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Game Info:

Rising Hell
Developed By: Tahoe Games
Published By: Toge Productions, Neon Doctrine
Released: May 19, 2021
Available On: Windows, Switch, Xbox One, PS4
Genre: Action, Platformer
ESRB Rating: T for Teen (Blood, Violence)
Number of Players: Single-player, online leaderboard
Price: $9.99

Thanks to Toge Productions for sending us a review key!

Warped loudness, overpowering beats, and over-amplified guitar riffs. These characteristics of heavy metal music make for a stark contrast with the types of songs we use for worship. Where most genres are dominated by songs about love and inter-personal relationships, heavy metal largely adopts the demonic imagery of Satan’s rebellion against God in service to its songs of rebellion against authority. Action platformer Rising Hell makes heavy use of these themes to create an adrenaline fueled orgy of carnage and destruction.

In the aftermath of Lucifer’s failed rebellion against God, the demonic army has been imprisoned in a great tree called Zaqquom. Three demons – Arok, Zelos and Sydna – are eager to break the seal that binds Lucifer. Mephisto the Trickster tells them of a way to free Lucifer and escape hell: defeat the four Archdemons using the relic weapon Hellsbane.

The arcade-style action begins with selecting your warrior. Arok is a tough melee fighter, and the only one initially available. Zelos is an agile demon that shoots from a distance. Sydna attacks with high power energy balls from a medium range. A selection of Relics is also offered to adjust gameplay to fit your style of play. In addition to the standard Conquest mode, Rising Hell also has a Gauntlet and Weekly Challenge mode. Gauntlet is a list of challenges designed to hone a specific skill. Weekly Challenges see you competing against other players for the high score, and places several modifiers on the base gameplay to spice things up.

Rising Hell
Highlights:

Strong Points: Engaging chain-attack mechanics
Weak Points: Hellbreak mechanic is overly powerful for most of the game
Moral Warnings: Killing demons and tortured souls; pixelated blood sprays; PG-13 language; heavy use of Quranic occult imagery; player use of occult magic; rebellion against God

At the bottom of hell, the only way to go is up. Very quickly you’re taught to double jump, wall climb, dash, and attack. Land attacks in rapid succession and the combo counter will tick up for bonus points. What’s not taught explicitly is the Hellbreak mechanic, and this is an important tool in your ascent. Contacting an enemy during a double jump, or by landing on their heads, will attack for massive damage and refresh your double jump. Chaining Hellbreaks can lead to some chaotic combos as you rip your way through demons. Occasionally an artifact monster will spawn; kill it to gain a powerful weapon temporarily.

Enemies drop red souls which can be spent to purchase a Talent at the end of each level segment. Talents are quite varied, and very few of them are outright stat boosts. Effects can include enemy explosions, bonuses for hoarding red souls, more artifact spawns, and healing effects. That’s not all though; collect enough Talents of the same category and you’ll get a stat boost. It’s an elegant way to avoid the common problem of plain stat boosts being the only good options in this sort of game.

There’s a frantic energy as you chain-kill enemies for maximum score. In the third level especially, there’s a pleasant touch of chaos as enemies start to resist your attacks. Instead of Hellbreaking everything, it becomes a mix-up of regular attacks, Hellbreaks, and dodging as you scramble to refresh the combo timer. Once the run is over, your score is converted to experience, unlocking new Relics and Talents for use in future runs. Finish a run successfully and you’ll unlock a higher difficulty. Individual runs are short and can be finished in 20 minutes.

Rising Hell
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 82%
Gameplay – 16/20
Graphics – 8/10
Sound – 7/10
Stability – 5/5
Controls – 5/5

Morality Score - 50%
Violence – 3/10
Language – 6/10
Sexual Content – 10/10
Occult/Supernatural – 0/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical – 6/10

The vision of hell presented here is a mix of living flesh walls and cold stone architecture. A slight tinge of sickly green runs throughout, reinforcing the otherworldliness of your prison escape. The solid sound of weapon blows on demon flesh is matched by a satisfying screen shake, while the ungodly soundtrack plays loud guitar riffs. I’d suggest turning down the music so you can hear enemy audio tells though, the default setting seems to favour the music over the functionality.

It’s not surprising that a heavy metal game should be high on violence. Demons make for the main blood sport, but levels are also peppered with human corpses in various states of torture and impalement. Players are implicitly encouraged to bounce on them to add to their combo counter, and they explode in the same spray of pixelated blood as demons do. The use of “H*ll” is hardly surprising either; “b**t**d” and “damned” also make an appearance in the cinematics. One of the enemies is described as looking like a fetus, although its sprite doesn’t look anything like one.

The occult is an (un-)naturally major presence in this game. Besides the occultic weapons and soul stealing, the Hell of this game is not the Biblical lake of fire where everything is agonisingly hot. It is the Quranic version where hell is the prison-tree Zaqquom. Various demons from Abrahamic religions and other sources are represented here. The only “positive” note here is that the succubus looks well and truly demonic, in contrast to the seductively lithe form adopted by modern portrayals. Finally, the main characters you play as are actively rebelling against God in their quest to free Lucifer, and the ending has them start a new war against Heaven.

It’s impossible to deny the intentionally demonic imagery and symbology of Rising Hell, but behind the troubling imagery is a solid action game. Expect your first victory within two or three hours of intense action, but you’ll probably be enjoying it for quite a bit longer. If the heavy demonic imagery doesn't bother you, breaking demon heads in a flurry of rage is satisfyingly fun.

About the Author

Elvin Ong

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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