The idea behind the TouchArcade Game of the Week is that every Friday afternoon we post the one game that came out this week that we think is worth giving a special nod to. Now, before anyone goes over-thinking this, it doesn’t necessarily mean our Game of the Week pick is the highest scoring game in a review, the game with the best graphics, or really any other quantifiable “best” thing. Instead, it’s more just us picking out the single game out of the week’s releases that we think is the most noteworthy, surprising, interesting, or really any other hard to describe quality that makes it worth having if you were just going to pick up one.
These picks might be controversial, and that’s OK. If you disagree with what we’ve chosen, let’s try to use the comments of these articles to have conversations about what game is your game of the week and why.
Without further ado…
I already knew I was interested in Tom Janson’s new game Death Hall($2.99) when he formally announced it earlier this year. I mean this is the guy who made the completely crazy Wave Wave about a half a decade ago, so yeah of course I’m anxious to see what else would be coming from a brain that was capable of producing THAT. But this is one of those instances where even though I figured I’d enjoy the game based on what I’d seen pre-release, I wasn’t prepared for how hard Death Hall sucked me in. It’s a game that’s apparently been in the works for three years, and the level of polish in every nook and cranny backs that up.
Death Hall is a platformer played in portrait orientation, with a virtual button setup very similar to Downwell. Just left and right arrows for movement and a jump button. The goal is to get to the end of each level without getting killed by the many, many, MANY types of hazards that are out to impale you. Spikes of all shapes and sizes, both moving and stationary, as well as a cast of ghoulish enemies are all trying to hurt you real good. Luckily you have four hearts that allow you to take four hits of damage, and those hearts can be refilled by doing the classic “bounce on an enemy’s head” routine. Levels are randomly generated so the layout is always different, and that makes going after an enemy to try and refill a heart a risky endeavor, but one that’s often necessary.
There’s another risk factor at play, too. That’s the Monster. He’s a giant red sphere with razor-sharp spikes for teeth, and he is NOT stoked that you’re trying to escape his hall. His DEATH HALL, if you will. You’ll pass a certain point in a level where Ol’ Red will burst from the wall and begin chasing you, adding a little extra… let’s just call it motivation to get to the level exit. Of course getting through these hazard-filled levels is tough enough even when you can take your time and be careful, but with that thing chasing you it becomes a frantic dash of desperation. And it’s a total blast. It’s also super difficult, so don’t go thinking you’re going to breeze through all the levels here in one sitting.
Everything about Death Hall just FEELS right. The physics and weight of your jump, your movement speed, the level layouts and hazards. Like I said, this feels like a game where the concept was decided on day one and the next 2 years and 364 days were spent making sure every single detail was just right. There also seems to be plenty of secrets hiding in the shadows of Death Hall, and with a very clever scoring system and Game Center leaderboards there’s also a competitive side to the game. As long as you can get on with the portrait orientation of the game, Death Hall is one of the most entertaining platformers I’ve played in a long time and is well worth checking out.