains how your first pair of horns can help you to navigate the area by pointing youin the direction of levels and points of interest. If you don’t utilise them correctly, navigating the various worlds in Hell Pie can be a hellish experience.
Unfortunately, as much as I love Nate, Nugget, and the hilarious adventure that they’re on, I can’t ignore the performance issues Hell Pie suffers from on Nintendo Switch. Sometimes, when in a level, the frame rate drops, which, as any platforming veteran knows, can cause instant death should it occur at an unfortunate moment. It just so happens I was jumping over a river of poop at the time, thus I fell in. I call that disastrous. I can only imagine the smell.
Then there’s the odd case where the game runs so slow it’s almost as though it’s frozen. Admittedly, I’ve experienced this only once or twice and was quickly on my way again, but things like this might be bothersome for some people. I don’t consider it to hinder my experience too badly, as the game is a lot of fun and a good time.
Graphically speaking, when the framerates aren’t trying to send me to poopville, Hell Pie looks good, the art style is great, and the game boasts a fun aesthetic that perfectly captures the dumb adventure that you’re on with Nate and Nugget. Furthermore, a good soundtrack accompanies this to bring everything together in an almost neat bow.
On the whole, I recommend that any fan of platformers picks this game up, as the performance issues are addressable and can be fixed with a patch. For the story, satisfying platforming segments, and hilarious characters alone, this is a title that deserves your attention, especially if you’re after something a little more adult – it’s a very warm day in hell, my friends.
Hell Pie is one of the crassest games I’ve come across for some time, and I highly recommend it to anybody in search of a rude, fun, and hilarious platformer. Yes, it has a couple of performance issues, but those are fixable and pale in comparison to the great time this game is sure to give you