It’s difficult to approach a Hellboy Web of Wyrd Review. Partially, it’s great to finally have an action game based on Hellboy that wasn’t made before we were allowed more than 20 polygons on screen at once. On the other, it’s a bittersweet goodbye to Lance Riddick, one of the most perfect voice actors for the role of all time.
Hellboy Web of Wyrd Review - I’ll Always Look This Good
Hellboy Web of Weird is a 3rd person rogue-lite brawler that sees you going fist-to-face against various creatures as you fight through the mysterious Wyrd, a fractured eldritch dimension.
You’re searching for a missing BPRD consultant who appears to be lost in the aforementioned Wyrd, in an original story created in partnership with series creator Mike Mignola.
As you make your way through the dimension you converse with Nordic Gods, battle powerful enemy bosses, and, because it’s Hellboy, are mostly pretty grumpy about it.
It probably shouldn’t be a shock that Developers Upstream Arcade have made a game that just feels like Hellboy, as well as looks and sounds like him to boot.
As the term ‘Brawler’ sort of implies, most of the gameplay revolves around combat. You take repeated runs into the Wyrd and physically punch, kick, and shoot your way through rooms containing enemies, unlockable temporary upgrades, and various traps and locks.
Luckily, for the most part, the combat is decent and has a rhythmic feeling. You string together swinging with your fists between ducking and weaving enemy blows, and it requires a decent sense of timing to know when is best to hit and when is best to back off.
You also have a handful of secondary attacks, like a finisher with your stone fist or a repelling wave for crowd control. These help to give you some breathing room if enemies are getting on top of you, and keep the single-attack-button combat from getting overly repetitive. It's certainly faster-paced than the board game version at any rate.
Wandering the Wyrd
Unfortunately, the gameplay breaks down a bit as things move on. The level design of the Wyrd is confusing and hard to follow, and the way that combat-based rooms work leaves a little to be desired.
Most of the time when you enter a room that has enemies for you to fight, it’ll spawn a handful of powerful enemies who its key for you to take down to move on. The game also spawns a butt-load of fodder enemies as well, who don’t offer anything but random health and armor (toughness) pickups.
This works fine on a functional level, but there’s almost zero reason to take down the smaller enemies when they all die when the larger ones are gone. Their presence feels a little redundant, but with only the big enemies the rooms would have all felt empty, so they are at least understandable.
You also have to contend with a very weird balance curve too. The boss of the first area is one of the harder fights you’ll get, but most of the others tend to go down pretty easily, especially once you’ve started upgrading your stats and weapons a fair bit.
Roguelite, or Rogue-like?
As always, it’s important to define what makes Hellboy a Rogue-lite/roguelike. As you either get killed or complete objects in the Wyrd, you’re periodically kicked back to the hub to buy permanent upgrades for yourself as well as buying and upgrading new weapons and trinkets.
These permanent upgrades put the game firmly in the territory of rogue-lite, as you actually do get to make progress and unlock new content rather than just having the same starting point each time.
It’s a welcome addition to the formula of the gameplay, allowing you to take on the more arduous tasks that the game demands from you as you get deeper and deeper into it. It’s also nice to be able to mess around with builds, trying out both aggressive and defensive strategies, though there are usually pretty dominant choices in most cases, and there are certainly better roguelites on the market like The Unliving.
Learning is Fun
If you’re already a fan of the franchise, Hellboy Web of Wyrd gives you plenty to enjoy apart from the extra bit of Hellboy storyline. The ensemble of random BPRD agents are all new, and come across as well-written additions that fit the already established universe.
You also have the fantastic performance from Lance Riddick as Hellboy to one-liner his way through the story, and it really is one of the best versions of the character ever brought to a screen of any size. Along with the really amazing visual and sound design, it really does feel like you’re playing as Hellboy.
If you’re a mythology nerd as well, you’ll enjoy the collectible snippets of info that you can unlock to check out between runs. It’s mostly to do with the Nordir gods of Norse mythology, but there’s a lot of really detailed stuff to find out.
Repeating The Same Mistakes
Honestly, as enjoyable as the storyline and the general presentation are, the overall pacing of the game does seem to have a few problems. All of the areas have the same vaguely fractured design, even if they differ a decent amount visually, and after a while it starts to grate slightly.
The issue only compounds when after you beat the bosses of each area, you are basically told to go back and do it again, for real this time. When you do so, each area has a new section just after the original boss, ending in a new combat event.
Being forced to retread these areas we’ve already seen so many times might extend the gameplay a fair bit, but it also means the layout issues become more and more of a problem to your enjoyment of the game.
Finally, there were a few instances of bugs that made the game a little shakier. I got stuck in a room with an invisible and completely invincible enemy that I couldn’t take down. It was like the game had set a vengeful ghost on me.
Hellboy Web of Wyrd The Final Thought
Overall, there are certainly good reasons to play Hellboy Web of Wyrd. Whether you’re a fan of the franchise and want to spend some more time in the universe, or you just like watching the big red man punch stuff, you can have a decent chunk of fun and will find an exciting and well-presented story.
There are also plenty of slight pacing issues, bugs, and repetitive design decisions that might make players lag midway through the storyline. Whether you’ll be able to love the game in spite of its flaws probably depends on whether or not you’re the type of person to build a shrine to the Red One or not.
Hellboy Web of Wyrd was reviewed on PC via Steam with a copy provided by the Developer over the course of 16 hours of gameplay - all screenshots were taken during the process of review.
- It's literally like playing a Hellboy comic
- Great writing and Sound design
- Repetitive gameplay and world design
- Bugs Abound
- Poorly designed difficulty curve