One of the more popular genres of independent games in recent years has been the Rogue-like: a game in which randomly generated challenges are thrown at you one after the other until you either die or beat the game. When you die, you have the option to progress your character in various ways to help make it just that little bit further the next go around. Flinthook is another entry into this genre. While it isn’t a revolution, it’s still pretty damn solid.
A Blast From the Past
Flinthook’s entire aesthetic, from its art to its music, is a call-back to retro games of the SNES and Genesis era. The music is pulse-pounding and keeps you engaged as you zip around rooms with the grappling hook. Thankfully, the hook isn’t physics-based and responds amazingly well to your command. There is an overarching storyline playing out in the background, that you can learn by finding relics and pages of books randomly in the ships as you plunder them, but it’s not anything to write home about.
That all being said, Flinthook as a whole is a pretty decent little rogue-like. It builds on the solid foundation games such as Rogue Legacy and Spelunky have formed over the last few years. While providing an interesting setting and an amazing soundtrack.
I’m the Captain Now
In Flinthook, you play as Captain Flinthook. Flinthook wears a mask that kind of makes him look like Casper the Friendly Ghost. However, he’s far from that, as he attaches his spaceship to other ships and plunders them for loot. The enemy spaceships take the form of randomized rooms that you must find your way through using the three tools at Flinthook’s disposal: his blasma pistol, his grappling hook, and his chronobelt, which allows him to slow down time.
This essentially the crux of gameplay for Flinthook. One room might task you with making your way over a pit of acid via clever use of the grappling hook. Another room might lock you inside with waves of enemies that you must outmaneuver using the hook. Take a few down with the pistol. Then, slow down time with the chronobelt to navigate through their counterattacks.
Tribute Games took great care in handcrafting each possible variant of room. Ensuring you never come across a room that is 100% impossible to defeat. Sure, at first you may see a room where the floor is acid, or there are multiple beams that you have to timeshift through. There could also be a room where half the enemies are behind a barrier. Forcing you to pop said barrier with your hook before you can damage them. However, if you’re crafty enough you can always succeed. And that’s more than I can say for some other rogue-likes.
When you DO die, and you will most likely die at some point. You can turn in the gems and gold you earned in your run at the Black Market to buy permanent perks and add-ons for Flinthook. These perks include giving Flinthook more health or a higher chance that enemies drop health-restoring food. Thus, making your blasma pistol more powerful. You can also find these perks for sale mid-run if you stumble across a shop room.
A Few Issues
However, I do have two minor complaints. First is that movement and aiming are locked to the same control stick, which feels odd. Also, the free-aim relic forces you to stop while aiming, which feels even worse. Secondly, at least three of the boss encounters require you to pop a barrier with the grappling hook before being able to deal any appreciable damage. This made bosses feel a little samey to me. However, other than these two minor nitpicks, I found myself enjoying Flinthook. Even though I mostly sucked at it.
+ Difficulty seems tuned very well
+ Music is amazing
+ The grappling hook is well-implemented
– Moving and aiming on the same stick takes a little getting used to
– Over-reliance on the “pop a barrier with the grappling hook” mechanic
– Room layouts tend to blend together after awhile
Overall Score: 7.5 out of 10: Flinthook is a solid game that is well worth your time. Whether it be fans of the genre, or otherwise. Even if you’re not a rogue-like fan, as it isn’t nearly as punishing as some of its predecessors. It’s satisfying to play and has a pretty earwormy main theme too.
For the sake of transparency, the publisher (Tribute Games) provided a digital code for review purposes.