Heidelberg 1693 (Xbox One) Review with stream

Ask anyone who has been alive from 2020-2022 and they will tell you how difficult these last few years have been. However, no matter how bad things have been recently it has nothing on 1693.  Filled with gore, monsters, and all sorts of demonic creatures, I very much prefer to live in these modern times than back in the late 1600s. 

A 2D side scrolling action platformer, Heidelberg 1693 takes Rondo of Blood gameplay and mixes it with the over-the-top gore of Splatterhouse into a concoction that is uniquely its own. Always underpowered but never unmatched, this is a difficult game that just barely gives you enough tools and abilities to get the job done. Besides a weird twisting double jump, the playable musketeer can attack with this sword and shoot projectiles with his manually reloading rifle.  To be clear, there is no dash, there is no block ability, and sub weapons are so few and far between they might not even be there at all.  Nope, this is a game about muscling your way through each encounter through sheer will and tenacity. This is a difficult game but one that is completable with patience. 

Armed with a foil sword, it is possible to fence your way through enemies but there are some additional combat-based abilities that give the player just enough necessary.  For example, holding down while jumping does a Link in Zelda II downward thrust for ramming through baddies below you.  Double tapping the jump button doesn’t exactly perform a full double jump but rather a double flap twisting attack that takes time to understand.  Watch my embedded stream in this article to see for yourself.

It is this twisting attack jump that will become your best friend as it is used almost constantly. Clinging to ledges is also an important ability to learn as it happens even when you don’t want it to, perhaps one of this game’s biggest annoyances. He grasps ledges too magnetically which can easily get you killed when you didn’t want to perform that action. This might not be so much of an issue if the difficulty was toned down but that is not what 1693 is.  There are numerous enemy varieties, so you won’t have to worry about repetition.  Instead, you’ll need to constantly be mindful of the enemies that always hunt you, like that floating skull head that releases two floating enemies at you with each successful attack. It is an intensional middle finger to the player’s skill – killing an enemy releases more enemies!  There is no hand holding in this long journey, especially when it comes to the boss battles.

You will die a lot. Like, a lot. However, even with so many deaths, you’ll want to continue thanks to instant restarts and checkpoints that are not too far between.  To make up for this, the game respawns you with only one precious heart. Take one hit and you’ll restart again.

As if restarting with one heart wasn’t difficult enough, the player’s ranged attack leaves you purposely open for attack. Since the player is armed with a musket, it must be manually reloaded after each and every shot. The player can do nothing while this long reloading animation takes place and will often get you killed. This means you cannot rely on this form of attack since it takes forever and a day to prepare and your ammo stock is also quite limited at any given point, just like your health.  This just another cause for the high difficulty factor. 

The grotesque visuals work hand in hand with the brutal gameplay, story, and setting. Even the 1920’s film aesthetic during the cutscenes play their morbid part.  Given the difficulty and gory presentation, this tough action platformer might not be for everyone but those willing to give it a try should appreciate the old school NES-hard approach as it contains a level of polish that makes the experience enjoyable even though you will fill your swear jar by the end of the first stage.

Also Play: Wallachia

Don’t Forget About: Castlevania: Rebirth (WiiWare)

Wait For It: Splatterhouse (360/PS3) to be remastered on modern consoles

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief myGamer.com

Twitter: @ZackGaz

Please consider supporting me on Patreon.


Our Rating - 7.5


Total Score

A tough side-scrolling action platformer caught between Castlevania and Splatterhouse that doesn’t hold your hand.

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Editor in Chief - been writing for mygamer,com for 20+ years. Gaming enthusiast. Hater of pants. Publisher of obscure gaming content on my YT channel.

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