Hellboy Web Of Wyrd

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Good Shepherd Entertainment
Developer: Upstream Arcade
Release Date: Oct. 18, 2023


As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.

PC Review - 'Hellboy Web of Wyrd'

by Cody Medellin on Oct. 18, 2023 @ 8:00 a.m. PDT

Hellboy Web Of Wyrd is a roguelite action-adventure game capturing the spirit of the comics, featuring the voice of Lance Reddick as Hellboy.

Hellboy fans have had it rough when it comes to video games starring the big, red half-demon. The 2000 game Hellboy: Dogs of the Night was poorly received on the PC, and it fared worse on the original PlayStation three years later, with the only real change being a new subtitle, Asylum Seeker. Hellboy: The Science of Evil fared a little better when it was released on PSP, PS3, and Xbox 360 but not by much, as both players and critics alike still deemed it terrible. The only solace that fans of Mike Mignola's creation had in the video game space was his appearance as a DLC fighter in Injustice 2. Hellboy: Web of Wyrd marks the third shot at giving the character a solid video game, and it mostly works if you can accept its quirks.

You play the role of Hellboy, a half-human/half-demon that happens to be a reliable field agent for the BPRD. The year is 1982, and the organization has been getting reports of large supernatural spikes simultaneously occurring in four completely different parts of the world. You're initially sent on a rescue mission to go after one of the BPRD agents who went into the Wyrd to explore it before getting trapped inside. You end up freeing him, but due to the instability of the Wyrd, your new mission is to investigate why things have become unstable and chaotic.

Except for a somewhat expected twist toward the back half of the game, the narrative is fairly predictable but still fits in as a complementary story to the big guy's main adventures. The characters of the Wyrd come through with an enigmatic mysticism that keeps things vaguely mysterious, but your teammates at the makeshift BPRD base in The Butterfly House keep things interesting. There's nothing really profound that's being said when you talk to them, and just about every conversation amounts to little more than small talk, but it is still charming enough that you'll make it a point to stop there after every level run to talk to them and see what new things they have to say.

The gameplay feels like an amalgamation of a few other different games. When it comes to combat, this is a brawler. You have guns at your disposal, and they range from a trusty revolver to a shotgun and a grenade launcher, but you can only carry one at a time, and their reload time and lack of relative strength makes them nice backup attacks rather than something you'll use often.

You'll mostly rely on your fists when fighting, and you'll find the combat to be inspired by elements of MOBAs and Souls-like games. With the exception of boss fights, enemy encounters are filled with both small and large enemies. The smaller enemies barely do any damage, and can usually be felled in one or two hits, acting like feeders in a MOBA since they'll always drop shield tokens to buff up your health. The larger enemies take quite a bit of effort to kill, and the fights will remind you of titles like Dark Souls since there's a reliance on perfect dodging and blocking to open them to attacks. The combat system isn't as strict, so you can freely pummel away without needing to counter all the time. Getting hit won't put you in a world of hurt, where your health meter is suddenly drained from one fight. The game even tries to make this a little easier by giving you the option to make the enemy tells more visible and delayed, while also giving you the choice to have a little more health before starting up.

Even though you're just punching away at enemies with your regular fist and The Right Hand of Doom, you actually have quite a few moves in your arsenal. Basic combos are available, along with powered-up strikes if you hold down the button long enough. Use directions in conjunction with attacks, and you can knock back enemies or catch them with a hit that stuns. You can throw debris at enemies if they knock down pillars, and you can also perform a super combo if your super meter gets filled up. The combat is slower than other brawlers, but the punches feel more effective, so the thrill of the fight is still present.

The developers have called the game a roguelike, but that's only partially true — at least in the beginning. You get randomly generated levels that have a tendency to wrap around themselves to ensure fewer dead ends. The room/hallway/room design is overly familiar, as is the presence of special rooms that hide bonus health, monsters, shops and treasure. Dying means getting kicked back to your base for another run, which also means a reset for the various boosts and blessings that you got during the run. The moment you beat a boss and find a warp point, you are sent back home and open up a new portal to another world. It seems strange to see the game act in a linear fashion when everything else comes from a genre that revels in breaking linearity.

Web of Wyrd only begins to fully embrace its roguelike nature when you get to the big twist in the story. Even then, you have the option to start from any of the four worlds before making your way deeper to the final levels. It remains completely optional, whether or not you want to take on a roguelike run from the opening level all the way to the end in one go. Combined with the fact that the combat is more forgiving, and you have a game that newcomers to roguelikes and Souls-like games can enjoy. It isn't traditional to either genre, but the lack of real punishment for missing a block makes it good for those learning the more defense-oriented attacks. It still gives them room to revert to more calculated button-mashing if things go awry. The sense of significant progression also eases them into the idea of having to replay areas to get one good run for the real ending.

If you wanted to find any flaws with the game, it would be with the lack of variety in weapons and charms. You have three of each, and you can get them all unlocked before the game's twist. You can level them up, but that only amplifies their inherent powers. There's no special twist or new power coming from unlocking their higher levels, and the same goes for the other upgrades you get. It's straightforward, but genre fans will be a tad disappointed that the game doesn't try something more fantastical.

Graphically, Web of Wyrd absolutely nails the look of the comics. The inky blacks and bold colors evoke the comic book style perfectly, and the same can be said of the character designs embracing a very angular look. There's a lot of detail in the characters and the environment, but that only pops up when necessary, as the world is usually cloaked in darkness, another sign of how much the game is inspired by its source material. The animation is smooth for everyone except Hellboy. Running and punching is fine, but anything else gets you a disjointed movement style. From reloading to walking, the animation feels like it's intentionally staggered; it's eye-catching but also surprising.

Like the graphics, the sound mostly emulates the comic's vibe. The soundtrack is decidedly weird, as it seems to take different instruments from different genres to create a soundtrack that is varied but maintains a horror vibe. It doesn't play too often, usually only appearing during a fight, but it never feels out of place. The voice cast plays their roles well and underscores off the idea that the team is a pseudo-family despite being thrown together for the mission. The voice that will stand out the most is that of Hellboy, played by the late Lance Reddick. His work is great, almost like a less stoic Zavala from Destiny, but his untimely passing meant that not all of his lines were recorded in time for the game. Another actor was brought in to finish those lines, but the inflections and overall performance are noticeably different, so the shift can be jarring. This isn't necessarily a knock against anyone, since this was done under less-than-ideal circumstances, but it is something to point out.

Steam Deck users will be mostly pleased with the game, which runs at a native resolution of 1280x800. It looks great despite the fact that there are no graphical options that can be tweaked, and 60fps is easily achievable even if the screen gets crowded with effects. Battery life also hits an average of around four hours on a full charge. The only disappointing part about the game comes from the lack of cloud saves, so you need to commit to one platform for the game unless you know where the save file is located and are fine with transferring the save file yourself.

Hellboy: Web of Wyrd is a solid enough game even before taking into account the forgettable titles that have preceded it. The combat may be slower than expected, but the hits feel more meaningful. The bestiary is a little more diverse when taking into account how many environments you'll visit, and the roguelike nature of the game is well done when it finally kicks in. The title looks and sounds very good, but it is the toning down of both roguelike and Souls-like elements that makes this one more appealing to those who aren't necessarily big fans of either genre but remain curious nonetheless. It's a good experience that makes for a nice sleeper hit during this busy season.

Score: 8.0/10

More articles about Hellboy Web Of Wyrd
blog comments powered by Disqus