Has anyone ever wondered what pirates actually do when they’re not searching for treasure? I suppose when your entire life revolves around pillaging and murdering, there isn’t much room for other things like hobbies. Pirates also need to know how to run a ship practically by themselves. Man, sea fearing folk have it rough. But I suppose that feeling of freedom and the ability to go literally go wherever they want makes up for everything. (Forgive me. Pop culture makes pirates look like single-minded and driven individuals.)
Reviewed: Playstation 4
Platforms: PC, Playstation 4
Developer: Rookie Hero Games
Publisher: Rookie Hero Games
Release Date: May 16, 2018
Review code provided by Rookie Hero Games
Flynn and Freckles is an action-adventure platformer that involves pirates, treasure, and a cursed sword. As Flynn, players need to explore and solve puzzles while doing a lot of nail biting platforming. What started off as a quest to acquire Captain Freckles’ sword eventually turns to an adventure to claim the late Captain’s lost treasure. Will Flynn awake the dormant powers of the sword and prove himself worthy in the eyes of the Ghost Captain? Only time will tell.
Gameplay and Features:
Flynn can do 2 essential things as a pirate – the ability to swing a sword and the ability to jump. With the Cursed sword in hand, Flynn unlocks some additional powers. But for now, the basics involves fighting and jumping. Other notables include the ability to pick up items Legend of Zelda style and either dropping them or throwing them. Both actions are important for solving puzzles.
Most puzzles in the game are solved with platforming in mind. To reach these puzzles, the player must explore the map while both fighting their way through enemies and getting past elaborate traps. It usually involves picking up key items to open new paths or pressing buttons to activate platforms, allowing the player to reach previously inaccessible areas of the map.
With regards to the map, it is actually of decent size, with many pathways connecting puzzles with explorable areas. Exploring yields gold, green heath bottles, and golden statues. For all my time playing the game, I have yet to figure out a use for the golden statues. Maybe it’s just there as a collectible. Who knows? The game doesn’t acknowledge it as a collectible but oh well. It seems as though gold is for paying for another chance when the player gets a Game Over. I have yet to confirm this as the game is very generous with regards to coins.
When the player is not going off exploring a random corner of the map, he or she is running around doing quests for people. Don’t worry though. This isn’t like your typical modern RPG with 100 side quests and things to collect. Instead, it’s more like an excuse to get the player to go from point A to point B without having the player wander around aimlessly like a real adventurer.
Enemies in this game do 1 of 2 things. Seldom both. They will either walk towards you or attack. That’s pretty much it. In later levels, the player encounters larger versions of the level’s base enemy. The only difference is that the larger ones have bigger health pools. Bosses, on the other hand, have powers that the player can use after defeating them. The new move can be used to activate devices and/or open up paths.
The Good and the Bad:
When I first started the game, I was expecting some sort of tutorial. To my surprise, the game just starts with Flynn in the middle of a port and his pirate buddy providing the game’s first quest. That opening sequence reminded me of old school PS1 games before any sort of standard was in place. Back then, players needed to figure out what to do and where to go without any tutorials. Call me nostalgic, but I’m kind of happy that this game is designed the way that it is. Well, until the platforming segments.
The reason why I call it strict platforming is because it’s like your foot is half way over the edge… And then deciding to jump. In some cases, that wasn’t enough. if I have a gold coin for every time I fell to my death due to missing the platform, I may be rich enough to buy my own ship. Hard platforming aside, the other reason for all those falls is due to the controls freezing up mid-action. Death due to falling is the primary killer in this game. Enemies don’t come close. In fact, I don’t recall ever dying at the hands of enemies.
The hardest thing to get over with this game is the inconsistency with world rules. Usually you can gauge whether or not you are high enough to take fall damage. But it seems like the rules are flexible in this world. I can recall times when I dropped down a couple of stories and not take any damage but the same fall distance in another level is enough to inflict fall damage. Weird. Also, running down stairs is also grounds for taking fall damage. Even with double jump on, the very move that’s supposed to slow your descent doesn’t stop fall damage. It gets you thinking about how many more loop holes there are in this game.
On a final note, I just want to say that dying from deep water is no longer a thing. It’s a good thing there are invisible checkpoints set up in various places. Too bad the level also resets parts of the map. Making players redo entire sections they’ve cleared just moments ago. At least the inventory doesn’t reset.
Flynn and Freckles is so heavily inspired by 90’s game design, I wouldn’t be surprised if half these features are intentional. Unfortunately, there is no excuse for having inconsistent world rules. It’s a very unpleasant surprise for any player. The same goes for all the weird bugs and precision platforming. It’s not as if having precision platforming is a bad thing, but there’s a time and place for all things in a game. The whole experience doesn’t have to be an exercise of patience.
Regardless, this is a good game for the entry level platform gamer looking for a challenge. The bright and colorful visuals also appeal to children. Here’s to hoping that the parents play along with them as well when things get too tough. Sadly, there isn’t much else on offer here.