Developer – Tribute Games
Publisher – Tribute Games
Platforms – PC (Reviewed), Xbox One, PS4
At first glance, Flinthook looks to be your stereotypical indie game. Pixel graphics? Check. Roguelike? Check. Action platformer? Check. If you have a list of your typical indie game, Flinthook is that game. But thankfully, it has some really fun mechanics that made me keep coming back for more.
In Flinthook, you play a space pirate hunting down bounties on some pirate lords. The gameplay loop is pretty simple. You choose a bounty and go through a few levels to collect some skull gems. Once you’ve collected enough skull gems you’ll be ushered to a boss fight. Rinse and repeat. Persistent upgrades are in the form of cards that you can allocate a finite number of points to make your runs easier.
But the ‘hook’ in Flinthook, (hehehe, get it?), is literally a hook. You are armed with a hookshot, which allows you to hook onto golden rings and zip around the room; avoiding traps and projectiles or putting you in better position to attack enemies or to reach some fine loot. And it’s this hookshot mechanic that makes me keep wanting to go back to Flinthook. It makes the gameplay loop extremely satisfying.
The physics feel great and the mobility afforded to you by your mighty hookshot gives off a sense of freedom that makes you want to challenge yourself to pull off flashier maneuvers, sometimes to your own detriment. The hookshot only makes up 1/3rd of Flinthook’s arsenal however. He also has his trusty pistol, and his Chronobelt, which, you guessed it, slows down time. Slowing down time is also the only method to get past force fields. But I felt the Chronobelt mechanic added too much fluff to the gameplay. It was an unnecessary addition that could have been left out for a purer experience.
But just having freedom of movement and slow motion powers is not enough. The level design needs to be tight to take advantage of these mechanics. And, they mostly do that well. While the mechanics are great, the level design needed to take advantage of these mechanics can sometime feel cheap. Seems at times the level design philosophy is to put as much traps and shit as possible. That’s not always the case however, a lot of the levels are difficult but not all feel cheap. I did see rooms repeating after only a few hours of play so level design isn’t that varied, but that’s not that huge of a deal breaker.
I also had an issue of not being able to see the traps clearly. It could be a pressure sensitive plate of DEATH on the floor which is mostly a thin grey line, or it could be a ball of deadly spikes at the corner, the design and colour just seems to blend too well that it makes it hard to discern what you can touch and what is supposed to kill you. I can’t glance at the room and take in all the info I need, which if you look at it can be considered playing into its difficulty, but it can be frustrating at times. You’ll be dodging enemies and projectiles like a space pirate pro but then you’ll get killed by spikes.
In the end, Flinthook has its flaws, but it more than makes up for them with it’s satisfying gameplay loop. Especially with that hook mechanic. It just makes you feel so cool, zipping around the room while dispatching enemies. It’s an early contender to make it onto my game of the year list for 2017, it’s that good. Flinthook is a great pick up and play game, challenging and just so satisfying. Seriously, that hook.