Indie game developers love making action-packed 2D platformers. Flinthook manages to combine elements from many inspirations and craft a solid roguelike experience so let's get ready to pillage some pirate ships in space!
You play Flinthook by controlling a little dude in a white hood who's on a mission that requires him to raid ship after ship and battle a few notorious space pirates. This guy may be small but he's extremely capable. Besides running, jumping, and shooting at enemies; he can also slow down time to pass through laser walls and use a trusty grappling hook to soar through stages. This ability is where Flinthook shines brightest. It reminds me of the arcade classic Bionic Commando but this is much faster-paced. There's a wide variety of enemies, too, that range from simple floating seemingly harmless chums to ones that explode after perishing. Swinging across rooms while avoiding hazards and shooting enemies with nothing but pure precision is such a blast that it'll make you want to keep playing even after you bite the dust and have to start the entire campaign again as a result.
The graphics are a lot like Tribute's previous game Curses 'N Chaos although the resolution here is much more detailed. The simple colours yet pixel-perfect environments come to life with fluid animation and charming character sprites. It really is a beautiful-looking retro game. The music is just awesome and ranks up there with some of the best 16-bit era soundtracks while the effects are very satisfying yet mostly subdued as to never become annoying. It's such an all-around incredible looking and sounding game but there is one problem: the hazards frequently blend into the environments a bit too well. Even after playing for hours, I'd still get snagged on some spikes without realising they were there. It's annoying and I wish things that hurt you were highlighted in red or something.
The campaign is broken up into four areas with each one featuring its own boss. Before attempting an area, you can purchase and equip various upgrades that'll definitely give you an advantage. Whenever you perish, you can level up your rank with earned experience points and unlock permanent goodies. These provide boosts such as increasing your maximum HP, making your bullets reach further distances, and improving your defences against certain things. You only have a limited amount of slots to equip stuff so optimizing your loadout is quite rewarding. On top of this, there are many different kinds of collectibles to uncover as you raid the randomly generated ships. All of this adds up to make Flinthook even more addictive as you're always rewarded; even when you fail.
Although the areas are super-challenging to beat, it is rather disappointing that there are only four of them. That being said, there are a couple of endings to unlock as well as Infinite Mode. Each area has a distinct visual style as well as a boss battle that will get your hands sweating. Once you manage to beat one, the sense of satisfaction is unmatched. Anyway, another disappointment is that I wish the developers implemented a multiplayer mode. All you essentially get is the main campaign and Infinite Mode. Curses 'N Chaos featured fantastic cooperative gameplay so if they included a similar mode here where you and a friend can beat up enemies in arena settings then that would have been awesome. In the end, the lack of any multiplayer feels like a missed opportunity.
2017 has been a phenomenal year for gaming so far and I must say that Flinthook is up there with the best. It'll put you on the edge of your seat and keep you wanting more so if it sounds like your kind of game then you owe it to yourself to give it a download.
- + Fantastically addictive gameplay
- + Incredible retro visuals and music
- + Loads of permanent unlocks and upgrades will keep you coming back for more
- - Hazards are frequently hard to see
- - Only four areas and bosses to master
- - Could use additional modes such as a cooperative multiplayer component