Devolver Digital has always been known for going after “oddball” indie titles that appealed to a certain crowd on the Nintendo Switch. But it’s a business strategy that’s paid off in spades, based on sales of titles like Enter the Gungeon and Hotline Miami Collection. But now we have Heave Ho, a game that’s likely to be a big hit with couch co-op fans, with a premise that’s absolutely ridiculous in concept. And somehow, it works like a charm.
The game has you playing one of many different characters with a somewhat square body, an odd expression on one of many faces, and two very stretchable arms. The goal is simple – get from point A to point B by grappling onto objects with the hands on the end of the arms, which you can use with the buttons on your controller of choice. The game can be played with a JoyCon, Pro Controller or on the go, however you see fit, with the left hand mapped with the L button and the right hand mapped with the R.
Sounds easy, right? But real-time physics are at play here. The opening levels are simple enough to get through as you learn how the game controls. But then the challenges pick up, including obstacles like spikes, electricity and jumps that require swinging physics with a little bit of thinking. And that’s just the beginning – imagine what awaits you in the later levels. Yikes.
And yet, the game has an undeniably fun and wacky charm to it, brought to life by the team at Le Cartel Studio. The art design, while simplistic, is wacky and enjoyable, both on the portable and television front. The level design is devious and cunning, but hardly impossible. And the character variance is very cool, particularly with a number of costumes and other goods to unlock over the course of the game.
The game has some great solo modes that help you get the hang of things, but Heave Ho is a game that’s built on the charm of multiplayer. Here, you’ll have to work together as a team to make it across certain things. It’s hilarious and yet encouraging at the same time, as you watch certain things go – or maybe not go – your way. It’s a terrific couch co-op experience that will keep you coming back for more.
In addition, a number of mini games are also available, including a basketball-esque mini game that’s a good romp for a while, among several others. But it’s really the main journey that you’ll stick with.
Along with charming visuals, Heave Ho also has a great little soundtrack, upbeat and joyous, to listen to, along with fun character noises for each little armed critter. The gameplay also clicks in all the right ways, even as the later challenges take a little getting used to.
Just two things stand in the way. Number one, a good portion of the levels seems to be the same for both single player and multiplayer. That’s not entirely a bad thing, as there’s a lot here. But some variation would’ve gone a long way, along with a potential level builder.
And two, watching your character perish is not a pretty sight, as they splat into a giant paint mess and leave quite the effect on the stage. It’s brutal. And yet, there’s something kind of awesome about it, too. Maybe we’re just savages. Yeah, that’s it.
Heave Ho is a game that’s better recommended if you’ve got a few people to play with. There is some good solo content here, but the real fun comes from having a few others to stretch out your arms to, especially in the game’s ridiculous later levels. It’s a great deal of fun and reasonably priced at around $9.99, a good value for a Devolver Digital title. It’s just the right time to, ahem, stiff arm it into your game library. 4/5 Stretches.