Hasta la Muerte
We say "Buenos dias!" to Pohlm Studio's grim-reaping game.
The Land of the Dead seemed like a fertile ground for games development after the magnificent Grim Fandango but for the most part it's been left disappointingly fallow. Enter Hasta La Muerte, an upcoming game from Pohlm Studio that gives you the unenviable task of wandering a series of maps in order to usher lost souls on to the next world.
The visual styling of Hasta La Muerte is one of its greatest strengths and the game has a unique sketchbook looks for both its environments and characters who lurch and loll their way around the screen. The enemies themselves move menacingly around the screens, and hidden within some of the maps are secret short-cut corridors that only you can pass through. They don't fade into view until you approach them, so exploration is encouraged.
Enemies come in different flavors and have unique abilities. On the one hand, you have the most typical wandering black blobs that you need to avoid, and then there are perimeter-guarding nasties who have a sort of area-of-effect around them: step into that visual zone without activating your sneaking "Soulpet" ability and it will will result in a very quick loss of life as they sprint almost unavoidably towards you. You only have three bars of health in each level, and if you lose them all then you'll fail the attempt.
This adds to the pressure of the game as the white souls only appear for a short amount of time before slipping back into the shadows. You'll need to combine your speed-enhancing Soulpet power with whisper-quiet footsteps as you hunt out short-cuts that will allow you to grab enough souls before the time limit expires.
At the end of each level, you'll be whisked off to the menu screen where points are awarded for the number of souls you managed to capture, how quickly you managed to round them all up before rushing to the exit, and how much life you have left.
Most of the levels in Hasta La Muerte follow this formula of wandering around and fetching fresh souls, although the action is occasionally interspersed with special levels where you face off against the creations of a mysterious scientist. In one, you'll have to lure a chomping mechanical robot into a series of traps before racing to the exit, while in another a machine spits out a roaming enemy from time to time. You'll need to dash in very quickly to grab the souls that occasionally spawn if you're going to avoid its damage.
We'll have to see how Hasta La Muerte plays out in the final release. It may be that the gameplay turns out to be rather repetitive spread over a longer campaign, but the good news right now is that this is something that's just a little bit different on the App Store, and that's always something worth getting excited about.
Hasta La Muerta is due to be released on July 5th.