Down To Hell has all the blood, gore, and screaming metal you could want, it’s just missing that little thing called fun.
By now, you’ve either played Castlevania or a game that was inspired by Castlevania. That series was so influential that it essentially spawned an entire genre of side-scrolling hack ‘n slash titles. While this is a very oversaturated category, there have been some amazing games that have revolutionized and innovated the standard formula. This allowed them to stand out from the rest of the inferior pretenders to the Castlevania throne.
This is not one of those games. Down To Hell tries so hard to edgy that it becomes cringy. It’s got all the blood, gore, and screaming metal you could want, it’s just missing that little thing called fun.
About As Edgy As Your High School Poetry
Down To Hell’s story is told in long, droning voiceovers that sound like they were performed by the game’s developer so they could save money on a voice actor. You play as a knight who seems to be named, Knight, who’s all pouty and brooding because he can shoot fire out of his hands. Everyone is scared of his power, except for one girl who appears to think that it’s pretty cool. She gets kidnapped and he heads out to save her, although he continually says he’s not there to save her because he’s too much of a cool loner to be saving people.
This game is the embodiment of trying too hard. Everything is gloomy, red and dark, there’s usually a ton of blood onscreen, and it’s all scored by screamo metal music that sounds like it came straight from a high school talent show. On top of that, the monster designs and level backgrounds all look like the rejected cover art for an Iron Maiden album. It’s all rather ugly while also being grainy and blurry at the same time.
The minuscule effort this developer put in must have been exhausted by the time they reached the point to work on the animations. They’re stiff, jerky, and devoid of life. Everything moves like paper puppets futilely swiping at each other. I’m not sure if this game is supposed to take place in hell, but I’d have to imagine that the underworld would look more interesting than this.
Was This Developed By The Actual Devil?
Down To Hell is a 2D sidescrolling action game that offers nothing original. You have a light and heavy attack, a dodge, and some magic attacks that are rarely as useful as just wildly swinging your sword around. Your strikes have no real weight to them, and killing anything never feels like much of an accomplishment.
Playing this game already felt like a chore, but it also has a brutal level of difficulty, which means you get to feel bored and frustrated at the same time. Enemies can take out large chunks of your health fairly quickly, especially during boss battles. The bosses have a certain number of moves that are pretty easy to memorize, but some of them can suddenly one-shot kill you, and then you have to start the fight all over again. There’s far too many instant deaths, like falling down a pit you didn’t see because of the bad camera angles or weird little demonic traps that murder you if you accidentally step on them.
I like a tough-as-nails gaming experience as much as the next person, but having intense difficulty only works if the gameplay is fun enough to encourage me to keep going. If a game is hard, but the combat is fun, then I’ll keep running into that wall until I break through. Down To Hell’s mechanics are definitely not good enough to convince me to keep playing, so every cheap or unfair death just pushed me closer to deleting this game off my Switch for good.
To cap it all off, there are some baffling game design choices and performance issues that make it even more unplayable. Framerate drops, bad enemy A.I., translation errors, a camera that seems to have a hard time following the action, etc. There’s a bevy of bad decisions that could have easily been corrected, but instead, they’re a perfect representation of how little passion was put into this project. It’s like they thought that all they’d have to do is put hell in the title and that would be enough to charge $10.
This Game Gives Hell A Bad Name
If you want some great hack ‘n slash action, there are so many better titles out there, like Bloodstained: Ritual Of The Night. Heck, if you just want a gory game that will shock you with its violence, you should track down Blasphemous. At least all of that game’s viscera and bloodshed are rendered with gorgeous art.
This game does nothing to deserve your attention. I honestly can’t believe that the developer is charging ten bucks for this. It feels like the unfinished alpha build of a game that would still probably be bad. Down To Hell is so lame that the devil would be ashamed to be associated with it.