This year’s PAX East was filled with tons of indie rogue-likes and rogue-lites. There were a number that were fun to play, but there was one making its first PAX appearance that really soared above the competition: Tribute Games’ Flinthook. With retro-inspired graphics, great music and an awesome grappling hook mechanic, this game had me, well…hooked in an instant.
As I swung through the air in Flinthook, I couldn’t help but feel a little bit like Spider-Man. Similarly the famous web-slinger swings from a projectile shot out of his wrist, Flinthook swings by his chainhook. The parallel between the two characters wasn’t intentional from the get-go, but it was something that Co-Creator and Game Designer Dominique Ferland noticed early on in development. In fact, before the game was announced, he tweeted to his followers and asked them what buttons they’d assign to actions in a game where “Spiderman [sic] has a gun.”
Imagine a game in which Spiderman has a gun. What buttons/keys/sticks would you assign to each of Spidey's actions? pic.twitter.com/fZEkOoopTE
— Dom2D (@dom2d) November 9, 2015
I asked Ferland about this tweet and the game’s connection to Spider-Man. “[The tweet] was more of a way to slowly talk about the game, because we wanted to keep it secret for a while,” he said.
Spider-Man was the closest match for all the capabilities the titular Flinthook character possessed. The most obvious resemblance was between Flinthook’s chainhook and Spider-Man’s webs. But there’s also the fact that where Spider-Man has “spidey-sense,” Tribute’s swinging pirate can slow down time to dodge enemies easier. He’s also equipped with a blasma pistol. Why a gun? According to Ferland, “Guns made no sense for Spider-Man, so we gave him a gun.” It sounds like this was the team’s way of making sure that Flinthook was its own unique idea and character, as well as giving him an easy way to take down enemies.
As mentioned above, Flinthook’s abilities included slow-mo and a gun, but the real star of the show was the hook. This mechanic is really fun to use and helps to up the game’s pace, which was exactly what the developers intended. “We just wanted something that was just about zipping around instead of swinging and having physics and stuff,” Ferland explained. “You can use it as much as you want. You can use it again while you’re in the air, and it’s very fast. ”
There’s no question that Tribute has achieved the fast-paced dynamic it wanted. I found myself using the grappling hook even when I didn’t need to. Why would walk when you can essentially fly? Even if I could see the way to the next platform clearly in front of me, I couldn’t help but swing around the whole board anyway, collecting coins and hopefully finding hidden treasures along the way.
The demo left on a cliffhanger at the end. The final thing that appears on the screen is a pirate captain boss. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to fight him, but I definitely wanted to — just like Scorpion’s spear move in Mortal Kombat, Flinthook‘s chainhook grabs onto you and sucks you right in.