Puzzle games have been a staple to the video game community for as long as video games have been around. The most famous of all would surely have to be Tetris. I doubt there are very many people who use the internet or watch television that haven’t at least heard of this epic puzzler from Russia. Alexei Pajitnov was an absolute genius for coming up with the idea and millions have enjoyed playing countless hours on the go with their Game Boys. Ever since then there have been countless other puzzle games that have tried to capture the hearts and minds of players across the world. The Switch is no stranger to the genre and its hybrid nature makes it an ideal system for playing time wasters on the go or cuddled up in front of the big screen. Road to Ballhalla is just the latest in a string of puzzle-type games vying for attention, and after playing it for a bit I think it deserves it.
Moving a ball through a maze is nothing new. Kids have been playing the labyrinth tabletop game for decades now and we’ve seen hit games like Marble Madness and Super Monkey Ball take the idea and, pardon the pun, roll with it. Many times the key to success in games like these is to keep it simple, and Road to Ballhalla does just that. Using the left Joy-Con analog stick you’ll be able to maneuver an orb through a set of obstacles and hazards. Your goal is to collect small dots (think Pac-Man) and make it to the end of the maze. Words often appear on the track to give you hints, although sometimes they’re traps disguised as hints! More than once I fell for the “fake news” only to be met with instant death. The first few times were funny, but then I became highly suspicious of everything the game was telling me to do and cautiously experimented. Luckily starting over on the level is quick and easy so it’s never too punishing. If you manage to collect enough dots your rating will be higher when you complete a level. Eventually you’ll be able to unlock new perks, like the ability to change the color of your orb. I was happy to get rid of the standard orange (not that I hate the color or the fruit) and choose my favorite: green.
Essential in any good game of this nature is good control, and thankfully everything is spot-on and moving the ball around the stages felt just right. If you’re feeling confident you can even initiate a boost by press the shoulder button, but you have to be careful to not overdo it and end up destroying your orb on accident. While the game can be challenging and even a little frustrating, most of the time when I perished I felt it was a mistake I made, not an unfair turn of events by the game. All of the collision detection worked flawlessly, which is a good thing because you’ll need to be able to deftly avoid all sorts of obstacles, lasers, and other big balls to make it to the end.
Graphically the game is rather plain, but it works for a title like this. With a smooth framerate most should enjoy the slow nature of the levels. The music is impressive and even syncs up to the flashing obstacles on the various courses. In some instances it felt like I was playing a rhythm base music game and it just worked wonderfully.
Road to Ballhalla is an extremely fun and entertaining action puzzle game that I enjoyed most playing on the Switch’s screen with a good set of noise cancelling headphones. At first I was hoping they would have added a tilt option for getting the balls through the course, but after playing for quite some time I found it works just fine with the Joy-Con controllers. Although it only happened to me once, I did encounter a game crash that was very unfortunate because I lost my progress. Luckily it didn’t happen again and I have no idea what caused it. If you enjoy maze puzzle games and want to test your dexterity and hand-eye coordination, this one’s perfect for that!
Road to Ballhalla Review
- Graphics - 7/107/10
- Sound - 8/108/10
- Gameplay - 8/108/10
- Lasting Appeal - 8/108/10
Final Thoughts: GREAT
It’s not often that an excellent puzzle game comes out that is both original and well executed. Road to Ballhalla is a solid title that should give you hours and hours of fun. I do recommend playing with a good set of headphones so you can get into the groove with the excellent soundtrack.
Road to Ballhalla was reviewed using a final retail Nintendo Switch download code provided by the publisher.