There is a moment in Hellboy: Science of Evil when you have to face off against a hideous gorilla/octopus hybrid. It roars with anger as its slimy tentacles writhe like sloppy worms. At this point, your adrenaline should gush as you raise your stone-encrusted fist to do battle with this horrific abomination. In practice, you'll slurp up a rogue strand of drool as you halfheartedly pound your well-worn square button for the umpteenth time. In a game where even swinging half-formed frog men around by their prehensile tongues can elicit a hearty yawn, it's not surprising that facing off against a monster that should reside exclusively in nightmares feels downright boring. The only thing Hellboy does really well is make you appreciate how far the beat-'em-up genre has evolved since games that play like this were commonplace.
Undead Nazis hate getting punched in the face.
Hellboy has a beef with a witch who refers to herself in the third-person. You'll spend the first half of your quest trying to shut her up for good before you suddenly decide your real enemy is a horde of cyborg gorillas. The story is a convoluted mess of inadequate motivations and long soliloquies given by every skeleton you meet along the way. Instead of simple explanations that keep you abreast of why your missions are taking seemingly random turns, you are given such contemporary one-liners as "We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto." Despite the cursory effort given to constructing this nonsensical tale, the cutscenes are all too frequent and far from concise; plus, you can't even skip them. Ron Perlman lends his voice talents, but while it's fitting how often he mutters "That was easy," his usual smarmy punch is nowhere to be found.
The main draw in a game involving an endless stream of enemies should be an entertaining combat system. There is no such draw here. You'll spend the majority of your time rapidly slamming the square button to punch with the occasional gunshot thrown in for diversity. This game is so easy you don't even have defensive maneuvers in your repertoire. Why would you need to block when your foes barely even attack? Enemies will meander up to you then simply stand still, waiting for you to turn around and smack them in the face. It's not uncommon to find yourself surrounded by a gang of ugly ghoulies only to walk away with your life bar still at the optimal level. You can pick up unwieldy swords and spears to give your aching fists a rest, but these serve as only graphically different versions of the same tired battle mechanic. Later enemies have bloated health bars, which force you to use discarded weapons to dispose of them in a timely manner. This serves to only frustrate because even the heartiest sword will shatter after three blows. Though these enemies take longer to kill, they never pose a serious threat to your own life.