For the most part, I am not too into the style of fast-paced speed running-style games. Don’t get me wrong, on occasion I have said that Joe Danger is one of my favorite arcade-style fast-paced speed running-style games, but it’s because it added platforming challenges and was not as hardcore with the physics, like in the Trials franchise. Those types of games become more about trial-and-error-style gameplay, and I would rather have an experience flow fluidly instead of having to memorize when to jump and press that button. They aren’t even that creative half of the time. Luckily, I have found one of the best games in this style, and it happens to be a highly acclaimed game from Steam’s Early Access area. This is Rage Squid’s Action Henk!
Action Henk is a 2D speed-running platformer that tells the story of Henk, a now retired and rather chubby action figure who was once on top of the world. One day, while watching an old commercial that he was in, his trophy gets stolen by an evil corporate bad guy action figure, and Henk must get it back by the only means he knows, by running fast and platforming! If you have played any games that have speed-focused platforming like Joe Danger or Sonic the Hedgehog, then you will feel right at home. You will have Henk or his unlockable friends run through linear levels, running, jumping, platforming, sliding, and going as fast as you can, whether it is rolling around at the speed of sound or not. You will have a jump-and-slide button where you, well, jump and slide around. The slide mechanic, at least for me, became a rather important mechanic, since if you use it correctly, you can gain quite a huge speed boost. The main goal of the level is to get to the end in the least amount of time possible. You will get a medal or medals, depending on what time you beat the levels. In each world, you will need to race a boss character in order to unlock him and be playable. As you progress through the game, you will find that some levels have gimmicks in them, like the grappling hook power-up that lets you swing across gaps, or using your fast momentum to swing upwards onto a platform above you. Outside of the main campaign, you will have local/online multiplayer so you can race against friends and a level creator. It’s a rather solid package, since there is a lot of replay ability in mind, especially with the huge amount of content that will flood the store with those user-made levels.
Graphically, it’s nice to see an indie developer like Rage Squid do a 3D game. I love the sprite-based video games, but it always feels like an easy way out, since they don’t want to make 3D polygonal models and such. I like both styles of games, but since so many developers use sprites, it’s getting a bit old to see yet another 16-bit or more-style game. The music in Action Henk is by Alexander Wiklund. It’s fast, catchy, and fits the themes of the levels you are running and jumping through. I also love that there is actual voice acting in the game. I mean, how many times do you play indie games and see voice work in them? Maybe voice acting is more common than I make it out to be, but like seeing full-motion video on a Nintendo 64 cartridge, it feels rare.
So, what are my problems with this game? Personally, I wish the boss races were a little more interesting. Sure, getting into an intense race/platforming challenge definitely had me gripping my controller and loving my victory. However, I wish they were more than simple races. After the first few races, they become a little too reliant on twitch reflexes/trial-and-error-style gameplay. As I mentioned earlier in this article, I would rather have an experience that flows fluidly, and not where I have to remember when to jump, slide, and so on. I also wished the extra bosses were other toys instead of unlockable costumes for already existing characters. This next problem could be my laptop, but I ran into some major slowdown during levels that had a lot going on during certain areas of said levels.
Anyway, these complaints are minor and the overall experience Action Henk brings to the table is good! It is easily one of the best games to come onto Steam, and one of the better examples of the Early Access done right. The game is out now, and if you love games like Speed Runners, then you should love this one. Congrats to Rage Squid for bringing one of the best indie games to come to Steam and I can’t wait to see what this developer does next.
This game gets an 8 out of 10