Superheroes are like buses. They're big, they're everywhere, they're often red, and sometimes two turn up at once.


That's exactly what has happened in the gaming world this week, with the arrival of indie game Hellboy: Web of Wyrd, developed in Godalming by a small company called Upstream Arcade, being somewhat overshadowed by the long-awaited release of Marvel and Sony's blockbuster sequel Spider-Man 2.

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There's no reason you can't play both, of course. Unless you don't yet have a PS5 (the only platform that will receive Spider-Man 2 this Friday), meaning you won't be able to play Spidey's latest offering at launch.

If you are in that situation and looking for a superhero gaming fix, we'd like to take a minute to bang the drum for Hellboy: Web of Wyrd.

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Back in August, at the Gamescom 2023 conference, we got the chance to try out the new Hellboy game, and it was immediately impressive quite how much it looks and feels like an actual comic book come to life.

It has a very faithful art style, with Big Red looking like he's lurched in directly from one of his printed adventures.

We also got the chance to chat to two of the key people behind Web of Wyrd: the Hellboy character's original creator Mike Mignola, and the game's art director Patrick Martin, who spoke very engagingly about how their collaboration came about and why it worked so well.

Take a look at a trimmed down edit of our conversation in the video player below!

"We wanted to step into the panels of the comic book," art director Patrick Martin told us. "There's been comic book presentations for games in the past, but what we wanted to do was actually go through the panel into the world, step into Mike Mignola's world that he's created."

This vision wasn't without it's challenges, though, with Martin saying: "There's a lot of shadow work that Mike does that we were trying to do in real time. And it's just been a real challenge, a very exciting challenge, to try and work out what a 3D shape will do in light and still feel 2D.

"And how that will move with certain frames of animation, as well, to feel like it doesn't move so smoothly as, say, 60 frames per second. There's a slight jolt to it to try and make it feel like, you know, as if Mike's constantly drawing and drawing and drawing. He's there in the background, drawing and drawing and drawing away."

The final aesthetic feel of the game is, as Martin puts it, "something that we're very thrilled that we've managed to execute and bring to life."

Hellboy creator Mignola certainly wasn't expecting to still be talking about the character after 30 years (the first Hellboy comic came out in 1993), let alone guiding him into another adaptation, as you can see him discussing in the social clip above. He's not a game player himself, but seems pleased that his publishers at Dark Horse encouraged this collaboration.

Mignola was also aware that he didn't face the same constrictions in his artwork that the developers faced with this game.

He told us: "In my stuff, it doesn't matter that sometimes his shoulders are there. Sometimes his shoulders aren't there. When Hellboy changes position, you know, it can be anything. It's purely abstract.

"But if you have to actually construct that thing in 3D, you can't cheat the way I cheat. We were talking about, you know, the length of Hellboy's tail. I have no idea how big Hellboy's tail is. It's just there wherever it needs to be."

"We want this game to be enjoyed by Hellboy fans and Hellboy comic book fans and gamers as well," Martin said, encouraging players not to be put off if they find the combat challenging at first.

In fact, the game's 'rogue-like' structure will encourage you to keep replaying key situations until you come out on top.

"The difficulty isn't too strenuous," he promised. "But that structure of game allows you to play a bit, come up against obstacles that maybe stop how well you're doing, but also then come back to apply some upgrades, things like that, apply some new weapons and actually have another go.

"And each time you're just incremented a little bit, a little bit stronger, and you get that little bit further. Also, you're learning through repeated play, learning from enemies. And so you just become a bit more confident over time. And you'll progress absolutely fine during the game. I shouldn't be too worried."

In the little demo that we tried, we got to see that Hellboy's hulking form has translated into gameplay pretty nicely, with a rough and ready feel to proceedings as he stumbles about and wallops his way through his opponents. He is also voiced by the late, great Lance Riddick in one of his final roles.

Whether or not you're jumping into Spider-Man 2 this week, Hellboy: Web of Wyrd feels like a game that should be on every comic book fan's radar. It's hard to think of another superhero adaptation that looks and feels quite this much like the real thing.

Hellboy: Web of Wyrd is out now on PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Nintendo Switch. Check out the official website for more info or head to CD Keys where the PC version of the game will set you back just £10.99.

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