Action Henk, an upcoming title by Rage Squid, has hit Steam and Humble Bundle early access with its eccentric personality and unique style. A runner with personality, this game has got definition and now that Geekenstein’s got its hands on it, we’ve got to prepare you for what’s to come. Outlandish character designs, lovable settings and game-changing gadgets are only scratching the surface of what the game has to offer from a mere runner title. But don’t be fooled, Action Henk is serious in challenge so you’d better be prepared.
Usually a game like this will ease you into mechanics and give you a level or two as “freebies” for gold medals. Instead, Action Henk spits in you face and tells you if you want gold, you earn gold. No pussyfooting around, Henk wants you to retry, pursue and perfect every track it throws in front of you. Sure, the first few are pretty short and the essence of basic level design is there for newcomers, but as soon as you set a precedent for racing a ghost, you’d better be ready for it to blow by you time and time again. If the game wasn’t so charming, this would get frustrating fast, but honing your stills come with the cute backdrop and clever aesthetic.
While the name Action Henk may conjure up ideas of Box Office B movies and illiterate nomenclatures, it’s actually a fast-paced journey though a child’s imagination. Henk is a toy. Well, an action figure really, and he’s running throughout the playroom of a young child; sliding on racecar tracks, jumping off building blocks and grappling with suction cups. It expands the motif even further when levels start spanning long distances. Section could be plastered with kid-made signs reading “Hot lava” and the surroundings emulate the inside of a volcano for a brief moment. Tracks divert and take you around the room and if you stray under the bed, things get dark and scary with glowing, nefarious eyes following you as you sprint by. The whole scenario is well implemented without being intrusive or corny. Even the gadgets maintain the concept.
Each section had general movement: Jump, slide and sprint. But every so often you may find a toy in your path that lends itself to a new, and often times very difficult, system of finishing the level. The first you encounter is the aforementioned suction cup gun. This allows Henk to grapple and the ceiling and swing to reach far or high places. While it’s cute and definitely breaks up the monotony of simply running forward, these are some of the most challenging sections. Split second timing and geometric thinking are needed to flip around to other sections and a single mistake could completely cost you the race. Your only choice is to grind you teeth and retry over and over until you’ve trained your brain to have the perfect twitch reflexes; Reflexes that any ghost you may race has in spades. Luckily, they’ve implemented quick restart checkpoint and restart race buttons.
Action Henk makes for great runner challenge and the expectant perfection is balanced out by plenty of unlockable alternate costumes and characters. The concept is heart-warming at its core, but ridiculous in its upfront presentation. Mix that with the overly dramatic slides and scenery changes and you have a game with more personality than expected. We can’t wait to see what the full release has in store, but what we’ve seen speaks for itself. But be forewarned: Action Henk doesn’t fuck around.