Army Corps of Hell is a twisted cross between Overlord and Pikmin, drizzled with chunky bits of gore; you know, for flavor. It’s without question the most bizarre PlayStation Vita launch title, sort of like the weird emo kid in class no one wants to speak to because he or she (probably) harbors a dark secret. In this case, the secret involves a horde of goblins that not only kill on command but also consume the eyeballs of fallen opponents. Cute.
The anti-hero of the game, the King of Hell, gets knocked off his thrown and cast into the abyss, where he hooks up (AKA brainwashes) a small army of ugly goblins and commands these creatures to do his bidding.
As such, the mighty king never fights, but instead sends his newfound minions into battle against all manner of beasts, some of which stand several stories tall, but therein lies the game’s charm, if you can call it that. Press and hold the right trigger, and swarms of goblins attack the targeted enemy, piling on until reaching a set number (20, let’s say), prompting you to perform a dangerous attack, which normally involves tapping Circle, timing it just right and tapping Circle again; it may also involve a combination of buttons.
Do that, and the poor victim explodes in a satisfying gush of blood, leaving behind something of use; that delicious eye, for example. Later, you acquire the ability to control three goblin types (Soldiers, Spearmen, Magi) and outfit these grunts with different and more powerful weapons, like stone javelins, tribal blades and footman’s spears.
That’s essentially the gist of the game, which is also the problem. Army Corps of Hell hardly deviates from this basic foundation, instead opting to carry players through an hours-long journey of rinse and repeat. Monsters grow tougher and Square Enix throws new wrinkles into the mix, like electrified poles that fry goblins that stray away from the pack, but for the most part, you’ll continuously perform the same actions.
Ad Hoc multiplayer enhances the experience somewhat. Up to four people team up to conquer Hell, and there’s a cool feature that lets them steal each other’s goblins, but again, this doesn’t deviate much from the main concept.
On top of that, you’ll either love or hate the heavy metal soundtrack. It fits the theme, especially considering the twisted box art that brings to mind magazines that cover this type of music, but we eventually went from pumping the audio full blast to lowering/killing it after an hour.
Finally, we have the rear touchpad, which comes into play for activating different abilities. The idea is to tap it like a drum, but we just couldn’t figure out how to do it fast enough. The process feels unnecessary.
All things considered, Army Corps of Hell is a tough sell at $39.99. At that price, we expected more depth to the experience, plus additional modes. And yet, we can’t help but smile as a large and horned monstrosity squashes several goblins flat, only to get decapitated moments later, its head sailing through the air, leaving a bloody trail in its wake. Yes, children. The eyes are yours. Take all you want, but eat all you take.