The following game was reviewed on Xbox One; the reviewer for this critique purchased the title.
‘Action Henk!’ is a great example of why the gaming industry is in such a great place right now. 5-10 years ago, this game would not have been made, but thanks to the increase in popularity and availability of indie games, we can now all enjoy these smaller games. The game plays like a cross between Trials HD and the speed running sections of Sonic The Hedgehog. The basic idea is extremely simple, all you have to do is run along the track and reach the finish line in the shortest time possible; to get the best times requires considerable skill though. Just like Trials, the controls are incredibly simplistic. For the vast majority of the game you will just be using left or right (on the thumbstick or d-pad), left trigger to slide, and ‘A’ to jump. What’s more you don’t need the subtleties of the analogue controls that Trials requires, the game just requires pin-point timing and razor-sharp reflexes.
The game has you running, jumping, and sliding at blistering speeds with you constantly trying to run faster. You start off trying to get the fastest time you possibly can, but by the latter levels of the game you will likely just be glad to reach the finish line as the last few levels are extremely challenging. The difficulty curve feels just about right, with the first levels easing you into the game mechanics, further levels introduce new obstacles and new ways of thinking, and the final levels are a real challenge (even I’m stuck on the last level).
The art design on the game has some style, even though it is not graphically challenging. Earlier levels are designed to look like you’re running through a child’s play room. Other levels make it look like you’re playing outside, and later levels appear to have you playing in a hellish landscape. There’s lots of variation in design of the characters as well, with various versions of Henk available, alongside other characters that you will unlock as you progress through the game.
Action Henk has a great 4 player multiplayer mode. While it appears to have been ripped straight from the Trials franchise, it is so much fun that it is easy to forgive such plagiarism. I have spent about 6 hours playing the multiplayer with friends and cannot wait to do it again. The mode uses some of the simpler tracks from the singleplayer, but this doesn’t mean you’ll be locked in dead heats the entire time. Where the mechanics push you to find the perfect spots to jump, slide, and run, it is emphasised even more when playing with other people. You may all appear in the same place on the track and then one player makes an extra jump or slides a little longer and you’ll see them either drop behind or take the lead. It actually works as a great way to perfect your skills and see the effects of changing your approach to a particular track.
‘Action Henk!’ could easily have been a bland soulless racer, but is elevated by its level design and the brilliantly nuanced game mechanics. I found myself playing certain levels over and over again, trying to find the perfect point to jump on a curve and the best point to swap from sliding to running again. The game also has some of the most fun local multiplayer I’ve played in quite a while. This game is a must-buy for anyone who’s a fan of the Trials series, and even if you’re not it’s good enough that it’s worth a play-through.