This game was originally released for Windows Phone, but now Hasta La Muerte has finally found its way to iPhone and iPad. The game won praise upon its release for its interesting style and leftfield setting, although it was generally agreed that the gameplay was a little too repetitive.
The game has a sparse and stark visual style that really doesn’t come across well in screenshots, but trust me this is a very good looking game, with decent animation on all the characters, spooky feeling levels and plenty of nice little visual touches such as the tiny spiders skittering around. The sound is an odd mix, with music that really doesn’t suit the look and theme of the game. I understand what the developers were aiming at here, but I don’t think they pulled this part of the game off.
The game sees you take control of an emissary of Death, and you must harvest the souls of the living while avoiding any lost souls that may be wandering around. The souls start of as simple black stick figures, who then turn into white figures for a limited time, at which point they are available for harvest, but if you let any soul’s timer countdown to zero, they will turn into deadly lost souls.
This simple mechanic is the heart of the game, and it works well, as there is an inherent risk/reward system at play. It actually plays a bit like a free form version of Pac-Man, which is no bad thing as you avoid scores of lost souls and dodge and weave your way to the exit. The game is tilt/accelerometer based, with you having to hold your iPhone flat to control the game, and this does work well for the most part, although this method doesn’t really allow for comfortable extended play, so a switch to the optional touch controls may be needed.
The action is viewed from above, with a time limit on each stage to work against as you try and find as many souls as possible. There are also some boss levels to add at least a little variety.
The game is made considerably better by the addition of some helpers that give you extra abilities, such as a dash of speed or extra protection. These are all limited by an automatically refilling bar, but can also be switched between at will; a skill that you will have to master to get through some of the later, tougher stages. Part of the fun is taking these new abilities back to earlier levels to improve your score and find extra areas and items.
Hasta La Muerte is a simple game, with great theming and interesting visuals that feels right at home on iOS. It does get a little bit repetitive after you have found all the helpers, and although the bosses help to break things up a bit, you are really only going to revisit this to use new skills on old levels, which is fun but isn’t going to extend the life too much.
Overall, this is a playable dodge and grab game with some genuinely interesting looks that may not hold your attention for more than a couple of hours, although they will be an enjoyable couple of hours.