Featured image for Hets review/Murder at the Residence Gudul review

“Hets” Makes Me Angry (Plus: Residence Gudul)

Hets, 2014

“Hets” was briefly free for a trial month of sorts, and then cost three dollars, but now I’ve waited so long on this post it is optionally free again with the ability to donate. “Hets” by Ditto is a rainbow-rific platform shooter in a magical land of bugs and unhealthy anger coping strategies. Using a heavy-quotations “rifle” end-heavy-quotations, you must trek through 16 randomly generated levels disposing of evil statues and more hostile alien creatures than you can fit in your grandma’s sock drawer, collecting upgrades along the way.
I have not beaten this game. And I tried 158 times because I wanted to learn the identity of the boss at the end, which I faced once but did not beat (for grim heapers playing at home, that means I encountered the boss in .63% of the games I played. WHOPPER!). Strangely among the “Hets” reviews on the net I am seemingly alone in my very strong dissent towards this game, to say nothing of the commenters who report beating it in as little as five tries. What! Normally I’m ok at pressing a button a lot to blow things up. Am I actually life-changingly bad at something?

Here’s the thing. “Hets” is unfairly hard. There is no recovery time and knockback from enemies covers a distance with the real world equivalent of two eyelashes. By default there is a feature activated which shakes the screen violently every time you are hit and it is recommended by the game you not turn it off. Only four of the ten kinds of enemies don’t fire a homing weapon or chase you across the level, and as you lose more health (3 HP to start) the radius of light around your character gets ever smaller and dimmer making it harder to see and more likely you’ll run into an enemy again.

But don’t fret! No developer would send you out into a landscape teeming with little nasties without some equipment first! Power-ups — also randomly generated, so the three you can pick from between levels always varies — include such fine technology as:

  • the rotating bullet shield! …which maybe will be in the right place at the right time, but probably not. The first only covers about a third of a complete circle around you at any given time, and though these stack, with each new layer the shields get smaller and the gaps between them bigger so that the end result more closely resembles an asteroid belt. Also, there’s only one enemy that actually fires bullets for the good beginning portion of the game.
  • regenerate health! But it cuts your current HP nearly in half and is earth-grindingly slow.
  • fairies and
  • no pushback! That’s right, no pushback from your gun. What? NO, Mom, I can’t just make there be no pushback in the first place, that’s NOT realistic. Anyway back to drawing this laser skeleton.

My strategy for the late game became accumulating several fairies and running into a hidey hole at the start of each level, then sitting for about two minutes mashing the fire key with my bouncy, splitting bullets until there was enough room to breathe, then picking off the stragglers.

Unfortunately, the boss of the game, which the developer describes as “very evil,” is a sentient statue surrounded by layers and layers of your least favorite enemies. Your fairies (admittedly very useful up until this point) can only do so much damage, and there are no other statues in sight, which cancels your statue-drops-hearts recovery option.

Not only are you heckled by bullets upon bullets, but a cannonade of homing missiles follows across the trerrain, back and forth, on a box-shaped level that is not at all conducive to dodging homing missiles.

I spent about a week’s worth of time in early February giving it attempt after attempt and actively hating this game. I wouldn’t recommend you play it if you don’t want to pop a blood vessel, though I guess the visuals are nice. It’s like the monsters of UIN went to a rave that was then thrown into a trash compactor!

Murder at the Residence Gudul, 2015

This gritty bitty point ‘n click was released early this year by French dev team Sparklin Labs, which means yes I played it around January 2015 and am just only finishing this post. But yes, Sparklin Labs — French based and g-dropping, which you know means we’re dealing with some very professional bilinguals. Set one thousand years in the colorful creature-dominated future, Murder at the Residence Gudul asks the age-old question, “What Dowie do now?” Follow Dowie as he begrudgingly investigates the death of the building’s janitor, in a bleak and consumerist dystopia dominated by the one-click order device, the Distritube!

Residence Gudul is, in a few words, lively. While this was merely a game jam entry doubling as a demo of the team’s forthcoming HTML5 game engine, Superpowers, I would gladly play a full-length commercial adventure game of the same caliber.

Dowie and the eccentrically awful company he keeps possess a unique wit and an aesthetic which can only be described as “thick lines, vomit color, elevator music.” The whole world breathes, and that’s a rare trait in short freeware point ‘n clicks, especially those thrown together for a game jam. It’s tight, and also a solid English translation, which might also be a minus if you like cute French typos (my personal favorite is the space before the exclamation marks !).

The writing is cynical but not pretentious, keeping the players in on the running yes, we live in a shithole joke, like a late 20th century English class novel with pictures and more self-awareness. Dowie threatens to jump out the window after the power goes out, but he doesn’t know how to open it. In the opening scene, you can buy all manner of senseless garbage, including an ugly dog-like creature, a bag of chips, and a labrys, and yes, they will show up in Dowie’s house if you buy them!

“Murder at the Residence Gudul” is worth a look, even if the strongest reaction it leaves with you is the desire for a full-length buddy cop adventure game starring our least favorite Cheeto-orange resident and his ego. What Dowie do now? Dowie make sequel, please.

*Finger pistols* eyyyy



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