Licensed Property Triple Feature

As someone who loves all forms of entertainment I get special joy whenever one of my favorite properties crosses over into another medium. Even though the last decade has featured incredible highs and lows for crossovers I still like to approach each venture optimistically. Unless you’re Halo I refuse to engage with that delusion anymore. While I was planning out content for the year I realized several of the games I played over the holiday break shared this connective tissue so here’s a set of quick reviews.

HellBoy: Web of Wryd

If you had told me months ago that in the already crowded year of 2023 there would be a Hellboy Roguelike game that had the comic arcuate cel shading I would probably tell you it doesn’t matter what else is out that month I’m covering that! And sure enough, releasing just a few days before big hitters Spider Man 2 and Mario Wonder I sat down to experience what should’ve been a homerun. A game featuring a big hulking red Monstrosity melee striking enemies and filling in a bestiary full of monsters from BPRD lore would’ve been enough for me. Upstream Arcade decided to go a few steps further and in Web of Wyrd introduced a roguelike wrinkle into the proceedings.

You start off investigating this mansion that seems to have an unexplained effect on the world outside. Trying to locate some missing officers Hellboy plunges headfirst into this alternate reality of the Wyrd. Meeting several deities who bestow combat blessings onto Hellboy. I played the game for a total of 10 hours. The first 5 hours were great. Hellboy moved slowly but I would unlock new weapons and bonuses at a steady pace. Once I had maxed out my favorite weapon and focused on personal upgrades I started to realize I was growing frustrated with the moment to moment gameplay. The last 5 hours were spent hoping for something to speed up Hellboys’ response time but it never came. Suddenly I was expected to go through multiple levels hoping I could balance my health and patience while stronger versions of the already spongy enemies who laughed off combinations of my strongest attacks. My dodge seemed to have lost all effectiveness even when I was only vaguely in the direction they attacked.

I wont say at the end that the game is bad by any stretch but it definitely needs some rebalancing or maybe the modding community will solve it. I especially have to shout out Lance Riddick (R.I.P) for doing his own spin on Hellboy. Growing up with the Pearlman movies it always felt like an uphill battle trying to recast the role but Lance just comes in and owns it in his own way. Sadly with his passing away earlier this year if the team decided to make a sequel hopefully they can find someone to emulate Lance’s gravitas.

TL:DR

If you are in the market for a new Roguelike or just like the Hellboy IP like I do, Hellboy Web of Wyrd might be with a pickup. It occasionally frustrated the hell out of me but for the first few hours I was all in. Lance Riddicks performance and the wonderful cel shading will be the standouts of this title. But once you’ve gone through all the levels and are given the task of running them again in a continuous string you might be ready to burn the bridge and that is unfortunate. Hellboy: Web of Wyrd is currently available on Nintendo Switch, Playstation 4 & 5, Xbox one and Series, and PC.

RoboCop: Rogue City

On the flip side is Robocop Rogue City. I went into this game with no prior Robocop knowledge and only knew of developer Teyon from the horrible Rambo game a decade ago and the more recent and great Terminator Resistance game. Teyon released an extensive demo during Steam Next fest and I caught one of my favorite content creators gushing about the game so I decided to buy the deluxe edition and I am so glad I did.

Robocop Rogue City takes place in between Robocop 2 and 3 with an original story involving officer Murphy dealing both OCP shenanigans and being a supportive police officer. The first mission involves raiding a news station that has been taken hostage and from the get go the overly violent nature of Robocop is on full display. Enemies explode into puffs of blood if you get a headshot. Tossing enemies feels effortless even when they seemingly get launched a room away. And Murphy moves like a slow tank of limitless destruction, which he is.

With an initially limited amount of weapons you can alter the performance of Robocops Auto 9 pistol with the help of some data disks that do things like increase critical damage, clip size and even make killing more gory if that’s your thing. The data disks can also have negatives if you aimlessly assign power towards them. After missions Robocop will do debriefs with a OCP assigned therapist which gives you skill points that can power up Robocop’s scanner or deduction ability. Footnote for my fellow completionist it is currently impossible to max out the skill tree in one playthrough.

