Mike Mignola is one of my favorite artists of all time, and the Hellboy Universe and B.P.R.D. are very dear to me. I’ve been waiting for a proper video game adaptation of the source material for a while now, and seeing Web of Wyrd’s reveal filled me with a lot of hope with its faithful recreation of Mike Mirgnola’s incredible artwork, and Lance Reddick voicing the pancake-loving demon. In my Hellboy of Web of Wyrd review, I’ll see if everything else also holds up as well.
Story and Characters
In typical Hellboy fashion, the B.P.R.D. is investigating paranormal activity, and Hellboy is called in to investigate the disappearance of one of their agents, Lucky. Upon locating him in this mysterious plane called the Wyrd, the team discovers something far more serious that requires further investigation deeper into this realm, which serves as the central mystery of this title.
Having read tons of Hellboy and B.P.R.D. issues, I can confidently say that the developers have managed to hit the right tone when it comes to this universe. The late Lance Reddick voices Hellboy, and he does a fantastic job of owning the lovable big red. He’s witty, bored by the constant speeches of the bosses, and listens to his team’s problems with real concern.
It’s clear that the writers understand him, his unyielding responsibility to do the right thing, and his demeanor around his friends, and foes. The banter between Hellboy and the bosses is straight out of the comics. He’s almost always trying to reason with them first, but it ends up in a fight anyway.
While the story itself isn’t as memorable, I think the tone and writing make up for it. The way the mystery unfolds over time is actually quite faithful to the structure of several Hellboy stories, and you can probably guess what I’m talking about.
Combat and Repetition
Despite the fantastic recreation of Mike Mignola’s world, I’m sad to report that the combat and general gameplay loop isn’t as exciting. Web of Wyrd is a roguelite with progression similar to something like Sifu. You go through a level, fight enemies, slowly gather currency to unlock permanent and temporary upgrades, and finally go against a boss to complete that level and move to the next one.
It’s a fine loop on paper, but the execution leaves a lot to be desired. For starters, the combat feels quite basic and never meaningfully evolves beyond the starting moveset. You can punch enemies, shoot them with limited ammo, and use a charm as well. Attacks feel weighty and pack a lot of punch, but it never feels like you’re doing anything different from when you first started hitting enemies.
Hellboy has a secondary layer of protection called toughness, which you can refill by taking out smaller enemies that serve only as a resource for this meter. He can block incoming attacks at the cost of toughness, and you can mitigate incoming damage entirely by either dodging or parrying.
As soon as you have the parry timing down, you’re basically good to go for the entire game. Parrying not only cancels out all incoming damage but fills your payback meter too, which allows you to use a devastating attack for tons of damage.
Despite the visual variety of enemies, most of them feel the same mechanically and all you really need to do is parry their incoming light attacks and dodge their heavy attacks. This leads to a lot of repetition, and no matter what the game throws at you, including bosses, the basic combat mechanics feel dull and boring.
Unrewarding Roguelite Elements
Hellboy earns two types of currencies during a run through a level. One of those can be used to unlock different items during the run, like a blessing that improves something from your arsenal. The other currency can be used in the hub world to unlock permanent upgrades including a few weapons, and charms. The problem is, that none of the abilities you unlock during a run feel that special.
You’re never really making Hellboy feel mechanically different from a previous run by making new choices. You can increase the drop rate of health or the currency, or you can alter one of your attacks to inflict damage on the enemies. These are helpful, mind you, and make your runs, and combat encounters easier, but there isn’t a significant improvement, or any sense of risk-reward when you pick one upgrade over another.
I feel like making this game a roguelite only amplifies the repetition because you have to navigate an entire level if you do die from the bosses or an enemy. A better use of this structure would’ve been to spice things up by giving or taking away abilities from Hellboy.
Camera Issues and Lock-On
The first thing you want to do is go into your settings and change the lock-on style from hold to toggle. This removes the requirement to constantly hold L1/LB to keep an enemy in focus. You don’t really need to switch between enemies either because for some reason, if you have enough distance between each, they’ll just stand on the side and kindly wait for their turn to fight you.
The camera is a big offender when it comes to combat design. Over-the-shoulder camera in an action title isn’t a problem if done right, but in the case of Hellboy, it’s really close to him. This means you can often miss attacks from the sides, and it obscures visibility as soon as some object comes into proximity.
There’s also a problem with the lock-on and plunge attacks. Hellboy does a pretty beefy attack when
jumping falling from a platform, but it doesn’t trigger if you have locked on to a target. This means that you’ll have to let go of the lock before you execute that attack, which is a bit annoying when you want to hit a certain enemy.
Finally, the camera further pulls in when you’re sprinting, and it looks really awkward. This can be very annoying when you’re trying to move away from an enemy during combat, and the camera decides to hug your back, limiting visibility on the side. An FOV slider could go a long way to fix this, and I really hope the developers plan on adding this in an update.
Gameplay issues aside, I think the presentation is fantastic, and Upstream Arcade has done a brilliant job of bringing Mignola’s world to life. You can see all the little details you’d seen in the comics. The little emblems for the UI, the designs of enemies, and the beautiful bosses that would never feel out of place in any of Hellboy’s adventures.
Hellboy’s design is ridiculously accurate to the comic books, and the way he’s shaded is honestly remarkable. This extends to all the characters whether those are the B.P.R.D. team members, the regular enemies, or the bosses.
Each level is visually diverse with its collection of bigger enemies that fit some folklore. Their designs, animations, and attacks feel well realized and the art direction brings out their often towering presence.
Overall, I think there is a lot of love for the source material here, and Upstream Arcade has done a tremendous job of bringing Mike Mignola’s work to life. Lance Reddick clearly had a lot of fun voicing Hellboy, and his performance is one of the highlights of this adventure. Sadly, the combat design, camera issues, and unrewarding roguelite elements bring down the experience significantly.
This is the closest we’ve come to Mignola’s work accurately depicted in a game, and it’s a shame that other aspects aren’t as refined. I hope that a few patches can at least address some of the immediate issues with the camera, and hopefully, an FOV slider is planned.
What did you think of our Hellboy Web of Wyrd Review? Share what you think about it in the comments below.
This review is based on the PC version of Hellboy Web of Wyrd. The key was provided by Indigo Pearl and Upstream Arcade.