One of the gems at X16 was roguelike action platformer Flinthook.
I’ll be honest, I was unfamiliar with Tribute Games’ indie title prior to Xbox Canada’s Toronto event, but I instantly fell in love with it. Everything from using my grappling hook, to the soundtrack made me want to keep playing.
I began my demo with a brief tutorial of the game's mechanics. Playing as Captain Flinthook, a mask toting space pirate, I started learning the basic controls.
The most basic of all is the grappling hook. This is the building block of the game and went on to be my most used item next to my blaster.
The tutorial taught me how to latch onto the many grappling rings around the map. It also introduced how to use the aforementioned blaster, bombs and chrono buckle, which slows down time.
At one point during the tutorial you have to grapple onto a number of rings to escape blaster fire and kill other pirates. The game really favours mobility.
With the basics under my belt I was ready to jump right in. This time things were a little different. The game procedurally generates spaceships, so each area is a little different from the last.
The first area I entered I was immediately challenged by birds with explosive barrels on their heads. I had to try to avoid getting too close.
After dispatching the birds, three bats swooped in, one with a bubble surrounding it. I had to hit the bubble with my grappling hook before I could land a blaster shot.
After clearing out the area, a chest popped up. Inside I was awarded with a couple of bombs.
I continued moving to the right. In this room, giant flies with massive teeth pursued me. I had little room to maneuver, because the floor in front of me was filled with poisonous gas. My aim has gotten progressively worse, but I manage to slay the beasts and continue forward.
In my third room, more pirates. This time rings move along a vertical elevator, leading to a second floor. This is where the pirates are. While trying to grapple towards the enemies I inadvertently swing into incoming fire. Of my 200 health, I’m now down to 80. So far every room I’ve entered has led to another linear room. I was told this wasn’t typically the case and that I was actually experiencing something pretty rare. It didn’t make any real difference to me. I was having fun grappling from one ring to the next. I always make high pitch “ahs” when I’m having fun and trying to avoid danger -- there was a lot of that taking place.
My fourth room was one of the most challenging I found. There were no enemies. Instead a spiked floor, and barriers that alternated between a physical and spectral form. The key was timing your wall jumps on the first barrier and grappling onto a ring. It took a couple of tried and a bit of HP but I was successful. My next few rooms continued to be linear, but eventually I was able to find a room where I could go down.
I was pretty excited. Finally a second option instead of going right.
What I found below was my death. I first encountered puffer fish that fired spikes when they were killed. I was later finished off by a slew of pirates.
I hit the end of the line, but the sleek game mechanics made it one hell of a ride. It would have been interesting to explore the ship in a less linear fashion, but ultimately it didn’t ruin the experience.
I’ll be interested to see what a boss battle feels like. I can only imagine having to time your hooks to escape and mighty blaster shot or some other ungodly creature.
Flinthook was the perfect end to X16. Tribute has crafted a wonderful roguelike that captures the perfect melody of familiarity and uniqueness with its grappling hook mechanics.
It’s not exactly clear when Flinthook will release, but it’s expected to it the Xbox One sometime next year.