Every once in a while there comes a game that delivers on every level. These are the ones that are classics and will be remembered for years to come. There have been many game releases so far in 2017 and few have delivered on their full potential quite like Flinthook has. The team at Tribute Games are not new to the game development scene and it shows in spades with their newest release.
In Flinthook you play as a pirate on a mission to find a precious belonging. The story is easy to understand, and gets you going right into the gameplay within minutes of starting. It does something that not a lot of modern games seem to do, which is to let you experience its mechanisms through gameplay instead of tutorials. The creators hand you the reigns and hope for the best. Within the first five minutes of starting up Flinthook you are already a master at using the character hook to sling and fly across the screen with ease. The controls are so intuitive and finely tuned that it feels like second nature; you never really have to think about much besides what is happening on the screen.
The modern pixel aesthetic of Flinthook is something very special. The animations are so phenomenal that they just ooze life into a world that feels, at times, like playing a million dollar budget cartoon. Title character Flinthook’s facial expressions whenever he is examining his surroundings are just drop dead adorable. All of the bosses within the game have their own quirks that are immediately noticeable because of the animation. The soundtrack helps amplify everything within the game, turning a genre that would normally be kind of infuriating to most into a happy affair. There is nothing the game has going for it that isn’t designed to help magnify the other pieces. Everything works together flawlessly.
Flinthook is a mishmash of MANY different genres that somehow have come together to form a holy matrimony. There is a rogue-like, an RPG, platformer, bullet hell and dungeon crawler that somehow form one of the most exhilarating and pure gaming experiences of the year. You progress through the game by choosing a ship to raid, and then the next one and the next one until you reach the boss of that area. Each ship is randomly generated and has a different mutation for the stage: some stages might have more traps and bad guys, others might not have a map and have traps all over the walls. With each raid you will find skill cards and gain experience points. The possibilities feel quiet endless with the system that is in place. Not only will you be thankful for the random generation at the core of the game because of dying often, but your deaths will actually mean something. With each death there is a screen that shows you what items, cards and how much experience you have gained. The items and skills you have found during your run are able to be used for the rest of the game. As you level up you get to buy different perks and stats for your character. Then, using the cards gives different skills or upgrades for your gun, your health, XP gain and even new abilities.
There’s enough of a reason to keep coming back and playing levels regardless of death, finding and experiencing different things each time you play. Within the levels there are lore-revealing treasures, shops, libraries and much more. Flinthook is chock full of content, and there is no denying that unless you explore and replay you’ll only scratch the surface for most of what this game has to offer.
Everything in Flinthook is astounding, from the aesthetics all the way down to the controls. All of the parts within are fine tuned and beautiful. It all works together to form a graceful, well oiled machine that never stops surprising. It hooked me, pun very much intended, from the very moment I started it up. I could just feel the amount of blood, sweat and tears that were put into it, resulting in stunning animations, gorgeous pixel art, and fantastic music. The story is equally great, and the gameplay is fun and addicting. Tribute Games have knocked this out of the park with the bases loaded. Flinthook will no doubt live on beside the other indie darlings of our time and be considered a classic from here on out.
This game review is based on Steam copies sent to SideQuesting by the publisher.