There’s nothing quite like the riotous laughter that accompanies playing a local co-op video game.
It’s infectious, and assures you that everyone is having good time. Whether you’re succeeding or not, local co-op games are just fun when they’re well-made. And going by that logic, Le Cartel Studio’s and Devolver Digital’s upcoming Heave Ho is the work of master craftsmen.
Like most good local co-op games, Heave Ho‘s premise is simple: with each player taking control of what is essentially a blob with arms, you need to reach the flag at the end of each stage by working together. Best played with a controller, each trigger grabs with the respective arm, while the left analogue stick is used to move any free arms around.
Stages are combined into groups called runs, each with their own visual flair. You can grab onto pretty much any surface, and also other players, and there lies to key to reaching each stage’s flag. While players can tackle some stages without having to coordinate with each other, grabbing and swinging between surfaces with alternate hands, the best stages require teamwork.
By grabbing each other’s hands, players can form a daisy chain that allows them to cover bigger gaps, or enable them to gain more swinging momentum. But of course, such manoeuvres require effective communication and coordination. The more players you have, the trickier it all becomes. But there’s also a bigger feeling of satisfaction when you complete a run without anyone dying, and more guffawing when it all goes wrong because someone released their grip when they shouldn’t have done.
Stages start out fairly simple, but soon start to get more complicated. Gaps become bigger, for example, and spikes start to appear that kill your characters when touched. There’s also comedic touches such as birds flying by that like to poo on you if they can, making your character a little harder to see. And to inject a bit more hilarity into your endeavours, there are minigames to discover to break up the action. There’s nothing like a bit of basketball mid-stage, after all.
While Heave Ho is primarily a co-op game for up to four players, there is a solo mode. Some stages in solo mode are different to their co-op counterparts, otherwise they’d be impossible to complete. And while it’s certainly not as much playing by yourself, Heave Ho is still highly entertaining. With such a unique premise and intuitive controls, how could it not be?
The fact that you’re timed as you tackle each stage means that Heave Ho is likely to have a great deal of replayability once you’ve completed them all. There are also optional coins to grab in stages that can be used to unlock new customisation items. You don’t really need them though, as from the outset there are a vast number of arms, faces, glasses, etc. to make your character unique.
It goes without saying then, that if you like local co-op games you should definitely keep your eyes on Heave Ho. Set for release on Switch and PC on 29th August, we’re pretty certain it’s going to be the next must-have party game, and the cause of many people splitting their sides open with laughter. You have been warned.