Hell Pie, from Sluggerfly and Headup Games, is essentially Astro’s Playroom with a redder palette. Hold on a sec: they’re called Shit Staffen(?) Those Munchers are actually eating shit, and I’ve just been awarded a used tampon for my endeavours? Yeah, I take that back. Hell Pie is vulgar, I love it, and it’s immediately one of my favourite 3D platformers.
That didn’t ring true at the start, however. Nate, the Demon of Bad Taste, has been speed dialled by Satan, ordering him to make his infamous pie. It’s a case of mistaken identity, but Satan doesn’t care – Nate better do as he’s told and seek out the chef to see what ingredients are required.
You’re assigned a Cupid-like companion named Nugget, and an immediate friendship is formed, confirmed by the shackles bolted to one of your horns and his ankle. Nugget is your toolkit. Besides using him to attack enemies, he can swing Nate around – essential to Hell Pie’s style of play. Once acquainted, you head off to the first world (of four), Sashimi Bay.
Featuring the notorious Inside Out sushi restaurant where you eat a whale from the inside, this entry was a wicked version of the resort, as seen in Astro’s Playroom. The colours are vibrant, and there’s a lot to explore, but then it all goes to shit – quite literally, as you’re sifting through the sewers fighting the aforementioned shitty militia and helping the Munchers to victory. This will set the tone for the whole game. Don’t like toilet humour? You’ll hate this. Wait until you witness a creamy cocktail.
Anyhoo, the main goal is to source the ingredients for the Hell pie. Nate comes equipped with interchangeable horns that boast new skills – the first one in Hell Pie is the radar that highlights points of interest. You’ll locate baby Unilambs throughout and get the chance to sacrifice them – ripping out their horns (multiple times if you require more), in exchange for a new skill such as rocket horns for speed, battering rams to take out hard substances, or even wings.
But the real standout is Nugget’s skills – improved by collecting candy meat. Once consumed, you can select his upgrades, such as an enhanced swinging ability, attack moves, and maybe some health. Holding R2, you’ll be able to swing off the chain attached to him, then gain some air with a boost from pressing the circle button and repeat once again. Multiple swings can be unlocked and regenerating the swing gauge on the fly, but when they run out, you’ll fall, likely to your death. As experienced in the fiendish disco laser area.
I died so much in Hell Pie, but there weren’t too many frustrating moments (besides the disco laser and trying to locate a ticket to see a doctor). Oh, and Heaven is more hellish than Hell.
As with any open-world platformer, the camera can cause an issue. There are quite a few animation stutters, too. Landing was often tricky as it’s pretty hard to get some aftertouch when Nate hits the ground. There’s a skill that allows you to bounce off the ground acquiring more height, but mostly you need to master landing first. And swinging. Fortunately, there are a fair amount of checkpoints, plus goodies to collect.
Ok, here’s my weakness: customisation. There are 60 costumes to unlock for Nate and Nugget, and they’re pretty damn funny – purchased from a vendor or found in the wild. Often these might be S&M references or level-themed, but they’re a nice touch, and you can’t earn them in one go. While there aren’t any lives (well, three starting health points), each time you die, you’ll lose some gems used to buy costumes, but they reappear on respawning.
Hell Pie looks great on the PS5 and feels pretty damn great, too. There aren’t any difficulty settings, and it can get hairy. Sometimes even overwhelming in some areas. It’s clearly not for kids. I risked it at first, but after ripping out the Unilamb horns at the start of Sashimi Bay, there are only so many times you can tell them to look away. Think Mario Odyssey for the depraved, and you have a starting point.
Overall, I love this game, and it’s restored my faith in 3D open platformers. Hell Pie is big, crude, and has lots to unlock, but more importantly, the gameplay is so satisfying the deeper you dive. Well, swing. Once you’ve got the swinging technique under your belt, you won’t need platforms anymore. A definite recommendation – especially if poo makes you chuckle – Hell Pie is one of the best platformers this year.