Heave Ho is the latest party puzzle game from French developer Le Cartel Studio. In Heave Ho all characters are round and only have arms, so you have to think tactically how to reach the goal. However, you don’t do this alone, because the game encourages you to work with friends to achieve your goal. Will this game break your bonds or are you already clapping your hands when seeing something that contains teamwork, we will tell you if you should pick this up.
Heave Ho is in many respects a game that fits well in the portfolio of games from Devolver Digital. It has a unique style with beautiful colors and special effects, while the humor is again strongly present. The gameplay itself is fairly simple. You clamber around like a gibbon without legs to reach a certain checkpoint. It is also handy that you do not fall from the map, because otherwise you will crash and you just have to start over. Every world has a certain theme that brings with it obstacles that you have to take into account. For example, there is a jungle level where you have to launch yourself, while the construction world ensures that certain parts are powered. Each run has a unique soundtrack that gives you the feeling that you are starting in new, fresh worlds.
The worlds themselves are, apart from one or two new gimmicks, not very interesting unfortunately. We have seen most of the obstacles in other platform games that were released years before Heave Ho. Luckily Every world has a distinct look, so you know exactly what it is trying to represent. There is also a big difference in difficulty. The first worlds you start from are really cakewalks, but the very last levels, on the other hand, are terribly difficult if you don’t know how to approach them. I like a tough platformer myself, but the huge step between these levels of difficulty was a bit too intense in my opinion.
Co-op is definitely the highlight of this game. You can play the game with up to four players and that is where the fun really begins. The enormous chaos that arises when you and your family and / or friends try to reach the final goal is a guarantee for roar and insulting each other. Because I say co-op now, but the best thing is of course just bothering each other. I have re-enacted Musafa’s death several times with my fiancee, and it remained hilarious, every time. Especially when you are just at the end.
In co-op there are certain things that you cannot do in singleplayer. There are coins that you can find and take with you to the goal in order to collect them. With these coins you can earn new outfits for your characters. These coins are not available in the singleplayer. I find this decision quite weird, yes it invites people to gather up to play the game. But not all people have friends or family around them at all times. So on your own you just have bad luck. Anyway, to be honest, you don’t want to play on your own once you have experienced the pleasure of co-op. This is a strong point, but also a weakness of Heave Ho.
What you can also do during your playing session is to look for a magic rope. What happens if you hang on to it? Then there will be a mini game, hurray! And what fun are those mini-games, wonderfully simple pastimes. But how do you get hold of such a rope? Well you just have to wait for it. How long? No idea, it happens randomly every time. Do you only want to play the mini-games? Unfortunately, it is not possible. I don’t quite understand these kinds of decisions, especially if you make an accessible party platformer. You would expect that all mini-games would be easy to replay, but unfortunately with Heave Ho that is not the case.
This is unfortunate, because if you had all these options, you would suddenly have a much larger game. Now I have the feeling that Heave Ho does his thing nicely, but does not add much to the genre. The climbing and scrambling itself is entertaining, but it’s not something you want to do for more than an hour. If the mini-games had been playable from the main menu, I would have had more motivation to play the game a little longer. You would also have had a little more variation in your game, a bit like how the Mario Party games do that. By offering various modes, your game looks just a bit fuller.
Heave Ho is very similar to the party games that we know today, but it is just too small to distinguish itself. The game plays great and has a unique presentation and art style, music and humor, but also falls into the biggest pitfall that a party game can fall into. It is hilarious with friends, but on your own you do not tend to start this game that easily. Plus the fact that the rewards can only be earned with a co-op partner, so there is no real progression either. The mini-games were a chance to add to the game, but they are hidden and if you want to find them, that is the question. For a nice evening on the couch with your mates, Heave Ho is a great choice. Are you looking for more than that? Then swing to the next party game.
Heave Ho is a great party game, but one that should not be played alone.