A Look At: Action Henk

Videogames and obstacle courses are one of those weird pairings that always works. Something about swiftly navigating ridiculously treacherous courses never ceases to entertain. It’s why games like Trials continue to see great success. Action Henk from RageSquid, which just launched on Steam early access, but instead of relying on a specific catch to instill most of the challenge, Action Henk decides to keep it simple – but no less challenging.

Action Henk stars the titular Henk, a pudgy action figure clearly past his prime. You take control of him through dozens of courses set in places like a child’s bedroom or the beach, all put together using whatever’s available. In the case of bedroom environment, that’s building blocks and pieces of plastic road. Henk’s skillset is limited to jumps and butt slides, but it’s more than functional.

The goal is simple: get to end of the level in as little time as possible. You can choose whether to go for bronze, silver, or gold medals (as well as your own best time) at the start of every course, each generating a ghost to compete against to help you get a feel for how best to tackle the level. Shortcuts are plentiful, so seeing how the AI can access them is invaluable when going after those coveted gold medals.

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Action Henk is all about momentum. It’s platforming is based entirely around building speed to propel the portly Henk about as quickly as possible. Ideally in such a way that doesn’t lob him too high into the sky. A simple enough task on the early levels, but fiendishly difficult in many of the locked stages of the current alpha build. Not due to any weird physics, mind you. All the levels so far, despite being very much subject to change, feel nicely refined.

It’s not just mere running and jumping and butt-sliding, though. Gadgets like hookshots are also available for Henk to use, which both make traversal easier and much harder. The hookshot maze level, for instance, forces you to employ pin-point precision when navigating the tight, winding corridors before you. Swinging upward around the ledge of a block above you is one of the more common challenges, and it is brutal. I’ve yet to get through that stage without retrying at least a few dozen times. The full game promises more items like pogo sticks and RC trucks, which is sure to make things extra crazy and fun.

Right now, Action Henk only has a couple dozen levels, some of which clearly labeled as work in progress, but they’re more than enough to occupy yourself with. Action Henk by its very nature is one of those games that‘s easy to lose yourself in, the fervent pace of the gameplay and “just one more shot” mentality making it tough to put down once you get the hang of it. With such a strong foundation already, I’m very curious to see how it’ll shape up. Really like what I’ve seen so far.

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