For better or worse, Hellboy: Web of Wryd is a game that feels like it was ripped directly from the pages of Mike Mignola’s famous comic books. The distinct art style is probably the most noticeable aspect of this. Fans can revel in seeing those bold 2D pages come to life in a 3D environment. I personally enjoyed spinning the camera around Hellboy himself and watching the pronounced shadows shift over his character model.
Straight from the pages
Additionally, there are other comic book elements scattered around too. For example, cutscenes are reminiscent of frames from a comic book, with the characters frozen in a pose, whilst the camera moves around them ever so slightly. It’s an effective translation from book to screen, keeping the visuals faithful whilst taking advantage of the medium at hand. In addition, each section of the story is called an issue rather than a “chapter” or “act”.
A hellish time
Gameplay is a major disappointment, unfortunately. The combat feels awkward and ungainly, which isn’t great for a title classified as an “action-brawler”. It isn’t to the point where the game is unplayable, but the timing just feels off. Hellboy always seems several button presses behind with his actions. In addition, the button layout also doesn’t really follow any common layouts, so it is a pain to learn.
The nail in the coffin for me is the roguelike elements. For those who don’t know, I despise roguelikes. Endlessly replaying the same few slightly modified levels after unceremoniously dying feels like an immense waste of time. Sure, the weapons and abilities in Hellboy: Web of Wryd can be upgraded to make substituent runs easier. With a little grinding that is. I really do wish this game was a straightforward, structured romp through hand-crafted levels. Instead, it feels like an otherwise well-made game weighed down by excessive padding.
Not a total waste of time
The developers have done a great job weaving in-game lore around why Hellboy keeps having more chances after failing his mission. Something something, break the tether, escape back to base, start the mission again. I have no problem suspending my belief for that.
There is a long laundry list of things I enjoy about Hellboy: Web of Wryd. The art style, story and general worldbuilding is all captivating. Lance Riddick (RIP King) as the voice of Hellboy is wonderfully inspired, and it’s great to hear his smooth delivery once again. I think I still prefer Ron Perlman’s performance overall, but this version is now a solid second favourite.
In short, the game oozes immense amounts of visual charm but falls incredibly flat with its mechanics. And unfortunately, for a video game, having good mechanics is kinda important. Past the fact that this is Mike Mignola’s version of Hellboy through and through, I’d find it hard to recommend. Which is a very disappointing thing to say indeed.