Review: Drive to Hell

Review: Drive to Hell
3.5

Platforms:

Windows PC, Mac, Linux, Steam

Game Name:

Drive to Hell

Publisher(s):

Ghost Crab Games

Developer(s):

Ghost Crab Games

Genre(s):

Action

Release Date:

February 1st, 2014

Drive to Hell – What We Think

Drive to Hell from developer Ghost Crab Games is a no-frills action game that doesn’t make a huge impact but is quite enjoyable while it’s around. The efficient twin stick shoot-em-up has a simple concept, plenty of color, and surprisingly refined in-game balance, making for a pleasant joyride that consistently entertains.

Drive to Hell opens with a few static comic book pages that constitute a story, and even that setup is more complex than necessary. There are some demons. You’re going to get in the car and drive to Hell to kill them. One character hops in the driver’s seat while the other character stands in the trunk with a gun turret, and the game plays out as a series of progressively difficult stages that eventually culminate in Hell.

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Take This Mercedes Straight Into Hades

There’s not much more to it than that. You shoot everything that moves while doing your best to avoid the projectiles they send back. There’s a diverse array of enemies and power-ups that allow for frequent changes of pace and the careful presentation prevents you from noticing the generally redundant scenery.

That’s ultimately what sets the game apart from others in the genre. Though it’s mostly paint-by-numbers, there are a few noteworthy tweaks that make the gameplay more dynamic and less predictable. Enemies can come from any direction, so it’s easy to get flanked from behind if you’re not careful. You can’t sit back at the bottom of the screen while waiting for the action to come to you.

A Bat Out of Hell Without A Bat

More importantly, the game regularly forces to you to play in your least powerful state (without any power-ups), which makes the experience far more varied and prevents good players from relying on overpowered weapons. The power-ups that are there are familiar – spread shots, plasma, bombs, and etc. – but none of them are permanent. They’ll go away after enough time has passed, creating a nice tension whenever they expire.

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That’s the source of Drive To Hell’s unexpectedly keen sense of balance. You have to keep yourself alive with limited firepower while waiting or the next power-up to appear. Items are usually plentiful during the most intense segments, but even then there’s no guarantee and the shifting pace allows the developers to utilize more arrangements of baddies than would be otherwise be possible.

The Boss From Hell

The enemies in question aren’t the most original, but they are diverse and can appear in many different combinations. Punching through the armor on tougher monsters is always satisfying while the boss fights are suitably spectacular, each offering a compelling twist on a familiar enemy. It’s all generally challenging and fun, and there’s really not much more you can ask for from a shooter.

As for the other stuff, the game allows you to purchase a number of different cars, each more powerful than the one before it, but none of them radically alter the core gameplay. It’s also worth noting that the game is much easier to play with a controller than a keyboard, which may limit the appeal. The game works just fine, but you need to be able to shoot and move at strange angles in order to survive so being saddled with WASD and arrow keys places you at a severe disadvantage.

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The Devil You Know

Fortunately, plugging a controller USB into Steam is a lot easier than it used to be. If you can overcome that hurdle, Drive to Hell is exactly what it aspires to be, an entertaining twin stick shooter that doesn’t waste any time getting to the gameplay. It may be a cheap thrill, but it’s well worth the low cost of admission.

Drive to Hell – Official Site

Get Drive to Hell on Steam

Rating: ★★★½☆ 

Check the trailer for Drive to Hell:

Eric Weiss

Eric is a Toronto based video game critic and theatre practitioner. He is currently a regular contributor at Dork Shelf, while past creative writing credits include the stage plays The Handy Man Can (2008 Montreal Fringe Festival) and Shredder (2009 McGill Drama Festival) and the video game Apocalypse Later (TOJam 2012). Follow him on Twitter @Harry_Houdini.

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