Rising Hell Review – Only One Way to Go

    Title: Rising Hell
    Developer: Toge Productions
    Release Date: May 20, 2021
    Reviewed On: PS4
    Publisher: Chorus Worldwide Games
    Genre: Bullet-Hell

Roguelites are prevalent in our current gaming culture. The genre offers challenging procedurally generated gameplay and progress fueled by game overs where you return to the beginning with experience to make it further the next time around. New entries to this genre observe most of the elements that make the games popular and add their own unique flair that continually pushes and evolves this style of gameplay. Rising Hell not only adheres to this structure but does so with style and grace.

Rising Hell looks and feels like a classic game in all the best ways: gorgeous retro-inspired pixelated graphics and well-rendered sprite characters and monsters. The nostalgia has me wishing this was available on a cartridge. What sets Rising Hell apart is the vertical platforming. A relentless climb out of Satan’s tower. A heavy metal action-filled Celeste where you battle demons one vertical level at a time.

Platforming is fluid with the action to double jump through areas. You can cling to walls to extend jumps and even use hell break, the ability to use an enemy to catapult you into your next jump or attack. One of the most helpful moves is a “phase dash,” which shifts the character right or left. Temporarily adding a few invincibility frames that help you to avoid enemy attacks. This move even assists in evading the pressure traps, buzz-saws, and falling spiked mashers that lower your health and hinder your progress upwards. These moves can be combined effortlessly, especially if you go into settings and make hell break automatic.

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As you defeat enemies, they drop red and green orbs. Green orbs are sparse and refill your health, while red orbs are souls used to purchase power-ups along your ascent through the tower. These types of power-ups increase your attack, health, defense, or even provide for a resurrection, which is a chance to resurrect with limited life after you die. As you progress through the levels, your character collects all of these powerups. It becomes stronger and more resilient to the enemies, allowing you to get more powerful the further you survive.

Levels consist of a series of procedurally generated vertical stages. Every few stages, you’re given a chance to choose your path to the next stage; these diverging paths are often challenges where you have to navigate a climbing fire or chainsaw platform that chases you throughout the stage. Typically you deal with low-level monsters at the beginning of the level before taking on an archdemon.

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These enemies have strong melee abilities, bouncing projectiles, or super speed. Between these stages, you can visit Mephisto the Trickster. A character who provides additional power-ups at the cost of your other attributes such as defense or health. The climax of the level is the boss. A high-powered demon with multiple attacks such as bullet hell style projectiles, lighting strikes, and laser beams take off serious chunks of health.

Rising Hell is challenging, and you are going to die. To help along the way, there are collectibles called blight. These rare purple crystals unlock relics that can unlock power-ups and two additional characters. You begin the game with Arok, a melee fighter with high health and average power and speed, but soon will be able to unlock Sydna and Zelos, both projectile-based characters with varying attributes. These new characters add a whole new dynamic and fighting technique which varies gameplay and increases replayability.

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There are two game modes; Conquest, the classical game mode, which takes you through each level and their bosses. Gameplay is challenging, but there is also a redemption option that gives you three lives. This mode decreases the amount of experience earned after each death but gives you additional tries to finish that hard boss. There is also Gauntlet mode which allows you to tackle unique challenges with varying difficulties. Challenges such as timed events and boss-only modes allow you to practice each level and boss to improve your skill.

The only audible suitable for this hellish delight is some heavy metal ballads and evil-sounding gothic rock. While this style of music is not for everyone, I thoroughly enjoyed it for the most part but did eventually tone it down in the settings. Personally, I found that the depth and quality of the audio-only helped to enhance the atmosphere of each level.

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Rising Hell is a standout roguelite that isn’t trying to break your budget. Those new to the genre and diehards alike will find plenty of depth to this challenging skill-based experienced. Its lasting power is yet to be seen, but bursts of gameplay provide enough to warrant multiple playthroughs as you try to get further. Rising Hell delivers a unique spin on the roguelite formula and creates a balanced experience for any who plays.

A review copy of the title was provided by the publisher for review purposes

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