It may not have been the highest profile reveal at The Game Awards but if you’re a Hellboy fan the new video game is a thing of rare beauty.
Considering some of my favourite things include Star Wars, Transformers, and Hellboy it’s fair to say I was pretty pleased with the line-up of games at The Game Awards 2022, especially as it included an unexpected new Bayonetta game and hints at more Elden Ring.
Hellboy: Web Of Wyrd was shunted off to the pre-show, half an hour before the main event, but it was the first big surprise of the evening and initially all I could think is that the makers of The Wolf Among Us 2 had gone overboard with the Mike Mignola art style. Then I realised that it was actually an official Hellboy game.
I’ve always loved the Hellboy comics (the movies are Hellboy in name only) and Mignola’s peculiar range of influences that run from German expressionism to 60s pulp comic books and musty Victoriana. This will actually be the third attempt to make a Hellboy video game, but in terms of visuals alone the others need not enter the equation, as Web Of Wyrd looks absolutely perfect.
The game captures the look and feel of the comic books so well you could almost believe the screenshots are panels from a trade paperback, but when they move they do so in exactly the manner you’d imagine from the static page, mimicking the simple geometry of the characters and the chokingly thick shadows that have previously been purely two-dimensional.
You can’t really tell from the trailer, but apparently the game is a ‘roguelite action adventure’, although little detail is provided beyond that, except for the implication that you’ll be visiting randomly generated game worlds ‘in search of forgotten godforms and magnificent treasures.’
The only description of the gameplay itself instructs you to ‘chain together hard-hitting melee and ranged attacks in challenging combat’, which could mean anything, including just mashing the light and heavy attack buttons.
Considering the amount of love put into the visuals though, I can only hope that a similar amount of care has been expended on the action. Although it worries me that I’ve never heard of Upstream Arcade and that their most prominent game seems to be West Of Dead, which I’ve never played but seems to have gained only middling reviews elsewhere.
Its artwork is clearly Mignola-esque though, so it’s evident Upstream Arcade have not invented their enthusiasm purely for the sake of the new game.
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The story for Web of Wyrd is written by Mignola himself, which leaves the voiceovers as the only other concern. The new voice of Hellboy is performed by Lance Reddick, who unfortunately sounds exactly like Lance Reddick, with no attempt to pretend otherwise, which seems a real shame.
The other voiceover isn’t great either, so maybe it would be best to just mute the voices and only use subtitles. If they did them with comic book style lettering that might actually be for the best.
The game is in development for Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Nintendo Switch, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 5, and PC. So far there’s no hint of a release date, although you can wishlist it on Steam.
For now I’m off to watch that Transformers trailer again, so I can marshal my thoughts on that…
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