Helheim Hassle (Perfectly Paranormal: Helheim Hassle) is a metroidvania platformer where you play Bjørn “Bearslayer” Hammerparty, a resurrected viking that can (eventually) detach your limbs and head and recombine them with his torso. Stick two arms together, or an arm and a leg, and jump, climb, and throw his body to solve puzzles. The different combinations have different abilities.
The game is a very chatty. It mixes some Norse mythology with popular online culture and liberal city culture. Some of that got a little stale for me, but the overall story hung together nicely.
The first time I booted the game, Mogdun, the gatekeeper to Helheim (and to the game) made a crack about not using a controller, which I took as a sign the developers really think a controller is best, so I played the whole game with one. That seemed to work fine, though I’m guessing a keyboard would’ve been okay too.
The only weakness in the control scheme was when you have multiple body parts at different places and need to switch to the right one. There may be tricks or tactics to make this easier, but for me there were many many mistakes and I mostly muddled through. In theory, a keyboard would be to have keys
1–6 switch to the specific body parts, but I don’t think this was implemented.
The game is very deliberate about introducing the mechanics, making sure you understand how they work. In different areas, different appendage-pairs or sets tend to work best, and throughout the game the arm–leg alliance seems to be the star (with the head stuck on as needed).
The puzzles weren’t too hard, and the game doesn’t really punish you for failing, which made it an enjoyable time of trial and error. Outside of the highest difficulty of one of the optional game-developer conference games (made to emulate other games; in that case Super Meat Boy), nothing was particularly hard about this one. Just a nice puzzle-platformer.
My only real complaint was that it could have done a better job of letting you know when to go back and collect some of the items from earlier areas. I felt like I played through most of the game before I was comfortable going back to pick up all the hidden bits, mainly because it wasn’t clear when I would have the skills to do so. That meant that I had beat most of the game without the benefit of the powerups, which aren’t too powerful but are helpful.
I spent about 30 hours on Helheim Hassle and got all the achievements. I actually spent a little longer, but that was chasing after some secrets (which I did not end up fully cracking, unfortunately; this was the so-called “mystery of Mount Riverrum”).
I enjoyed my time in this game. It was well-designed and well-executed. The plot hangs together. I’ll probably look into Manual Samuel, a prequel by the same developers, based on my experience here. If you like puzzles, platformers, and metroidvania-type games, you should look at this one.
For those who seek the answers to the mystery, perhaps this will make life easier: