Where do I start with Flinthook? The graphics? The sound? The controls? I can get onto all that later, we have more important matters to attend to first. I’ll start with the score. This is a 95% game. Simple as that. If that’s all you need to know then thanks for reading, leave a comment in the section below. If you’re still here then you are about to find out why. This isn’t really a review, it’s more of a love letter. A declaration of my total and utter infatuation with this slice of perfection. As soon as the intro began I knew I had a new obsession. Let’s enjoy it together right now. Pour yourself a beverage of choice, get your favourite snack within hands reach, put on the fluffiest dressing gown you can find, and enjoy this little beauty.
Wasn’t that beautiful. It introduces the protagonist and sets the tone for the whole game. This is what I am, this is what I do, and this is how I do it. The person in question is Captain Flinthook. A ghostly space pirate who doesn’t think twice about smashing a giant anchor into someone else’s spaceship, shooting the place to bits, stealing every shiny object in sight, and high tailing it out of there.
Now, let’s talk about the game itself. Developed and published by Tribute Games Flinthook is a roguelite, platformer, RPG with bullet-hell thrown in there as well. The aim is to take out the rival pirates and dominate the Galaxy using nothing more than a hook shot, a blaster and a time warping belt. There are 5 pirate bosses to defeat, these come in the form of bounties. To hunt them down you’ll need a bit of help from your goo compass who can point you in the right direction if he eats enough Ghost Gems. Still with me? Good.
You collect Ghost Gems from giant chests found in procedurally generated ships. Each bounty has a set number of gems you’ll need to feed to Gooey before he can find the target. Once you do find them you get a chance to defeat them. One chance. If you die then you have to start the whole process again. Sounds horrible right? It is and it isn’t. When you DO die, and you will, a lot, all the gold that you’re carrying gets turned into XP. Whenever you level up you get a little booster pack that you get to open, and you actually have to mash a button to open it as well. Inside the packs are random perks. At the beginning of each run you can assign these perks in any combination your little mind can fathom. You do have a set amount of perk slots though. Plus the perks have different numerical values.
You can buy more perk slots…
FROM THE BLACK MARKET!!!!
Ghost Gems are not the only things you get from the big chests, you also get Ghost Coins. These are the Black Market currency and used to buy PERMANENT perks. Perks like different sub weapons, more health, more XP or a cracking pair of boots! Those boots are probably one of the most useful items you get your hands on. Why’s that? Follow me, I’ll tell you.
The boots are essential because aim and movement is on the same analogue stick. I know, I know, this sounds like blasphemy, it takes a hot minute to get used to but when you do. When it clicks and you fling yourself across the room, pinging of hooks when necessary, blasting enemies without missing a beat. Boy it’s a good feeling. That’s what this game does. It makes you feel things. Fear. Pride. Excitement. Chest pains. When things get really hectic you always have the option to briefly slow down time using a snazzy belt. Back to these boots I was talking about, they anchor (pun completely intended) you to the spot so you can fire in every direction without walking off a platform into some poisonous gas. Which I definitely have never done. Ever. This game controls superbly well and it needs to. There can be so much going on at once that even in slow motion you still need to think fast. The only reason you fail is because you made it happen, not because of shonky controls.
Everything in Flinthook is drawn and animated beautifully. It’s in the 16bit style but it’s so charming and expertly done. The way your cape flutters around behind you. The rotation on the dormant rings. The subtle way that secret rooms are marked. Yeah, there are secret rooms in Flinthook. There’s probably secret lots of things but I’ve only found the rooms. There is so much in this game and it’s all drawn with care and love, every pixel has a purpose. I mean, just look at this game.
I’ve saved the best for last, the soundtrack. It’s so good. It’s the best soundtrack to a game since Need for Speed Underground 2. I’ve had it on repeat while writing this review, I’ve had it on while taking a bath, I’ve had it stuck in my all day every day. I don’t just love the music in this game, im IN LOVE WITH IT. If it was acceptable to marry an audio file I’d divorce my wife quicker than you could say C flat. I could write another 900 words and still not do it justice. Just take my word for it ok, its perfection.