Fans of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy have a reason to get excited, Hellboy: Web of Wyrd is without a doubt the most faithful recreation of the Hellboy comics in video game form. It gives diehard fans of the red meanie the chance to experience what it’s like to beat on baddies with a hell-grown fist. The game’s execution of this fantasy is fantastic, from unique gameplay mechanics to an utterly amazing recreation of the comic’s art style. While a few kinks and hiccups keep the game from being perfect, it is clearly a love letter to the Hellboy comics and something fans would be sore to miss.
There’s something strange about the way Web of Wyrd begins, dropping you into the story at a point that I personally wouldn’t have chosen and found a bit confusing. The first comic-panel cutscene feels a bit rushed, basically explaining that you’re going into another world to save fellow BPRD agent Lucky. The wider story of this place known as the Wyrd and the Butterfly House serving as the gateway to it unfolds as Hellboy makes multiple trips back and forth to solve mysteries within.
Hellboy: Web of Wyrd is a roguelike, with each realm of the Wyrd having its own unique look and enemies and having a new randomly generated layout each time you visit. Like many roguelikes, your objective is to defeat the bosses in each part of the Wyrd, but you don’t have to do it all in one run. Each section is its own level, so you don’t have to battle through levels you’ve already completed to progress.
Like other Roguelikes, Hellboy: Web of Wyrd features a number of buffs and boons to discover in each level, giving you a semi-random build each time you venture into the underworld. The variety of buffs was pretty limited, with many locked behind progression, and new buffs couldn’t be unlocked until the next boss was defeated. It kind of defeats the purpose of randomization during the first few levels, since you already know you’ll have the few buffs unlocked when you need them. There really needs to be a handful of boons available from the beginning of the game in order for players to have some variety in their choices.
Hellboy: Web of Wyrd opens with a horde of smaller enemies surrounding one, two, or three bigger, meaner-looking enemies. In most games in this genre, you’d take your time clearing out the smaller mobs and carefully juggle the bigger enemies, protecting your fragile health bar and widdling down the horde one by one. Hellboy takes a different approach.
You and your foes both share the same health bar (with yours, generally, being much bigger) that takes more than a few hits to widdle down each notch. The first few bars of your health bar are gold, a resource known as “toughness;” Gold bars take less damage, regenerate out of combat, and are easy to restore with every enemy dropping at least one bar of toughness restoration when you defeat them. Those bigger enemies share this resource, and can all be considered minibosses with big health bars and attack patterns to learn. Unlike the bigger foes, the smaller ones die in one hit, do almost no damage, and vanish when defeated.
This means Hellboy is encouraged to walk up to the big foes and engage in brutal fistfights one at a time. It’s rare that other enemies will interrupt these engagements, where you dodge, block, and duck a variety of enemies’ attacks. As you master the attack patterns of each foe, you’ll see cinematic attack animations from Hellboy when you successfully dodge or duck.
Hellboy’s attacks all feel heavy and powerful, doing plenty of damage and having super satisfying impact sounds and animations that really feel like he’s throwing a proper slugger. Nothing is quite as satisfying as breaking an enemy’s toughness, or stunning them with a barrage of hits and sending them flying into walls with an extra tough right-hook.
Combat in the game is stellar, but it’s also, unintentionally, one of its biggest frustrations.
When locked on to an enemy, regardless of whether you’ve selected the toggle or hold lock feature, Hellboy will constantly and without your input switch targets between whoever is on screen in front of him. This bug can be a source of serious frustration, leading you to take hits you shouldn’t have taken or giving enemies the chance to recover toughness because you had to pause your brutal beat down to re-target them properly. This bug needs to be addressed ASAP, being the cause of more than a few failed runs on my part.
I mentioned earlier that this is the ultimate fan game for comics fans, but Hellboy movie fans may find it very different from what they are used to.
If I remember correctly (it’s been a while) movie Hellboy is a much gruffer, ruder character. Web of Wyrd’s depiction is always willing to have a friendly (if slightly sarcastic) conversation with coworkers and strange fae alike. This Hellboy is corny and loveable, even if he is ready to punch a skeleton into pure dust. The voice of the late Lance Reddick as Hellboy took some getting used to, as accustomed as I was to the portrayals of actors Ron Pearlmen and David Harbour, but it was far from a bad performance.
If you love the comics, Hellboy: Web of Wyrd is as close to a recreation of their look as you could possibly get without being a 2D title. The game’s visuals are absolutely stunning, pulling off tricks that give the 3D environment a hand-drawn comic-book appearance. There are some areas where the look isn’t as strong, but overall the game’s presentation is excellent and the developers deserve huge props for pulling it off.
The Final Word
Hellboy: Web of Wyrd is not without its hiccups, and one such problem seriously needs to be addressed as soon as possible by the developers. Besides this, the game is clearly a labor of love, faithfully recreating the look and feel of the Hellboy comic’s art style and characters. Unique takes on gameplay make you feel like a true badass demon from hell, slugging down mooks as you seek out the secrets of a mysterious world before it’s too late.
Try Hard Guides was provided with a PC review copy of this game. Find more detailed looks at popular and upcoming titles in the Game Reviews section of our website! Hellboy: Web of Wyrd is available on Steam, PlayStation, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox.
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