So, we're closing out 2020 with some pretty epic games. But while most people are playing Cyberpunk 2077, I've been playing a little indie title with some pretty big .... eh Charisma. So for those who don't know, Haydee 2 is the sequel to the cult classic Haydee, a rather intriguing and eye-opening adventure game that was challenging, aggressive and to some players, rather arousing! Now we have the long-awaited sequel to the Haydee saga. What is Haydee 2?
Haydee 2 is a 3rd person, action-adventure with Metroidvania elements and a rather stunning leading protagonist. You play as the Haydee, a voiceless android who awakens trapped within a top-secret complex that is under attack. She must fight her way through a rather labyrinthine environment, gather key items to open new areas, complete a number of perplexing tasks, and find a way to escape before she is terminated. What does she know? Nothing, she has no memory but through exploration and finding key documents, she will discover the truth and the truth is that .... well, she finds out the base specializes in ..... oh Jesus how do I put this?
Right, so as you may gather just from looking at screenshots, Haydee 2 might be a game that doesn't take itself seriously. And you would be right in some ways but in the same instance, Haydee 2 takes itself very seriously.
The story is pretty much near absent, as documents offer very little insight as to what is happening or give any interesting lore/backstory. The environmental side to the storytelling is more a perverted incarnation of a horny teenager's sci-fi fan fiction (I know, I most likely wrote the same kind of stuff as a teen). But while it's ... story and subject matter is something people can either find cringe-worthy or totally tongue in cheek. It's best not to take it too seriously or at all.
Well ... sex robots ... and sex robot stuff is the draw here. Just imagine the Resident Evil 2 Remake but with sex robot-themed concepts and ideology (I can't believe I said that). From all the visual clues in the environment, along with the documents which are extremely vague, my final gathering of thoughts lead me to think that Haydee 2 just doesn't really care about a story, unlike the first game (which I actually bought during a Steam sale) which is visually more interesting from the get-go. Here ... just seems pretty random, sexually all over the place but with a ground setting.
From the outset, you might think that Haydee 2 is just trolling you. But then comes the gameplay. Gameplay
So, remember when I mentioned that Haydee 2 is a sexed-up Resident Evil 2? Well, that also kinda goes for the gameplay too.
Haydee is trapped within a gigantic military base, made up of different sections such as medical and engineering, all harboring key items, puzzles, and threats. It's up to players to explore, fight, and gather items that will help Haydee escape. From the get-go, you will have nothing, but soon enough Haydee will discover useful items that will allow her to disarm traps, access new areas, and later on, obtain firearms to take out enemies. There is resource management, much in the same vein as Resident Evil, where players will have to converse ammo, health, and explore intensely in order to find resources and useful items such as weapons and upgrades. Allowing them to survive and become stronger as they progress.
There's a fair amount of exploring to do, with 160 rooms in total and plenty of bits to loot. Making sure you're kept busy and fully loaded with resources (for those keen on exploring). Haydee will also have to deal with a number of monstrous threats, including former employees who have mutated into creatures similar to something from RE: Revelations, murderous Fem-Bots that have a strange deal of sex-appeal, and of course proximity mines .... lots and lots of mines!
You can also craft ammo which is .... yeah, crafting!
So you have all the classic elements of a great Metroidvania/survival horror game right? A massive environment to explore, weapons to discover, resources to loot, important upgrades, and key items to find, taxing puzzles to solve, and deadly enemies to fight. Dream come true. But this has been done before, so what does Haydee 2, technically a small indie game do to hold it's own? Yeah, what makes Haydee 2 so special?
Haydee 2 is a rather challenging game when it comes to the lateral side of things. I mean, even for a vet survival horror fan like me, this had me stumped at times. While there are definitely some cheap moments, I found the sense of challenge overall to be pretty intoxicating and it kept my attention for well over 11 hours! While I love Resident Evil, in recent years even coming back to its horror roots, it's fairly straightforward and a little kind even in its more hardcore moments. Haydee 2 doesn't hold your hand at all and if you thought things were straightforward, well guess again bucko!
Haydee has a multitude of different key items to find in order to progress, such as pliers to disarm proximity mines, a crowbar to tear down wooden boards off an opening in a wall, surgical equipment used to sever hands from corpses, and of course colorful keycards! But some of the routes you have to follow in order to get these items will make your brain sweat! Often enough you'll be required to do lots of backtracking and be very observant even for the smallest clue in the environment. As many key items and solutions are hidden in plain sight ... or just plain hidden in the most obscure way. This whole approach to puzzle solving and item finding will either make or break you. It's a love/hate situation to be blunt.
Many resolutions will be pretty simple to gather and often enough, you'll feel an immense sense of accomplishment when something clicks together or you discover a room with a new weapon. It's a game that is very reminiscent of the old days of survival horror, where you don't have markers and instead you have a section in the manual that came with the game for writing notes (ah, those were the days!). Haydee 2 does shine for the most part when it comes to exploration, key hunting, or finding the solution to a rather completed task. It's all very enticing and for those who love a good challenge and a good Metroidvania adventure, then you can't go amiss here.
