We at Geeky Hobbies would like to thank Torched Hill and tinyBuild for the review copy of Road to Ballhalla used for this review. Other than receiving a free copy of the game to review, we at Geeky Hobbies received no other compensation for this review. Receiving the review copy for free had no impact on the content of this review or the final score.
In Road to Ballhalla you play as a ball that wants to reach the famed Ballhalla. Road to Ballhalla is basically your traditional marble rolling game similar to games like Marble Madness. The objective of the game is to roll your marble around the level avoiding obstacles to reach the finish. Road to Ballhalla utilizes a health system where hitting most obstacles won’t immediately kill you but will reduce your health. You can restore your health by collecting health orbs or by reaching checkpoints. Finally your marble has a boost mechanic that makes your marble move faster. The catch is that if you hit any obstacles while boosting you will automatically die.
The basic mechanics of Road to Ballhalla are pretty much what you would expect from any marble rolling game. If you have played a marble rolling game you know what to expect out of Road to Ballhalla. While it is like most marble rolling games, Road to Ballhalla stands out as a great game in the genre. One of the reasons Road to Ballhalla is a great game is the controls. The controls are tight and simple so you can’t blame your deaths on the controls.
Road to Ballhalla’s greatest strength though is probably the level design. Care and thought were put into the level designs. The game has quite a few unique obstacles/mechanics and the game knows how to use them really well. While I wish the game would have had more levels that combined several mechanics together, the game does a great job focusing each level on a different mechanic. The mechanics that utilize rhythm in particular are really well done. While it was frustrating I also was surprised by how much I enjoyed the level where the controls regularly changed due to the camera changing angles.
When you think about a game about rolling a marble you would think that the story would be terrible/non-existent. That is somewhat true of Road to Ballhalla. The game really doesn’t have much of an overarching storyline. I have to give the game a lot of credit though for being surprisingly funny for a game that just uses text displayed on different parts of the level. The game master/narrator is genuinely funny if you enjoy puns. Road to Ballhalla has a lot of funny moments as the narrator tries to mess with you and mocks you when you fail. While everyone won’t find the game to be funny, I give the game credit for being funny in a genre that rarely if ever is funny.
I genuinely enjoyed every minute of Road to Ballhalla. That is why it is disappointing that the game is on the short side. It took me between three to four hours to complete the game. The game has twenty levels but you can finish most of them pretty quickly since each death doesn’t send you back very far. I didn’t spend any time with the time trials so that will add some time to the game and I didn’t 100% all of the levels so if you are a completionist you will get more out of the game. The biggest problem with the length though is that the game starts ramping up after introducing a bunch of cool and interesting mechanics and then ends. I wish the game would have had more levels that combined all of the different mechanics. The last level does this but I think the game could have had some great levels if they had some more levels that combined the different mechanics introduced throughout the game.
The key to Road to Ballhalla’s length is going to be the Steam Workshop integration. The game is adding Steam Workshop support a couple weeks after release. This has the potential to add a lot of replay value to the game since I think the game has the mechanics in place where players could come up with some really creative levels. If the game develops a strong community that creates fun and interesting levels, Road to Ballhalla could have a ton of replay value. If the community doesn’t catch on though, Road to Ballhalla is going to be kind of a short experience.
The other slight problem I have with Road to Ballhalla is the fact that I found the game to be a little on the easy side. The game has some somewhat challenging areas but the game has frequent checkpoints so you never lose much progress when you die. I like not having to repeat large sections of a level but the frequent checkpoints do make the game feel less challenging. The only level that I found to be considerably challenging was the last level. Being on the easy side is not necessarily a bad thing but people who are looking for a real challenge might be a little disappointed.
There is a lot to really like about Road to Ballhalla. The controls are tight. The level design is creative. The game is even surprisingly funny despite having no story other than text occasionally appearing on the screen. Road to Ballhalla is one of the best marble rolling games that I have ever played. The only real problems I had with the game are that the game is short and could be a little more challenging. If you like marble rolling games I would highly recommend picking up Road to Ballhalla.