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In this side-scrolling animation the BIG GIANTS are raiding the Viking village and all of the Viking heroes are rushing to meet these invaders, not to defend their village but to die honourably so they can go to Valhalla. They all wish to die in the most imaginative ways, even Bjorn's mother rushes off to be killed, as does almost everyone he meets - except one who seems happy to sell lit torches to the Vikings so they can antagonise the giants even more.

 

If you die in battle (usually sounded out as BAAAATTTLLLEEEEE! or similar) then you go to Valhalla. If you die incongruously you go to Helheim. Bjorn doesn't  didn't want to die, but he is more interested in Helheim than Valhalla where they apparently relive their last 'glorious' battle every day for ever more.

 

You play the mighty, heroic Bjorn Hammerparty. Well maybe not so mighty and definitely not so heroic, in fact you're a pacifist, and besides you don't have a weapon, well that's not true exactly. You do have a sword but you leave it at home while you run out of the back door to hide in the woods.

 

Thus you set about finding somewhere to hide out the storm. After a few escapades that will thrill side-scrolling game fans Bjorn accidentally plunges to his death, and also the death of the poor bear (happily listening on its headphones - good message sent here about the dangers of not being able to hear what is going on around you) that he lands on. The game is filled with silly puns, comedy skits, irritating characters, in fact everything, almost everything, opposite of how you might think a Viking's life would be like.

 

You now discover that Bjorn is not only dead, but he is now a ghost, and worse than that his splattered body lies there with its limbs missing. First mission: collect the limbs and complete Bjorn's body. Once this has been completed time moves on into the future.

You are then visited by one of the gods of Valhalla who claims you to be a hero as you single-handedly killed a bear, yourself dying in the process. However you are still dead, a ghost. Then along comes Pesto, a sort of dead/undead, skeleton/ghost, that can talk (boy can he talk) but cannot do anything physical as he cannot touch or feel or move anything. He does have a resurrection spell on a piece of paper which he screws into a ball and throws near to Bjorns skeleton - the body has wasted away over the years.

Pesto indeed brings Bjorn back to life, but at a cost (or benefit as previously suggested). Bjorn can remove his body parts, most usefully his head, so that he can be rolled under low cliffs atc to reach the buttons that open doors, fix traps etc. When his body, which he can move normally even without a head, arrives next to his decapitated bonce he can pick it up and put it back on. This all happens in Helheim where Pesto has a task that he needs help doing, and thus a deal to allow Bjorn to remain in Helheim after the completion of the quest is contracted.

   

Helheim is where you discover pressure plates and other tricks, traps and puzzles that operate whatever is blocking your next move. You may ask why there are such puzzles seemingly just randomly laying around ready to ensnare the first soul to arrive and set them off. That is explained in a couple of neat sentences from a comedic builder's mate who has been sub-contracted by a sub-contractor to set them up as part of the Helheim challenge for Viking souls that didn't die in Battle. (remember: BAAAATTTLLLEEEEE! )

 

Not only can you can remove and move your head and body (with/without head attached) separately thus allowing you to roll or move into spaces neither you or your companion (Pesto) can manage, but all of your limbs can be attached, detached, and used, in numerous combinations, to solve the myriad challenges an undead Viking faces in Helheim.

If you hadn't realised by now a sense of humour is a basic requirement. Helheim Hassle is filled with puns, some funny, some adorable, some darker than you might expect for a comic game, and some downright aaarggh!! "Killed a bear with his BEAR hands" and "Norse Code" being two that come to immediate mind.

 

Helheim is the place where Vikings who die go to if they miss out on Valhalla. 

You also learn things about your body. For example, did you know that an undead Viking villager (ie Bjorn) can jump higher without his head attached, and he can jump just as well if he is carrying it, his head, in one hand and using his other, Lara Croft style, to climb over cliff edges etc.

 

Helheim, if you haven't realised by now, is actually quite a good, clean, fun place to spend your afterlife. 

There are lots of things to do, puzzles, tasks, missions to complete, games to play, and all played out with an amazing sense of humour.

It's truly funny to begin with that you can use your disassociated limbs etc no matter how far away they are from your body and/or head though remember if you want to pick something up, carry it and use it you will probably require for your limbs to be in close proximity. However as the game progresses it gets a little tiresome removing the head, moving it away, remembering to click back to control the body, use the body, remember to click back to use the head etc etc etc. It slowly wears thin, but thankfully there is always a new challenge or a new pun round the next corner (not that you can go around corners as it's a side-scrolling 2D/3D game.

 

Admittedly I haven't completed this game yet, I have managed to get myself stuck with seemingly no way forward, except there has to be, I just need to persever and find it. I have spent a good few hours playing on both the PC (Steam) and PS4 (where I found the game went a little smoother and clearer). There are a lot more hours ahead of me, and I'm looking forward to them.

It's crazy, impossibly funny, brilliantly animated, has a soundtrack that doesn't irritate like so many other side-winder games music, and the action, such that it is, runs so fluidly and seamlessly; I love it.

 

Having some knowledge of Norse traditions and history is not at all necessary but if you do know some of the characters from the mythology you can laugh at the hilarious interpretations of Odin and others of the Norse Gods.

 

Better than average 'retro' style game and graphics with some obvious and not so obvious (downright devious) but generally amusing and distracting puzzles. Bjorn seems to be happy in Helheim and goes about his tasks with an air of sweet innocence. Pesto, on the other hand, is what is often referred to as a 'right, royal, pain'.

 

Okay back to Hel . . . . . Have fun!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© Chris Baylis 2011-2015