At Death do we start
If unlike yours truly, you lack an intimate knowledge of languages of the World, you’re probably wondering what the title of this game means. I can inform you that it’s Spanish for ‘Until Death’. However if I’m being totally honest, I’d tell you that I found that information by googling it. But I decided before I started writing this review that I’m not gong to be totally honest, so let’s stick with the ‘Kevin is clever’ story.
In Hasta La Muerte, you play as what appears to be a dancing ant, but what is apparently supposed to be Death itself. If death really looked like a dancing ant, I suspect funerals as we know them would be rather less somber. Or possibly more somber, depending on your view of dancing ants.
It’s a puzzler in which Death (ie you), must save the souls of those to who external rest hour has come from damnation. Presumably because you’re Death, you’re saving them by killing them…or something. Either that or Death is actually quite lenient when it comes to the death part of his job. The premise is a little confusing.
You work your way through each maze of a level saving these souls simply by walking into them. Each soul has a timer above their head which lets you know how long you have to save them. Fail to do so within the time limit and they’ll transform into lost souls which are aggressive and try to kill you. Can Death be killed? This game is throwing up all kinds of existential questions and I’m not even 300 words in.
The faster you save the requisite number of souls and exit the level, the higher score and grade you receive at the end of it. There isn’t anything other than satisfaction to behold though, as there is no in-game shop or IAP to worry about.
The game does grant you power ups, known as Soul Pets, which help you complete the levels faster as the difficulty level starts to ramp up. You’ll have an increasing number of souls to save within the time limit, more lost souls patrolling the levels to avoid and other unique enemies. The Soul Pets, which could also be the name of a 60′s RnB group, bless you with enhanced abilities such as speed, stealth and protection. In a neat twist, they also allow you to return to completed levels to find previously hidden bonuses.
Movement is painfully slow and fidgety with the thumbstick for the first few levels until you’re introduced to the speed Soul Pet, which allows you to move faster, but also makes you think you should’ve been moving that fast in the first place. Graphically it’s simple, but impressive, with a hand-drawn style which certainly holds your interest for the initial stages, but tends to make the levels look a bit samey after a short while. Boss fights switch things up a little, but not much. It also has a lively soundtrack full of DJ scratches and funky noises, but it won’t appeal to everyone.
The premise of Hasta La Muerte is intriguing, if a little muddled, and combined with the unconventional visual and sonic style could’ve made for a more absorbing title. However the gameplay is too simple and one note to hold your attention for long.
So at the risk of signing off with a cheap pun, which of course you’ll know I’ll do, once you put this one down, you might not be saying ‘Hasta la vista’ anytime soon. Don’t know what that means? Google it.
Say Hasta la…er, hello to Kevin on Twitter @dreagleg
Hasta La Muerte is available for £0.69 on iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Get it now on the