Developer: Tribute Games
Publisher: Tribute Games
Release Date: 9 March 2018
Price: $14.99 / £10.99
Reviewed by Clay Howard
When I first saw footage for Flinthook as it neared its release date, I couldn't help but become excited to get a taste of that quirky and appetizing pirate action platforming shooter. Yet once I got my hands on my copy, I realized that I hadn't quite fully understood what Flinthook was completely all about. The roguelike type features that set this game apart are also what define Flinthook itself, for better or for worse.
The Pirate's Life For Me
Developed and produced by Tribute Games, Flinthook is an action platformer shooter with roguelike elements, based solely around our protagonist Captain Flinthook. Now don't ask me whether he's human cause I'm not quite sure, but he is a pirate with the desire to plunder and take down other pirates and pirate bosses.
Equipped with your trusty hookshot, Flinthook can grapple his way through levels quickly, avoiding projectiles and sharp obstacles as he goes. The hookshot is aimed with the right joystick in 360 degrees, and while it does take some time to master it is quite enjoyable. The goal of the game is to make your way through three procedurally generated pirate ships, uncovering clues that allow you to track down and fight against mean ol’ pirate bosses. If Flinthook dies at any point when tracking down the clues, the player must start over.
Different abilities can be equipped before each level, and additional slots can be unlocked. These abilities carry over even after death, and allow the player to get progressively further into the game. They range from additional health, to longer ability time and power. All these power ups can either be purchased in shops during levels, awarded in card packs at the end of a level, or purchased on the game's 'black market' in the main menu.
The controls in Flinthook are pretty solid, and I felt mostly in control of the captain throughout. The action gets pretty intense so having tight and reactive controls is a must. The hookshot is fun, and all the blaster shooting can be quite enjoyable. The random levels provide a fun array of challenges and obstacles to dodge and fight throughout.
Sounds as good as it looks
Aesthetically, Flinthook is an amazing pixel style game, and honestly the visuals are my favourite part. So much detail went into every character, set piece, and menu. This fun art style alone almost make this game worth picking up, as the artists involved did a phenomenal job. Alongside the really cool looking Captain Flinthook, each enemy has an enjoyable and fun visage to them as well.
The music too is strong, really capturing the essence of the adventure you're taking part in. Chiptune style music can usually only venture so far, but Flinthook made me second guess that assumption entirely. It's up there with Shovel Knight as having one of the best indie soundtracks of recent times.
Arguably my biggest complaint with the game is its difficulty. I found myself constantly dying at the hands of the evil pirate crews. While that may be fine for a game such as this, it was a little off putting in the early stages. Flinthook takes a while to get comfortable with, mainly the controls and overall game objective, but I kept having to start the pirate boss hunting process over everytime I died.
Yes the game rewards you, even after you perish, and abilities and such carry over, but it takes a bit of time and determination to get to a point where making it through three levels without biting the dust is a realistic proposition. A more gradual difficulty spike as the game progressed would have been much more welcome.
Overall Flinthook is a beautifully crafted game both visually and audibly, with great character design and wonderful music. While the objectives and level design are a little on the simple side, fans of the roguelike genre should be pleased. The difficulty frustrated at times, and dampened my desire to jump back in, but if this style of game looks or sounds appealing to you, I definitely recommend checking it out.
Pros & Cons
+ Great art style
+ Brilliant soundtrack
+ Fun hookshot movement
- Steep difficulty
- Confusing objectives