Heidelberg 1693 [Switch] Review – Morbid Fun

The Good

Brilliant level design

Gruesome boss fights

Nails the gothic theme

The Bad

Can be frustrating

Some very annoying enemies

The term “souls-like” is used a lot these days – often boiling down to a game just having fairly tough combat. Heidelberg 1693 – or Survive Morbid Heidelberg 1693 to give its full title – fits that term to a tee. 

Boasting brutal difficulty, reactive combat and gruesome enemies – this 2D action platformer reminds us of how brutally hard games used to be.

The plot, such as it is, sees the Moon King infesting Heidelberg with countless monsters and raising the dead. It’s your job as your majesty’s musketeer to end his domination. The story is delivered through hand drawn cutscenes in-between each level, with these doing a great job of adding to the game’s theme and gothic vibe.

Once you’re let loose you quickly figure out what you’re in. And it’s almost instant death, with enemies gunning you down with no hesitation. Fortunately load times for restarts are mercilessly quick.

After a bit of time you soon get to grips with the controls and your attacks. The sword is your main weapon and it controls and acts like you’d expect – attacks can be aimed in all directions except for upwards, as well as spin attacks when you double jump. 

The other weapon at your disposal is the musket. This allows you to target enemies at range while also delivering a more powerful shot – but there are drawbacks. Namely that it has limited ammo and is laboriously slow to reload and aim – meaning it can only be used very wisely, otherwise you end up as a sitting duck. 

A host of side weapons are also included bringing a welcome balance to the combat. The tension in battles is often palpable, especially in boss fights where you wish you had swung your sword instead of going for the risky reload – but you always feel you can learn from each mistake you make.

Graphically Heidelberg 1693 nails its tone with beautifully gruesome level design, disgusting monsters, and pixelart that actually works well and doesn’t feel played out. 

Not everything is perfect though, and as mentioned before Heidelberg 1693 is hard, and it can often feel a little cheap. After dying some of the checkpoints you’re thrown back to are littered with unavoidable enemies – often damaging or even killing you again. Not cool.

Furthermore some of the more annoying enemies can stalk you and attack from above, and only a perfectly timed spin attack can save you. Even then these foes can sometimes respawn right back on you.

These issues are rare though, and most of the time Heidelberg 1693 is a blast – often roping you back in for one more try. 

Heidelberg 1693 is a great 2D platformer. Its occasionally frustrating gameplay is still hugely rewarding, and it’s a title that difficult to put down once you get a hang of the controls and combat. Just make sure you’re up for the challenge.

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