Run. That’s all you need to do in this fast paced and colourful game. If you weren’t into speed running before you play this game, you will be. Butt slide you way to new characters and levels, but remember it’s Henk, not Hank. With an E.
Action Henk is a story about a action figure. We are in a Toy Story type world, where the toys are alive. Our hero watches his live action version, when an evil toy steals his Toy of the Year trophy. Henk, always ready for action, sets off on his quest to reclaim his trophy. He does this, of course, by racing other toys.
Action Henk’s world is a children’s bedroom, messy, full of toys, discarded clothes and unfinished drinks. It’s a colourful and noisy world, made mostly of plastic. There is a lot of detail in this bedroom world, yet your eyes are never too distracted from the focus of the game: the race track that runs around the room. You can pause and take in the detail, or focus on the rush to the end.
The characters are stylised toy figures. They generally look plastic and have overexaggerated features, especially the large open mouths. As you play through the game and complete challenges you will unlock more characters you can use on the race course.
The soundtrack is light and is a fun listen. Though it can get repetitive, I don’t find it gets boring or annoying to listen to while I play. This is the kind of game where you could easily mute the sound and put on your own music, but I always feel the sense of fun when I hear the opening song start.
Action Henk is essentially a racing game. There are several tracks you can race along, and the goal is to get as fast a time as you can. Most levels can be done in under a minute, but that doesn’t mean you won’t be spending 20 minutes or more trying to achieve that time.
To maintain speed you have to time your jumps and your slides. Butt slides that is. As you are going downhill, you hold down to slide and gain more speed. Mastering the butt slide is essential to getting good time in this game.
The first time you fail, you will learn that the floor is lava. You don’t die in this game, however falling in lava means you will go back to the last checkpoint. This will cost you time, and almost always means you won’t even get a bronze medal.
There are several ghosts you can race against, each representing a medal: gold, silver, or bronze. By defeating these ghosts on each level, you can earn the medal that they represent. Earning more medals unlocks more level batchesfor you to play.
At the end of each level batch there is a challenge level. In these levels you race against another toy. Defeat that toy, and you will unlock it as a new character. These characters don’t change the gameplay at all – they are purely cosmetic.
As you unlock new levels, new techniques will become available. Some levels will focus on wall jumps, others introduce a grappling gun mechanic (where you can swing like Spider-Man).
The controls are smooth and intuitive. Not once did I feel like I was fighting against the controls. Every time I failed, I knew I had done something wrong. To help with failure, you can press
R to reset. This reset is fast, instantly taking you back to the start of a level. It’s a speedrunner’s dream.
The game also comes with a level editor so that you can create your own levels. It’s fairly easy and intuitive to use, the only limitation here is your skill with level design. Any levels you design can be published so that others can try them out.
The game does feature several multiplayer elements. You can race against others online, save ghosts so your friends can race against them, and online leaderboards so you can compare yourself to the rest of the world.
Unfortunately many of features are redundant, since the game isn’t very popular these days. When I tried to play an online match, I quickly learned that there weren’t any servers anymore.
Action Henk is a fun racing game that I’ve been really getting into. Despite the lack of multiplayer, the challenge of completing the levels and earning medals is still fun to play. The levels are designed extremely well and, while I did find some easier than others, generally get more difficult as you progress.
The fast reset is perhaps the most important feature in this game. When you make a mistake, there’s no time to dwell on the failure – you’re straight back into the action, ready to race again. It keeps the game feeling fast paced, even if you have to retry several times to get that medal.
I haven’t managed to finish all the levels yet, but this is a game I will keep coming back to. Every time you play you get a little bit close to earning all the medals, unlocking more levels, and maybe completing every part of the game.