Down to Hell
PC version tested
Review code provided
Down to Hell is a side-scrolling hack and slash where you play as a nameless knight filled with hatred on a mission to take out the hordes of hell. Just as he is about to become overpowered by the hordes a bright light, who seems to be a little girl, scares off the last of the demons. A couple of seconds after that a creature takes the girl away. The knight realises that he must now save his saviour and thus begins the main game.
To start you have to go through a couple of tutorials which show you how to use your magic powers and sword for melee combat. From the off you can tell that the developers have been inspired by games like Salt and Sanctuary and Dead Cells which both have foreboding backgrounds and tight combat. Unfortunately for Down to Hell this is where the comparison stops, the combat is lacklustre. Disappointingly it just doesn’t feel as weighty as the previously mentioned games.
While playing through the levels you will come across red portals in two different flavours. The first of the red portals is a smaller size and puts you into a horde mode level event in which you have to defeat a certain number of enemies. Once done you then gain a stats upgrade. The second portal is larger in size with what seems like lightning going through it. This time it designates you straight into a boss area. The bosses themselves are designed quite well and go with the overall aesthetic, this is initially set against a delicate drum beat before the music changes to a heavy metal soundtrack. This is what the game does the best, the soundtrack perfectly juxtaposes what is going on in-game and generally amps you up for the fight.
Sadly when you get to the fight things seem a little too telegraphed. It is a case of switching between the smaller enemies the boss produces and easily executing them to gain back health before switching back to fend off the main boss. The team that developed the game is fairly small and I think with more time cooking it could have been great. With fairly small additions, like giving the dialogue more personality or making the combat feel more weighty they could have been onto a winner. There are also quite a few glitches that occur while playing, the pad seems to lag out after a short while playing and the game chugs at times for seemingly no reason.
The art style is great and the backgrounds offer a foreboding of the story that is trying to tell. There are other characters which appear in the form of an old man who gives you a little bit of conversation but adds nothing to the experience as the knight is very much one note. You get the feeling he doesn’t want to have the conversation, he just wants to kill. There is a chapel mechanic in Down to Hell which functions in the same vein as a bonfire does in Dark Souls. Once you have used your potions if you visit a chapel it will fill your potions again but for some reason doesn’t fill your health, which I found a strange omission. What this ends up meaning is that you enter the chapel to fill your potions, then use the potions to fill your health before repeating to fill your potions again.
Down to Hell a nice idea but unfortunately we already have much better versions of this in the aforementioned Salt and Sanctuary and Dead Cells. The combat here doesn’t feel satisfying at all and when fighting against the bosses there are multiple things that seem like you should be able to do but can’t, like cutting off limbs. This would have been a nice inclusion for instance when fighting Crimson, the first boss, if you could have cut off its pincers and been able to mix it with your sword for poison damage. It would have added a more tactical affair to the combat. Now this isn’t by any means a terrible game, it’s fun enough and if the price is right the Down to Hell is worth a punt. For one thing the game does well it does another that nets out the score as straight down the middle.
TBG Score: 5/10
Release Date: 30/08/2019
No. of Players: 1
Category: Action, Horror
Developer: Red Dev Studio
Publisher: Ultimate Games
Download link: Steam