The AppStore has been swamped with zombies and vampires of late, but don’t let that put you off this monster puzzler from Chillingo’s sister division, ClickGamer…
In Helsing’s Fire you take on the role of the famous monster slayer with the stiff upper lip, Van Helsing, and his sidekick Raffton in a partnership that seems more Holmes and Watson in its delivery, but authentic nonetheless.
As expected, your role is to rid the world of evil monsters and more importantly their head honcho Dracula. Dracula himself tells Helsing that he hasn’t caused problems for years, but it soon becomes apparent that the dark lord is rounding up the local beauties to have his evil way with.
Don’t expect the Hugh Jackman fronted action hero style Van Helsing though, this is classic Helsing who uses logic, science and basic tools at his disposal. This is where the fire of the title comes in and is the main tool in Helsing’s box of tricks. It’s a unique mechanic for a puzzle game that I have never come across before. Used like a torch, the fire casts light over the game area. In it are obstacles that the light cannot pass, creating dark shadowy areas. Areas of course where evil creatures lurk. It is your mission then to ensure that you place the torch in such a way that the light can reach the creatures. Once highlighted, you can unleash tonics on the creatures to destroy them. And once destroyed, you move on to the next area to clear.
The game presents the levels as an over-world map. To begin with only five levels are accessible, with the rest covered in dense fog. You can tackle any of the visible levels in any order, and once complete the new areas appear. Eventually you reach the end of area boss, a henchman of Dracula, and once defeated you open up yet further areas to tackle… until an eventual encounter with Dracula himself.
The game’s main mechanic is simple enough, and the first 24 levels are a breeze. But then the game starts to throw in new enemies, abilities and different tonics, creating a great brain tease.
To begin with you’ll be up against simple red rats. These require just a red tonic to destroy. Eventually though you must rid the level of both red and blue rats. To do this you must ensure that only the correct coloured rat is highlighted by the light of the fire, and then unleash the correct tonic. Mismatch the enemy colour and the tonic and you’ll need to start that level again.
Later levels throw in multi coloured rats, which must first be given the blue tonic and then the red, all the while avoiding other enemies with the light of the fire and the wrong colour tonic.
Just as you thought the game could get more tricky, it introduces new enemies. There are bats that move once you hit them with the first tonic, wrecking your strategy; Werewolves which turn back to humans after a tonic, and thus must not be hit with further tonics; Ghosts also make an appearance, or lack thereof, and disappear when in the light of the torch. So you must remember where and what colour they were before making a move; Helpless damsels must be avoided; and later enemies start to attack you too, just to keep you on your toes.
Bare in mind that his is a budget game and thus the graphics won’t blow you away. Having said that, I love the simple graphic art style, particularly the illustrations of Helsing and the monsters during cut scenes. But what impresses the most is the 2D representation of the light, and how it hits static objects and casts shadows as you drag it around with your finger in realtime. It’s a great effect, and intrical to the success of the puzzles.
Helsing’s Fire is one of those budget games that can so easily get lost amongst all the other $0.99 games on the AppStore, but it’s one I implore you not to miss. It’s 90 levels will keep you on your toes for sometime, and for the brave of you there’s a survival mode. Maybe you should stop thinking about picking up that soda for a quick sugar rush, and instead use those pennies for a punt on this game, for a brain rush!
Helsing’s Fire is out now for $0.99. Get it on