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Hellboy: Web of Wyrd Review

The Hellboy saga stands as a monumental epic in the realm of comics, weaving a tapestry of imaginative historical pulp storytelling over three decades. This narrative marvel, crafted upon the exquisite art and iconic vision of its creator, Mike Mignola, has transcended the confines of comic book panels, venturing into various media forms. Upstream Arcade’s Hellboy: Web of Wyrd is the latest video game installment in this expansive universe, attempting to capture the essence of the source material. Read how it all works out in our Hellboy: Web of Wyrd review.

Immerse yourself in Hellboy

In terms of sheer visual design and narrative richness, Hellboy Web of Wyrd is a stunner. It immerses players in Mignola’s vision, each frame resembling a veritable comic book page without the encumbrance of speech bubbles. The attention to detail is meticulous, with shifting shadows and an eldritch atmosphere that permeates every screenshot. The Right Hand of Doom, Hellboy’s iconic appendage, is rendered with particular prowess, delivering dramatic blows that resonate with the character’s established flair.

The supporting cast, comprising colorful agents, egomaniacal Nazi villains, and mysterious spirit helpers, contributes to the narrative depth. The dialogue, a verbose script of snappy comic banter and well-written lore, enriches the player’s engagement with the Hellboy universe. The downcast moody soundtrack, punctuated by rock guitar during combat, complements the visual and narrative elements, creating a holistic and immersive experience.

Lance Reddick’s contribution

A notable aspect of the game is Lance Reddick’s contribution, marking one of his final performances before his passing. Reddick delivers a terrific execution of Hellboy’s character, encapsulating the sarcastic charm and endearing humanity that defines the iconic figure. The supporting cast further enhances the narrative, portraying colorful agents, egomaniacal Nazi villains, and mysterious spirit helpers with depth. The downcast moody soundtrack, transitioning into rock guitar during combat, adds another layer to the overall experience. The actors are provided with excellent material, including a verbose script of snappy comic banter and well-developed character depth, offering deposits of well-written lore that players can explore in the House upon each return.

Despite these commendable aspects, Hellboy: Web of Wyrd stumbles when it comes to gameplay, plagued by a series of tragic design decisions and awkward mechanics. One of the initial promises was that of a modern, replayable beat ’em up roguelite, complete with randomized upgrades and eerie environments. Unfortunately, this promise is derailed by glaring issues, including horrendous AI, overly simplistic combat encounters, and labyrinthine levels that turn every playthrough into a tiresome chore.

Investigating paranormal events

The narrative unfolds in the 1980s, against the backdrop of the Falklands War. Hellboy is dispatched to investigate paranormal events surrounding The Butterfly House, now a staging ground for The Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.). Field agents, seemingly fresh for this particular story, study psychic phenomena while Hellboy delves into the Wyrd. The Wyrd is a Nordic dimension that warps and randomizes with each entrance. The narrative structure adopts a growing Hades tradition, offering new opportunities to interact with the B.P.R.D. and eloquent phantoms found in the Wyrd after each failed run.

The structure of each run in Hellboy: Web of Wyrd presents a repetitive cycle. Players enter one of four unlockable biomes, navigate through two lengthy zones, and face a boss at the end. This format repeats for a second round, introducing a third chapter to the end of each level, along with upgraded sci-fi Nazi enemies. Finally, a third lap involves traversing each area as a single, somewhat more challenging level, all to be completed in one run before facing a final boss. This structure, while familiar to roguelite veterans, exposes one of the game’s primary issues – the constant restart from scratch severely limits the potential for powerful builds.

Hindred by poor AI and easy combat

At the time of review, the game was still undergoing near-daily gameplay updates, reflecting a struggle to find its footing. The promise of a modern replayable beat ’em up roguelite with randomized upgrades and eerie environments is hindered by poor AI, overly easy combat encounters, and tedious level traversal. The constant restarting from scratch limits the potential for powerful builds, exacerbated by a lackluster collection of weapons and uninspiring boons.

The game world itself reflects a simplicity that extends to the interconnected arenas players navigate. These arenas invariably house combat encounters, three-item shops, or boons, forming the entirety of the game’s room types. The absence of a map or teleportation feature makes navigation challenging, with every dead end becoming a frustrating backtrack. Random hazards occasionally appear in pathways between rooms, posing minor obstacles that prompt damage if players aren’t attentive. Rock walls, requiring two punches to destroy, offer another layer of interaction.

Go for the big one

Even the combat, constituting the majority of the core gameplay, lacks the depth to engage players from start to finish. Encounters typically involve one or two “big guys,” the game’s own terminology, accompanied by a handful of pushover minions. Dispatching the big adversaries causes the minions to vanish, rendering them negligible in the grand scheme. Periodically, the game refreshes the room with additional enemies, but the encounters remain relatively straightforward.

An additional design quirk introduces random hazards in the pathways between rooms, environmental dangers that are generally easy to navigate but may cause damage if players aren’t attentive. This, coupled with occasional rock walls requiring two punches to destroy, adds an extra layer of interaction but raises questions about their purpose and impact on gameplay. Why introduce obstacles when players are already struggling to stay engaged during uneventful walks through empty rooms?

Capturing the Hellboy essence

From a visual standpoint, Hellboy: Web of Wyrd excels in capturing the essence of Mignola’s vision. The lack of draw distance limitations ensures clarity from any angle, and the vibrant use of color surpasses Upstream Arcade’s previous work in West of Dead. The game succeeds in presenting Hellboy in a manner that even the mid-2000s animated films failed to achieve. The Right Hand of Doom, wielded with the force that fans would expect, sends large enemies crashing into cobblestones, impressing long-time enthusiasts.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Hellboy: Web of Wyrd, while visually stunning and narratively rich, falls short of its potential due to glaring gameplay issues. The promise of a modern replayable beat ’em up roguelite is undermined by poor AI, overly simplistic combat encounters, and tedious level traversal. The constant restart from scratch limits the potential for powerful builds, exacerbated by a lackluster collection of weapons and uninspiring boons. The visual and narrative strengths of the game are overshadowed by inconsistent design choices that introduce unnecessary challenges and obstacles. Despite its commendable attempts to capture the essence of the Hellboy universe, Hellboy: Web of Wyrd struggles to deliver a cohesive and satisfying gameplay experience.

Pros:

  • Immersive and Faithful Adaptation
  • Great Atmosphere and Soundtrack

Cons:

  • Combat Repetitiveness
  • Limited Variety in Game World
  • Lacking Enemy variety and competitive AI

Grade: 6

That was it for our Hellboy: Web of Wyrd review. Hellboy: Web of Wyrd is currently available through GeForce Now. Be sure to follow us on Twitter right here.