Action Henk Preview | MOUSE n JOYPAD


Boy, Action Henk sure is an… interesting game. Besides knowing that you can butt-slide around, and it’s humorous visuals and presentation, I had no idea what I was in for when I fired it up on my Xbox One. All I knew was that some fat guy was front and center on the game’s cover. Well, I’ve been playing it for a few days now, and I have to say that I wasn’t expecting it to be a speedrunner platformer, nor that it’d would be so much fun.


Careful, if you fall into that water you’ll be devoured by a very hungry shark.

Action Henk was originally released last year by the developer RageSquid for PC. It received mostly positive reviews, with reviewers praising its gameplay. While I haven’t played the original version myself, I think I’ve come to the same conclusion for the console version as the reviewers did for the PC port: it’s one of the best speedrunners to come out in a while.

You play as sentient action figures running through obstacle courses in various locales. You start off running along toy ramps and wooden building blocks in some kid’s room, but you’ll eventually make your way to more tropical locations like beaches and jungles, so there’s a nice amount of variety. The gameplay mainly consists of running, jumping, sliding, and swinging around to either get the fastest time to earn bronze, silver, or gold medals for each level, or to beat an opponent in a race in order to unlock them as a playable character. The key to winning is maintaining a constant momentum throughout each level, which is no easy task, as many of the courses are insidiously designed to slow you down or have you fall to your death.


I’m surprised all that butt-sliding hasn’t chafed his butt off.

Thankfully, the course design is one of the main reasons why Action Henk’s gameplay works so well; learning how to react to certain obstacles to maintain your high velocity is part of the fun. Moreover, most of the game’s controls and mechanics are as smooth and intuitive as you can get. I particularly enjoyed playing with the hook shot, which allows you to swing across large gaps and around up onto platforms that would be otherwise impossible to reach. Maybe Sonic could learn a thing or two from this game; everything here from running to sliding just feels right.

Speaking of sliding (or should I say butt-sliding), you’ll need to incorporate this technique quite often to keep your speed up. Generally, anytime there’s a slope you should be butt-sliding (yes, I’m going to use that term throughout the rest of the preview, deal with it), as it’s way faster than just running downhill. Plus there’ll be several instances where you’ll need to use the momentum from your butt-sliding to get over vertical obstacles such as half-pipes. You’ll also need the momentum to pull off wall-jumps, which is one of the only gameplay mechanics I have a problem with. If you don’t have enough momentum, your wall jumps won’t get you that far, almost to the point where it’s useless. Most of the times when I was frustrated with the game’s controls came from when I had to wall jump to get to the top of a platform. While I can understand how momentum helps you jump farther, it seems a tad-bit unfair to make the ability almost useless without it.


Playing with others adds a lot of replayability.

The only other problem I had with Action Henk was its subpar visuals. While most of the time the game looks ok, there are certain moments where the cracks start to show. Sometimes the characters textures look a bit off, or the glaring shine of their plastic bodies is so bright that it’s downright distracting. The worst offense though is the cut scenes: the video quality is downright horrible. It almost looks like I’m watching a 144p video on Youtube. In fact, I was worried during the intro cinematic because I thought that’s how the rest of the game would look. Thankfully, that’s not the case.

Though the frustrating wall-jumping mechanics and bad-looking cut scenes are unfortunate, they don’t detract from the overall fun of the game all too much. I found myself coming back time and again to try and beat my best times in order to get enough medals to unlock the next set of levels, which wasn’t always easy given that even getting the bronze medal for a lot of these stages can be a difficult task. But I love a game that continues to challenge you to do better and better, especially when the controls are so fluid. Having a good amount of challenge merge with tight controls makes me want to go back to these levels over and over again, which adds a good amount of replayability, even if you can unlock most of the stages within a few days of playing.

There’s also a multiplayer mode where you and up to three other friends can race against each other. I didn’t have much of a chance to play this mode, but my friend and I did have fun racing against each other a couple of times. I think local multiplayer works well for a game like this, especially since more often than not you can’t get the same experience on a PC. Once I’ve mastered all the levels in single player, I may test my skills against some more of my friends.

There are a few imperfections to Action Henk, to be sure, but it’s still a fun speedrunner that I came back to over and over again. The smooth controls, humorous tone, and fun multiplayer have all won me over, even if it doesn’t always look good and has one aspect of gameplay I don’t particularly enjoy. Plus any game with this much butt-sliding is a winner in my book. I hope that this game will be just as much fun when it comes out next month for PS4 and Xbox One.