So I loved playing Marble Madness when I was younger and I love playing with balls now (wait, what?), so naturally it seems that Road to Ballhalla would be the ideal game for me to enjoy. Spoiler alert: I did, with the simplistic gameplay and challenging levels coming together nicely to offer a fun arcade experience.
Basically, Road to Ballhalla sees you guiding a ball through mazes full of twists, turns, jumps and a hell of a lot of varying hazards. It’s an incredibly simple formula, but one that offers plenty of addictive fun. There’s a clever twist on the action too, with each level’s interactions and hazards working to the beat of the background music. Threats will come, go, and move places to the rhythm of the soundtrack, so it’s up to you to follow it if you’re going to find success.
Each level you play through offers something different, so you can expect a decent amount of variety throughout the game. Whilst this often means you’ll face different challenges and have to solve a good mixture of mini-puzzles, it can also mean the hazards that come your way change too.
Believe me, Road to Ballhalla offers plenty of ways for the player to fail – it might be by just falling off the track, hitting a deadly tile, getting blasted with a cannon, getting struck by a laser… yeah, it’s a pretty dangerous game. You actually have a health meter that dwindles down when getting hurt by something in the environment, so there is a way to survive if you get caught in an awkward predicament. However, if you’re using the ball’s boost function you become vulnerable, meaning any hit from any hazard will kill you immediately. It’s a risk versus reward sort of thing, with the extra speed you have to try and reach the end of a level quickly balanced out by a much more dangerous level. Checkpoints are in abundance though, so don’t stress too much.
It’s not just the hazards that’ll cause you to fail though, but also the game’s challenges. One level saw me having to remember the layout of a snake as it was the shape of an invisible route I’d have to take later on in the level, for example. It’s a simple task, but it’s still one that caused me plenty of failures…
It’s like this all the way through Road to Ballhalla though, with plenty of creative tasks and challenges given to the player. It keeps things interesting and ultimately ensures you won’t get bored at all during the three hours or so it takes to clear all of the game’s levels.
One thing I really appreciated about Road to Ballhalla was the narrator. Now, this is a game about rolling a ball around so you can’t go expecting a gripping narrative, but the way that you’re guided along with messages on the floor is certainly entertaining, and whilst it didn’t give context, it did give me plenty of laughs. The messages can be useful with plenty of tips and guidance, though the narrator can also be a bit of a dick and taunt you along the way. Oh, and also expect plenty of terrible ball puns…
It shouldn’t take most players long to get through the main game, though some hidden secrets do offer some replayability. There are collectibles to pick up throughout levels that unlock cosmetic items for your ball too, which will certainly appeal to a lot of players. Outside of those though, there’s not a whole lot there to really sink your teeth into once you’ve cleared the game.
Road to Ballhalla is good simple fun, with the mazes you roll across providing the right balance of challenge and entertainment throughout. Add to that a genuinely funny narrator and some cool rhythm-based gameplay, and it all comes together nicely to make for a pleasant (albeit slightly short) experience.
Developer: Torched Hill
Publisher: tinyBuild Games
Release Date: Out Now
Format(s): Nintendo Switch (Reviewed), PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC