If there is one thing that makes pirates better, it’s being space pirates, and if there is one thing that makes a platformer better, it’s having a hookshot.
Flinthook happens to have both.
With fast paced grappling, the ability to slow time in hectic situations, and a continuing sense of progress even when you die, Flinthook will not only have you coming back for more, but it will have you doing it with a big goofy grin.
In a galaxy filled with scoundrels and miscreants, everyone seeks treasure and riches! But when a malevolent treasure hunter hatches a sinister plan to unleash an ancient evil threatening the cosmos itself, Flinthook, the galaxy’s smallest but toughest pirate zips into action! Be ready to jump, zip and blast around the meanest fleets the galaxy has to offer! Whether using time-slowing powers or his trusty blasma pistol, Flinthook is ready to take on all pirates, steal treasure and save the galaxy itself!
I have to talk about Flinthook’s art style and design first, simply because I love it so much. Aesthetically, Flinthook absolutely oozes charm. The pixel sprites, the art style, the weird and wonderful characters, and the music of Flinthook are all meticulously and perfectly executed to make a game that is on one hand a nostalgic homage to the many platformers of yesteryear, while also being something entirely new and original.
I had a great big grin on my face practically the entire time that I played Flinthook, even when I was getting my butt handed to me by a particular tough challenge. I couldn’t help but feel happy zipping through the air with my hookshot, slowing time to pop off a couple shots, before zipping back out of harms way: It’s just plain fun, and you should take that as a rousing endorsement.
The gameplay loop of Flinthook is pretty straightforward; You goal is to raid a series of pirate ships to collect Ghost Gems, which you will need to feed to Slimey, your Goo Compass. Feed him (it?) enough Ghost Gems, and he (it?) will be able to lead you straight to your current bounty, worth a mountain of gold. (Listen, I’m not sure about the gender terminology of Goo Compasses, or how they work. Just…. just roll with it.)
Different Bounties need a different amount of Soul Gems to be located, and you’ll get one Soul Gem from the Space Shell you find inside the final, large chest in each ship. This isn’t easy though, and you’ll have to scour the space worthy vessels room by room, blasting baddies, dodging lasers, and jumping over pits of hazardous slime all the while. These ships aren’t linear, and some can be positively labyrinthine, so there’s some exploring that will have to happen.
To accomplish this, You’re armed with three main tools: a Blasma Pistol, a time-slowing Chrono-belt and a Quickhook grapple. While each of these elements have appeared in countless games before Flinthook, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen them so wonderfully and perfectly combined. The combination of being able to slow time, hookshot you’re way across the screen, and fire off energy blasts is easy to understand, difficult to truly master, and insanely fun.
Part of this is because everything controls beautifully. Sure, there’s a little getting used to how far you can throw your hookshot, or the range of your gun, but once you get comfortable with your arsenal and learn your tool’s range, you’ll be zipping about the map, feet barely touching the floor as you gun down enemies with (relative) ease.
I started playing Flinthook with the keyboard and mouse, but ended up moving over to the gamepad after a few runs. In trying both control schemes out, I’d say that I prefer the gamepad, but that both styles of control work well. It never really felt like the game was designed for one and ported to the other, and the keyboard/mouse combo felt a little bit more accurate, while the gamepad felt like it encouraged you to be a bit more fast paced. Take that for what you will, and if you’re not loving one,try the other if you can!
The entire Flinthook experience is made even more interesting thanks to Perk Deck. Before you begin each run, you’ll have the opportunity to outfit yourself with a number of perks, tailoring your experience to take advantage of your strengths, mitigate your weaknesses, and help ensure you get exactly what you need to keep moving. You get a Perk Pack each time you level up, which contains a random perk, increasing your available choices and options, and over time you’ll be able to equip more and more perks before launching your ship.
You won’t be able to change these perks after you start you’re run so it’s worth thinking about combos that will apply in a lot of different situations. The only time you’ll be able to change your perks is after you die.
And you will die in Flinthook: a lot. The obstacle courses you’ll find in some of these space pirate ships are brutal, there are hordes of enemies to get through, and that’s not even touching how brutal some of the bosses can be. Luckily, Flinthook makes every run feel worthwhile. While you do loose your Ghost Gems, you keep any Green Coins you happen to collect, which can be used at the Black Market to purchase new weapons, HP and XP upgrades, and more Perk Slots. You’re always making progress towards the next upgrade, and those upgrades make you stronger and stronger, able to take on more and more of the game’s challenges.
Flinthook looks and feels fantastic. The game controls beautifully, combining three classic video game tools to create a fast paced platforming experience that may be punishing and brutal, but never feels pointless or like a waste of time thanks to offering you continual ways of increasing your abilities through the Perk System. The art of the game is almost as colorful as the characters inhabiting this charming world of space piracy, and everything from the animation to the soundtrack is just plain charming.
Flinthook feels like a classics, and I’m convinced that it will be.