Monday, October 23, 2023

‘Hellboy: Web of Wyrd’ Review – Great Comic, Mediocre Video Game

We used to call games like this “shovelware.” Hellboy: Web of Wyrd wasn’t made to do much more than attract fans of the character. It kills time, and that’s about it.

It’s honestly a shame. This might be the single best video game recreation of Hellboy creator Mike Mignola’s atmospheric art style. The cel-shaded graphics and heavy use of shadow make Web of Wyrd, in its best moments, look exactly like the comic. It also features the late Lance Reddick as the voice of Hellboy, and Reddick never had a poor performance in his life.

As a game, however, Web of Wyrd is a shooting gallery. It’s not offensively bad, but it isn’t particularly entertaining either. You explore a surreal dungeon, punch animated statues, gather currency and upgrades, then go back to base and do it all over again. Every enemy is either a fat sack of health or goes down in one hit, while Hellboy himself is virtually indestructible unless you’re in a boss fight. Web of Wyrd is a roguelike without a significant risk of the player’s death, which defeats most of the purpose thereof.

Hellboy, for those unfamiliar, is a renegade demon who works as a monster hunter for the American-based but independent Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. In Web of Wyrd, set in 1982, Hellboy is sent to investigate the Butterfly House, an abandoned mansion that sits atop a portal to another dimension. After he rescues another BRPD agent from the pocket dimension beneath the house, Hellboy ends up as the lead investigator into that dimension, the “Wyrd.”

At the start of each run into the Wyrd, Hellboy comes equipped with his trademark oversized pistol and his fists. As you take damage, you fill up your Payback meter, which lets you unleash a single attack with Hellboy’s Red Right Hand for massive damage.

As you investigate deeper, you can find blessings that enhance Hellboy’s abilities, weapons, and attack power. These blessings reset between runs, but each trip into the Wyrd nets you currency you can spend on permanent upgrades like special charms. If you’ve ever played a roguelike, particularly Hades, you’ll be on familiar territory with Web of Wyrd from the start.

That’s where the useful comparisons end, though. The biggest issue with Web of Wyrd is straightforward enough: it’s just not very much fun.

The combat system is built around blocks, dodges, and bringing down enemies’ guard. It requires fast reactions, quick reads, and occasional strategy, none of which is possible with this version of Hellboy. He’s just too slow to react for the kind of system that Web of Wyrd has built. It’s like entering a skateboard competition in a shopping cart.

For all that, this is rarely a difficult game, outside of a couple of bosses with particular patterns. Web of Wyrd is a roguelike, so it’s naturally repetitive, but permanent bonuses flow in at a snail’s pace, its core combat mechanics aren’t particularly fun, and nothing poses a serious threat until you reach a boss. It’s a pure slog.

That ends up relegating Hellboy: Web of Wyrd to the “fanatics only” pile. If you’re desperate for some more time with Hellboy the character, he’s in fine form here, in a decently-written, well-illustrated adventure that feels like it could be a lost chapter of the comic.

If you’re looking for a beat-’em-up, though, Web of Wyrd needs to go back to the drawing board. It’s too slow and inconsistent to be any fun at all. It works, and you can probably get through it with enough effort, but all the parts of Web of Wyrd that are an actual game are too weak to deal with. Sadly, the best Hellboy video game is still, inexplicably, Injustice 2.

3 skulls out of 5

The post ‘Hellboy: Web of Wyrd’ Review – Great Comic, Mediocre Video Game appeared first on Bloody Disgusting!.


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