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I’m so damn sick of nostalgia. You can’t look anywhere without being reminded of the gone-and-lost past. Yooka-Laylee fits so many inches of it down you’re throat that you’re lucky to survive. Shooters vomit the archaic designs of Doom and Quake as if they’re features. Even Call of Duty has hurried back to World War 2 like a castrated space cadet that has no other safe place left.
I have memories, too, people. Some of my fondest are of being a young lad, swaddled by the TV’s damaging glow, controlling Mario through a magical kingdom. But even the misplaced plumber hasn’t crawled from infancy and he’s over 30 years old! And, please, let’s never ever talk about Sonic.
The days of the basic platformer are dead and reviving them would be a long, smelly yawn. No matter how much it pains me to say, the nostalgiagasm our generation is forced to take to the cheek has taught me that the good ol’ days are good and dead for a reason.
But lo and behold: Flinthook!
A modern rogue-like platformer wrapped in a deceptively slick but retro package.
One of my greatest gripes about the nostalgia flood is that it often lacks innovation, resting on the idea that retro equals success. Luckily, and unluckily, for Flinthook, it sets out to prove you can still do something new with the old ways.
As the name implies, your sockheaded space pirate is equipped with one hell of a hook that allows him to zip around the map with relative ease, and let’s not forget the time manipulation belt that allows time to slow down for some intense dodges.
Plenty of power-ups and treasures await collection, which in turn allows the player to defeat once-difficult adversaries. I never felt satisfied, however. The power-ups lacked that OOMPH I expected. Unlocking a treasure provided little fanfare.
Highs and lows
At times the procedural generation seemed inherently unfair. You know that feeling that Dark Souls brings, where it’s annoying but still a challenge? That’s not found here.
Half the time, I’d walk into a room that was designed specifically to hurt me without any way of avoiding it, like a cutter going to the museum of knives.
At least with a game like Binding of Isaac, you can do something to avoid the pain–or it’d be a fun experience until you learn what to do.
The menus are clunky and I believe that’s entirely due to the clinging nature of a retro package. There’s only so much you can convey clearly with blocky letters and even blockier icons.
The success of Flinthook doesn’t come from its appearance. My joy was found in the controls, which set it apart from the older platformers that inspired it. And that’s the main difference between this game and others: It’s inspired.
If not for the oddly unfair rooms, I’d say the game is well worth its price.
So, let’s hammer out the positives:
Fluid, fun controls.
A nearly flawless rogue-lite loop
Perfect price point for content
And now the negatives:
Unfair level generation
Lackluster unlock system
You mix half of a great game in with half of a trash pile, dash a little paprika, and voila.
I bestow Flinthook with a Silver Penny.
It might not be the best game out there but I still had a blast–for the most part.