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Thursday, August 1, 2019

Hands-on with the very handy Heave Ho


Preview by Matt S.

You can always rely on Devolver Digital to be behind the most oddball of ideas. Heave Ho is the next one and, yes, it's oddball. Charmingly so. As a multiplayer-focused game, Heave Ho is surely destined to be a party game smash hit.

The premise is both simple and childlike. You play as a head with two arms, and you have complete, 360-degree control over those limbs. The hands at the end of the limbs are sticky and adhesive, and your goal is to use those hands to stick to surface, while using the limb to swing and stretch for the next hard surface on the way to the exit.

It's basically a physics-based puzzler, in other words, and there's certainly plenty of examples of this kind of thing around these days. As expected, given how difficult these games tend to be, it can be tough to get the kind of precise aiming and timing required for the leaps of faith and desperate grabs that Heave Ho asks for, but it's also aimed at a slightly broader audience, so it shouldn't become too frustrating for the typical player.


What really helps this one to stand out however is the multiplayer focus, and that is all but guaranteed to delight. As a co-op affair, players are technically meant to work together, but I can guarantee that that won't happen for most people. See, "working together" in this instance means using one another as platforms, swinging off one another, and otherwise reenacting those dramatic "don't you dare drop me" moments from cinema in the most spectacularly surreal manner imagination. The goal of Heave Ho is to get to the goal without losing lives. What actually happens in Heave Ho is that you have too much fun hurling one another off the edges of precipices, and you'll forget about the proper goal.

Heave Ho - at least when I played it - is a glorious playground of Dadaist absurdity. The single player mode is almost dry, despite the colour and silly hats. In multiplayer, however, it becomes an uncontrolled mess of an experience, and I do mean that in the nicest way. The very nature of the game encourages you to go for the lowest percentage solution. Best times are also recorded, which of course also encourages you to take crazy risks in the name of speed.

Heave Ho's only really problem at this stage looks like the fact that it requires an intense mastery over the kind of co-ordination that is only really present in video games to get the most out of it. I don't just mean in playing the game "properly". Making the most of the antics available requires the skilled and practiced manipulation of both right and left sides, and that's simply not accessible to less experienced players.


Nonetheless, within groups of people that go have a basic understanding of video game physica and controls, I can see Heave Ho fueling more than a few party games. Devolved Digital has a long heritage in embracing the surreal, and make no mistake - Heave Ho might look simple to the point of being silly, but that silliness assuredly has a point.

- Matt S. 
Editor-in-Chief
Find me on Twitter: @digitallydownld


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Hands-on with the very handy Heave Ho
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