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Review: Helvetii [Switch]

Celtic Mythos Inspire Challenging Combat

With a mystical history dating all the way back to the 1st century BCE, Celtic mythology is a wealth of stories, tales, and fables that has long been overlooked in the gaming world. Team Kwakwa delves into these ancient worlds with Helvetii, their 2D roguelike character-driven brawler.

Occupying most of the Swiss plateau of Continental Europe over two thousand years ago, the Helvetians were a Celtic tribe that spoke Gaulish, a now extinct Celtic language. Helvetii has been in development since 2018 and focuses on exploring Gaulish and Helvetian mythos by updating them and weaving in a fast-paced fighting game with multiple and varied combat mechanics.

Wield the Power Bestowed by Ancient Deities

Gaul, still free from Roman interference, is a land of magic and mystery. Divico, the young war chief of the Helvetii named Divico, makes a pact with ancient, mystical gods. In exchange for great power, the land he fights for is cursed. An ever-spreading rot slowly corrupts the minds and hearts of all, Divico included.

Determined to make amends for his mistakes, Divico joins forces with Nammeios, a reclusive druid, and fox-turned-man Renart. They set off to undo the source of the rot. as Divico also hopes to restore the lost pieces inside himself. Through mighty abilities bestowed unto them by the old gods, the trio battle their way through this desiccated land.

Easy to Learn, Difficult to Master

Helvetii isn’t a game where you only start off with punch and jump and then need to unlock other attacks along the way. The core move set is complete from the start (as the preview material from the game boasted). However, the team’s other claim of “Easy to learn, hard to master stylish action,” is definitely true.

You can start of mashing buttons and still get a low score during an enemy confrontation. Players need to take their time mastering each character’s acrobatic combos as well as utilizing the terrain during combat if they’re shooting for the highest rank and largest rewards.

The Redemptive War Chief

Players get to choose from three separate and very different combatants. War chief of the Helvetii, Divico, who’s pretty much the main protagonist, has the easiest playstyle if you’re just starting the game. His attacks are straightforward and almost brutish. He’s probably the best at utilizes power attacks, and really useful for interrupting critical assaults, which are rather hard to avoid.

His swings and punches can send enemies up into the air, making it easier to get combos going. He is a poor marksman, though, and his ranged attacks leave a lot to be desired.

Heroic Beast-Turned-Man

The half-beast Renart (a fox who has been transformed vaguely into a human) is for players who like a challenge. They have a slimmer build, deals less damage, and lower health. But when you get a combo started, their faster speed can rack up multiple hits at a ridiculously quick rate.

Renart’s ranged attack sickle can still get around shields and can affect numerous enemies at once. Their biggest attribute is parrying ability, which can smoothly avoid critical attacks. But practice makes perfect with timing because you’ll go down HARD if you get it wrong.

Mysterious Magician

A mysterious druid called Nammeios, is your third option. He has the most complex playstyle, and your combo wins will come from proper execution of magical attacks. His fighting skills are not great. However, each of his abilities features an enhanced version which is best used during combos to inflict extra damage.

There’s no walkthrough on which attack does what or exactly which enemies to use them against, so it’s down to a lot of trial and error to find the best mix. Nammeios’ ranged attack utilizes s raven. Which is pretty cool to watch.

Frustration and Artistic Re-playability

The game features a Run and Seed Run function, with a Hard Mode opening later on in your progress. As it’s not quite story driven, those first several attempts to get started and the inevitable failure as you learn the controls will get frustrating. Having to start the First Act from the beginning is tedious. But a “continue” function will unlock if you make it further down the line.

The biggest plus Helvetii has going for it is the re-playability factor. With three very different characters, multiple ways to decide how their powers are used, and different levels of difficulty, the game can be played many times over. If you’re a fan of this hack and slash style of game, this one won’t be quick if you want to achieve everything.

Finally, the look of the game if beautiful. The backgrounds are bight and incredibly well-detailed. In fact, I’d occasionally miss an attacking monster because I was focusing on the rich hand-painted, three-dimensional layers.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Helvetii takes a very unrepresented area of mythology and creates a visually beautiful and quite solid fighting game. It’s unclear if it will result in ancient Gaelic culture experiencing a renaissance but the crafted world Team Kwakwa has created is quite worth the playtime.

Helvetii is available in the Nintendo eShop for Switch, in the Steam store, and on PS4. Review code generously provided by Team Kwakwa.




A stylized fighting platformer that leans into Celtic Mythology. Very good re-playability with multiple and varied character options and complex fighting styles that take practice to master.

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David Maddox

Science fiction enthusiast David Maddox has been enamored with pop culture his entire life. He has been Star Trek characters at theme parks, the Riddler in a Batman stunt show, and Norman Bates at Universal Studios Hollywood. He holds a degree in Cinema from San Francisco State University and has written dozens of science-fiction related articles for various websites as well as having been a featured contributor to the Star Wars Insider, the Star Trek Communicator, and a regular columnist for SciFi Magazine. Acting professionally for over 10 years, he has done a variety of ads for Apple, Disney, and Microsoft to name a few. His self-produced short films have won awards on at least two continents.
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