Weekend at Death's: Review
Updated: Apr 7
A fun game but it drags to the points where it loses its luster
Throughout the years of gaming I have put in, I have seen plenty of mythological monsters or beings. One of the most frequent cameos is Death himself. And I can say, with wholehearted conviction, that this version of Mr. Reaper is by far the stupidest I have ever seen. Death's Hangover is a title where you play as two souls from Hell sent by death to collect souls stolen by Dracula. I already have several questions, and I haven’t even gotten past the introduction. At any rate, you play as two dead souls who somehow are even more idiotic, named Bob and Andy. Upon being sent to Dracula's castle from Hell, our "heroes" have been changed into women for reasons that have not been explained.
The gameplay itself is your classic breakaway style, one of those genres you see but doesn't often reach mainstream status. Imagine one of those titles where you control a paddle and bounce a ball around while breaking squares and whatnot. Death's Hangover takes that concept and turns it into a rather fun adventure. The developers over at Retro Army Limited clearly put some thought into most of the levels and design. I have played titles like these over the years in different scenarios, but with unique outlooks on the environment, enemies, ball control, and even combat, I was in for quite a treat. Even if the intentional stupidity of all characters I encountered is just a bit too much for me to take.
After Death sends you to the first area of the castle, the game starts fairly. They give you a chance to learn the controls and provide a little insight into what you can expect. The first room teaches you about paddle and ball controls, the second tells you about power-ups, the third room has you kill enemies, and so on. When I first started playing, I had grown accustomed to a function where you could hold the ball in place and move the paddle before relaunching it. In this title, there is no such thing. Instead, your left mouse button slows the ball (Which is VERY useful) while the right mouse button speeds it up. There are breakable blocks that contain coins and power-ups, but the goal, unless specified otherwise, is to break down the door to the next room. In between rooms, Death may talk to you, but it usually a backhanded compliment about your intelligence or him complaining about something he doesn’t care for, like bats, for example. There are also skits between Andy and Bob, which truly made me want to bash my skull into my desk.
The power-ups I found are just as unique as the stages themselves. I admit I have not seen them all in action yet, but the ones I did see are potential game-changers. For example, one power-up is called ghost, and with this, you can phase out your balls to go through walls and whatnot. Then you have your classic three-ball shot, which good news, the ball speed works on all three of them so you can actually keep track. Another was the spike power-up, where your paddle shot spikes straight ahead, destroying anything in its path. Finally, the glue power-up was the mechanic I mentioned earlier where you hold the ball. Still, instead, it just sticks wherever it lands, making it a pain to aim. And speaking of aiming, if there is a way to aim your ball before launching it, I have yet to figure it out. That is an annoying feature to not have in a title that focuses on geometry.
The stages are what really impressed me about this title right from the beginning. There isn’t much to the first stage, mainly just a few unbreakable or moving blocks. But the second stage is the sewer, and each room has a trail of water going through, which slows down your ball when it passes through. The third level had the blocks in more strategic places, making power-ups like the ghost almost necessary in a sense. And the stages mostly feel fresh, except for stage four which truthfully feels like a stage two redesign. But on the plus side, at least the developers were aware of this, and considering how much they did come up with, I’d be willing to give them a pass on this. There continues in this, as all good titles should have, but with a neat twist. There are spirits you get the chance to collect in each stage, and you can use those spirits to spin a bonus wheel when you die. If you spin the wheel, not only do you get a power-up, but you get to repeat the room you died in. Otherwise, you have to start from the beginning of the stage again.
The enemies are something else in this title, to say the least. The first stage is simple enough. Bats tend to go hand and hand with anything in a dark or gothic setting. But in stage two, you are introduced to poop rats. And no, they are not called that in this title; their actual name is worse. Also, I just remember that I had to break through fecal matter walls to progress to the next area. After clearing stage two and beating The Great Mighty Poo's less talented cousin, I had to deal with promiscuous cultists.
The humor is somewhat juvenile, and they stated as such. I could maybe see how some people may find the jokes and story of this game humorous, but I do not. I am not sure if it was the personalities of the characters, or perhaps the lack of. Maybe it was the grammatical errors that I couldn’t tell were intentional or not. I have always been a big fan of fun storylines and characters, but there are two reasons why I may skip a story. Either because the story drags on needless filler(I love JRPGs, but I do not want to read about friendship for 5 minutes 1,000 times in one playthrough), or the plot is stupid for the sake of being so. And I have to say, I feel like it’s the latter for Death's Hangover. Despite my dislike of the plot and a couple of design preferences, I still enjoyed playing this title.