The Roguelike genre/subgenre has certainly exploded across platforms over the course of the past few years. While there have been some disappointments and some that have tried to evolve the genre, Flinthook takes a unique approach, by combining side-scrolling platformer with tight shooting mechanics, and a thoroughly enjoyable grappling hook.
As the infamous Captain Flinthook, a space pirate, you are determined to pillage and plunder your way across the galaxy. The space pirate motif is quite popular, but I must admit, I found the level design and art style in Flinthook to be quite compelling. With controls that are quite responsive and simplistic in nature, you can use your grappling hook to latch on and propel yourself into the air, use your gun to shoot nearby enemies, and even slow time down to a crawl. Sure, shooting takes some time to get used to the fact that aiming and moving are controlled by the same mechanic, but as you progress, you can purchase an ability that negates movement while aiming. I won’t call it a necessity, but I highly recommend it. Even if you come across rooms without enemies, most are populated with spikes, lasers, and other environmental hazards aiming to impede your progress.
The goal in Flinthook is to reach and defeat the next boss, but first, you need to feed ghost gems to the creature inside your watch. These are gained by opening the massive treasure chests located on each and every ship. The bosses are quite intriguing encounters, and in my experience, there is a good chance you’ll end your run trying to defeat one. Each ship you board is a myriad of randomly generated rooms, each with their unique layout. You’ll come across empty rooms, populated with nothing more than some barrels, and some hoops to latch onto, and others that contain waves of enemies, both on the ground and flying. Every level has its own trait or traits, that can alter the experience. While some may produce an increase in enemy waves, otherwise turn the level design into a labyrinth of rooms, or even envelope every room in a thick fog, masking your view.
With each successful raid (or failure), you’ll gain experience based on the number of coins you are holding and if you happen to come across any relics during your run. Leveling unlocks booster packs for you to open, yielding various perks that you can equip. When you begin, you can only equip a couple of perks, but as you earn tokens for permanent upgrades, you can expand your perk slots to allow for many more to be equipped at the same time. Each one costs a different amount of slots, and while extending the range of your pistol may cost 2 or 3 slots depending upon range, you can also equip perks to gain healing items, increase the amount of gold you find, and more.
While you may earn Black Market coins slowly, it is the best way to progress in the game if you find yourself consistently failing to take down the pirate captains. These range from an increase of your maximum health, more XP, gold for ending battles quickly, unlocking new sub weapons, and more. I recommend increasing your perk slots first, as it is essential to equip new traits you unlock as you play. Health is an important upgrade as well, as you can die rather swiftly in the game. There are also daily and weekly challenges to compete against other players if you are looking for something new to do in the game. These levels have multiple traits attached to them, increasing the difficulty. In fact, one of the Daily challenges I most recently played had a labyrinth of rooms, in conjunction with haunted chambers and thick fog. Without the map, exploring the sheer amount of rooms, most with rooms on all sides of them along with invincible floating ghosts that are always chasing you made for a highly dangerous challenge.
Flinkhook is an enjoyable game, with worthy permanent upgrades that can help in each consecutive run. There are weekly and daily challenges, and even more complicated versions of bosses that you can unlock if you nothing else to purchase. The use of slowing down time and your grappling hook makes for a highly agile protagonistNote: Flinthook was reviewed on PlayStation 4. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.