I played Flinthook for the first time at PAX East 2016. I was immediately drawn to Tribute Games booth by Flinthook’s bright cartoony aesthetic and the prospect of addictive roguelite gameplay. A “roguelike” for those unfamiliar, is a run based game with permadeath, meaning when you die you start your run from the beginning. This is true of a roguelite as well with one key difference, with each run you’ll unlock or gain some form of currency allowing you to score some permeant buffs and upgrades.
Flinthook isn’t just a run of the mill rougelite, it has its own style and unique gameplay elements. You play as an adorable little pirate who looks like he should be Space Ghost’s sidekick. During your run, you’ll board enemy pirate ships in search of treasure. While a side scrolling shooter with awesome pixel art isn’t unique in of itself, how you traverse the world is. Each room is filled with hooks, you can use your trusty grappling hook to move quickly and get the drop on enemies. In addition to your grappling hook, you have a belt that allows you to slow down time for short bursts, a trusty blaster, and a variety of secondary weapons from explosives to ice grenades.
Flinthook’s greatest triumph is in how amazing the game’s grappling mechanic works. Getting swinging physics to feel good is no easy feat, ask anyone who’s ever made a Spiderman game. Swinging from point to point feels fluid and combining it with your ability to slow down time makes from some great acrobatic kills.
How well Flinthook’s grappling mechanic works combined with the great look and sound of the game often have me wishing it were a more traditional platformer. Rougelites are great and procedurally generated levels work, but I can’t help but feel a more purposeful level design would work better. I’d love to see a traditional platformer with Flinthook’s look and characters.
The rougelite run formula is shaken up in Flinthook as well. Rather than a single continuous run, like most games in the genre, Flinthook begins each run by selecting a boss. You’ll then select a ship to board; each ship has a size and a danger level, more danger means stronger enemies but better loot. At the end of each ship, you’ll score yourself a ghost gem, depending on the boss, you’ll need to feed a set amount to your compass to track down the target’s ship. The small scale set up for each run makes gameplay sessions feel bite sized. You’ll be committing to a half an hour to an hour of play depending on the boss.
Flinthook is a fast paced rougelite that features a multitude of enemies, and countless upgrades and perks make for an almost infinite amount of replayability. The stylized sprites and catchy soundtrack will keep your spirits up through even the worst runs. If you’re a fan of rougelites and old school pixel art, Flinthook is for you.
- Beautiful Pixel Art
- Grappling mechanics make for fun fast paced play
- lots of upgrades
- Amazing soundtrack
- Can feel repetitive
- The game’s design sometimes has me wishing for more purposeful level design rather than procedurally generated levels