The game took me about 15 hours to complete and it was a perfect length. I actually had to stop after the first mission and bought the entire Robocop series so I could understand the world better and even the Jetpack ridiculousness of Part 3 didn’t put a damper on my in-game enjoyment. Teyon managed to capture more of the in world humor than either sequel did and peppered in the most outrageous news reports while walking around the overworld. They’ve actually recently patched in New Game+ so I might be jumping back into this throughout the year.

TL;DR

Robocop: Rogue City is a great return to form of the AA action game. It takes an existing IP and doesn’t push it towards an asynchronous multiplayer route. It tells a serviceable story taking place between Robocop 2 and 3 while still being better than either of those movies. The gameplay is wonderful even though Robocop is a slow moving tank I never wanted to speed anything up. If you are even a bit interested in Robocop I would encourage you to play this. I eagerly await what property Teyon takes on next! Robocop Rogue City is currently available on PS5, XBox Series and PC through Steam and Epic games store.

Renfield: Bring Your Own Blood

I didn’t know this one even existed until I was getting ready to publish the article and had to include it. I really enjoyed Renfield the movie with both Nicholas Cage and Nicholas Hoult. So a Bullet Heaven like Vampire Survivors but with actual vampires sounded incredible. Developed by Mega Cat Studios and Published by Skybound Games I expected a half baked movie video game. That this is not. For $4.99 Renfield carries a lingering bite that I haven’t quite been able to shake.

If you’re unfamiliar with Bullet Heavens the idea is usually the inverse of the Bullet Hell genre where instead of dodging swarms of enemies and bullets to defeat a boss. Your character is the one surrounded by bullets going through mobs of enemies only you don’t control when you attack. Vampire Survivors really pushed this genre to the forefront but others like Brotato, 20 Minutes to Midnight, and Death Must Die have come and expanded the genre in their own ways. Renfield: Bring your Own Blood tried to do this by having you go through rooms instead of just scrolling through an endless battlefield. Most rooms are standard combat arenas but some will reward you with pets that attack enemies with you. Utilizing locations from the movie I enjoyed fighting in the Codependent Anonymous gymnasium, or the cemetery Renfield would bury Dracula’s victims. They even made an endless map of Renfield’s Apartment.

You start with just one map and Renfield unlocked but as you collect gold coins and upgrade your weapons you will eventually be able to afford buffs for your character. I couldn’t complete the first level until I had nearly maxed out everything but after that I started burning through. You Unlock other characters who have unique weapons for completing levels or achievements. I want to shout out the Cheerleader who uses her Pom Poms as an attack. Once I maxed that ability out it was nearly impossible for enemies to get within elbow room of me.  I only have one drawback with Renfield and that was a bit of inconsistency with the map design. There were many times I thought I should have escaped a swarm of enemies only for a tombstone, tree, or some other small obstacle would pin me in place. Even worse was when I started noting that I would only get pinned if I approached from a certain angle otherwise I would bypass the thing altogether. 

TL;DR

Renfield is a great Bullet Heaven for the price and made even better if you enjoyed the movie it’s pulling references from. Everything seems created with fans in mind. Initial difficulty might put some off but trial and repeated error then improving is the whole point of the genre and once you get into stride hours can and will disappear while working towards your latest unlock. Renfield: Bring your Own Blood is currently Available on PC through Steam and GOG.

Your Still Here?

Are any of these licensed properties interesting to you? If you could make a game based off any blockbuster IP what would you pitch? I can’t be the only person who has thought what if we got a Saints row type game but from the perspective of Jared Leto’s Joker from Suicide Squad (2016). Wait, why are you booing? Maybe I should just stick to reviews and blogs. Stay posted to FeatMarvinL.com for more