But there are a couple of issues I need to address. What Haydee 2 needed to do better on
While I do love the brain-melting sense of challenge Haydee 2 has to offer, I will advise that some people will not. But more importantly, there are moments I didn't love but rather rolled my eyes at when I discovered the solution to a rather long-winded task. Some key items are so poorly placed that they can be easily missed and thus leading to a lot of tedious backtracking. The solution to some tasks is just baffling and overall ruthlessly time-consuming. With the rather "ultra-obscure" nature of Haydee 2, it can be infuriating to keep doing loops until you catch something in the corner of one room because it's bathed in darkness or just doesn't stand out.
One such instance sees Haydee picking up a pair of surgical scissors and thus I thought I had to open up a corpse in the morgue. Nope. I had to venture to the shower/bathing area of the habitat sector and use them on a small drain, hidden in a corner of a rather large room, and pick up a key card. It was pretty annoying but thankfully I managed to figure out what I was doing. But there are a few other moments like this and the lack of any descriptions on all items, the lack of an accessable map, and the massively confusing layout of the environment will not help.
Games like Hollow Knight have a more effective and interesting way to map out the world. It makes you work for the info and you can note down useful discoveries or points that might be of interest. I know I said I like the fact you have to write down notes outside of the game, but with many different situations and tasks that build on each other, it does become easy to lose track/progression of some tasks. There are maps located on the walls of certain rooms, but again, it feels like a tease and just somewhat effortless, considering that games, like the aforementioned Hollow Knight, do something interesting with a map feature.
Same with the environment overall. It's pretty interesting to explore but there were a few times when I just said out loud "why does this room exist for just one single consumable?" or "why does it take so long to get from here to there?". Plus, you can drop items and if you need that item and don't remember where you dropped it ... well. Shame!
The best way I can sum up Haydee 2's logic overall is with the crafting mechanic. It's a bit puzzling when you see these different colour tubs and have no idea what they do. But there is an explanation to them and how they work, located on a single whiteboard in one of the save rooms. Again, it's there, all the info is there but with the obscure nature of Haydee 2, it can be missed easily. With such a complex environment of interconnecting sections, it's easy to get lost and without a handy map to make notes on, it does become a little daunting when you become stumped.
While the tasks themselves are rather challenging, the combat is pretty flat and fairly easy if I'm honest. Even with a decent amount of conservation with the ammo, I managed to rack up an ungodly amount by the end. I did have one moment where I had nothing, but finding a new weapon meant I was laughing and back on track. Plus, you can craft a fair amount of ammo too.
The Enemies which are in the game are fine (except the mines) but sadly there are only really two types of enemies (a third found in a secret area) and no bosses to speak off. They have basic behaviors of either moving to you slowly or moving to you quickly. There are not any real set pieces in the game, but plenty of intense ambushes that required quick reflexes and thinking. But sadly there's nothing really special about combat overall. A boss or another enemy type would've been great to see.
But on the plus side?
Despite there being some really annoying things with Haydee 2 at times, I do admire the amount of construction and thought that's gone into planning it all out. You can go multiple paths, discover certain items and areas at any stage you want, meaning this is not as linear as Resident Evil or Castlevania. Instead, there is a healthy amount of freedom in the discovery and resolution of certain tasks. You could discover the crowbar pretty early on or much later on, but it won't affect your progression until you're quite a fair bit into it. You can discover other key items in the meantime and explore other areas before it all comes together later on.
I really liked sections like security, which traps you and you have to figure a way out. But coming back to it with new gear means you can explore further and get some great items and weapons. Gear such as the remote control (which looked like a sex toy and I had no idea it was a remote until a stroke of luck) really added another layer of depth to certain tasks and exploration. There is definitely a lot of effort in the thought process and logic behind Haydee 2.
I just wish there were some bits of info here and there to make it smoother, considering the complex nature of most tasks.
And the end .... Jesus let's not discuss the end too much. It's basically a classic Resident Evil self-destruct setup but with the most obtuse (yes, obtuse) series of mini objectives to complete in order to escape. Plus, mines! Presentation, and all that
Haydee is a pretty good-looking game, with nice dynamic lighting, good textures and the music is actually pretty darn good. But it's weird that gunfire sounds really underwhelming and there are no sound effects for enemies. Plus the lack of feedback from certain things ... such as mines and whether you're too close for comfort, is just super annoying. The mines in this game can f*** right off! But overall?
Haydee 2 is a game game I can see some reviewers being snotty about and just deem it bad. There are some questionable things about it but overall, it's pretty solid and clearly, a lot of effort has gone into making this. Plus, there have been bigger games that are actually bad, case in point: Hunt Down the Freeman
These are bad games. Haydee 2 while with some problems, is still really enjoyable. I hadn't thought I would be so engaged with a game like this, but it held my attention (maybe partly due to Haydee herself) from its compelling series of tasks, item management, and exploration. It's definitely worth picking up and checking out if you love Metroidvania games and fancy a challenge. Just be prepared for some moment of rage here and there.
Plus there are mods .... lots of interesting mods! So that seals the deal!
++ Compelling and engaging lateral elements and tasks
+ Looks good and good sound track
+ Haydee is this year's leading lady
-- Can be rather confusing at times
- Needed some polish for sound effects and enemy designs
Steam review keys of Haydee 2 were provided by the developer for the purpose of this review.