Rolling balls has been popular from Marble Madness to redemption games that reward the player for navigating a ball down a path. Road to Ballhalla is the latest in this simple and enjoyable genre but is it one of the greatest?
In Road to Ballhalla, you roll a small colorful ball across levels while avoiding pits and a variety of hazards like electrical fields, laser beams, and much more. There's no tilting or motion control of any kind and there's not even much of a physics element as the ball generally stops exactly where you expect and there aren't any hills or mounds for you to roll up and down. Instead, Road to Ballhalla challenges you by putting tons of obstacles between you and the exit portal. From time to time, it will throw in a puzzle for good measure as well. The controls are simple as you move with the left stick or D-pad and boost with X or the right trigger. Many enemies will kill you instantly but you have a health bar that allows you to take damage from some hazards without immediately biting the dust. Thankfully, Road to Ballhalla is friendly with its checkpoints so you don't have to replay sections over and over again on the more difficult levels.
Road to Ballhalla isn't afraid to change up the mechanics for certain levels and even includes a level that is completely tilted on its axis as well as a goofy and challenging stage where your ball has the hiccups. These variations on the core mechanics keep levels feeling fresh although some mechanics can be fairly annoying and you'll be quite happy when you're finally done with them. Each stage features dozens of yellow orbs that you'll want to collect to improve your ranking. To get the highest rank on a level and be rewarded with all eight of its tokens, you need to collect all the yellow orbs and complete it with five or less deaths. Tokens are used to unlock future areas but the unlock thresholds are fairly low so you'll primarily want to collect tokens if you're trying to perfect the campaign.
To go along with its goofy name, Road to Ballhalla features a snarky and humorous narrator who communicates with you via text throughout the campaign. The narrator is quite the troll and regularly encourages you to do stupid things only to laugh at you for doing them. I laughed several times myself during my playthrough as I enjoyed this sardonic sense of humor a great deal.
Road to Ballhalla is relatively short as it features only 24 levels. However, there is a speedrun mode that encourages you to race through each level and beat certain time thresholds. This mode is only going to appeal to gamers who can't get enough of the gameplay but it is fantastic that the developer found ways to increase Road to Ballhalla's replay value.
There are quite a few secrets in Road to Ballhalla, many of which you won't find out about until you complete the campaign for the first time. One cool post-game addition is a Scavenger Hunt that gives you clues for secrets in certain levels that you probably never would have found on your own. There's also one insanely complex secret that even the most dedicated detectives probably won't be able to solve. The solution has already been discovered by Steam users because Road to Ballhalla has been on that platform for over two years already but you can feel free to try and figure it out for yourself if you're brave and crazy enough.
I found myself having an exceptionally enjoyable time with Road to Ballhalla as I played. By blending challenging gameplay, clever mechanics, and a great sense of humor, it deserves to be a road well-traveled.
- + Challenging gameplay supported with fair checkpoints
- + Hilarious omniscient narrator
- + Plenty of secrets to uncover
- - Some of the gameplay mechanics are rather annoying
- - Main campaign is relatively short