Flinthook is a charming little rogue-lite that puts you in the shoes of an adorable space-pirate with a never-ending thirst for loot and adventure. With your trusty ship and grappling hook, you’ll hop from freighter to freighter while plundering gold, searching for your next bounty, and having a hell of a good time!
The thing that immediately drew me in to Flinthook was it’s focus on momentum. Your primary means of getting around the level is your grappling hook, and all of the levels are based around this. Golden, glimmering rings litter each room, tied up in a beautiful web of rope and chain. Your character has a single, whimpy jump, as well as an equally pitiful wall jump, so swinging around like Pirate Batman quickly makes perfect sense. Trying to get used to the grappling mechanic might initially feel a bit out of control at first, but once it finally clicks and you get good at it, you can navigate most rooms and fights without ever touching the ground.
“Flinthook may look like a mogwai on the outside, but it’s definitely a gremlin at heart.”
Outside the movement itself, the gameplay is pretty simple. You have a standard laser blaster to shoot enemies with, and you’re able to pick up secondary weapons around the game world. You also have an on-demand slow-mo ability to help get you out of tight spots. You start each session by picking a bounty to go after, customizing your load-out, and picking one of 3 ships to invade. Each ship has a hidden chest that contains a special item you have to collect called a ‘ghost gem’. You’ll need these gems to power your bounty-finding compass.
Live. Die. Repeat.
Progression is very similar to games like Rogue Legacy and Enter the Gungeon. You’ll incrementally level up and get currency to spend on gear each time you die. However, the stand-out feature that really shines in Flinthook is the perk system, which works more like a deck of cards than other perk systems. When starting a run, you are asked to select your perks from a pool of ones you have unlocked. You only have a set amount of perk slots, and each card takes up varying amounts of spaces. Additionally, each time you level up, you get a “booster pack” with one or more random perk cards in them.
What this means is that once you gather enough variety of cards, you can start making some interesting character builds. Flinthook encourages you to change your setup and experiment as much as you want. For example: Certain perks improve things like fire rate and damage the more you hit your enemies. This builds up the combo meter, which resets once you take damage. I recently got a perk that doubles all combo hits, so simply adding that perk in with the last two I mentioned made me an unstoppable killing machine. As long as I didn’t get hit.
I must say though, not getting hit can be a bit of a struggle at times. Flinthook may look like a mogwai on the outside, but it’s definitely a gremlin at heart. Some rooms feel ripped straight out of a bullet-hell game, while others give me Super Meat Boy flashbacks. What’s more is that your aiming and movement both use the same joystick. In other words, soaring over enemies and shooting them as you fly by isn’t really possible without dive-bombing them. Despite all this, I rarely felt cheated. The game can be pretty difficult, but even in death I was being rewarded, so it was a win-win.
I Aim To Misbehave
Flinthook feels extremely intuitive to play, but is hard to master. You could binge it for hours, or only play it a few times a week in bite-sized chunks, and it would still be just as rewarding. In my mind it joins the ranks of Rouge Legacy, Binding of Issac, and Enter the Gungeon as one of the best examples of a rouge-lite. Now if only there was a Switch version… hint hint.