Yet, I Despise Him is a hand drawn, 2D side scrolling hardcore platformer where you are searching for your lost father on an adventure that will take you from muddy forests, through mushroom hop lands and all the way what I can only describe as a fortress in the sky. I say hardcore because this is a precision game that requires timing, not just when platforming, but against the game’s notable bosses.
There are four lands (Mario would call them worlds), with each land having 3 levels or sections and each level has 3 sections, not including the boss fight. The levels blend seamlessly together, using a turkey as a checkpoint. Yes that’s right, a turkey that you shoot, grab the meat and regain full health. You have unlimited lives, but every time you die, its back to the turkey checkpoint.
Even though you have three hearts or hits of health, expect to die a lot not only from damage, but the game’s numerous death pits. The death pits aren’t as prevalent as with other hardcore platformers, but they’re still there. Luckily the game doesn’t require pin point jumping. The platforms are always larger than the player, but be warned, the character is pretty slippery at times. Even slippery as he is, I don’t think that contributed to any deaths so much as my imperfection did.
The game is like many others out there from the genre, you’ve got jump, and shoot buttons. Your character can double jump in the air and use walls to vault off. These are some good, default controls to get through the game. The shoot might sound like a fun concept, but you only get one bullet at a time. This is a platformer, not a shooter. You don’t Megaman enemies to death, so much as carefully shoot them.
Right off the bat, I hated these controls for one simple reason. They’re keyboard controls. I’ve played through a lot of 2D platformers on a keyboard before, and this game was just far too difficult for my keyboard. I managed to make it through to the third boss, before the game crashed, notifying me “out of memory.” While that may have infuriated some people to have to go back and replay a short, challenging game again, it inspired me to grab my 360 controller and program the keys into the buttons using third party software. The horrible controls were suddenly great, fluid and easy, even wall jumping. This game needs native controller support. Using the controller is what redeemed the game for me, so if I was forced to continue on the keyboard, it just wasn’t fun.
Another down side is the fixed resolution with no sort of full screen option. That can be overlooked, since the window is large enough. The sound effects were notably awful. So awful, I’m sure everyone will agree. It wasn’t fun hearing an almost yelling voice when I killed certain enemies. That was a bad first impression that might scare people away. Other sound effects like jumps and taking damage sound just fine. The game almost sounds as if its laughing when you die.
There is no way to save the game, but it can be completed in a 30 – 60 minute sitting. One really unforgivable sin of the game is the fact that pressing the ESC key is supposed to bring up the menu, but instead it often completely closes the game resulting in all progress being lost.
The game keeps track of your time. Not just through all three levels, but it also gives you a grade for each land. Then at the end of the game it recaps all of your grades. I’m happy to have this sort of grade and time system. I just wish that it kept track of my records to really add a reason to replay it.
To give Yet, I Despise Him a unique style, the graphics look as if they’re hand drawn. This definitely makes the game stand out in a crowd of other similar games from the genre, I’m just not sure that I prefer hand drawn to other styles. The color pallet was a little questionable as well. There are a lot of browns and your character is brown. Of course the second and third lands aren’t brown, they’re more so yellow hues for the mushroom land, then blue hues for the frosty cold land. You can even see subtle lighting effects on the platforms and shining upward from the grass. Its a nice touch to see. Now that I’m looking at the screen shots that I took, I think the game does look beautiful, but I wasn’t thinking that while playing it.
The enemies are pretty simple, but the game isn’t about the enemies so much as the platforming. You’ve got hopping bugs, other insects that hop from the right to the left in almost a dolphin manor as they skim the bottom of the screen. Mushrooms that hover up and down. There are plenty of damaging spike spheres. These same spike spheres can also circle platforms and spiral inward, then outward. Other times the spheres go back and forth along the walls, ceilings or floors for you to jump and dodge them.
Any foe pales in comparison to the game’s diverse cast of detailed bosses. Each boss looks notably gruesome in its own hand drawn way. A lot of thought and effort was put into making these things not just look different, but have completely different attacks and patterns. I use the term pattern loosely, because some felt like they had a lot of randomness going on. Potentially frustrating randomness. Such as the second boss that has three attacks with the spheres that I mentioned earlier. The boss will turn blue, that makes two blue balls (yes laugh with me), aim at you before they fire, go off screen and then boomerang back at you. It also has purple balls that will bounce and yellow balls that trace the bottom of the screen. All while this boss zig zags around. These three attacks are random and it shows.
Each boss has more than enough health to make them a challenge, but that’s why you’re playing… the challenge. Yet, I Despise Him doesn’t have any sort of Super Mario Bros or even Super Meat Boy charm to it. It just has its difficult platforming and great bosses. The first boss spurts blood that covers the floor, making it a hazard if you touch it. One issue that I had with the third boss is that it felt like I had to kill it, before it killed me. Like there was no chance to avoid his attacks, since it covered the screen in a giant wave. Perhaps I missed something, but that didn’t feel like a good boss design, when everything else felt unique, cool and crazy all at the same time.
Going through all four lands, there’s a good diversity to make them feel different outside of how they look. The first land is your basic run through the woods and a temple. The second land features bouncing blocks and I do have to say, bouncing, then air jumping felt very odd, but it was the only way to make it from one bouncing block to another. The third land has ice blocks, but there are some tight vertical sort of mazes with damage spheres going around and the four land felt like mega challenge land. There wasn’t much ground let alone a truly safe place to stand.
With everything said, I think this is a good game for people that like hardcore, 2D platformers. People that think Super Meat Boy is too mainstream. There is fun here and I feel like there’s enough of a game to be worth money, but I would still prefer one more land that is easier, so I can get my feet wet and enjoy the game before it gets difficult. Coins or collectables in hard to reach places would also help the experience for the hardcore.