If you ever have to write a screenplay, one of the biggest keys to success is to make the first ten pages as brilliantly dazzling as you can. If you don’t, then a prospective producer or big name actor will just stop reading and throw it in the bin.
In Flinthook, the game instantly sells the idea to the gamer. You’re a space pirate, with a hook on your hand which allows you to zip around levels, plundering other spaceships for treasure and glory. It draws you in immediately, but then, when you first start playing, it feels a bit too fast, with the gameplay a bit too old school. In fact, you might just switch it off because you feel useless.
That would however be a big mistake.
Tribute Games Inc. have, for your pleasure, developed a fast paced action platformer with some RPG elements thrown in for good measure. 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. Flinthook is ready to take on all pirates, steal treasure and save the galaxy itself. That blurb pretty much tells the whole story, and because the narrative isn’t very important, it’s all about the action.
The basics of Flinthook are simple. You board a spaceship, explore the different levels of the craft and fight creatures. You find a treasure box at the end of the your exploration, resulting in you leaving the ship whilst destroying it into a thousand smithereens. In these ships there are all manner of traps, creatures and hard platforming sequences to be had. A normal level will have some creatures that come in waves to kill you and it is up to you to destroy them in a number of ways, whilst utilising your arsenal of tricks.
First trick up is the Hook. You can jump and spin around the ship using the hook, all with a quick press of the button. This is fun of course and a great way to navigate the terrain and avoid enemy fire. But it is fast and can take a while to master the control of it. The next trick up your sleeve is the pistol, which can fire in any direction to take out the enemies and open up hidden treasures. Then you have a button to slow down time which is primarily used to get you through some laser barriers, but can also help in some firefights, and well, just for slowing things down so you can take a breather. There are also special weapons like bombs that you can collect from treasure chests along the way.
When you attack a ship in a Raid, you navigate through the level attacking enemies, jumping to avoid traps, collecting coins and gaining experience. You’ll die a lot, but that’s okay… as you’ll just need to learn to embrace the darkness. You see, when you die your experience goes up and the goodies you can buy to enhance your skills get better and better. There are perks you can purchase and add to your pirate, just so you can make your life that little bit easier. These are numerous, but will include the likes of extra power to your weapon, maxing out your health, or gaining more experience or gold, all by completing certain challenges in game.
The gameplay works well and improves, not just the more you play, but also the more you get used to the frantic pace of the game. As I said previously, it would be easy to get put off by Flinthook within the first five minutes, thinking you won’t be any good at it. Persistence pays off in this game though and you find yourself going back to hit a Raid, time and time again, all because of the fun playability and addictive nature of the game. You can easily fire out a Raid in ten minutes flat, so it’s a brilliant game to drop in and out of without having to invest hours into. The difficulty level does rise considerably, but hopefully by that time so should your skills.
Flinthook looks very retro, what with its 2D styling and cut scenes, but never does it feel outdated. Instead it feels sharp and concise, with a detailed colourful world with well designed characters and enemies. The soundtrack is fizzy, with superb loops and very catchy tunes. The effects are again retro, but original in their design and execution.
Overall there is a lot of fun to have with Flinthook. If you like fast paced action games with a retro twist, then this is going to be one of those five star games that you’ll love. If you hate these type of games, and you know who you are, I would say give it a go and persevere, because it does reward the effort. There is a lot of game here for an indie title and even though I’ve put in many hours, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. This doesn’t matter though, because I know I’m going to keep coming back, just to put on my space hook, get me some space pirate booty and complete a Raid or two.