In my Action Henk preview last month I described the game as a mix of elements from Trials HD, Sonic the Hedgehog and Toy Story. The game is a speed platformer created by RageSquid and was first released on PC last year. It’s making its console debut on Xbox One and PS4 this month.
The aim of the game is simply to get from the start of a level to the end as quickly as possible. You play as one of a selection of action-figures starting off with the beer-bellied Henk. Other characters are unlocked by defeating them in challenging head-to-head boss races throughout the game. You can also unlock different costumes for each as well.
Characters are easy to control with just a couple of moves to learn. The left thumbstick makes you run left or right, there’s a face button to jump and the left trigger makes you do a butt-slide. Getting through the levels is fairly easy, at least at the beginning of the game, but beating them as fast as possible is the real challenge and where the fun begins.
To maximise your speed through a level you need to time your jumps and butt-slides to perfection. Mistiming these slows you down massively and a single mistake usually ruins your attempt. You can jump different heights based on how long you hold the jump button and butt-slides should be reserved for when you are going down a slope. There are also a few more complex moves to master such as wall jumps, loops and half-pipe style obstacles where you need enough momentum in order to escape them.
The 70-plus courses are set in 10 different environments and the they all look really great. Environments are very detailed, nice to look at and at times provides little distractions to try and put you or your opponents off.
The racing is intense and the controls feel just about right. When you’re trying to beat your personal best times the retry feature is brilliant. So many games mess up by forcing you to sit through a loading screen but here you are instantly back at the start. This makes it very hard not to just have one more go or restart the moment you make a mistake.
A neat feature when trying to improve your times is the inclusion of ghosts. There are ghosts of the par times for the different medals and you can also race against your best attempts. Often racing a ghost can give you a clue of where you need to improve on a particular run.
A big plus for the new console version is the inclusion of split-screen local multiplayer for up to 4 players. Against friends it’s so much fun and as you’re all on the same machine and screen there is no unfair lag disadvantage.
For a multiplayer session you can create a list of courses to compete on. There are also settings allowing multiple races on each course and the ability to allow checkpoints. Multiple tries lets everyone have a chance as they get to learn the courses. Checkpoints make things a lot easier and allow you to rejoin the race after making a mistake.
When playing multiplayer it only really works well with people of similar skill. When this happens you get some incredibly close races and this adds a lot to your enjoyment. A tap of the top right bumper also lets you trade a few insults which can be fun. On default setting players who lag behind go off the screen and are eliminated. Playing against less skilled players it’s best to use the checkpoint feature so they don’t spend most of a session sat out.
One issue I’ve had with the release build of the game is that the screen is slightly too big for my TV. There appears to be no option to resize the picture and this leaves some of the HUD elements cut-off.
Overall Action Henk is a really fun speedrunner. At times it can be infuriating but the instant retry makes it so addictive to just want to have another go. If you enjoy platformers and chasing leaderboards then Action Henk will keep you busy for hours.
Action Henk was reviewed using a digital code provided by Curve Digital.
Publisher: Curve Digital Developer: RageSquid Release Date: March 3rd, 2016 Reviewed On: Xbox One
Check out the trailer for Action Henk below: