Tagged: roguelike

First Impressions: Flinthook

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Oh, crap. This game is difficult.

The first thing you need to know about Flinthook is that it is merciless in its mechanics. It’s a roguelike, so that means I’m back at the beginning of the level every two minutes or so. I’m having such a hard time just trying to shoot enemies, fire my hook in the right direction and not step in the bad stuff all at the same time. I loved Spelunky, where I felt like I was actually making progress in the caverns before dying a hero’s death (not really). Flinthook is not like that. Flinthook doesn’t care about your feelings.

On the upside, the game is beautiful and has really fun music. I mean, check this out. This is cool. I fell in love the second this started playing, not knowing that I would be crying within five minutes.

So, onto the combat itself.

You have a gun. It shoots plasma orbs. You can slow down time. I always forget this feature exists, because I’m too distracted. It would probably help a lot if I remembered to use it. I could not fathom playing this game with a keyboard and mouse, however, if you’re using a controller I hope you can get used to everything being mapped onto one side because you can’t change it. Hahahahaha!

Ha.

…Damn.

Honestly? This doesn’t bother me. While playing I never stopped to think, “man, I really wish I could reconfigure the controls.” Some people might, but for me, it wasn’t a deal breaker. I’m just bad at the game, and a different control scheme is not going to save me.

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Fortunately, even though I’m dying a lot I’m still making progress. I’m still leveling up and collecting items that will open up new worlds to explore. The downside is that the worlds are all a bit samey. I haven’t played far enough to see if this ever changes, but it seems like all the worlds are pretty much the same theme which might get a little bland after a while. It also seems like there’s a fair amount of grinding involved. This will either be hit or miss for some folks. I personally don’t mind shutting off my brain for thirty minutes on the couch while I grapple hook around and break things. It’s cathartic.

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So far, I like Flinthook a fair bit but I really wish it was on the Switch. I’d like to curl up in bed and play it.

Developer: Tribute Games (Shawn says he enjoys the look of their stuff but doesn’t actually like playing any of it. Shawn, you’re not going to like this one either. Go back to Spelunky.)

Release date: April 18th, 2017

Platforms: PS4 (played), Steam PC, Xbox One

Regular price: $14.99

Official website

 

Achieving: A Rogue’s Tale from Spelunky

This is why I love roguelikes and especially Spelunky! I start a fresh game in the Mines, find the Udjat Eye which guides me to the Black Market once I make it to the Jungle where I could buy the Ankh which grants an unheard of second life! I’m a few thousand bucks short for the $50,000 Ankh so I carefully bomb my way around the numerous shopkeepers to get some extra jewels and gold nuggets out of the terrain. The last nugget I need is all the way on the far side of the level and my final bomb sends the shopkeepers on a rampage.

Jumping and blasting like maniacs, branding me a terrorist, they all either kill themselves on the Tiki Trap spikes or bound themselves into a small alcove… where the Ankh is. I carefully run around to the shops to loot the abandoned items and see if the coast is clear and that’s about the time a chill runs up my spine. Oh no, the Ghost is coming! I head back towards the Ankh as he appears right there on the edge of the screen and chuck four bombs into the Enraged Shopkeeper hole. It’s somehow enough to kill them all and I drop in to touch the Ankh as the ghost closes in just pixels away.

I book it back around to the exit, taking a hit from a shopkeeper but somehow avoiding certain death from another. I duck inside the exit and check to make sure “stealing” the Ankh counted for the Achievement. It did! Splendid, now I’ve got two lives and — as soon as my mind starts reeling with the possibilities I’m hit at the next exit by a patrolling shopkeeper which wastes my extra life and killed in a totally forgettable fashion shortly after. That’s how these games go; dizzying, miraculous highs followed almost immediately by crushing lows. But man, I gotta get that high again!

Achieving: Tales of Pointless Self Reward in Games retold in brief posts whenever we feel like it.

Of 2012: Year of the Roguelike

Permanent death, overpowered enemies, unpredictable outcomes, random loot. I had always been put off by roguelikes but these 2012 releases either caught my attention with their visual style or mixed the classic gameplay with something familiar.

I had played the Binding of Isaac in 2011 and didn’t care for it but something finally clicked and the Wrath of the Lamb DLC opened up the game and the roguelike genre for me. Red Rogue was one of the IGF games I looked into and it captured my interest for weeks with its dark, tiny side-scrolling pixelart dungeons.

MatchHack distilled the roguelike down to its most basic with tile matching, memory gameplay that determined if you won, lost or scored some sweet gear. Lose track of the tiles, though, and it’s back to Square One. I still load this up for a quick hit of rogue-ish torment. I was then turned onto Spelunky when it finally debuted on Xbox Live Arcade but I had no idea what it was like so I turned to the free PC original. I have yet to escape the jungle (i.e. level 2) but I keep coming back for more. It’s terrifying, satisfying, empowering and devastating all compressed into a few minutes of gameplay.

I then joined the zeitgeist and jumped on FTL which marries TWO kinds of space sim to the rogeulike as you try to keep your crew and ship alive. It is downright infuriating at times but supremely satisfying when you’re dancing around the keyboard to command squad members, weapons and defenses in unison.

Two unexpected roguelikes came my way with Tokyo Jungle and The Denpa Men both of which looked like completely different games at first glance. Tokyo Jungle sets random stipulations at the start and forces you to play by its rules or risk losing a century of progress. The Denpa Men will mercilessly wipe out your party members and send them back to the ether from whence they came without a moment’s hesitation. It’s particularly jarring given the game’s colorful visuals and simplified turn-based gameplay.

And very last minute is Don’t Starve which Maxx bought for me in December. It’s a terrifying mix of Minecraft and Harvest Moon with a Tim Burton aesthetic. It’s still evolving through beta but I already love it and can’t pull myself away as days/weeks/months pass in the game without taking my life.

I think I nailed it with that Spelunky description; roguelikes compress a ton of strong emotional responses into short, random encounters. I came to value their potentially endless replayability this year given our money situation and discovered a whole new kind of game to enjoy… and hate and fear and loathe and cherish.