Heave Ho Review
Heave Ho is one of those puzzle-platformers with a simple concept and simple controls that provide for some challenging gameplay. Your character looks like a potato with two arms, both of which are controlled simultaneously with the left stick. Rotating the stick will swing both arms around in the same direction like a pair of garden hoses. The triggers are tied to your hands, one for each. When you pull the trigger the corresponding hand will clench and grab onto any object it is touching. Releasing the trigger releases the corresponding hand's grip. Your goal is to get across the screen by crawling, swinging, and falling your way across a series of platforms until you reach the safety of the final one.
Moving can be a little tricky. When you're on top of a platform you need to swing an arm ahead of you, grip the platform, swing the next arm ahead of you, and repeat, pulling yourself slowly along in much the same way you'd climb a rope, but in this case horizontally. Conversely, moving along the bottom of a platform is a lot like working your way across monkey bars. Moving between platforms often requires you to build a little momentum by swinging back and forth and then flinging yourself across the gap and grabbing the next platform at the right moment. Things are further complicated by the platforms themselves - some are small squares, barely big enough to grab onto, others come in different shapes such as circles, and some include deadly obstacles such as spikes that must be avoided. Should you fall, impale yourself, or otherwise die, you'll be brought back to the start to try the whole thing over again, although the larger levels are kind enough to include a few checkpoints. Each level consists of a collection of a few platform puzzles. You're timed on each of the puzzles and these are added together to give you a total time for the level, and so there's some motivation to replay the levels to improve on your time.
Part of the challenge in the game is keeping your hands straight. When you're upside-down or tumbling through the air, telling your right hand from your left can be surprisingly difficult. If you play the game on the easy mode, you'll get gloves labeled R and L to help you keep things straight, but even with this assist enabled things can be a bit disorienting at times. Overall the challenge feels fair and balanced; I felt that every failure was entirely my fault and not a result of poor level design or touchy controls. There are times you'll get into a rhythm, zipping through a level like a spider monkey traversing the jungle's canopy, and it's quite satisfying when you get into that kind of groove. If you like your games to be a bit on the challenging side, you'll have fun with the game, both in trying to survive each level the first time through and then in trying to speed run through them on subsequent plays, trying your best to best your times.
Heave Ho can also be played in couch co-op mode with up to four players. The game's basics remain the same and the play is cooperative rather than competitive. The gaps between platforms grow wider in co-op mode, far too wide for anyone player to traverse on their own. You'll need to work together to form human chains, flinging everyone together in crazy spinning arcs in the hope that the right person will grab the right spot at the right moment. One person making a mistake can send everyone to their doom. Coordinating your own moves can be challenging enough in the single player mode, so you can imagine how tricky it is making sure that everyone is on the same page with each and every joint move, let alone everyone doing the right thing without making a fatal mistake.
Simple, but challenging, tough, but fair, Heave Ho is just what you look for in an enjoyable puzzle-platformer. Whether you want to challenge yourself, or put your friendships to the test, you'll have a good time with Heave Ho.
Final Rating: 80% - A puzzle-platformer that will put your skills, and friendships, to the test.