Volcani.cc's Hellmut: The Badass from Hell is an enthralling 2D dungeon crawler with frenetic combat and bloody violence in equal measure.
Hellmut: The Badass from Hell is the latest roguelike dungeon crawler to make its way from PC to console and it's a transition that works better than expected. The game, the first title by developer Volcani.cc, is another example of retro-style gaming done right, complete with above average pixel graphics and an engagingly old-school challenging feel that still feels relatively accessible during its 3 to 5 hour play time. It also helps that Hellmut: The Badass from Hell has incredibly fun and frenetic combat that's topped off by glorious bloody violence and a constant feeling of forward momentum that never allows a dull moment to creep in.
While Hellmut: The Badass from Hell is played from a top-down perspective like most other roguelike dungeon crawlers, the procedurally generated maps and art style are very Doom-like in nature. This is equally true of the game's collection of monsters which poof into existence when the player character moves into a certain position on the level. Unlike Doom, most aspects of this title are never really played seriously. There's no demanding narrative or really even subgoals in general. Just move through the maps, destroy monsters and collect coins to spend in the shop between missions (usually on different weapons or health packs for damage received).
Speaking of narratives, Hellmut: The Badass from Hell's isn't exactly a priority for Volcanicc. There's an introduction which features a scientist getting more than he bargained for when he opens a portal to a hellish dimension and having his body stripped away and left with nothing but a skull and spinal cord. The basics involve going through levels (and the occasional boss) to reclaim this body. None of this is exactly heavy hitting stuff, but this isn't a game for story. If anything, the small glimpses of story development only serve to slow down or get in the way of the real appeal of the game: endless carnage and fast-paced combat.
Combat in Hellmut: The Badass from Hell isn't all that complex either, thankfully. While the skull and spinal cord version of the scientist is the standard look, the game offers players access at the beginning to a series of different mutations. These allow the character to take on differing physical appearances and equally differing combat styles. One offers a brute, demon-looking avatar and an infinite amount of throwable axes. The best approach is to experiment with these mutations and find what works best for you (although only two are made available at the start).
Combat itself with these avatars is surprisingly smooth: on the console version of Hellmut: The Badass from Hell requires aiming of your attack (in every standard and diagonal direction) and then pushing the corresponding attack button. Constant movement while attacking is usually the key to success, as there are sometimes multiple enemies spawning at once, all with varying attack patterns and styles that compliment each other and often spell doom for you if caution and smart movement is not utilized. In spite of this, combat is actually quite accessible and once you get into a groove, it's easy to feel exactly as the subtitle of the game suggests.
While the campaign is where players will likely spend most of their time in Hellmut: The Badass from Hell, there's also a fun gauntlet mode that allows up to two local players to tackle an endless onslaught of monsters until death comes. Unlike the forward momentum feel of the campaign, this can certainly get a little old after awhile. The randomly generated maps can offset this, though, and if you have a friend or reliable family member, it can be a fun way to kill some time slaying monsters. If this doesn't sound appealing, there's also a tournament setting, which sets up the same generated maps for you and a friend playing the game, allowing a small sense of competition.
While Hellmut: The Badass from Hell is, for all intents and purposes, an excellent addition to the roguelike dungeon crawler genre, it is not free from its share of faults. Like most games in its genre, death is permanent and will mean restarting from the beginning. Most players accustomed to this may not have issues with this system, but it is one area where the title loses some of its accessibility to more casual gamers. Depending on a playthrough and how the maps are seeded, there's also some weird logic to monster spawning. At times, creatures only spawn when the player is in an inescapable position in the room. This will mean guaranteed damage to the player character that, while adding to the intensity, comes off as annoying more than anything else.
Hellmut: The Badass from Hell is tense-filled roguelike experience with an intuitive generated map system that not only guarantees a surprise each time its campaign is played through, but an excuse to come back to the game again and again. While moving through dark and scary dungeons and killing endless monsters may sound like something that would get old fast, it's never an issue here. Combat is fast-paced and smooth while monsters are diverse and challenging enough that strategic thinking and movement patterns keep the shine from wearing off. Players looking for a blood-soaked and action-heavy experience killing monsters and demons will feel right at home here.
Hellmut: The Badass from Hell is available now on Xbox One and Nintendo Switch. It was previously released on PC in 2018 and will be released on PlayStation 4 at a later time. Screen Rant was provided an Xbox One copy for the purposes of this review.