PAX East 2012: Hell Yeah! Preview

Hell Yeah! — that’s the title of Arkedo’s SEGA-published PSN game, exclamation point and all, and there are certain implications that can come with it. Rad implications, even. The small French studio has been hard at work to live up to those kinds of expectations, and what they demoed at PAX East holds a lot of promise.

The game’s story is…interesting, to say the least. You play as Ash, Prince of Hell (so far, so good). Photos have leaked of Ash getting intimate with his rubber ducky. Like, real intimate. This is obviously unbecoming of someone with his regal status, and he’s since become a laughingstock. The obvious course of action, then, is to murder everyone who dared to mock you, especially those with the gall to release those pictures in the first place.

The vehicle for this madness is a Metroidvania-type action platformer, where doors are unlocked by killing your now-unworthy minions all over the map. You mutilate your foes with what I can best describe as a saw cycle, spinning it’s blade by holding down the right trigger. To really seal the deal, though, you have to complete a WarioWare-esque minigame to execute a finishing move. Each of the game’s monsters gets their own microgame and execution; one requires you to mash a button as you pop him like a grape, for example, while another asks you to stop a meter at a specific point so that you can launch yourself in the air as a rocket to crash down and explode on him. One even asks you a trivia question, game show style.

To top it all off, Hell Yeah! features an adorably gory cartoon aesthetic. Comparing it to something like Rayman Origins might be hyperbolic — especially comparing the huge team working at Ubisoft against the nine-person Arkedo — but I still came away highly impressed. It’s not quite Ubi Art, but Hell Yeah! still has beautiful sprites and backgrounds, and the animation is plenty fluid. The graphics are gorgeous, charming, and downright weird, all at once. Adding to the charm is the plethora of visual customization options available for both Ash and his saw cycle. I personally gravitated straight to the neon lights and flag-laden stuntman helmet.

Hell Yeah! aims to be a crazy-ass game that doesn’t bother to take itself seriously. The folks at Arkedo take to heart that this medium should be fun from time — they’re video games, after all.

Check out Hell Yeah! when it hits PSN this summer.