BitSummit 10 Developer Q&A: Escape an adorable underworld with friends in co-op Hell Hell
For the first time since the beginning of the pandemic, Japan's longest-running independent game dev festival, BitSummit, reconvened this August in Kyoto. A special deputized deployment of VGG staff attended the weekend-long event and reported back with exclusive Q&As with developers in Japan's pioneering indie game dev scene. Check back in with us to explore an exciting batch of upcoming games in VGG's BitSummit 10 coverage.
Hide and seek has never been higher stakes than it is in Hell Hell, a multiplayer cooperative game that combines "tag" and "hide-and-seek" to escape from hell with friends. Let's hear straight from the crew about this jailbreak game!
Hell Hell has players trying to escape from a bright and colorful hell that's based on Japanese mythology. The game is a cooperative venture where both players need to take roles in solving puzzles and surpassing obstacles within a time limit. Despite the dour premise, the game has a very light and friendly vibe aided by soft colors, floaty movements and rounded edges.
The distinct visual style is a big draw, but players who enjoy cooperative challenges similar to those found in Overcooked will find the gameplay suitably enjoyable, too. The game has very simple controls, with there being movement, a dash, a jump, and an action. The action that one performs is dependent on the context of the situation and the player’s current role on the team.
Regularly, players will find themselves forced to stack atop one another, with one person controlling movement while the player on top is in charge of issuing commands. The simple gameplay mechanics allow for players of all types to approach the game, while the context-sensitive controls keep things varied enough to entertain more seasoned players.
I managed to speak with the developers of Hell Hell at their booth during Bitsummit X-Roads to learn more about the game — the first to be published by the duo under their team title, Monoryllis.
This conversation has been translated from Japanese.
VGG: “First, please introduce yourselves.”
Mono: “I am Mono of Monoryllis.”
Ryllis: “I am Ryllis of Monoryllis. I am in charge of the game’s art.”
Mono: “And I am the person who takes care of the programming.”
VGG: “What was the original inspiration for Hell Hell?”
Ryllis: “Using the theme of Japan’s hell … there’s a story by Ryunosuke Akutagawa called The Spider’s Thread. In this story, a single person has a chance to escape from hell into heaven but is unable to due to his greed. In our game, everyone can work together and have fun. This is the game’s theme. As for the game’s system, our policy was for people who aren’t good at the game or want to play without doing much can play with people are talented at games without getting confused or getting to a point where they want to quit. Through the cooperative aspect, these people can ride on top of the more skilled player. We put this type of system into the game.”
VGG: “What led you to choose this theme of teamwork in this game about escaping from hell?”
Ryllis: “We want people to be able to play, talk, and have fun together. When one player is riding on top of the other, the two players have different actions for the same button. We thought that this would expand the breaks in the players’ conversations so that they can plan the next part of the game.”
Mono: “In the beginning, the game was actually a battle instead of cooperation. This led to arguing more than friendly communication. The less skilled player would place below the more skilled one so we decided to leave that idea and focus more on cooperation.”
VGG: “What is your favorite part of this game?”
Mono: “My favorite part is of course the art work. The pop and cute world feel.”
VGG: “If you were explaining this game to someone who hadn’t ever played a game before, how would you explain it?”
Mono: “It’s a lot like the Japanese game onigokko. In English it’s tag mixed with hide-and-seek. It’s a game where you work together and escape.”
VGG: “If someone were to want to support this game or your studio, what method would have the strongest result?”
Ryllis: “First is translation.”
Mono: “Ah, localizing.”
Ryllis: “Then, the Steam version is coming out winter of next year. After that, we’d like to make a Switch version, and Android version, and an iOS version... So help with porting. There’s one more thing as well. The premise of this game is cooperative play. If people on YouTube or streamers were to play this game it would help it get more attention. We’d appreciate streamers helping us in that way.”
Hell Hell is currently expected to come out in winter 2023. Information regarding the game’s progress and development can be found at hell-hell.com and you can follow the developers' Japanese-only Twitter right here!