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Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit! preview

by Steve Watts, shacknews.com, Apr 16, 2012 11:00AM PDT

Hell Yeah! Wrath of the Dead Rabbit! is everything that Arkedo's previous games wasn't. In contrast to its handheld puzzle games and cute indie platformers, the tale of a vengeful bunny is crude, outrageously violent, and surprisingly witty.

Watching the game being played at PAX East 2012 and playing it for myself were radically different experiences. The tutorial stage shows our anti-hero Ash, skeletal rabbit and prince of Hell, quickly acquiring a giant circular saw to serve as both his vehicle and primary weapon. Watching others play with this tool looked floaty and imprecise, but controlling it myself made me a believer. The deadly machine controlled responsively and felt completely natural when I was at the helm.

Ash is on a quest to murder over 100 denizens of Hell, who are mocking him after compromising photos were released by his nemesis, Fat Rabbit. In practice, this means that each stage has several special, adorable enemies to gruesomely kill with special death animations, which unlocks new pathways. Arkedo promises unique murder methods for each and every one of these enemies; in the demo that merely boiled down to different forms of timed button presses. The method of activating the grisly deaths may have been simplistic, but I have to give the studio credit for making each kill uniquely cringe-inducing. Think Happy Tree Friends meets Jhonen Vasquez.

Like the vehicle controls, the humor is more than meets the eye. I expected to be turned off by the humor after watching the announcement trailer, but the dialogue between Ash and his faithful servant actually made me smile. Hell Yeah! is clearly invoking the over-the-top spectacle of revenge films, made even more ludicrous by the fact that this one happens to star a demon bunny.

The setting imagines Hell not just as a place of fire and brimstone, but a pulsing, blood-red soaked landscape full of irregular angles and deadly spikes. Over the course of the full game, I can imagine the saturated, vibrant red color making for tired eyes, so I hope the full game will mix up the palette a bit.

Indie platformers are fairly commonplace, but Arkedo has proven itself with smaller projects and is hitting on something special with Hell Yeah! The humor, setting, and sheer fun of shredding hapless minions combine to make one of the more interesting games at PAX East, so it's certainly one to watch when it launches on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 this year.