Jul 22, 2017 Last Updated 9:22 PM, Jul 21, 2017

Road To Ballhalla Review

Published in Action
Read 1179 times
Rate this item
(0 votes)
Tagged under

Ride eternal, shiny and chrome on the Road to Ballhalla. 

Road to Ballhalla, developed by Torched Hill, is the latest release from the indie publishing house tinyBUILD.  It is a simple “Roll Playing Game” where you are charged with rolling a small marble sized ball through various labyrinthine levels in an attempt to reach the end.  I know that sounds simple enough.  But trust me, it isn’t.  Ballhalla is a punishingly difficult game that rewards patience and true mastery of the game’s mechanics to in order to complete. 

What makes Road to Ballhalla immediately unique is the way it seamlessly weaves its incredible synth-heavy soundtrack, created by Emmy-nominated composer Nicholas Singer, into the levels and gameplay.  Seriously, this soundtrack is absolutely fantastic, and I was immediately taken by the opening track that guides you through the tutorial level. 

The idea behind Ballhalla’s gameplay is that certain tiles on the floor will flash red in accordance with the beat of the music.  Your job is to avoid the red tiles, and the lasers, and the pitfalls, and the orbs of death, and the war balls, all in an attempt to reach the end of each level while the game’s narrator taunts and laughs at your feeble attempts to complete them.  This simple gameplay loop quickly drew me in and had me eagerly awaiting the next stage, just so I could hear the next track and see what new jokes were in store.  The music is that good.  Unfortunately, Ballhalla’s gameplay was a bit harder to get used to than its wonderful music.

As I stated before, Ballhalla is hard, and this is coming from someone who completed every Dark Souls game multiple times.  This fact, coupled with the game’s hilarious unreliable narrator (at least he thinks he is), makes most levels in Ballhalla more frustrating than fun.  Just when I figured I was getting the hang of things the game would trick me, either through its unreliable narration or inversion of the main controls. 

There are many instances in Ballhalla where up becomes left, down becomes up, right becomes down, and so on.  It is the frustrating equivalent of picking up a friend’s controller at their house and not being able to properly play the game because they prefer to play with inverted controls.  Maybe some people will enjoy this mechanic.  However, for me, it became quickly frustrating. 

There were times when I would get into a groove with the music and feel like I was really starting to make progress.  This was when Ballhalla was at its best.

Unfortunately, that feeling never lasted particularly long as the game continued to insist on making me fail, an exercise it seemed to revel in.

Perhaps I just need to “Git Gud”, but that feat felt impossible when the game appeared to be trying its best to throw some unnecessary trick at me last minute, just to make me fail.  This, in turn, means replaying frustrating sections of levels over and over again until you finally get it right, or you just get lucky.  And that’s the problem; I never really knew if I was “Getting Gud” or if I just simply got lucky when completing a level.  Furthermore, spending so much time retrying sections of levels meant that I was forced to listen to the same track loop over and over again for what felt like an eternity.  I know I said the music was great, and it is, but hearing the same loop for minutes on end quickly became maddening.

As far as the story goes, there isn’t much on display here outside of the narrator constantly poking fun at you.  The ultimate goal, I presume, is to reach Ballhalla.  I must admit that I never actually made it there.  The game tells me I was 66% there, but I just didn’t have the patience to press forward. 

Even though I never made it to Ballhalla, I did try out a few of the game’s “Rush” challenges.  These challenges have you racing through previous levels as quickly as you can in order to post the best time.  That time is then represented in the game’s online leaderboards.  For many score attack and speed running gurus, this is a mechanic that will encourage replay value and is a credit to the game’s design.  Also, there are many hidden areas and secrets within the game.  I managed to find a couple and hunting these secrets down will surely add another layer of depth to Ballhalla’s gameplay.

6

The Verdict

As a whole, Ballhalla is an intensely challenging game with a remarkable soundtrack that will appeal to hardcore fans of the puzzle platformer genre and music lovers alike.  It wasn’t for me, but that doesn’t mean that it’s a bad game.  I’m sure Ballhalla will find its audience.  For everyone else, do yourself a favor and pick up the soundtrack.

Geoffrey Moore

Geoffrey has been playing games since we was 2 years old when he hit a homerun in an NES Baseball game. Since that time he's been gaming on anything he could get his hands on. That includes all of the consoles, and for the past six years, PC gaming, now his platform of choice. When he's not gaming, Geoffrey enjoys playing guitar, watching movies, and writing short creative fiction. He loves all things nerd and geek culture, and always have his eye on the next big thing. Writing is his passion and he's happy to share it with you.

Related items

  • Pro Cycling Manager 2017 Review

    For an initial exposure to a cycling team management simulator, the experience is incredibly favorable. Anyone with interest in professional cycling would relish Pro Cycling Manager 17, and it might also perhaps help improve their own pedaling mastery in the process. However, if you’re not a hardcore fan of the sport, be aware that this may be too many spreadsheets and strategic decisions, and not enough action. Now, back to the spandex!

  • Project CARS 2 Season Pass + Pre-Orders Announced

    BANDAI NAMCO announced Project CARS 2 will deliver the “widest variety of cars for players to take to the track” when the game launches in the Americas via STEAM on September 22, 2017. The Project CARS 2 Season Pass and digital-only offerings for pre-order online are now available.

  • Hover : Revolt Of Gamers Review

    Hover: Revolt of Gamers is a solid, open-world MMORPG that livens up the genre by honing in on what made its inspirations so great, and fusing these qualities together, culminating in an exciting world full of vibrant personality. While there is room for some refinement, Fusty Game and Midgar Studio have created an impressive action parkour game which promises to overload the senses.

Latest Shows

PREY - AAA Anony…

With AAA Anonymous, we discuss our latest AAA game addiction, until the next one replaces it. This episode covers Arkane's anticipated 2017 release: PREY.

MyWorld Early Ac…

MyWorld – THE Action RPG Maker! Unleash your imagination with MyWorld and create, share and play amazing 3D adventures with our growing community. Claim glory and treasure as you c...

Out Soon

PC Gaming Incoming

The Inner World …

The flute nose dynasty has been watching over Asposia for centuries on end. In secret, they fill the...

Neverwinter: Tom…

Neverwinter’s Harpers seek to end the wickedness of a new death curse on the jungle peninsula of Chu...

Pyre

A New World From the Creators of Bastion and Transistor, Pyre is a party-based RPG in which you lead...

Fortnite

Fortnite is described as a co-op sandbox survival game and is about exploration, scavenging items, c...

inVokeR Early Ac…

inVokeR is, by far, the best spell-casting virtual reality experience that I’ve played, thanks in large part to its immersive controls and exciting combat. If more modes and featur...

Dead Purge: Outb…

Dead Purge: Outbreak is not fun or innovative, borrowing too heavily from many superior titles. Ultimately, the title is a zombie itself: slow-moving, mindless, collapsing readily ...

Fable Fortune Ea…

Fable Fortune breaks free of closed beta and into the free-to-play wild on July 25, 2017. Should you feed it or shoot it? Is it good or evil? Most importantly, can you kick chicken...

The Walking Dead…

The Walking Dead: A New Frontier – Episode 5 is a gripping, emotional ending to this chapter in the series, but it's also one that doesn't quite hit the mark as well as the prior s...