This year has been packed full of huge games with seemingly endless things to do in them.
Games like "Horizon: Zero Dawn" and "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild" have taken a lot of gamers’ time and, for college students on a budget, a lot of their money as well.
Although these games are worth every penny for their greatness, they leave a sizeable dent in the pockets of those of us who are still trying to figure out why we spent $200 on a textbook we barely even looked at.
Even when the fields of Hyrule have been explored to their fullest, and you have slain the last robot dinosaur you can stomach, that monetary burden doesn’t go away.
That’s where Games on The Plains comes in. I aim to give you, the ramen-noodle-slurping, beer-money-requiring college student a source of games to play that are both fun and cheap so your gaming fix is satiated while your wallet stays full too.
That’s not to say I won’t also be reviewing the $60-or-more AAA juggernauts whenever I can somehow scrape together enough money — those will just be rare.
Most of these reviews will be indie, older games you might have missed or free to play games that will keep anyone needing something new to play interested until they can afford that brand new, deluxe edition release with the day-1 DLC and collectors box set included.
The first game featured on Games on The Plains is a new title from Tribute Games called "Flinthook," and it’s the most fun you can have for $15, especially if you're still paying cover every time you go to Q’s.
"Flinthook" is very obviously a 2D platforming roguelike, and it dawns the name with an incredible amount of style and flair.
The pixel art is reminiscent of the genre staple "Rogue Legacy" but surpasses its predecessor by having incredibly detailed backgrounds and environments that make you slow down and admire things even when zipping around the procedurally generated rooms.
"Flinthook" has odd controls, as both aiming and moving are controlled on the left stick, but after some trial and error it becomes second nature and the game controls with ease.
The player controls the renowned space pirate named, you guessed it, Flinthook, who spends his days plundering bandit ships of all shapes and sizes, featuring a myriad of obstacles and enemies.
Our hero is equipped with a time-slowing belt controlled with the left trigger, a blaster aimed with the left stick and fired with Square/X and, the game's namesake and most interesting feature, a hook, which shoots with the right trigger.
The hook attaches to wall hooks within your range and shoots you off like a slingshot, which makes for some impressively tight maneuvering. Combining these hooks and the time-slowing ability allows you to traverse rooms and destroy enemies in acrobatic fashion, the likes of which haven’t been as good feeling in any other platformer to date.
Throughout the rooms you explore, you’ll find treasure, power-ups or shops which allow you to use treasure to buy power ups which can add new moves and health bonuses to your arsenal.
The structure of the game focuses on boss rooms which require beating 3 randomly generated levels, or ships as they're called in the game, to get to.
You only have one life for all three ships and the boss, but along the way you will find health items that can prolong that life after taking a few hits.
These health items will become things of beauty after spending some time with Flinthook because as fun as the game is, it’s also hard as nails and can be quite unforgiving. It's still a great time nonetheless.
As of writing this review, I’ve put around 10 hours into the game and have only beaten two bosses, but I’ve enjoyed every second of it.
Because the ships are different every time around and you gain new abilities with every attempt, losing to the bosses and trying again feels more like progression than failure.
The way the three-ships-and-then-boss structure works makes this game perfect for breaks in between classes where you can spend whatever extra 20 minutes you have on an attempt, but also invites you to stay up all night trying to find a flow and power through to bigger and better things.
"Flinthook" gives you more than enough bang for your very little amount of buck, and puts it in an extremely fun and challenging package. I recommend it for your next gaming purchase.