Helvetti is a powerhouse of an action game, one that provides a great challenge in a gorgeous 2D world, features fluid combat, and has three distinct characters that each bring something different to the table. When you encompass this with a stunning soundtrack and interesting story, it’s hard to think of a reason not to play it.
I’m a sucker for challenging games, which means Soulslikes, Metroidvanias, rogue-lites, and rogue-likes are especially appealing to me. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that Team-KwaKwa’s Helvetti is of interest to me, as not only does it embrace the action that comes as part of the aforementioned genres, but it has an intriguing story to tell in a once beautiful world that’s now ravished by rot.
If you’re a fan of mythology, especially that of the Ghoulish and the Helvetian mythos, I can already tell you that this game is a must-play. The narrative alone is of great interest to me, as you get to choose between one of three characters to embark on a quest to put an end to the curse that plagues this land.
The reason that the rot is here and continues to enrapture the world is due to one of the three playable characters. Divico is a war chief, one with a severe thirst for power, which leads him to form a pact with an ancient and mystical being. Of course, this has dire consequences as evidenced by the state of the world. Thankfully, Divico realises the error of his ways and fights to put things right.
It also helps that he doesn’t have to walk this path alone, as Renart, a half-beast, and Nammeios, a druid, are on hand to help him. This is where the game begins. You must select one of the three characters for your run. However, before you do, you can check out the ‘how to play’ section, where there’s a tutorial for each character. You may think that this is overkill, as surely one outing teaches you the basics of the game, right?
Sure, you can learn how to run, dash, jump, and generally traverse the game through one tutorial, but the heroes each careen to a different playstyle, and these lessons give you a chance to acquaint yourself with them. For instance, my main character in the game is Divico, as the war chief heavily emphasises straight-up melee combat – anyone who knows me knows that I always take the aggressive approach where possible. Consequences be damned.
Meanwhile, Renart is the more acrobatic of the three and therefore suits players that tend to lean more towards speed and agility when in a fight (it’s admittedly fun to juggle your enemies in the air with him, as well). As for the druid, he adopts more of a ranged combat approach as he fires magic from his staff.
However, regardless of who you choose, you encounter various boons on your run that can make your life that little bit easier (or longer), though to receive these gifts from the gods, you must relinquish something of your own. You can either straight-up lose a portion of your health in exchange for the boon or try and renegotiate should the gift on offer be of little interest. Of course, you can also choose to walk away with nothing – I often find myself carefully weighing my options before I commit to a boon.
As for the combat itself, I have nothing but praise to lavish upon Helvetti, as each and every time you engage in a fight feels fluid. The combo system works well and encourages you to string together some impressive moves in an attempt to get the best score possible for the segment. The higher your rank is, the better your rewards are. However, the lack of a health bar for enemies does render the use of damage numbers pointless.
Still, it’s a lot of fun to beat the odds and overcome hordes of enemies in a show of tenacity and strength. Plus, when you wield the power of the gods themselves, it cranks everything up to 11 and can be what saves your life should you enter a dire situation with no way out.
To match the interesting story, great characters, and fun combat, there’s a meticulously designed world that I can’t help but stare at in awe as this graceful land tries to fight back against the rot that wishes to devour it. I can clearly see the love Team-KwaKwa put into the visuals of Helvetti, and it’s something that I greatly appreciate, for I can’t remember the last time that the artwork of a 2D side-scroller had such a profound impact on me. From ethereal forests to villages in ruins and mystical mountaintops, there’s much to see and appreciate in this world.
Then, just when I think nothing more can impress me in this game, I listen to the soundtrack, and it blows me away – what an enchanting string of music. The tunes perfectly encapture the world around you, adding to what already feels like a magical experience. Again, I can’t remember the last time that the music in a game of this type of game resonated with me in such a way.
Now that you know just how special the game is in certain ways, I suppose you want to know about Helvetti’s performance on Nintendo Switch. Well, it thrills me to say that it runs as smooth as butter. Throughout my time with Helvetti, I’m yet to encounter a single performance issue, much less one that hinders the gameplay experience. So I most certainly recommend Helvetti on Nintendo Switch.
Better still, the game performs great in both handheld and docked modes on Switch, so you can take it with you on the go with the confidence that it’s a smooth experience with no hindrances. Couple this with perfect controls that feel fluid all throughout, and there’s very little to complain about. Heck, you can even move the camera angle to see more of the world around you, something that you don’t often come across in a 2D side-scrolling action game.
I honestly can’t recommend Helvetti enough. Should you love action games, enjoy a challenge, appreciate a gorgeous world, and like mythology, this is the game for you. Do yourself a favour and pick up a truly satisfying experience that’s sure to entertain you for many hours.