There’s something freeing about the indie game industry. Maybe it’s because the gamer doesn’t have to worry about the often $60, 100-plus-hour commitment of AAA titles. Maybe it’s because what’s mainstream and popular doesn’t have to be plastered all over the brand of a new game.
Or maybe, in the case of Heave Ho, it’s because Le Cartel Studio is offering the most hilarious couch co-op in recent memory! Make the jump to read our full review!
Developed by Le Cartel Studio
Published by Devolver Digital
Released: 29th August 2019
Let’s put it bluntly, like the no doubt numerous squishy deaths everyone will experience in Heave Ho: this game is a physics-fueled riot. The main concept of Heave Ho is simple. Control an amorphous blob’s arms with the control stick and use the triggers of a Nintendo Switch controller to cling and swing from any and all surfaces to reach the goal.
This game controls like the ideal 2D Spider-Man, minus the superhero flair. Heave Ho is all about focused, concentrated movement, and that makes two-to-four-player co-op all the more engaging. Players can work together; coordinating all the right movements can make tackling the game’s dozens of levels a cinch. Or, if you’re like my friends and I, it can make everyone cry laughing for minutes at a time.
Wonderful Physics of Play
In Heave Ho’s water-colored worlds, it’s never been more fun to fall and die in a video game. Whenever that happens, you come right back and get to try again a limitless number of times. Most levels are only one screen large, so bumbling through them with friends is never a chore.
The satisfying gameplay loops hinges upon just how joyous it is to swing among platforms and cling to ropes, bridges and an eclectic range of shapes. Each of the eight main worlds features a new gimmick, ranging from timing your wall crawling to not get shocked by electricity or zooming through a jungle setting like a deranged monkey.
Swinging gets very interesting — and potentially comedic — when two or more players are flailing together. The combined motion can either bolster or hinder progress. It’s possible to carry the optional collectible coins between two characters while both blobs are using their other hands to climb underneath or along obstacles.
Teamwork and communication skills are further put to the test with minigames that can be initiated when a player pulls a randomly appearing golden rope. From twirling one’s arms in a dance competition to playing basketball, these serve as amusing extra challenges to spice up an already expertly paced multiplayer game.
These Blobs Shine
You can play alone as well, and the humorous charm will still shine through. Beyond the integral physics system on which the game is based, the quirky style interwoven through all the art, music and design Heave Ho has to offer is what makes it unique.
For collecting coins in each level or earning them in minigames, the player can unlock many costumes for their characters. These spice up the aesthetic of an already beautiful game. The lack of black lines really allows the soft colors to bleed into each other — sometimes literally so when your friend’s G-rated guts fly across the screen. Heave Ho’s backgrounds and surprise animal appearances are accentuated with flippant personalities and bold color choices.
Heave Ho’s music and myriad of odd sound effects further add to the doofiness of the game. Players are even allowed to choose their characters’ own grunts and screams. Be sure to pick a style you like because just about everyone will be hearing a lot of deathly jeers.
A Riot of Replay Value
The standard runs of the game can be beaten in about three hours or less (depending greatly on skill and cooperation). However, there are eight extra worlds that feature super challenging runs of gimmicks and art styles that have already appeared. Earning all the in-game coins and trophies is also no small feat; as such, Heave Ho can keep players engaged for several hours, and with the large amount of costumes and other customization options, the fun doesn’t have to stop there.
Overall, Heave Ho is one of my favorite indie titles from 2019. Its gameplay was more fun, addicting and rewarding than even Untitled Goose Game’s. And while the styles of humor in both titles are very different, I found myself laughing even more at the outrageous antics my friends and I would get up to in Heave Ho.
Final Rating – 5 out of 5
Heave Ho is available to play on Nintendo Switch, Microsoft Windows and Macintosh operating systems.
I’ve been playing Nintendo games since I was 3 years old, and my earliest memory is watching my dad play Super Mario 64.
Since then, I’ve become as big of a fan as you might imagine: YouTube video projects, fan fiction, owning just about every amiibo — you name it!
I’m also a stalwart defender of underappreciated games like Skyward Sword, Other M, Super Paper Mario, Star Fox Adventures, Star Fox Zero and more. I love to see passion in a gaming product, and my desire on this site is to share a similar passion in what I write.