PLATFORM: PC, PS4/5, XBOX ONE/SERIES (REVIEWED) | RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW
Nate, the demon of bad taste and one of the many diabolic drones working for Satan at Sin Inc, is chilling in his office (and definitely not doing what you think he's doing when the camera first approaches from behind his chair) when he receives a phone call. It quickly transpires that the Prince of Darkness dialled a wrong number and was hoping to get through to the chef, who was in charge of baking a particularly despicable pie for Beelzebub's birthday. Not one for wasting any time, Satan decides that this job now belongs to Nate and tasks him with collecting a variety of vile ingredients that will ultimately form the most disgustingly delicious pie ever made...
As far as premises go, this is an exceptionally silly one, and it sets the tone perfectly for the ludicrous adventure that Nate is about to embark upon. Hell Pie is, for all intents and purposes, an old-school 3D collectathon in the vein of Banjo-Kazooie or an even more X-rated Conker's Bad Fur Day, giving players four large worlds to explore, all full of items to collect and platforming challenges to overcome. Oh, and jokes. Lots and lots of jokes. Really quite rude ones, too.
During the first area, Nate is joined by a tiny cherub pal called Nugget who is chained to Nate's arm for the entirety of the game. He's a really useful little fella too, allowing Nate to use him as a weapon and also acting as an “air hook” which enables Nate to swing through the air, Spider-Man style. The platforming is way more accomplished than you might expect from such a silly game, giving players a variety of traversal mechanics to play with alongside some excellently-designed environments that provide a decent level of challenge. Collectables are well-hidden and can require a fair bit of time and effort to locate (the ability to at least notify you in some way that a collectable is nearby would have been appreciated), but finding them allows Nate to upgrade his abilities and learn new moves so it's worth tracking down as many as you possibly can.
The solid platforming and old-school ideas form a large part of Hell Pie's appeal, but its sense of humour – mixing over the top gore with a really heavy dose of toilet humour and just the right level of goofiness – adds a huge amount to the overall enjoyment. NPCs spout weird, kooky and often downright rude dialogue, and the worlds you explore – from a bright and sunny seaside, an imposing neon-drenched tower block, overgrown jungle and, eventually, all the way up to Heaven – are full of amusing details that often only become apparent if you take the time to look for them, such as the rather unique products on the supermarket shelves and the interesting flora and fauna that populate the jungle area. During the course of his 10-15 hour adventure, Nate finds himself in plenty of disgraceful situations that are definitely better left to discover for yourself rather than having them spoiled in advance.
There's definitely room for a little bit of extra polish – the text boxes are littered with typos, for example, and the camera has a habit of slipping into the scenery which can make some of the more intricate platforming sections a bit more difficult than they needed to be – but Hell Pie ticks so many of the right boxes that its shortcomings don't seem to matter as much as they otherwise might have done. It's got a filthy sense of humour, more challenging than appearances suggest, some incredible character models and environments, overflowing with quirky personality, well laid-out levels and truckloads of secrets and collectables to find. Hell Pie goes way beyond anything you might expect to see from a budget-priced game from a relatively new development team, and is the most pleasing surprise of the year so far by a wide margin. Steer clear if you don't like poo jokes, but otherwise, dive right in and help get that pie baked!