Haimrik review for PS4, Xbox One, PC

Platform: PS4
Also On: PC, Xbox One
Publisher: 1C Publishing
Developer: Below the Game
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

Haimrik seems like it should be right up my alley. It’s part word game and part puzzle-platformer, and those are two of my favourite genres. Unfortunately, as promising as Haimrik sounds on paper (pun only somewhat intended), its actual execution leaves a little to be desired.

This is largely because of the game’s limitations. Generally speaking, its story goes that the titular main character discovers a magic book, which keeps pulling him into its story and sending him on quests. He uses the story’s words to fight enemies and solve environmental puzzles. It’s undoubtedly inventive, but, at the same time, it also starts feeling repetitive pretty quickly. There are only so many times you can will a sword into being and then use it to hack away at enemies before it starts feeling old.

More broadly, it doesn’t take long before the game starts feeling like one fetch quest after another. Plot points lead into missions to find another object, which in turn leads to the next plot point, which leads to the next mission. I know that most games — most stories, for that matter — are similarly linear — but it feels more obvious here than in most other places.

The other reason why the execution leaves a little to be desired is much more personal: it kind of grosses me out. Opening the book requires that Haimrik slash open his hand, leading to a bright splash of red against the otherwise monochromatic, sepia-toned world. Even worse, when he’s inside the book, deaths — his and those of his enemies — are rendered in gory detail. There are lots of eyeballs and brains and viscera to be found here, and, if you’re like me, it may turn your stomach a little.

If, however, you’re not put off by a bit of blood and guts, and you don’t mind some repetitive storytelling, Haimrik does have its positives, too. As I said, it’s a fairly inventive game — using words to harm opponents isn’t new (Letter Quest and Spellspire are two recent games that spring to mind where words were your weapons), but having them come to life the way they do here sets the game apart. Further, there’s a decent amount of puzzle-solving to be done here. Haimrik doesn’t just allow you to conjure up dynamite to throw at enemies, it asks you to think of how you can set an enemy on fire, and then put him out before he’s able to reach the pile of explosives that will also kill you (answer: barrel plus tar, followed by torch, followed by barrel plus water).

I’d be lying, of course, if I said that I found the puzzles that compelling. And the fact that they almost always lead to more gore (albeit hand-drawn gore) is more than a little off-putting. But still, if you’re in the mood for a puzzle-platformer/word game that’s different from pretty much everything else out there, Haimrik may be an interesting investment.

1C Publishing provided us with a Haimrik PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: B-