Hell Yeah: Wrath Of The Dead Rabbit review: Gun rabbit, gun rabbit, gun gun gun
For a position as timeless as ‘skeletal ruler of hell’, titular dead rabbit Ash faces a particularly modern problem. While enjoying some downtime playing in the bath with his rubber duck, one of his underlings papped some photos of the Prince Of Darkness looking, well, less than princely, and like a Buckingham Palace press officer he’s finding the spread of the pictures impossible to control. The solution? A hard, 2D platforming tour of hell with a detour through Dismemberment Valley and a rest stop in Carnage. Take note, Wills.
Hell Yeah: Wrath Of The Dead Rabbit review
Your hitlist of those who’ve seen the snaps rounds out 100 monsters, some of them small and puny, some of them towering 40ft bosses that shoot lasers from their eyes. The hellspawn look great, each drawn like a pulp comic character with bulging cyclopean eyes, wiggling tentacles and so on, and they’re each unique – no lazy copy-and-pasting to pad out the numbers.
Your tactics for taking them down are wide-ranging, too – one enemy might project an electric field necessitating ranged attacks, while you might need to see off another by having a different nearby monster ‘accidentally’ pepper it with missiles. Each fight feels fresh, and while the game rewards your misadventuring with money for weapons and upgrades, it never feels like grinding – Disembodied Monster Guts Mountain is the destination, not the journey.
As you’d expect of a Lord Of Death, you’ve got a pretty sweet toybox of weaponry to rummage through. Your staple instrument of pain is the bladed spinning wheel that Ash rides around in like a murderous hamster toy come loose. The wheel blitzes effortlessly through the smaller, cannon-fodder enemies and also lets you burrow through certain breakable surfaces.
The weapons you accrue throughout your adventure (standard big guns: Gatling gun, rocket launcher, flame thrower, etc) bolt on to the sides, but the game shakes things up from time to time by robbing you of both wheel and guns, changing things into a puzzle-focused mode, where avoidance and environmental kills reign supreme. For all the game’s schlock gore (and it’s delivered in sopping great buckets), it demands a satisfying balance of skill and psychopathy – like a beautiful Rembrandt portrait recreated with kittens’ blood.
But the rolling road to revenge isn’t without the occasional pothole. When you’re in the spike wheel, movement can feel imprecise. Remember how Sonic The Hedgehog used to speed up and slow down, rather than just start and stop? Ash has the same issue, which means instead of stopping dead on the edge of a precipice, you more often roll over the edge into a spiky death-pit.
The humour treads a fine line, as well: the finishing move mini-games are great, gore-soaked fun and the eagle-eyed will spot a wealth of pop culture references, including the Aliens-inspired assault rifle. From time to time, though, the self-referencing dialogue (“are we done with this boring tutorial stuff yet?”) and internet meme references see Ash moving dangerously close to the tumbledown Big Bang Theory school of comedy writing.
But do these minor bumps ever really threaten to derail Ash’s barrelling monster safari? Nope. Higbrow exploration of revenge and the afterlife it ain’t, but if you want to wring the most blood, pound for pint, out of your PS3, then Ash is your lop-eared new god of gore.