Heave Ho is a wonderful little game by Le Cartel Studio, who have only released 1 other game on steam so far, Mother Russia Bleeds. Set as a combination of Mount Your Friends and LittleBigPlanet, Heave Ho has you grip onto your buddies to fling them towards the finish line. While designed as a mostly couch co-op experience, the game also comes with a solo mode to go through all the same levels without the bonuses of co-op. Though currently, it lacks any form of online component, so if you are buying it with friends in mind make note you can only play in-person or by using other software to fake a LAN.
Heave Ho isn’t a story-driven game at all, it is more about the levels and how you get around them, with the added difficulty of co-op where up to 4 people have to reach the finish line. There are 17 sets of levels, each of varying length due to the difficulty, getting more and more complex as you get further into the game. If you play in co-op you will be given the ability to collect coins in the level, an object you need to carry to the ending with the help of your buddies, these unlock new costumes for use in both modes.
It is hard to put an hour mark on how long Heave Ho will take to complete as with co-op it is very dependent on all the players. Though to get through all the levels it will take several hours of work if you’re new to grabbing mechanics, if you’re more experienced you can complete some levels in under a minute.
Played best with a controller, you control your ball with arms with the left thumbstick, rolling around and flailing your arms about. You can grab with your right hand with the right trigger and left arm with the left trigger. Holding these down will allow you to grab onto any surface, to which you use the left thumbstick to move your main body and other arm to grab onto another surface, essentially climbing and swinging your way around the level.
In later levels, you will be introduced to moving parts, death zones and gaps that require you to make a leap to successfully clear. In co-op, you’ll also get to make use of the life preserver air balloon, which when grabbed can be used as a pseudo airship for players who are closer to the beginning of the level. The addition of the life preserver is a great touch, allowing more experienced players to aid their less so allies, as it is only available after pulling a switch at the ending.
Each set of levels has their own song to accompany them, sounding extremely similar to the soundtrack of Crash Twinsanity, with heavy a capella tones to each track. While there are instruments they are mostly backing sounds for the voices and signing within each track, which will be a bit divisive in who it will attract. While the songs do sound familiar, they have a lovely progression between the levels that make it sound like you’re progressing to better and more intricate music.
The difficulty of Heave Ho is very consistent, with a slow rise in both complexity and length. Forcing jumps, wrapping around objects, avoiding spikes and more as you get further into the game, you’re learning a new “mechanic” at each set of levels, keeping the game fresh with dashes of difficulty for each separation.
At its price, £7.19 normal or £6.47 for the launch sale, Heave Ho is definitely worth it for such a cheap ask. You can get a few hours of enjoyment on your own, or several with guests at your house, even more so if you can use other programs to force an online mode. Sadly, if you’re not too technologically inclined you are resigned to just couch co-op, with several demands from players for said feature. With the focus on cooperative play, with the coins and life preserver, it is a shame that you can only play with your close-by buddies.
Overall, Heave Ho gets a 9/10, it is a wonderful experience both alone and with friends. The lack of online hurts it somewhat with the always online life we now lead and the friends we have abroad but for those with closer friends, it’s a great party game to have installed. The music can put people off, due to the heavy a capella tones, but is often drowned out by the cheering and laughter of your buddies. With little to no bugs, heavy planning and fun atmosphere there isn’t much to say against Heave Ho.
Heave HO is available on PC and Nintendo Switch and is brought to us by Independent developer Le Cartel and tight-gripped game label Devolver Digital.