Flinthook Review – Space Piracy Goodness

No GravatarFlinthook by Tribute Games is a ridiculously addictive, even more ridiculously difficult action/platformer/roguelike in space pirate ships! Armed with your plasma pistol, hookshot and chronobelt you’ll be blasting away enemies and platforming through insane trap-filled rooms, battling waves of crazy enemies and taking out countless randomly-generated ships in search of four particularly notorious foes.

Title: Flinthook
Developed By: Tribute Games
Available For: PS4 (reviewed), Xbox One, Win/Mac/Linux (Steam)

My first taste of Flinthook was seeing @flinthook tweet a few gifs and screenshots on Twitter. When I saw the one above I was hooked and immediately added it to the list of games I had to try. Just look at that incredible animation, the crazy bullet-hell-ish dodging, smooth hook shot work and use of slowing down time! I’m so glad my gut was right – Flinthook is a BLAST!

After a brief training level, you’re given your first bounty and thrown into the meat of Flinthook – working to find and defeat your first boss. To find Bad Billy Bullseye you must first feed your compass three ghost gems, with one being found aboard each of Bad Billy Bullseye’s ships. Each “level” presents you with three ship options, each with random modifiers that can be good or bad. Higher difficulty ships have lots of modifiers (one may have fog on the ship, lots of shops, lots of treasure rooms and tougher enemy rooms) and lower difficulty ones may have as low as one. Right off the bat you’re introduced to the risk/reward balance that a good roguelike has – treasure rooms are often extra dangerous but can give you boosts for your current run or loads of gold to buy boosts or health, or one ship may be a higher difficulty overall but have better modifiers than the rest. If you can survive long enough to find the boss you’ll head to their ship and take them on in an epic battle! The game has four main bosses, each with a wild fight and the later bosses require more gems to find. Should you die, you’ll lose your progress toward your current boss and have to find all of their gems once again.

Like any good roguelike, you’re going to die a lot, and that’s not a bad thing. Each time you die you’ll gain experience and work toward purchasing permanent upgrades. You can upgrade and unlock all sorts of things, such as increasing the amount of experience you get each run, adding to your max HP, unlocking additional sub weapons or adding to your total number of perk points. Each time you level up you’ll earn a booster pack that has a random card (or cards) that can be equipped, and these can modify your game in all sorts of ways. You can make your pistol more powerful, shoot further and/or change the way it fires, add additional HP, make it so you find extra gold and pretty much anything else you can think of. As you unlock more of them you can really line up some cool combos – you can make it so you get lots of extra gold from everything and then set it so your pistol does extra damage depending on how much gold you have, you can equip loads of experience boosters for grinding, or you can equip loads of perks for your chronobelt to make it last longer and slow time even more if you love the slo-mo. The tricky bit is that there are dozens and dozens of potential upgrades to equip and you’ll never be able to equip more than 13 at a time (and most take more than one perk point!), so you must choose wisely.

When I was developing games I heard a quote about the importance of fun and movement in games. I can’t remember who said it or even what game it was but the gist of it was this – the developer(s) had made a movement system that was so fun that it was a blast just jumping and running around. With such a fun movement system, it was clear the game itself would be fun when placed on top of it. I feel like that sums up the main feeling I have about Flinthook: the movement in the game is just so fun and solid that it eradicates any flaws the game may have had otherwise.

In addition to the fantastic movement system, one of the things that stuck out to me the moment I started Flinthook was the terrific music. I’ve played video games for over 30 years and can count the number of game soundtracks I would buy on both hands, but Flinthook’s music is so terrific it competes with games like Final Fantasy! It’s full of adventure, it’s inspiring and it’s action-packed! From the second I hit the title screen I was amped up and ready to go. The sound effects are great too, and the art is gorgeous.


Flinthook
is a very difficult game, so difficult in fact that I was only able to defeat one of the game’s four bosses so far, not including all of the secrets and additional things the game includes! To get a solid feel for what the game had in store, later on, I watched some YouTube videos, and it’s incredible just how much more there is to the game! Not only do the levels and bosses get ridiculously harder (the final boss requires 12 ghost gems!), there are all sorts of secrets you can uncover by pulling off crazy things like not getting hurt on an entire ship.

Despite the difficulty the game’s brilliant grappling system, addictive leveling, a slew of secrets, amazing music and incredibly deep customization system kept me coming back, and I’ll definitely be playing much, much more of Flinthook in the future as well!

Note: I received a copy of the game from the developer in exchange for an honest review.

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