There’s a sort of voodoo pelican guy in Flinthook – I think it’s voodoo, and I think it’s a pelican. Anyway, this guy lobs flaming red skulls at you whenever you meet, and those skulls! Oh my! Those skulls are just the loveliest things. They’re like the skulls in Towerfall: 2D art and animation of sufficiently magical quality to convince the mind that you’re actually looking at a 3D asset as it spins towards you. I could get hit and killed by those flaming red skulls all day. Just as I could be killed by the insouciant guy who throws blades at you, spreading blades that fly from the hands of an insouciant guy whose very demeanor allows the pixel art to convey with real certainty that this character is definitely French. A French knife-thrower in space, a voodoo pelican with an endless supply of skulls. Flinthook is special.
It is possible when writing about Flinthook, an indie charmer that has just arrived on Switch, to get lost in the unimportant detailing, or rather, to downplay the stuff that really matters in order to explain the mechanical clutter that is drawn so swiftly, so brightly, around the spinning core of a roguelite. Let’s get it out of the way here, then.
You’re a mysterious space bandit in Flinthook, a game in which the cosmos is filled with wacky creatures flapping around in floating pirate ships. Your job is to take down a range of truly villainous baddies, and you work your way towards each mark by raiding and ultimately exploding a handful of lesser ships which have procedural qualities and their own defining quirks. One might be labyrinthine, for example. One might impose a time limit. As you explore you gain loot and various perks that will aid you on that particular run: you might get an XP boost or immunity from explosions, say. Eventually, you find your target and a boss fight ensues. When you die – and you will – you lose all the temporary perks you gained but you can spend a special kind of gem on permanent character boosting stuff that sees you growing stronger from one game to the next.
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