Flinthook Review: Rogue Life
Kalvin Martinez / Apr 16th, 2018 No Comments
There are few genres of video games that require more skill than a roguelike/lite. These games are daunting to get into because of the trial and error nature of the gameplay, but the rewards for mastery is a satisfaction that is rarely matched in gaming.
Flinthook is among the Mount Rushmore of great roguelikes/lites. It is dripping with character and charisma thanks to its masked protagonist, beautiful pixel art, and infectious chiptune soundtrack. On top of all that, the gameplay is pitch perfect roguelite combat that keeps you coming back for more punishment.
Coast to Coast
There are many mysteries to be uncovered in Mermaidon, the Siren Galaxy. Much of them are related to the galactic lighthouse, a gift from the mythical Sirens themselves. While the Sirens and lightkeepers alike have faded from Mermaidon, it doesn’t stop pirates from telling tales of them or perhaps foolishing searching for them to make their power their own.
A mystery himself, Flinthook, scours the Siren Galaxy looking for adventure and loot. Taking on the dangerous Cluster Clan and raiding its ships, he is always ready for a challenge. While not much is known about his true identity, his past, or where he came from, one thing is certain: you don’t want to mess with this scrappy pirate.
Much of Flinthook’s story is contained in lore pages found in Grimoiriums. If you’re lucky, you’ll discover these pages as you raid ships, desperately avoiding death’s door to recover some valuable information about Flinthook’s world, gadgets, factions and history.
There is a larger narrative of a mysterious figure working from the shadows manipulating Flinthook, but you only get bits and pieces as you progress. What really draws you into the world and fiction are the lore pages that flesh things out. They are integrated heavily into gameplay, making it a nice reward for raiding a ship.
Raid, Die, Repeat
One important thing to understand before delving into Flinthook is this: you will die — probably a whole lot before you start making significant progress. That’s okay though; trial and error is natural and deaths are a great teacher. Roguelites reward those unafraid to fail or more importantly take death in stride.
In Flinthook, no run will ever be the same as the one that preceded it. This procedurality and randomness means you can’t simply memorize enemy placement or level structure. Here is where death becomes your friend because the more you die, the sharper your skills become. Death also allows you to learn scenarios and strategies that help you better survive the different types of ships you’ll raid.
Each of Flinthook’s raids involve tracking down the location of a bounty. In order to get closer to those boss bounties, Captain Flinthook needs to raid smaller ships and gain piece to feed his compass. By clearing the requisite number of ships, Captain Flinthook can challenge the boss and possibly claim the bounty.
While each playthrough is different, there are key elements you can predict. All of the ships you’ll raid on your way to a boss have specific traits about them, like the platoons on board, a relic shop, bazaars, and flyaxe infestations.
You can choose between three different ships to raid as you get closer to the bounty’s location. This gives you an opportunity to choose a raid that suits your playstyle or to be a particular challenge. Later bounties add multiple conditions to raids, so the benefit lessens as the difficulty amps up.
No run is ever a waste of time. Even if you don’t make it past the first ship, you can learn valuable information about how enemies attack and how a particular raid condition functions. While enemies are randomized, their attack patterns don’t change much, meaning you can better deal with them the more you fight them. This is especially helpful when facing the various end raid and bounty bosses. It gives you an ability to formulate a strategy and muscle memory for taking them out.
More than any of that, every run is useful because you accumulate XP after the conclusion of each run. The better you do, the more experience you gain. The higher your level, the more options you have to buy at the black market, but more importantly, the more booster packs you gain with random perks.
Speaking of perks, you can choose you loadout before raiding any ship. The perks you choose can do any number of things, including giving you the ability to gain experience faster, increasing your HP, and giving you access to more gun modifications. Tinkering with perks and your loadout can help cover up your weaknesses or give you a second chance to complete a raid. Perks are the seasoning to the meal that is Flinthook.
Flinthook is pure roguelite; the difference between success and failure comes down to skill. The purity of skill necessary to be victorious in raids is the driving force to soldier on and figure out better strategies. Pushing past your frustrations and continuously improving to achieve that perfect run is one of the most satisfying moments you can get in gaming.
Flinthook is endlessly fun. Its roguelite setup forces budding space ghost pirates to command a mastery of key skills in order to be successful. There is an addictiveness to the game’s runs that feels like you need methadone to stop.
While it has been available on PC, PlayStation 5 and Xbox One since last year, the Switch version feels like the way Flinthook was meant to be played.
Flinthook was reviewed on Nintendo Switch with a code provided by the developer.
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