Have you ever had the urge to travel to new planets but, rather than obliterate alien life on them and harvest the topsoil for resources, you want to catalogue said planet and maybe even look after it in some way? Don’t worry, you’re not odd: you’re the kind of person who may well enjoy The Gunk.
Made by SteamWorld developers Image & Form Games, this is a largely sedate stroll through an alien world that is giving off some strange energy signatures. As interplanetary explorers and miners, you are tempted to the planet by those signatures, but soon find that it has been overrun by a snot-like substance called ‘The Gunk’. With a Luigi’s Mansion-style hoover attachment on your prosthetic arm, you can suck up the Gunk, causing the surrounding area to flourish into life.
This is a third-person adventure game which leads with its story. You are slowly uncovering the story of the planet from beneath the Gunk, and finding out what is causing the ooze. With that information, you can begin to resolve the problem, and restore the planet to its former glory.
There’s some blowing to go with the sucking. You can suck up seeds from the environment and then fire them out as projectiles, allowing Image & Form Games to tease out some formidable puzzles. Fire explosive seeds at scrap-metal that blocks doorways, or cast seeds into magic pools to create fungal platforms.
Key features include:
- Engaging Exploration: Discover a lush jungle planet with damp caves, venture into the unknown and explore a bygone society.
- Corruption & Regrowth: Eradicate the gunk, restore nature, and transform the world around you. Employ the revived plant life to delve deeper into this strange and wondrous ecosystem.
- Intimate Narrative: The narrative is intrinsically linked with the exploration, where our two main characters keep in tight radio contact throughout the game. Fiona Nova lends her voice in a stellar performance as main character Rani.
- Music & Atmosphere: The Gunk invites you to take the time and listen to its soothing tunes. An explorative atmosphere conveyed through an evocative art style. Kick your feet back and enjoy an adventure like no other!
Image & Form Games may be best known for their largely 2D, roguelike games, but here they have gone more ambitious. This is a fully realised 3D world and it looks utterly stunning. We’d go so far to say that this is one of the most beautiful games to hit the Xbox, which isn’t bad for an entirely indie outfit. You can check our review for it here.
“We’re delighted that players can finally visit the alien world we’ve lovingly crafted for them in The Gunk on Xbox and PC,” said Game Director Ulf Hartelius. “We’ve been itching to tell a more ‘grown-up’ story than you’ll have seen in our previous games and that’s precisely what we aim to deliver here in this rich sci-fi world that I hope players are going to have a lot of fun in!”
The Gunk is out now on Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S and costs £19.99 from the Xbox Store. It’s also out on Game Pass day one and can be played on PC.
The Gunk stars Rani, part of our duo of gritty space haulers, struggling to make a buck as they chance upon an untouched planet brimming with life. They came in search of valuable resources, and it looks like they’ve hit the jackpot… As they uncover the dormant secrets of a shattered civilization, they must battle the curse of a toxic gunk parasite, all while getting caught in a spiral of festering mistrust. Use your trusty Power Glove to reverse the corruption, uncover secrets of old and heal the planet! Experience the evolving relationship of the crew, as you explore this unique planet. Use your ingenuity as well as your quick reactions to overcome the challenges that await. What stories lay hidden in this mysterious abandoned world? What does it all mean? What role can Rani play in the fate of this evocative, moody planet? Sometimes you just have to take a leap of faith. Uncover the mystery. Cleanse the Gunk. Save the planet.