PAX West 2017: High Hell is a Crazed FPS Heaven

Let me see if I can sum up the genius of High Hell, the new FPS from Devolver Digital, Terri Vellmann and Doseone in one sentence: after successfully burning the piles of cocaine that the demonic gun-toting luchadors were guarding, I lept off of a fifty-story skyscraper to complete the mission, leading me to an interlude where I chucked the ragdolled corpses of my enemies into a ball pit before heading out to fight Professor Meth, who had weaponized innocent monkeys that I had to blow away before I could get to the antennas powering him up. Whenever any video game can have something like that come across as a regular occurrence, you just know the odds are that you’ll be in for a good time.

Let’s back up a bit, though. High Hell sees you playing as an agent attempting to take down a large, Satanic corporation (insert Comcast/Wal-Mart/Konami/et cetera joke here) that doubles as a criminal organization specializing in the likes of drug dealing, illegal experiments, sacrifices, selling extremely high-calorie energy drinks, and more. So in each level, you’re given the task of infiltrating part of their high-rise headquarters and dealing a blow to them in one way or another, be it destroying drugs, freeing chimps, or even just little things like stealing and bashing busts of the boss. And to do that, you have to carve your way through several bulky, gun-toting goons.

That’s where your special shotgun comes in. In a bit of a contrast to the team’s previous shooter, Heavy Bullets, this time around you have infinite ammo that takes down most enemies in a single hit. Instead, the limited resource this time around is health. There’s only one way to regain any of it, and that’s by killing an enemy, with the gun sapping their soul in the process. So to stay alive, you’ll need to act fast and take out enemies before they can even hit you. Needless to say, this gels well with High Hell’s old-school FPS gameplay, keeping things nice, speedy, and frantic. It’s an absolute blast with scenarios that wouldn’t feel out of place in the most insane ’80s action film.

In fact, more than a few people seem to be comparing High Hell to a first-person Hotline Miami, and they wouldn’t be wrong. The speedy combat, the quick restarts after dying, the way you kick down a door and all hell breaks loose as the enemies within immediately turn their sight on you, it definitely feels like there’s a bit of DNA from Dennaton’s now-classic action game included here as well, contributing to the rush of adrenaline. As such, a similar arcade-style feeling of fun is here as well, not to mention some stunning visuals. High Hell has a unique style in that tends to mainly focus on shades of black, white, and red, along with sprinkles of bright primary colors, all arranged in such a way that allows everything to stand out beautifully, and pop out with energy.

Appropriately enough, the anarchic spirit and sense of humor that pops up in several Devolver games is also present here in High Hell. Aside from the turbo-charged gameplay that feels straight out of the ’90s, each level contains little details and bits to interact with such as being able to flip over an employee ball pit or secret areas and collectable dolls to hunt for. The aforementioned interludes also allow you to take a quick break in the most over-the-top ways possible, from burning countless piles of money to being able to mash a vending machine and have all sorts of scenery randomly pop out of it. Basically, everything is over the top in the best ways, in just the right amounts.

There’s a lot more to discover in High Hell as development on it progresses, though. There’s a wider variety of enemies, a larger emphasis on the devilish imagery, and even story bits revealing more about just who exactly you’re working for. This may indeed be one of the most intense, insane and enjoyable shooters that comes out in the future, being the kind of action that you’d sell your soul for, so don’t miss out on it when High Hell comes out for the PC in the near future (with console versions not out of the question).