The star of Hell Yeah: Wrath of the Dead Rabbit is no cute bunny. He's an ultra-violent, psychopathic, undead rabbit corpse. His name is Ash and, while he's not lovable in the usual cute little wabbit-y kind of way, we suspect he's going to gain a lot of fans in the very near future.
Above: Meet Ash. He used to be a cute bunny. Now he's dead and hopping through Hell
The first thing you notice when you pick up the pad is how solid the movement is. Even in his unarmed state, Ash moves with confidence and fluidity. The second thing you notice is that you can't kill anything. The last 25 years of platform games has taught us that you jump on enemies' heads to kill them, right? Not so here. Ash jumps at enemies, touches them and... gets hurt. What gives?
That's because you haven't acquired your weapon yet. But that just serves to illustrate why this game is so different from other platformers. Ash doesn't jump on enemies' heads to kill them. He waits until he gets a buzz saw and sets about slicing them up as messily as possible. This is going to be fun.
Above: That's you in the middle, complete with large, serrated blade and rockets
The saw is worn on your back and allows you to scythe your way through minor enemies like the little winged chaps in the screenshot up there. Doing so can give you a little extra height on jumps, but mostly you'll just be jumping over platforms, collecting gems and cute little dead heads, searching for the larger monsters that lie throughout the levels.
The first is called 'Poy Poy' and looks exactly like a Puyo bean from Puyo Puyo Pop. This is the first of many, many Sega references. Poy Poy is being cocky because he's behind a wall and thinks you can't get to him. But you can. Just come back once you've unlocked the drill upgrade for your saw and you can slice through the wall and straight into soft, yielding Puyo flesh.
As you've likely guessed by now, this isn't some cutesy platformer. It's the anti-platformer. Make contact with a monster like poor old Poy Poy and a small energy bar appears beneath it. This depletes in mere seconds, which then triggers a micro game that's unique to each monster. Some require you to simply mash A, while others require timing challenges or even a quiz.
Above: Poy Poy ends up splattered all over the screen in blue and red chunks
Our favourite is the mini quiz, which asks: 'What is the average lifetime of a dead rabbit?' To which you can answer 'Two Years', 'Seven Years', 'Over 9,000' (internet meme ahoy!) or 'WTF?!' We got the answer right first time. It's 'WTF', of course.
Sadly, the demo doesn't go much further than this. It introduces the concept of 'Hell doors' which feed on 'weeping souls' which is obviously your reason for defeating a set number if these monsters before being allowed to progress.
Above: Little-known fact - even tiny monsters are packed full of gory bits
The game looks set to have a mountain of customisation options, all accessed through a shop that pops up at different points during the levels. We bought a donut ring skin for our buzzsaw, which is pretty cool. And, judging by the rest of the Sega references in here, we wouldn't be surprised if some spiky blue circle was available to buy. Just a hunch, that's all.
Above: There are more skins like 'Lovethong face', 'duck' and 'donut'
The game is smooth, pretty and very, VERY gory. But Arkedo has the skill to back up all the shocking imagery with compelling gameplay. We're looking forward to getting to know Ash a little bit better. Not that he needs any depth, mind. A killer undead bunny is a great idea for a videogame hero and that's a fact.
Above: The game is heading to XBLA and PSN this summer. Can you stomach it?