I like fluffy cosy experiences as much as the next guy, but sometimes I just want pure danger in my video games. Whether it’s frantically sailing away from Galleon of villainous pirates in Sea of Thieves or hoping the bubble is merciful in a tense game of Fortnite, all of my favourite multiplayer experiences bring out the danger every now and then. Some games might start to take this a little too far though, like the aptly named Hell is Others.
Our hero Adam Smithson has a pretty miserable life truth be told. Living day after day in a tiny apartment would be bad enough, but that apartment is in Century City. This nightmare locale is packed full of sinister anthropomorphic animals and terrifying demons, and after a mysterious stranger drops a Bonsai tree off at your apartment you’ll need to take the elevator down regularly if you want to keep it healthy.
You might think that caring for a plant wouldn’t require a whole lot more than water from the tap, but in the world of Hell is Others plants are watered with blood. You’ll need to collect enough to keep the tree healthy by making regular runs to the surface to fight demons, and before long you’ll have some other sinister allies on your side to try and can try and profit from the excursions.
Down in Century City you’ll need to use all your skill if you want to survive. Hell is Others is at its core a twin stick shooter, and Adam has a pretty limited moveset to take advantage of. Other than the odd roll and some running Adam is pretty much a point and shoot kinda guy, so expect to do a lot of running backwards and firing that pistol (until you find some better equipment at least). This would be fine if not for the fact that Adam is more than a little clunky to control, and there weren’t hundreds of potential threats littering the urban environments.
The most concerning of these threats are the titular Others, which refers to enemy players. Every mission down to the surface is essentially a multiplayer session, with other Adams all spawning into a city to collect the best loot. It doesn’t take long to realise that escaping with your life is pretty unlikely if you don’t retreat almost as soon as you spawn in, and thus begins the loop of extraction fun.
I can’t say I have much experience in the “Extraction” genre of multiplayer games, but one thing I discovered pretty quickly is that players are not grouped together by level. This means there will almost certainly be someone on the surface who severely outmatches you, and taking them on in a one-on-one contest would be suicide. The only way you’ll make your way into that Top Dog role is by slowly collecting better loot and levelling up by hiding in the streets and fleeing as much as humanly possible.
The non-player enemies aren’t much better either, and will absolutely destroy you if you aren’t prepared. From tiny spiders that charge straight for you to massive hellish centipedes, pretty much anything you encounter in Century City will kill you without a moment’s hesitation, and won’t take long to drain that health bar.
If it was up to me I’d just camp out in my apartment for the rest of my miserable existence, but our boy Adam needs blood. Not content with just caring for one orphaned bonsai, as you progress through the game you’ll end up with a sizable selection of plants that are well worth caring for. This is because plants in Hell is Others grow bullets, and the ones you cultivate in your own home come with special properties like the ability to bounce off walls.
If plant life doesn’t get your motor running, then maybe home decoration will. Like a miserable and terrifying version of Animal Crossing, Hell is Others allows you to customise your apartment with soft furnishings found on your adventure. This might sound a bit silly, but different decor give you different stat points for Adam when out of the tower block and is well worth investing in.
Hell is Others is an interesting and thematically interesting multiplayer game, but with less than perfect controls and massively punishing gameplay it’s one that I’d struggle to recommend. If you have a healthy chunk of patience and like the sound of making the perfect loadout to kill newcomers then you’ll probably have a blast, but otherwise it’s just a little lacking.
Is hugely rewarding as you cling on to survival
A fantastic theme
Lots of upgrading your character to do
Adam is a little on the clunky side
Very very punishing
Requires a big time investment