Hell Girls is a Match 3 like puzzle game where you take control of one of three angels in their quest to halt the demon invasion. Each of the girls are aligned to one element, them being fire, lightning, and ice with all of them playing significantly different from one another. All three are at your disposal from the get-go, and as you win battle after battle, you will reveal more of the over-world which often breaks off in branching paths to explore. It’s quite the large map littered with not only combat zones but merchants to buy spells from and other unique locations with actual quests.
At times you may find yourself with a decision to make such as accepting a vast amount of gold or purifying an area in via sacrificing a ton of Spiritual energy which is a currency used to level up. Don’t go in expecting The Witcher or the lesser know RPG Alpha Protocol going into this. Both the story and decision making segments are very rare and are hardly anything worth writing home about. Oddly enough, even the lewd scenes are few and far between. I went into this expecting nonstop fan-service and was surprised that minus the tutorial, there is nothing but gameplay until near the end. Whether that is good or not is up to you though it is something to be aware of if you’d rather not go through most of the game to reach the H bits.
Speaking of hentai, there is a free patch to uncensor the game that will show the girls completely naked in the few cut-scenes available if you are so inclined. Honestly with such a forgettable plot and mediocre characters it is hardly worth it for that reason alone as Steam has no shortage of lewd anime titles. Gameplay is the name of the game here and will be the driving force behind this adventure. Dialogue is surprisingly sparse with you usually fighting through several battlefields without so much of a word spoken. And man is fighting the multitude of creatures out to slay the known world truly addicting.
The fighting takes place on a 2D plane with one 3D model character on each side with a giant Match 3 like puzzle board in the middle where the actual battle takes place. Unlike Match 3, you can connect and are encouraged to connect as many identical icons as you can be they horizontal, vertical or diagonal. If it is touching the icon, it is fair game, and you can zig-zag your way throughout the board in a glorious, screen clearing fashion. It’s not just about clearing the board however, each icon has a different effect that can change the flow of a fight. Both stars and swords are used to attack, hearts restore your health while shields repair your armor. Last but not least are the potions which will fill up your mana and in turn, allows you to cast spells.
There are a ton of options to fit your play-style, and it is turn based making it a tactical affair instead of just frantically stringing combos blindly. Stringing together four or more icons will spawn in a spell-book icon at the end of your combo trail which is where the characters differ most. Spellbooks can be stringed together with any other icon and once used will have a varying effect on the board. The Fire girl’s spellbook effect results in an explosion that destroys surrounding icons caught in the blast while Lightning’s only aims for any irregular icon found on the board such as stones or infected blocks. Finally, the Ice mage’s spellbook will clear an entire row of icons but does the least amount of damage. There are three power levels of each character’s unique ability that are determined by the amount of icons you’ve destroyed to spawn it.
Enemies can cast some nasty effects into your board such as a swarm of spiders that you must smash before they attack you, a deadly scroll that will cause massive damage if you don’t get it to the bottom row before it’s countdown ends and many more. Each girl’s spellbook is better fitted for certain enemies so learning to master all three will greatly benefit you as the game gets tougher. All the while you must keep an eye on both your health and your enemies health. Next to its health, it will also show you how many turns you have left before it unleashes its next move and you take damage as well as a status effect.
Spells which are completely different from spellbooks gives you a great edge if you have the mana to cast it. It does not take up a turn using it and can have insanely useful effects such delaying foe’s attack three more turns, healing yourself or straight up damage. The amount to consider at any one time is enormous and is incredibly addictive once you get used to the game mechanics. Not to mention that on occasion a treasure chest can spawn in that you can destroy and in turn receive a variety of goodies like Gold, Spiritual Energy or stat-changing Costumes for your characters. It is entirely optional, and if you are on the brink of death it may be wise to ignore it in order to focus on the fight. Beware however as certain type of chests do deal damage to you if not destroyed in time so never ignore anything occurring on the board.
Found around the world are vendors that will sell you some new spells in exchange for a hefty amount of gold and the spiritual energy needed to level up your character will quickly get costly as well. It can be all too easy to focus on one character but believe me you should not go all out on a single girl. Before starting a fight, you can always choose your character, but once you leave the starting over-world into the next, there is no such choice for a quite a while. Not only that but even later on you get the ability to change girls right in a fight that each have their own health and as previously said are better at certain things so having a weak link is massively detrimental. It is not impossible to do so, but you’ll be having a needlessly difficult time sticking with your favorite girl despite her not being suited for the situation.
One thing I definitely love is that you never have to grind for resources. If you are skilled enough, you can easily steamroll through the entire game without stopping. And it is no short game either. It lasted me for just under 8 hours and is something I can easily see myself replaying. That is one good deal for a title priced just shy of two dollars. Upon first starting it up it is all too clear that this was a phone game, from the huge UI to the three-star rating system for levels. It translates pretty well to the mouse, especially in the battles themselves that has you clicking and dragging a line through your targets. There is one annoyance pertaining to the mouse control, and that is during dialogue. One can not click anywhere on the screen to progress it but must click directly on the dialogue box itself. That is a pretty minor nitpick, and in the grand scheme of things, this is a game that deserves to be in your library if you like Match 3 or the Puzzle Quest games.