As far as wacky local multiplayer games go, Heave Ho is up there with the likes of Gang Beasts and Human: Fall Flat. Games we’re desperately in need more of. Games you can sit down and play with friends regardless of skill level.
We’ve all been there, having huddled with friends around the television only to find that one or more people in the group has an unfair advantage, or perhaps there’s someone with next to no gaming experience whatsoever. While Heave Ho requires some familiarity with what a game controller it, it’s still much easier for newcomers to grasp than Call of Duty. This latest title from Le Cartel Studio is quite the departure from its previous work on Mother Russia Bleeds and only involves two buttons and an analogue stick to play.
You’ll play as these strange little creatures with two elongated arms protruding from their head (think Geodude). Your goal? To successfully reach the end zone of each stage as they gradually grow in size and complexity. All you really need to learn is how to swing your arms and how to grab with each hand.
It’s a straightforward game and anyone with a pair of brain cells to rub together will immediately grasp the task at hand. What isn’t so easy to grasp, however, is how to bridge gaps, swing across chasms, and avoid hazards without wanting to physically harm your nearest and dearest or collectively break down in fits of laughter.
Heave Ho is a true test of friendship and you’ll find that many of its stages will force (or at least encourage) everyone to link up and work together, usually swinging together to create a pendulum in order to progress. However, making sure everyone is grabbing onto what they’re supposed to is the real challenge. Having someone let go with their left arm instead of their right, or perhaps timing an action poorly, can and will have frustratingly hilarious consequences.
There’s a fine line, and if it wasn’t for Heave Ho’s vibrant goofball aesthetic to help soften the blow, it’d be easy to see some groups of players bounce off the game entirely. While the cartoon art style is fairly basic, it exudes a unique character that is elevated by some of Heave Ho’s other, off-the-wall quirks, such as a farting llama that will appear from time to time.
This may sound right up your alley but there’s a crucial “but”. To wring the most out of Heave Ho, you’ll ideally want that full four player experience. When we first sat down to play a preview at EGX Rezzed with a group of four, it immediately clicked. Riding solo or even with a pair of you doesn’t have quite the same magic. The longer your human centipede, the better.
Le Cartel has whipped up a decent number of stages to swing through, each run consisting of several levels sharing the same theme and tileset. For less than a tenner, it’s hard to argue with what’s on offer and there’s even some extra bells and whistles such as collectable coins to try and wrestle into the goal and bonus costumes to earn. You may even recognise some of them with several based on familiar Devolver personalities.