I was very excited to play Rogue Legacy when it first came out. This was before roguelike became the buzzword it is today, but even now I find the idea engrossing. A game that generates infinite new challenges for a player to tackle and evolves the arcade mindset into something modern and new. Rogue Legacy didn’t last long for me, as its levels were too procedural and its combat was a bit unwieldy. Still, I held out hope that a procedural platformer would come along and fill that niche for me personally. After spending some time at the Tribute Games booth at PAX East, I have a feeling that Flinthook might just be what I was looking for.
In Flinthook, you play as the titular hooded figure who must navigate through a labyrinthine pirate ship using his quick wits, a blaster, and a grappling hook. There are rings scattered around each room, and flinging yourself from one to the other is as simple as pulling the trigger. These movements feel really smooth, and I immediately picked it up and dodged enemy attacks with ease. After my demo, I asked if there were going to be upgrades to the hook that allow you to grab onto enemies or change its properties, but was told that the tool was going to be used purely for navigation.
I was having so much fun swinging around that I barely even dipped into the other abilities at my disposal. You can briefly slow down time to line up tricky shots, and there are subweapons as well, although I only had access to a reusable bomb during the demo. You can find the subweapons and upgrades in chests along your way, and the map is laid out like Isaac despite the side scrolling nature of the gameplay. Instead of walking North from a top down view, our hero can just grapple to the ceiling to jump into the room above.
Tribute Games have put out a number of great retro-inspired games at this point, and Flinthook just might be the best looking out of all of them. The artwork is dense with details and the animations are cartoony in the best way. I love the way that Flinthook whistles and summons an anchor that crashes through the ceiling and takes him away at the end of every stage, humorously breaking the illusion of being lost in a maze. Everything hangs together even when you’re speeding around the room on your hook, allowing for a twitchy gameplay style that is vital for this type of death labyrinth.
The demo ended just before a huge boss fight, and I was desperate to keep playing. Out of everything I sampled on the show floor, Flinthook excited me the most. Tribute Games can either put in the item and enemy variety of a game like Isaac, or focus on obstacle variety that is more fitting of a platformer, but we win either way. Waiting for Flinthook‘s late 2016 release is going to be a slow killer.
Flinthook was demoed inside the Indie Megabooth at PAX East 2016. It is aiming for a late 2016 release.