Cashing in on the upcoming summer Hellboy flick, Hellboy: The Science of Evil is an attempt to further expand the adventures of Hellboy. Fortunately the game has no direct relation to the movie that will be released shorty otherwise it could be construed as a bad omen. To put it bluntly, The Science of Evil (HtSoE) is one of those games that should have never been released.
The plot to HtSoE is pretty convoluted. Each chapter takes Hellboy & Co. through different time periods, switching between reliving past missions and moving through to present day before attempting to tie everything together. If you’re a fan of the comic you’ll be pleased to see a lot of familiar faces from Hellboy’s rouges gallery. Unfortunately all the stories don’t provide a cohesive theme and you’ll find yourself wondering just why you’re playing.
The gameplay is the weakest part of the game, plain and simple. The bulk of the game will have you fighting off wave after wave of different enemies. Mostly you’ll find yourself sticking to the melee combat, swinging the Right Hand of Doom and pummeling your enemies into submission. It’s a button smasher in its purest form. The gun uses an auto-aim which works correctly roughly half the time. Using the manual aim requires a lot of patience and is barely useable. You can also pick up items off the floor and use them as weapons, but that’s another menial task.
The visuals in The Science of Evil are a mixed bag. The cutscenes, all created using the gameplay engine, generally look good. Closeups of the characters are highly detailed and do a phenomenal job of setting up the action. The problem is once the cutscenes are over the quality drops considerably once you jump into the action. The environments look like they belong back in the last generation of consoles. Hellboy is a also dark game, and I don’t mean its tone. Colors wise it’s very dark and at times it really hurts the game. There were times where I didn’t know what I was battling or I couldn’t see enemies creeping up on me because it was so dark. You’d have to adjust the brightness feature on your tv in order to make it look presentable.
The audio might be the only redeeming quality to the game and that’s simply because the developers were able to get the cast from the movies to provide their voices for the game. Ron Perlman, Selma Blair and Doug Jones put in some top notch performances. Unfortunately the redeeming quality quickly dissipates when you hear the rest of the game. The music sounds muffled, and the sound effects are pretty uninspiring as well.
Lastly, the developers were kind enough to include a co-op play option so players wouldn’t have to wallow in the misery alone. Two players can join forces to take on the main story mode either online over Xbox Live or offline via split-screen play on a single console. Torture is illegal according to the Geneva Convention so it’d be wise not to inflict any on your friend.
Overall, Hellboy: The Science of Evil is a massive disappointment. As a long time Hellboy fan I’d been anxiously waiting for this games release for a while, even through all the delays. Unfortunately Konami was unable to deliver the goods. Thankfully we’ve got the comics and movies to rely on for some fun Hellboy action. This game is a rental at best, buying it would be a waste of your hard earned cash.