×

‘Heave Ho’ Is a Cooperative Game About Throwing Your Friends

Party games and couch co-op are making a comeback. Competitive games like “Ultimate Chicken Horse” and “Towerfall” have had us throwing things at our friends for as long as there was an extra controller and room on the couch for an opponent.

Heave Ho” switches it up by instead having you throw your friends at things. The newly announced game from French developer Le Cartel and publisher Devolver Digital is a goofy, colorful experience in which Mr. Potato-shaped heads with long arms and strong hands must work together to reach the goal.

It’s all-or-nothing, and every member of the team (up to four players) must avoid birds leaving droppings, spikes, and the bottomless void beneath the perilous platforms in order to reach the end of the level. Players can only swing their arms with the left thumbstick, gripping any part of the platform with the trigger buttons.

The trick is often to create long chains and use momentum to fling the team from one platform to the next. It requires exceptional communication to ensure that the right member of the team releases at the proper moment. More often than not, this results in the group plummeting to its death and colorful paint explosions.

Each run features five randomly chosen, hand-designed levels in one of a variety of biomes, including mountains, jungle, a canyon, caves, and space. These all feature their own hazards and features that push players to adapt to new strategies. In caves, there is no light, so you’ll only be able to see the area of the map immediately around players. In space, black holes will threaten to suck you in and disrupt progress. The jungle involves rope swinging peppered in with the platforms.

“Heave Ho” is one of those games that draws a crowd, with spectators cheering unexpected (and unlikely success) or cringing along with players as the team barely misses the next platform. And even if you don’t have an audience, it’s sure to to generate loud cheers and boos in the comfort of your home. It’s the kind of game that would drive friends to the breaking point if it weren’t so amusing and endearing.

The joy is amplified, with customizable characters that are cute nods to popular characters and celebrities, including Solid Snake (or Naked Snake, if you add an eyepatch), Lady Gaga, and Luke Skywalker. There are also different voices, but the misshapen characters of “Heave Ho” only seem to grunt in amusing fashion.

Le Cartel has approximately 50 different skins planned for launch. These are unlocked with coins found in the levels, and you’ll need to grab them and deliver them to the goal in order to get credit. Thankfully, they’ll respawn if you botch it, making them an enjoyable bonus target amidst the chaos.

“Heave Ho” isn’t Le Cartel’s first time ‘round with Devolver. The studio’s last project, was the ultra-violent pixelated brawler, “Mother Russia Bleeds.”

The team’s latest came out of a game jam organized by Est Ensemble, MediaLab 93 and The Beautiful Games around the theme of urban culture. Artist Alexandre Muttoni and designer Frédéric Coispeau came up with their own sub-theme that led them to “Heave Ho’s” goofy characters.

“The topic for our team was ‘street workout,’” Muttoni tells Variety. “The idea was to be outside and do a workout that only uses your arms without touching the ground.”

While the core of “Heave Ho” is about collaboration, Le Cartel is planning a versus mode that’s a race to the finish line. It’s still early in development, and the team is still ironing out the details.

It will feature hidden bonus modes. During the game, a golden rope will appear for ten seconds. If a player grabs it, it will kick off a randomly selected mini-game. One of these tasks players with cramming into a small area on the stage. The further you progress, the more coins you’ll earn to unlock new cosmetics.

Other mini-games include basketball and dancing. These are delightful, as they are set against a backdrop of a crowded theatre and sportsy organ music.

When it’s all over, “Heave Ho” gives you a moment to celebrate as your team’s clear time is displayed. But Le Cartel doesn’t want players to become too complacent. The end-of-game recap also shames the player that died the most before prompting you to dive back in and give it another try. And, if an early look is any indication, “Heave Ho” is likely to pull players right back in to try again.

Popular on Variety

More Gaming

  • Insomniac Games - Spider-Man

    Sony Is Acquiring Insomniac Games, Studio Behind 'Spider-Man' for PS4

    Sony Interactive Entertainment clinched a deal to acquire longtime PlayStation games developer Insomniac Games in its entirety, the company announced Monday. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed “due to contractual commitments,” according to Sony. Insomniac Games is the developer of PlayStation 4’s top-selling “Marvel’s Spider-Man” and other PS games, including the “Ratchet & [...]

  • westworld awakening art

    HBO Launches 'Westworld Awakening' VR Game With Survios

    Ever wanted to enter the world of “Westworld?” Now you can — except it won’t exactly be like you might have imagined it. Instead of being one of those guests living out their fantasies, you will be a host, slowly coming to grips with your life being an elaborate illusion. “Westworld Awakening” has been produced [...]

  • Telling Lies - Logan Marshall-Green

    Sam Barlow's 'Telling Lies' Government-Surveillance Thriller Game Sets Release Date

    After more than two years in the works, “Telling Lies” — the investigative thriller from acclaimed game creator Sam Barlow — is ready to take the stage. The game, produced with and released by Annapurna Interactive, will be available next Friday, Aug. 23, via Steam and Apple’s Mac and iOS app stores. “Telling Lies” will [...]

  • David Messinger, Activision Blizzard

    Activision Blizzard Hires CAA Veteran David Messinger as CMO

    Activision Blizzard tapped David Messinger, a former 15-plus-year veteran of CAA, as its first corporate-wide chief marketing officer. Messinger, based in Santa Monica, reports to Coddy Johnson, Activision Blizzard’s president and COO. It’s the first time the video-game company has appointed a CMO who will oversee the global marketing operations across all of Activision Blizzard [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Oculus Co-Founder Nate Mitchell Is Leaving Facebook

    Oculus co-founder Nate Mitchell is leaving Facebook 7 years after launching the first Oculus Rift headset with a Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign. Mitchell announced the move on Reddit Tuesday, calling it “bittersweet news.” Mitchell said that he would take some time off to spend with his family. And while he committed to still being involved in [...]

  • nomadic seoul

    Nomadic Expands Abroad, Opens VR Center in Seoul

    Location-based virtual reality (VR) startup Nomadic is getting ready for an international expansion: The company will open its first VR center outside of the States in South Korea later this month. The new location, housed in the CGV Gangbyeon multiplex in Seoul, is being opened in partnership with theater chain CGV and technology provider CJ [...]

  • Singularity 6 - Anthony Leung and

    ‘Meaningful’ Games Start-Up Singularity 6 Raises $16.5 Million Round Led by Andreessen Horowitz

    Singularity 6, the start-up founded by ex-Riot Games developers that’s aiming to create a community-oriented game where players “can feel like they are valued and belong,” closed $16.5 million in Series A financing. The funding round was led by venture-capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, with participation from seed investor London Venture Partners (LVP), which previously put [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content