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Flinthook Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Despite being incredibly difficult at times, I still had a lot of fun blasting my way through the solar system. A lot of this comes down to the grappling hook mechanics, which is a real joy to use and will take some time to master. I also love the old school visuals, run 'n gun action and all the stuff you can collect from level to level. Even when I suffered a horrible death, I still wanted to jump back in and grab more booty. That's not something I can say about a lot of roguelikes. While I wish the aiming was more precise and the levels a little more diverse, I'm all but certain you'll have a great time kicking alien butt in Flinthook. Rating: 71%
Flinthook
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  • Review Score:

  • B
Do you remember Ristar? He was the first new hero Sonic Team came up after spending five years working on nothing but Sonic the Hedgehog games. Sega hyped him as the next big thing and critics loved his side-scrolling antics, but Genesis owners were largely indifferent and left wanting yet another Sonic sequel instead. I couldn't help but be reminded of Ristar while playing Flinthook, the clever new roguelike from Tribute Games. While the gameplay may not be the same and the structure is totally different, this brand new 2D platformer feels like the kind of thing Sonic Team would have made if they weren't forced to work on an endless parade of games starring a spiky-haired hedgehog. Oh, what a better world that would have been.

Flinthook is yet another great example of a neo-retro game done right. It has an exciting new hero with a cool move that's fun to use and hard to master. It offers a compelling world made up of authentic pixel graphics and great boss fights. In fact, the only thing that reminded me that it's not a long forgotten Genesis game is the roguelike structure that sees the levels change with every play. Well, that and the fact that I'm holding a PlayStation 4 controller.


You play as Flinthook, a masked pirate who is out to thwart the dastardly plans of a sinister treasure hunter that is planning on unleashing an ancient evil into the cosmos. This sends the galaxy's smallest (yet toughest) hero on an adventure to take down a series of outer space pirate ships, traverse the ever-changing level designs and kick alien butt. He'll do this with the help of a handy grappling hook that will send him flying all over the stages and help him avoid all kinds of challenging obstacles.

The goal in each level is basically the same. You'll break into a pirate ship and search every room for the booty. You never really know what you're going to find in each room, but many of them will have you fighting waves of bad guys that appear out of thin air. If you can defeat all of these foes you'll earn a treasure chest and the ability to move on to the next room, which could be anything from a platforming puzzle to a guy trying to sell you extra perks. Once you've found the booty, you'll whistle for an anchor and escape before the ship explodes into a million pieces. Simple.

Actually, now that I think about it, it's not that simple. Like most roguelikes, you're constantly worrying about drying. This is one of those games where if you run out of health, you basically have to start the level over from the beginning. Thankfully, every run gives you experience points and the chance to find hidden relics, as well as extra perks you can apply to make your next run a little easier. Because of this, it never really feels like the run was completely pointless, even when you die in the most frustrating way possible.

The combination of shooting and hooking is definitely a lot fun, but it also comes with some annoying downsides. My biggest complaint is that the grappling hook is not always as precise as I would have liked, especially in situations where there are both things to latch on to and enemies with protective bubbles. You'll need to shoot your hook to pop those bubbles, but too often you'll accidentally latch onto something else and fly right into an enemy. This is especially annoying during the boss fights, where dying means you have to start the level over from the very beginning.

Flinthook (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

I also found that the confined rooms and limited range of your weapon made dodging enemies a real pain. It's common to take a couple cheap hits because there's so much going on around you. The enemy bullets are large and can seemingly go the length of the level and even through platforms, all while you are forced to contend with hidden spikes, suicidal enemies and other obstacles. For the most part, I had a good time learning and memorizing each bud guy's quirks, but there were times when I simply didn't have enough room to avoid attacks. This is a tough game that is occasionally unfair, but that didn't keep me from having a good time with Flinthook.

As the game gets tougher, you'll find that the need to grind for loot and experience points increases. It starts to feel like you need to go back and mindlessly grind every time you unlock a new level, which hurts the pacing a bit. I also wish the different levels were a bit more distinct. Like a lot of roguelikes, you'll end up seeing a lot of the same rooms, obstacles and environments repeated, which can make grinding feel even more repetitive. The good news is that none of this is a deal breaker and fans of old school shooters will love the challenge.

Despite being incredibly difficult at times, I still had a lot of fun blasting my way through the solar system. A lot of this comes down to the grappling hook mechanics, which is a real joy to use and will take some time to master. I also love the old school visuals, run 'n gun action and all the stuff you can collect from level to level. Even when I suffered a horrible death, I still wanted to jump back in and grab more booty. That's not something I can say about a lot of roguelikes. While I wish the aiming was more precise and the levels a little more diverse, I'm all but certain you'll have a great time kicking alien butt in Flinthook.
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